Infomotions, Inc.English Fairy Tales / Steel, Flora Annie, 1847-1929



Author: Steel, Flora Annie, 1847-1929
Title: English Fairy Tales
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): jack; nix naught; molly whuppie; giant; castle; burd helen; childe rowland
Contributor(s): Rackham, Arthur, 1867-1939 [Illustrator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 81,223 words (short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 76 (easy)
Identifier: etext17034
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Title: English Fairy Tales


Author: Flora Annie Steel



Release Date: November 9, 2005  [eBook #17034]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


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ENGLISH FAIRY-TALES

Retold by

FLORA ANNIE STEEL

Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

First published by Macmillan & Co. 1918







[Illustration: Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar at home (page 190).]





CONTENTS


   ST. GEORGE OF MERRIE ENGLAND

   THE STORY OF THE THREE BEARS

   TOM-TIT-TOT

   THE GOLDEN SNUFF-BOX

   TATTERCOATS

   THE THREE FEATHERS

   LAZY JACK

   JACK THE GIANT-KILLER

   THE THREE SILLIES

   THE GOLDEN BALL

   THE TWO SISTERS

   THE LAIDLY WORM

   TITTY MOUSE AND TATTY MOUSE

   JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

   THE BLACK BULL OF NORROWAY

   CATSKIN

   THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

   NIX NAUGHT NOTHING

   MR. AND MRS. VINEGAR

   THE TRUE HISTORY OF SIR THOMAS THUMB

   HENNY-PENNY

   THE THREE HEADS OF THE WELL

   MR. FOX

   DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT

   THE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG

   THE WEE BANNOCK

   HOW JACK WENT OUT TO SEEK HIS FORTUNE

   THE BOGEY-BEAST

   LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD

   CHILDE ROWLAND

   THE WISE MEN OF GOTHAM

   CAPORUSHES

   THE BABES IN THE WOOD

   THE RED ETTIN

   THE FISH AND THE RING

   LAWKAMERCYME

   MASTER OF ALL MASTERS

   MOLLY WHUPPIE AND THE DOUBLE-FACED GIANT

   THE ASS, THE TABLE, AND THE STICK

   THE WELL OF THE WORLD'S END

   THE ROSE TREE





ILLUSTRATIONS


   IN COLOUR


      Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar at home

      "Somebody has been at my porridge, and has eaten it all up!"

      Tattercoats dancing while the gooseherd pipes

      The giant Cormoran was the terror of all the country-side

      Taking the keys of the castle, Jack unlocked all the doors

      The giant Galligantua and the wicked old magician transform the
      duke's daughter into a white hind

      "Tree of mine! O Tree of mine! Have you seen my naughty little
      maid?"

      "Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman"

      She went along, and went along, and went along

      And that is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar

      They thanked her and said good-bye, and she went on her journey

      Many's the beating he had from the broomstick or the ladle

      When Puss saw the rats and mice she didn't wait to be told

      "Well!" she chuckled, "I am in luck!"

      She sat down and plaited herself an overall of rushes and a cap
      to match

      The fisherman and his wife had no children, and they were just
      longing for a baby


   IN TEXT


      Headpiece--St. George of Merrie England

      When she came to St. George she started and laid her hand on
      her heart

      "Somebody has been lying in my bed,--and here she is!"

      "What is that you are singing, my good woman?"

      A small, little, black Thing with a long tail

      Away That flew into the dark, and she never saw it no more

      They brought the Castle of the golden pillars

      Jack found it hard to hoist the donkey on his shoulders

      "Odds splutter hur nails!" cried the giant, not to be outdone.
      "Hur can do that hurself!"

      "Ah! Cousin Jack! Kind cousin Jack! This is heavy news indeed"

      Seated on a huge block of timber near the entrance to a dark
      cave

      On his way ... to be revenged

      The country folk flying before him like chaff before the wind

      Headpiece--The Three Sillies

      Headpiece--The Golden Ball

      He heard the bogles striving under the bed

      Headpiece--The Laidly Worm

      Tatty sat down and wept

      As he spoke he drew out of his pocket five beans

      Jack seized the axe and gave a great chop at the beanstalk

      So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in

      So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in

      Well! he huffed and he puffed ... but he could _not_
      blow the house down

      At last he flew into a violent rage and flung his stick at the
      bird

      A spider one day attacked him

      "I will go first and you come after, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky,
      Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey"

      So she escaped

      The thorns closed in around her so that she was all scratched
      and torn

      Dick finds that the streets of London are not paved with gold

      Dick Whittington hears Bow Bells

      The old woman and her pig

      Headpiece--How Jack went out to seek his Fortune

      They both met together upon Nottingham bridge

      "A vengeance on her!" said they. "We did not make our hedge
      high enough"

      He took out the cheeses and rolled them down the hill

      And they left the eel to drown

      The hare ran on along the country way

      A courtier came riding by, and he did ask what they were
      seeking

      Headpiece--Lawkamercyme

      A funny-looking old gentleman engaged her and took her home

      White-faced simminy has got a spark of hot cockalorum on its
      tail




[Illustration: Headpiece--St. George of Merrie England]




ST. GEORGE OF MERRIE ENGLAND


In the darksome depths of a thick forest lived Kalyb the fell
enchantress. Terrible were her deeds, and few there were who had the
hardihood to sound the brazen trumpet which hung over the iron gate that
barred the way to the Abode of Witchcraft. Terrible were the deeds of
Kalyb; but above all things she delighted in carrying off innocent
new-born babes, and putting them to death.

And this, doubtless, she meant to be the fate of the infant son of the
Earl of Coventry, who long long years ago was Lord High Steward of
England. Certain it is that the babe's father being absent, and his
mother dying at his birth, the wicked Kalyb, with spells and charms,
managed to steal the child from his careless nurses.

But the babe was marked from the first for doughty deeds; for on his
breast was pictured the living image of a dragon, on his right hand was
a blood-red cross, and on his left leg showed the golden garter.

And these signs so affected Kalyb, the fell enchantress, that she stayed
her hand; and the child growing daily in beauty and stature, he became
to her as the apple of her eye. Now, when twice seven years had passed
the boy began to thirst for honourable adventures, though the wicked
enchantress wished to keep him as her own.

But he, seeking glory, utterly disdained so wicked a creature; thus she
sought to bribe him. And one day, taking him by the hand, she led him to
a brazen castle and showed him six brave knights, prisoners therein.
Then said she:

"Lo! These be the six champions of Christendom. Thou shalt be the
seventh and thy name shall be St. George of Merrie England if thou wilt
stay with me."

But he would not.

Then she led him into a magnificent stable where stood seven of the most
beautiful steeds ever seen. "Six of these," said she, "belong to the six
Champions. The seventh and the best, the swiftest and the most powerful
in the world, whose name is Bayard, will I bestow on thee, if thou wilt
stay with me."

But he would not.

Then she took him to the armoury, and with her own hand buckled on a
corselet of purest steel, and laced on a helmet inlaid with gold. Then,
taking a mighty falchion, she gave it into his hand, and said: "This
armour which none can pierce, this sword called Ascalon, which will hew
in sunder all it touches, are thine; surely now thou wilt stop with me?"

But he would not.

Then she bribed him with her own magic wand, thus giving him power over
all things in that enchanted land, saying:

"Surely now wilt thou remain here?"

But he, taking the wand, struck with it a mighty rock that stood by; and
lo! it opened, and laid in view a wide cave garnished by the bodies of a
vast number of innocent new-born infants whom the wicked enchantress had
murdered.

Thus, using her power, he bade the sorceress lead the way into the place
of horror, and when she had entered, he raised the magic wand yet again,
and smote the rock; and lo! it closed for ever, and the sorceress was
left to bellow forth her lamentable complaints to senseless stones.

Thus was St. George freed from the enchanted land, and taking with him
the six other champions of Christendom on their steeds, he mounted
Bayard and rode to the city of Coventry.

Here for nine months they abode, exercising themselves in all feats of
arms. So when spring returned they set forth, as knights errant, to seek
for foreign adventure.

And for thirty days and thirty nights they rode on, until, at the
beginning of a new month, they came to a great wide plain. Now in the
centre of this plain, where seven several ways met, there stood a great
brazen pillar, and here, with high heart and courage, they bade each
other farewell, and each took a separate road.

Hence, St. George, on his charger Bayard, rode till he reached the
seashore where lay a good ship bound for the land of Egypt. Taking
passage in her, after long journeying he arrived in that land when the
silent wings of night were outspread, and darkness brooded on all
things. Here, coming to a poor hermitage, he begged a night's lodging,
on which the hermit replied:

"Sir Knight of Merrie England--for I see her arms graven on thy
breastplate--thou hast come hither in an ill time, when those alive are
scarcely able to bury the dead by reason of the cruel destruction waged
by a terrible dragon, who ranges up and down the country by day and by
night. If he have not an innocent maiden to devour each day, he sends a
mortal plague amongst the people. And this has not ceased for twenty and
four years, so that there is left throughout the land but one maiden,
the beautiful Sabia, daughter to the King. And to-morrow must she die,
unless some brave knight will slay the monster. To such will the King
give his daughter in marriage, and the crown of Egypt in due time."

"For crowns I care not," said St. George boldly, "but the beauteous
maiden shall not die. I will slay the monster."

So, rising at dawn of day, he buckled on his armour, laced his helmet,
and with the falchion Ascalon in his hand, bestrode Bayard, and rode
into the Valley of the Dragon. Now on the way he met a procession of old
women weeping and wailing, and in their midst the most beauteous damsel
he had ever seen. Moved by compassion he dismounted, and bowing low
before the lady entreated her to return to her father's palace, since he
was about to kill the dreaded dragon. Whereupon the beautiful Sabia,
thanking him with smiles and tears, did as he requested, and he,
re-mounting, rode on his emprise.

Now, no sooner did the dragon catch sight of the brave Knight than its
leathern throat sent out a sound more terrible than thunder, and
weltering from its hideous den, it spread its burning wings and prepared
to assail its foe.

Its size and appearance might well have made the stoutest heart tremble.
From shoulder to tail ran full forty feet, its body was covered with
silver scales, its belly was as gold, and through its flaming wings the
blood ran thick and red.

So fierce was its onset, that at the very first encounter the Knight was
nigh felled to the ground; but recovering himself he gave the dragon
such a thrust with his spear that the latter shivered to a thousand
pieces; whereupon the furious monster smote him so violently with its
tail that both horse and rider were overthrown.

Now, by great good chance, St. George was flung under the shade of a
flowering orange tree, whose fragrance hath this virtue in it, that no
poisonous beast dare come within the compass of its branches. So there
the valiant knight had time to recover his senses, until with eager
courage he rose, and rushing to the combat, smote the burning dragon on
his burnished belly with his trusty sword Ascalon; and thereinafter
spouted out such black venom, as, falling on the armour of the Knight,
burst it in twain. And ill might it have fared with St. George of Merrie
England but for the orange tree, which once again gave him shelter under
its branches, where, seeing the issue of the fight was in the Hands of
the Most High, he knelt and prayed that such strength of body should be
given him as would enable him to prevail. Then with a bold and
courageous heart, he advanced again, and smote the fiery dragon under
one of his flaming wings, so that the weapon pierced the heart, and all
the grass around turned crimson with the blood that flowed from the
dying monster. So St. George of England cut off the dreadful head, and
hanging it on a truncheon made of the spear which at the beginning of
the combat had shivered against the beast's scaly back, he mounted his
steed Bayard, and proceeded to the palace of the King.

Now the King's name was Ptolemy, and when he saw that the dreaded dragon
was indeed slain, he gave orders for the city to be decorated. And he
sent a golden chariot with wheels of ebony and cushions of silk to bring
St. George to the palace, and commanded a hundred nobles dressed in
crimson velvet, and mounted on milk-white steeds richly caparisoned, to
escort him thither with all honour, while musicians walked before and
after, filling the air with sweetest sounds.

Now the beautiful Sabia herself washed and dressed the weary Knight's
wounds, and gave him in sign of betrothal a diamond ring of purest
water. Then, after he had been invested by the King with the golden
spurs of knighthood and had been magnificently feasted, he retired to
rest his weariness, while the beautiful Sabia from her balcony lulled
him to sleep with her golden lute.

So all seemed happiness; but alas! dark misfortune was at hand.

Almidor, the black King of Morocco, who had long wooed the Princess
Sabia in vain, without having the courage to defend her, seeing that the
maiden had given her whole heart to her champion, resolved to compass
his destruction.

So, going to King Ptolemy, he told him--what was perchance true--namely,
that the beauteous Sabia had promised St. George to become Christian,
and follow him to England. Now the thought of this so enraged the King
that, forgetting his debt of honour, he determined on an act of basest
treachery.

Telling St. George that his love and loyalty needed further trial, he
entrusted him with a message to the King of Persia, and forbade him
either to take with him his horse Bayard or his sword Ascalon; nor would
he even allow him to say farewell to his beloved Sabia.

St. George then set forth sorrowfully, and surmounting many dangers,
reached the Court of the King of Persia in safety; but what was his
anger to find that the secret missive he bore contained nothing but an
earnest request to put the bearer of it to death. But he was helpless,
and when sentence had been passed upon him, he was thrown into a loathly
dungeon, clothed in base and servile weeds, and his arms strongly
fettered up to iron bolts, while the roars of the two hungry lions who
were to devour him ere long, deafened his ears. Now his rage and fury at
this black treachery was such that it gave him strength, and with mighty
effort he drew the staples that held his fetters; so being part free he
tore his long locks of amber-coloured hair from his head and wound them
round his arms instead of gauntlets. So prepared he rushed on the lions
when they were let loose upon him, and thrusting his arms down their
throats choked them, and thereinafter tearing out their very hearts,
held them up in triumph to the gaolers who stood by trembling with fear.

After this the King of Persia gave up the hopes of putting St. George to
death, and, doubling the bars of the dungeon, left him to languish
therein. And there the unhappy Knight remained for seven long years, his
thoughts full of his lost Princess; his only companions rats and mice
and creeping worms, his only food and drink bread made of the coarsest
bran and dirty water.

At last one day, in a dark corner of his dungeon, he found one of the
iron staples he had drawn in his rage and fury. It was half consumed
with rust, yet it was sufficient in his hands to open a passage through
the walls of his cell into the King's garden. It was the time of night
when all things are silent; but St. George, listening, heard the voices
of grooms in the stables; which, entering, he found two grooms
furnishing forth a horse against some business. Whereupon, taking the
staple with which he had redeemed himself from prison, he slew the
grooms, and mounting the palfrey rode boldly to the city gates, where he
told the watchman at the Bronze Tower that St. George having escaped
from the dungeon, he was in hot pursuit of him. Whereupon the gates were
thrown open, and St. George, clapping spurs to his horse, found himself
safe from pursuit before the first red beams of the sun shot up into the
sky.

Now, ere long, being most famished with hunger, he saw a tower set on a
high cliff, and riding thitherward determined to ask for food. But as he
neared the castle he saw a beauteous damsel in a blue and gold robe
seated disconsolate at a window. Whereupon, dismounting, he called aloud
to her:

"Lady! If thou hast sorrow of thine own, succour one also in distress,
and give me, a Christian Knight, now almost famished, one meal's meat."
To which she replied quickly:

"Sir Knight! Fly quickly as thou canst, for my lord is a mighty giant, a
follower of Mahomed, who hath sworn to destroy all Christians."

Hearing this St. George laughed loud and long. "Go tell him then, fair
dame," he cried, "that a Christian Knight waits at his door, and will
either satisfy his wants within his castle or slay the owner thereof."

Now the giant no sooner heard this valiant challenge than he rushed
forth to the combat, armed with a hugeous crowbar of iron. He was a
monstrous giant, deformed, with a huge head, bristled like any boar's,
with hot, glaring eyes and a mouth equalling a tiger's. At first sight
of him St. George gave himself up for lost, not so much for fear, but
for hunger and faintness of body. Still, commending himself to the Most
High, he also rushed to the combat with such poor arms as he had, and
with many a regret for the loss of his magic sword Ascalon. So they
fought till noon, when, just as the champion's strength was nigh
finished, the giant stumbled on the root of a tree, and St. George,
taking his chance, ran him through the mid-rib, so that he gasped and
died.

After which St. George entered the tower; whereat the beautiful lady,
freed from her terrible lord, set before him all manner of delicacies
and pure wine with which he sufficed his hunger, rested his weary body,
and refreshed his horse.

So, leaving the tower in the hands of the grateful lady, he went on his
way, coming ere long to the Enchanted Garden of the necromancer
Ormadine, where, embedded in the living rock, he saw a magic sword, the
like of which for beauty he had never seen, the belt being beset with
jaspers and sapphire stones, while the pommel was a globe of the purest
silver chased in gold with these verses:

  My magic will remain most firmly bound
  Till that a knight from the far north be found
  To pull this sword from out its bed of stone.
  Lo! when he comes wise Ormadine must fall.
  Farewell, my magic power, my spell, my all.

Seeing this St. George put his hand to the hilt, thinking to essay
pulling it out by strength; but lo! he drew it out with as much ease as
though it had hung by a thread of untwisted silk. And immediately every
door in the enchanted garden flew open, and the magician Ormadine
appeared, his hair standing on end; and he, after kissing the hand of
the champion, led him to a cave where a young man wrapped in a sheet of
gold lay sleeping, lulled by the songs of four beautiful maidens.

"The Knight whom thou seest here!" said the necromancer in a hollow
voice, "is none other than thy brother-in-arms, the Christian Champion
St. David of Wales. He also attempted to draw my sword but failed. Him
hast thou delivered from my enchantments since they come to an end."

Now, as he spoke, came such a rattling of the skies, such a lumbering of
the earth as never was, and in the twinkling of an eye the Enchanted
Garden and all in it vanished from view, leaving the Champion of Wales,
roused from his seven years' sleep, giving thanks to St. George, who
greeted his ancient comrade heartily.

After this St. George of Merrie England travelled far and travelled
fast, with many adventures by the way, to Egypt where he had left his
beloved Princess Sabia. But, learning to his great grief and horror from
the same hermit he had met on first landing, that, despite her denials,
her father, King Ptolemy, had consented to Almidor the black King of
Morocco carrying her off as one of his many wives, he turned his steps
towards Tripoli, the capital of Morocco; for he was determined at all
costs to gain a sight of the dear Princess from whom he had been so
cruelly rent.

To this end he borrowed an old cloak of the hermit, and, disguised as a
beggar, gained admittance to the gate of the Women's Palace, where were
gathered together on their knees many others, poor, frail, infirm.

And when he asked them wherefore they knelt, they answered:

"Because good Queen Sabia succours us that we may pray for the safety of
St. George of England, to whom she gave her heart."

Now when St. George heard this his own heart was like to break for very
joy, and he could scarce keep on his knees when, lovely as ever, but
with her face pale and sad and wan from long distress, the Princess
Sabia appeared clothed in deep mourning.

In silence she handed an alms to each beggar in turn; but when she came
to St. George she started and laid her hand on her heart. Then she said
softly:

"Rise up, Sir Beggar! Thou art too like one who rescued me from death,
for it to be meet for thee to kneel before me!"

Then St. George rising, and bowing low, said quietly: "Peerless lady!
Lo! I am that very knight to whom thou did'st condescend to give this."

And with this he slipped the diamond ring she had given him on her
finger. But she looked not at it, but at him, with love in her eyes.

Then he told her of her father's base treachery and Almidor's part in
it, so that her anger grew hot and she cried:

"Waste no more time in talk. I remain no longer in this detested place.
Ere Almidor returns from hunting we shall have escaped."

[Illustration: When she came to St. George she started and laid her
hand on her heart]

So she led St. George to the armoury, where he found his trusty sword
Ascalon, and to the stable, where his swift steed Bayard stood ready
caparisoned.

Then, when her brave Knight had mounted, and she, putting her foot on
his, had leapt like a bird behind him, St. George touched the proud
beast lightly with his spurs, and, like an arrow from a bow, Bayard
carried them together over city and plain, through woods and forests,
across rivers, and mountains, and valleys, until they reached the Land
of Greece.

And here they found the whole country in festivity over the marriage of
the King. Now amongst other entertainments was a grand tournament, the
news of which had spread through the world. And to it had come all the
other Six Champions of Christendom; so St. George arriving made the
Seventh. And many of the champions had with them the fair lady they had
rescued. St. Denys of France brought beautiful Eglantine, St. James of
Spain sweet Celestine, while noble Rosalind accompanied St. Anthony of
Italy. St. David of Wales, after his seven years' sleep, came full of
eager desire for adventure. St. Patrick of Ireland, ever courteous,
brought all the six Swan-princesses who, in gratitude, had been seeking
their deliverer St. Andrew of Scotland; since he, leaving all worldly
things, had chosen to fight for the faith.

So all these brave knights and fair ladies joined in the joyful
jousting, and each of the Seven Champions was in turn Chief Challenger
for a day.

Now in the midst of all the merriment appeared a hundred heralds from a
hundred different parts of the Paynim world, declaring war to the death
against all Christians.

Whereupon the Seven Champions agreed that each should return to his
native land to place his dearest lady in safety, and gather together an
army, and that six months later they should meet, and, joining as one
legion, go forth to fight for Christendom.

And this was done. So, having chosen St. George as Chief General, they
marched on Tripoli with the cry:

  "For Christendom we fight,
   For Christendom we die."

Here the wicked Almidor fell in single combat with St. George, to the
great delight of his subjects, who begged the Champion to be King in his
stead. To this he consented, and, after he was crowned, the Christian
host went on towards Egypt where King Ptolemy, in despair of vanquishing
such stalwart knights, threw himself down from the battlements of the
palace and was killed. Whereupon, in recognition of the chivalry and
courtesy of the Christian Champions, the nobles offered the Crown to one
of their number, and they with acclaim chose St. George of Merrie
England.

Thence the Christian host journeyed to Persia, where a fearsome battle
raged for seven days, during which two hundred thousand pagans were
slain, beside many who were drowned in attempting to escape. Thus they
were compelled to yield, the Emperor himself happening into the hands of
St. George, and six other viceroys into the hands of the six other
Champions.

And these were most mercifully and honourably entreated after they had
promised to govern Persia after Christian rules. Now the Emperor, having
a heart fraught with despite and tyranny, conspired against them, and
engaged a wicked wizard named Osmond to so beguile six of the Champions
that they gave up fighting, and lived an easy slothful life. But St.
George would not be beguiled; neither would he consent to the
enchantment of his brothers; and he so roused them that they never
sheathed their swords nor unlocked their armour till the wicked Emperor
and his viceroys were thrown into that very dungeon in which St. George
had languished for seven long years.

Whereupon St. George took upon himself the government of Persia, and
gave the six other Champions the six viceroyalties.

So, attired in a beautiful green robe, richly embroidered, over which
was flung a scarlet mantle bordered with white fur and decorated with
ornaments of pure gold, he took his seat on the throne which was
supported by elephants of translucent alabaster. And the Heralds at
arms, amid the shouting of the people, cried:

"Long live St. George of Merrie England, Emperor of Morocco, King of
Egypt, and Sultan of Persia!"

Now, after that he had established good and just laws to such effect
that innumerable companies of pagans flocked to become Christians, St.
George, leaving the Government in the hands of his trusted counsellors,
took truce with the world and returned to England, where, at Coventry,
he lived for many years with the Egyptian Princess Sabia, who bore him
three stalwart sons. So here endeth the tale of St. George of Merrie
England, first and greatest of the Seven Champions.




THE STORY OF THE THREE BEARS


Once upon a time there were three Bears, who lived together in a house
of their own, in a wood. One of them was a Little Wee Bear, and one was
a Middle-sized Bear, and the other was a Great Big Bear. They had each a
bowl for their porridge; a little bowl for the Little Wee Bear; and a
middle-sized bowl for the Middle-sized Bear; and a great bowl for the
Great Big Bear. And they had each a chair to sit in; a little chair for
the Little Wee Bear; and a middle-sized chair for the Middle-sized Bear;
and a great chair for the Great Big Bear. And they had each a bed to
sleep in; a little bed for the Little Wee Bear; and a middle-sized bed
for the Middle-sized Bear; and a great bed for the Great Big Bear.

One day, after they had made the porridge for their breakfast, and
poured it into their porridge-bowls, they walked out into the wood while
the porridge was cooling, that they might not burn their mouths by
beginning too soon, for they were polite, well-brought-up Bears. And
while they were away a little girl called Goldilocks, who lived at the
other side of the wood and had been sent on an errand by her mother,
passed by the house, and looked in at the window. And then she peeped in
at the keyhole, for she was not at all a well-brought-up little girl.
Then seeing nobody in the house she lifted the latch. The door was not
fastened, because the Bears were good Bears, who did nobody any harm,
and never suspected that anybody would harm them. So Goldilocks opened
the door and went in; and well pleased was she when she saw the porridge
on the table. If she had been a well-brought-up little girl she would
have waited till the Bears came home, and then, perhaps, they would have
asked her to breakfast; for they were good Bears--a little rough or so,
as the manner of Bears is, but for all that very good-natured and
hospitable. But she was an impudent, rude little girl, and so she set
about helping herself.

First she tasted the porridge of the Great Big Bear, and that was too
hot for her. Next she tasted the porridge of the Middle-sized Bear, but
that was too cold for her. And then she went to the porridge of the
Little Wee Bear, and tasted it, and that was neither too hot nor too
cold, but just right, and she liked it so well that she ate it all up,
every bit!

Then Goldilocks, who was tired, for she had been catching butterflies
instead of running on her errand, sate down in the chair of the Great
Big Bear, but that was too hard for her. And then she sate down in the
chair of the Middle-sized Bear, and that was too soft for her. But when
she sat down in the chair of the Little Wee Bear, that was neither too
hard nor too soft, but just right. So she seated herself in it, and
there she sate till the bottom of the chair came out, and down she came,
plump upon the ground; and that made her very cross, for she was a
bad-tempered little girl.

Now, being determined to rest, Goldilocks went upstairs into the
bedchamber in which the Three Bears slept. And first she lay down upon
the bed of the Great Big Bear, but that was too high at the head for
her. And next she lay down upon the bed of the Middle-sized Bear, and
that was too high at the foot for her. And then she lay down upon the
bed of the Little Wee Bear, and that was neither too high at the head
nor at the foot, but just right. So she covered herself up comfortably,
and lay there till she fell fast asleep.

By this time the Three Bears thought their porridge would be cool enough
for them to eat it properly; so they came home to breakfast. Now
careless Goldilocks had left the spoon of the Great Big Bear standing in
his porridge.

                "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN AT MY PORRIDGE!"

said the Great Big Bear in his great, rough, gruff voice.

Then the Middle-sized Bear looked at his porridge and saw the spoon was
standing in it too.

                "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN AT MY PORRIDGE!"

said the Middle-sized Bear in his middle-sized voice.

Then the Little Wee Bear looked at his, and there was the spoon in the
porridge-bowl, but the porridge was all gone!

      "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN AT MY PORRIDGE, AND HAS EATEN IT ALL UP!"

said the Little Wee Bear in his little wee voice.

Upon this the Three Bears, seeing that some one had entered their house,
and eaten up the Little Wee Bear's breakfast, began to look about them.
Now the careless Goldilocks had not put the hard cushion straight when
she rose from the chair of the Great Big Bear.

                "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR!"

said the Great Big Bear in his great, rough, gruff voice.

And the careless Goldilocks had squatted down the soft cushion of the
Middle-sized Bear.

                "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR!"

said the Middle-sized Bear in his middle-sized voice.

      "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN SITTING IN MY CHAIR, AND HAS SATE THE BOTTOM
       THROUGH!"

said the Little Wee Bear in his little wee voice.

Then the Three Bears thought they had better make further search in case
it was a burglar, so they went upstairs into their bedchamber. Now
Goldilocks had pulled the pillow of the Great Big Bear out of its place.

                "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN LYING IN MY BED!"

said the Great Big Bear in his great, rough, gruff voice.

And Goldilocks had pulled the bolster of the Middle-sized Bear out of
its place.

                "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN LYING IN MY BED!"

said the Middle-sized Bear in his middle-sized voice.

But when the Little Wee Bear came to look at his bed, there was the
bolster in its place!

And the pillow was in its place upon the bolster!

And upon the pillow----?

There was Goldilocks's yellow head--which was not in its place, for she
had no business there.

      "SOMEBODY HAS BEEN LYING IN MY BED,--AND HERE SHE IS STILL!"

said the Little Wee Bear in his little wee voice.

[Illustration: "Somebody has been lying in my bed,--and here she is!"]

Now Goldilocks had heard in her sleep the great, rough, gruff voice of
the Great Big Bear; but she was so fast asleep that it was no more to
her than the roaring of wind, or the rumbling of thunder. And she had
heard the middle-sized voice of the Middle-sized Bear, but it was only
as if she had heard some one speaking in a dream. But when she heard the
little wee voice of the Little Wee Bear, it was so sharp, and so shrill,
that it awakened her at once. Up she started, and when she saw the Three
Bears on one side of the bed, she tumbled herself out at the other, and
ran to the window. Now the window was open, because the Bears, like
good, tidy Bears, as they were, always opened their bedchamber window
when they got up in the morning. So naughty, frightened little
Goldilocks jumped; and whether she broke her neck in the fall, or ran
into the wood and was lost there, or found her way out of the wood and
got whipped for being a bad girl and playing truant, no one can say. But
the Three Bears never saw anything more of her.

[Illustration: "Somebody has been at my porridge, and has eaten it all
up!"]




TOM-TIT-TOT


Once upon a time there was a woman and she baked five pies. But when
they came out of the oven they were over-baked, and the crust was far
too hard to eat. So she said to her daughter:

"Daughter," says she, "put them pies on to the shelf and leave 'em there
awhile. Surely they'll come again in time."

By that, you know, she meant that they would become softer; but her
daughter said to herself, "If Mother says the pies will come again, why
shouldn't I eat these now?" So, having good, young teeth, she set to
work and ate the lot, first and last.

Now when supper-time came the woman said to her daughter, "Go you and
get one of the pies. They are sure to have come again by now."

Then the girl went and looked, but of course there was nothing but the
empty dishes.

So back she came and said, "No, Mother, they ain't come again."

"Not one o' them?" asked the mother, taken aback like.

"Not one o' them," says the daughter, quite confident.

"Well," says the mother, "come again, or not come again, I will have one
of them pies for my supper."

"But you can't," says the daughter. "How can you if they ain't come? And
they ain't, as sure's sure."

"But I can," says the mother, getting angry. "Go you at once, child, and
bring me the best on them. My teeth must just tackle it."

"Best or worst is all one," answered the daughter, quite sulky, "for
I've ate the lot, so you can't have one till it comes again--so there!"

Well, the mother she bounced up to see; but half an eye told her there
was nothing save the empty dishes; so she was dished up herself and done
for.

So, having no supper, she sate her down on the doorstep, and, bringing
out her distaff, began to spin. And as she span she sang:

  "My daughter ha' ate five pies to-day,
   My daughter ha' ate five pies to-day,
   My daughter ha' ate five pies to-day,"

for, see you, she was quite flabbergasted and fair astonished.

Now the King of that country happened to be coming down the street, and
he heard the song going on and on, but could not quite make out the
words. So he stopped his horse, and asked:

"What is that you are singing, my good woman?"

[Illustration: "What is that you are singing, my good woman?"]

Now the mother, though horrified at her daughter's appetite, did not
want other folk, leastwise the King, to know about it, so she sang
instead:

  "My daughter ha' spun five skeins to-day,
   My daughter ha' spun five skeins to-day,
   My daughter ha' spun five skeins to-day."

"Five skeins!" cried the King. "By my garter and my crown, I never heard
tell of any one who could do that! Look you here, I have been searching
for a maiden to wife, and your daughter who can spin five skeins a day
is the very one for me. Only, mind you, though for eleven months of the
year she shall be Queen indeed, and have all she likes to eat, all the
gowns she likes to get, all the company she likes to keep, and
everything her heart desires, in the twelfth month she must set to work
and spin five skeins a day, and if she does not she must die. Come! is
it a bargain?"

So the mother agreed. She thought what a grand marriage it was for her
daughter. And as for the five skeins? Time enough to bother about them
when the year came round. There was many a slip between cup and lip,
and, likely as not, the King would have forgotten all about it by then.

Anyhow, her daughter would be Queen for eleven months. So they were
married, and for eleven months the bride was happy as happy could be.
She had everything she liked to eat, and all the gowns she liked to get,
all the company she cared to keep, and everything her heart desired. And
her husband the King was kind as kind could be. But in the tenth month
she began to think of those five skeins and wonder if the King
remembered. And in the eleventh month she began to dream about them as
well. But ne'er a word did the King, her husband, say about them; so she
hoped he had forgotten.

But on the very last day of the eleventh month, the King, her husband,
led her into a room she had never set eyes on before. It had one window,
and there was nothing in it but a stool and a spinning-wheel.

"Now, my dear," he said quite kind like, "you will be shut in here
to-morrow morning with some victuals and some flax, and if by evening
you have not spun five skeins, your head will come off."

Well she was fair frightened, for she had always been such a gatless
thoughtless girl that she had never learnt to spin at all. So what she
was to do on the morrow she could not tell; for, see you, she had no one
to help her; for, of course, now she was Queen, her mother didn't live
nigh her. So she just locked the door of her room, sat down on a stool,
and cried and cried and cried until her pretty eyes were all red.

Now as she sate sobbing and crying she heard a queer little noise at the
bottom of the door. At first she thought it was a mouse. Then she
thought it must be something knocking.

So she upped and opened the door and what did she see? Why! a small,
little, black Thing with a long tail that whisked round and round ever
so fast.

"What are you crying for?" said that Thing, making a bow, and twirling
its tail so fast that she could scarcely see it.

"What's that to you?" said she, shrinking a bit, for that Thing was very
queer like.

"Don't look at my tail if you're frightened," says That, smirking. "Look
at my toes. Ain't they beautiful?"

And sure enough That had on buckled shoes with high heels and big bows,
ever so smart.

[Illustration: A small, little, black Thing with a long tail]

So she kind of forgot about the tail, and wasn't so frightened, and
when That asked her again why she was crying, she upped and said, "It
won't do no good if I do."

"You don't know that," says That, twirling its tail faster and faster,
and sticking out its toes. "Come, tell me, there's a good girl."

"Well," says she, "it can't do any harm if it doesn't do good." So she
dried her pretty eyes and told That all about the pies, and the skeins,
and everything from first to last.

And then that little, black Thing nearly burst with laughing. "If that
is all, it's easy mended!" it says. "I'll come to your window every
morning, take the flax, and bring it back spun into five skeins at
night. Come! shall it be a bargain?"

Now she, for all she was so gatless and thoughtless, said, cautious
like:

"But what is your pay?"

Then That twirled its tail so fast you couldn't see it, and stuck out
its beautiful toes, and smirked and looked out of the corners of its
eyes. "I will give you three guesses every night to guess my name, and
if you haven't guessed it before the month is up, why"--and That twirled
its tail faster and stuck out its toes further, and smirked and
sniggered more than ever--"you shall be mine, my beauty."

Three guesses every night for a whole month! She felt sure she would be
able for so much; and there was no other way out of the business, so she
just said, "Yes! I agree!"

And lor! how That twirled its tail, and bowed, and smirked, and stuck
out its beautiful toes.

Well, the very next day her husband led her to the strange room again,
and there was the day's food, and a spinning-wheel and a great bundle of
flax.

"There you are, my dear," says he as polite as polite. "And remember! if
there are not five whole skeins to-night, I fear your head will come
off!"

At that she began to tremble, and after he had gone away and locked the
door, she was just thinking of a good cry, when she heard a queer
knocking at the window. She upped at once and opened it, and sure enough
there was the small, little, black Thing sitting on the window-ledge,
dangling its beautiful toes and twirling its tail so that you could
scarcely see it.

"Good-morning, my beauty," says That. "Come! hand over the flax, sharp,
there's a good girl."

So she gave That the flax and shut the window and, you may be sure, ate
her victuals, for, as you know, she had a good appetite, and the King,
her husband, had promised to give her everything she liked to eat. So
she ate to her heart's content, and when evening came and she heard that
queer knocking at the window again, she upped and opened it, and there
was the small, little, black Thing with five spun skeins on his arm!

And it twirled its tail faster than ever, and stuck out its beautiful
toes, and bowed and smirked and gave her the five skeins.

Then That said, "And now, my beauty, what is That's name?"

And she answered quite easy like:

"That is Bill."

"No, it ain't," says That, and twirled its tail.

"Then That is Ned," says she.

"No, it ain't," says That, and twirled its tail faster.

"Well," says she a bit more thoughtful, "That is Mark."

"No, it ain't," says That, and laughs and laughs and laughs, and twirls
its tail so as you couldn't see it, as away it flew.

Well, when the King, her husband, came in, he was fine and pleased to
see the five skeins all ready for him, for he was fond of his pretty
wife.

"I shall not have to order your head off, my dear," says he. "And I hope
all the other days will pass as happily." Then he said good-night and
locked the door and left her.

But next morning they brought her fresh flax and even more delicious
foods. And the small, little, black Thing came knocking at the window
and stuck out its beautiful toes and twirled its tail faster and faster,
and took away the bundle of flax and brought it back all spun into five
skeins by evening.

Then That made her guess three times what That's name was; but she could
not guess right, and That laughed and laughed and laughed as it flew
away.

Now every morning and evening the same thing happened, and every evening
she had her three guesses; but she never guessed right. And every day
the small, little, black Thing laughed louder and louder and smirked
more and more, and looked at her quite maliceful out of the corners of
its eyes until she began to get frightened, and instead of eating all
the fine foods left for her, spent the day in trying to think of names
to say. But she never hit upon the right one.

So it came to the last day of the month but one, and when the small,
little, black Thing arrived in the evening with the five skeins of flax
all ready spun, it could hardly say for smirking:

"Ain't you got That's name yet?"

So says she--for she had been reading her Bible:

"Is That Nicodemus?"

"No, it ain't," says That, and twirled its tail faster than you could
see.

"Is That Samuel?" says she all of a flutter.

"No, it ain't, my beauty," chuckles That, looking maliceful.

"Well--is That Methuselah?" says she, inclined to cry.

Then That just fixes her with eyes like a coal a-fire, and says, "No, it
ain't that neither, so there is only to-morrow night and then you'll be
mine, my beauty."

And away the small, little, black Thing flew, its tail twirling and
whisking so fast that you couldn't see it.

Well, she felt so bad she couldn't even cry; but she heard the King, her
husband, coming to the door, so she made bold to be cheerful, and tried
to smile when he said, "Well done, wife! Five skeins again! I shall not
have to order your head off after all, my dear, of that I'm quite sure,
so let us enjoy ourselves." Then he bade the servants bring supper, and
a stool for him to sit beside his Queen, and down they sat, lover-like,
side by side.

But the poor Queen could eat nothing; she could not forget the small,
little, black Thing. And the King hadn't eaten but a mouthful or two
when he began to laugh, and he laughed so long and so loud that at last
the poor Queen, all lackadaisical as she was, said:

"Why do you laugh so?"

"At something I saw to-day, my love," says the King. "I was out
a-hunting, and by chance I came to a place I'd never been in before. It
was in a wood, and there was an old chalk-pit there, and out of the
chalk-pit there came a queer kind of a sort of a humming, humming noise.
So I got off my hobby to see what made it, and went quite quiet to the
edge of the pit and looked down. And what do you think I saw? The
funniest, queerest, smallest, little, black Thing you ever set eyes
upon. And it had a little spinning-wheel and it was spinning away for
dear life, but the wheel didn't go so fast as its tail, and that span
round and round--_ho-ho-ha-ha!_--you never saw the like. And its little
feet had buckled shoes and bows on them, and they went up and down in a
desperate hurry. And all the time that small, little, black Thing kept
bumming and booming away at these words:

  "Name me, name me not,
   Who'll guess it's Tom-Tit-Tot."

Well, when she heard these words the Queen nearly jumped out of her
skin for joy; but she managed to say nothing, but ate her supper quite
comfortably.

And she said no word when next morning the small, little, black Thing
came for the flax, though it looked so gleeful and maliceful that she
could hardly help laughing, knowing she had got the better of it. And
when night came and she heard that knocking against the window-panes,
she put on a wry face, and opened the window slowly as if she was
afraid. But that Thing was as bold as brass and came right inside,
grinning from ear to ear. And oh, my goodness! how That's tail was
twirling and whisking!

"Well, my beauty," says That, giving her the five skeins all ready spun,
"what's my name?"

Then she put down her lip, and says, tearful like,
"Is--is--That--Solomon?"

"No, it ain't," laughs That, smirking out of the corner of That's eye.
And the small, little, black Thing came further into the room.

So she tried again--and this time she seemed hardly able to speak for
fright.

"Well--is That--Zebedee?" she says.

"No, it ain't," cried the impet, full of glee. And it came quite close
and stretched out its little black hands to her, and O-oh, ITS
TAIL...!!!

"Take time, my beauty," says That, sort of jeering like, and its small,
little, black eyes seemed to eat her up. "Take time! Remember! next
guess and you're mine!" Well, she backed just a wee bit from it, for it
was just horrible to look at; but then she laughed out and pointed her
finger at it and said, says she:

          "Name me, name me not,
          _Your_ name is
               _Tom_
                TIT
               _TOT_."

And you never heard such a shriek as that small, little, black Thing
gave out. Its tail dropped down straight, its feet all crumpled up, and
away That flew into the dark, and she never saw it no more.

And she lived happy ever after with her husband, the King.

[Illustration: Away That flew into the dark, and she never saw it no
more]




THE GOLDEN SNUFF-BOX


Once upon a time, and a very good time too, though it was not in my
time, nor your time, nor for the matter of that in any one's time, there
lived a man and a woman who had one son called Jack, and he was just
terribly fond of reading books. He read, and he read, and then, because
his parents lived in a lonely house in a lonely forest and he never saw
any other folk but his father and his mother, he became quite crazy to
go out into the world and see charming princesses and the like.

So one day he told his mother he must be off, and she called him an
air-brained addle-pate, but added that, as he was no use at home, he had
better go seek his fortune. Then she asked him if he would rather take a
small cake with her blessing to eat on his journey, or a large cake with
her curse? Now Jack was a very hungry lad, so he just up and said:

"A big cake, if you please, 'm."

So his mother made a great big cake, and when he started she just off to
the top of the house and cast malisons on him, till he got out of
sight. You see she had to do it, but after that she sate down and cried.

Well, Jack hadn't gone far till he came to a field where his father was
ploughing. Now the goodman was dreadfully put out when he found his son
was going away, and still more so when he heard he had chosen his
mother's malison. So he cast about what to do to put things straight,
and at last he drew out of his pocket a little golden snuff-box, and
gave it to the lad, saying:

"If ever you are in danger of sudden death you may open the box; but not
till then. It has been in our family for years and years; but, as we
have lived, father and son, quietly in the forest, none of us have ever
been in need of help--perhaps you may."

So Jack pocketed the golden snuff-box and went on his way.

Now, after a time, he grew very tired, and very hungry, for he had eaten
his big cake first thing, and night closed in on him so that he could
scarce see his way.

But at last he came to a large house and begged board and lodging at the
back door. Now Jack was a good-looking young fellow, so the maid-servant
at once called him in to the fireside and gave him plenty good meat and
bread and beer. And it so happened that while he was eating his supper
the master's gay young daughter came into the kitchen and saw him. So
she went to her father and said that there was the prettiest young
fellow she had ever seen in the back kitchen, and that if her father
loved her he would give the young man some employment. Now the
gentleman of the house was exceedingly fond of his gay young daughter,
and did not want to vex her; so he went into the back kitchen and
questioned Jack as to what he could do.

"Anything," said Jack gaily, meaning, of course, that he could do any
foolish bit of work about a house.

But the gentleman saw a way of pleasing his gay young daughter and
getting rid of the trouble of employing Jack; so he laughs and says, "If
you can do anything, my good lad," says he, "you had better do this. By
eight o'clock to-morrow morning you must have dug a lake four miles
round in front of my mansion, and on it there must be floating a whole
fleet of vessels. And they must range up in front of my mansion and fire
a salute of guns. And the very last shot must break the leg of the
four-post bed on which my daughter sleeps, for she is always late of a
morning!"

Well! Jack was terribly flabbergasted, but he faltered out:

"And if I don't do it?"

"Then," said the master of the house quite calmly, "your life will be
the forfeit."

So he bade the servants take Jack to a turret-room and lock the door on
him.

Well! Jack sate on the side of his bed and tried to think things out,
but he felt as if he didn't know _b_ from a battledore, so he decided to
think no more, and after saying his prayers he lay down and went to
sleep. And he did sleep! When he woke it was close on eight o'clock,
and he had only time to fly to the window and look out, when the great
clock on the tower began to whirr before it struck the hour. And there
was the lawn in front of the house all set with beds of roses and stocks
and marigolds! Well! all of a sudden he remembered the little golden
snuff-box.

"I'm near enough to death," quoth he to himself, as he drew it out and
opened it.

And no sooner had he opened it than out hopped three funny little red
men in red night-caps, rubbing their eyes and yawning; for, see you,
they had been locked up in the box for years, and years, and years.

"What do you want, Master?" they said between their yawns. But Jack
heard that clock a-whirring and knew he hadn't a moment to lose, so he
just gabbled off his orders. Then the clock began to strike, and the
little men flew out of the window, and suddenly

              Bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang!

went the guns, and the last one must have broken the leg of the
four-post bed, for there at the window was the gay young daughter in her
nightcap, gazing with astonishment at the lake four miles round, with
the fleet of vessels floating on it!

And so did Jack! He had never seen such a sight in his life, and he was
quite sorry when the three little red men disturbed him by flying in at
the window and scrambling into the golden snuff-box.

"Give us a little more time when you want us next, Master," they said
sulkily. Then they shut down the lid, and Jack could hear them yawning
inside as they settled down to sleep.

As you may imagine, the master of the house was fair astonished, while
as for the gay young daughter, she declared at once that she would never
marry any one else but the young man who could do such wonderful things;
the truth being that she and Jack had fallen in love with each other at
first sight.

But her father was cautious. "It is true, my dear," says he, "that the
young fellow seems a bully boy; but for aught we know it may be chance,
not skill, and he may have a broken feather in his wing. So we must try
him again."

Then he said to Jack, "My daughter must have a fine house to live in.
Therefore by to-morrow morning at eight o'clock there must be a
magnificent castle standing on twelve golden pillars in the middle of
the lake, and there must be a church beside it. And all things must be
ready for the bride, and at eight o'clock precisely a peal of bells from
the church must ring out for the wedding. If not you will have to
forfeit your life."

This time Jack intended to give the three little red men more time for
their task; but what with having enjoyed himself so much all day, and
having eaten so much good food, he overslept himself, so that the big
clock on the tower was whirring before it struck eight when he woke,
leapt out of bed, and rushed to the golden snuff-box. But he had
forgotten where he had put it, and so the clock had _really_ begun to
strike before he found it under his pillow, opened it, and gabbled out
his orders. And then you never saw how the three little red men tumbled
over each other and yawned and stretched and made haste all at one time,
so that Jack thought his life would surely be forfeit. But just as the
clock struck its last chime, out rang a peal of merry bells, and there
was the Castle standing on twelve golden pillars and a church beside it
in the middle of the lake. And the Castle was all decorated for the
wedding, and there were crowds and crowds of servants and retainers, all
dressed in their Sunday best.

Never had Jack seen such a sight before; neither had the gay young
daughter who, of course, was looking out of the next window in her
nightcap. And she looked so pretty and so gay that Jack felt quite cross
when he had to step back to let the three little red men fly to their
golden snuff-box. But they were far crosser than he was, and mumbled and
grumbled at the hustle, so that Jack was quite glad when they shut the
box down and began to snore.

Well, of course, Jack and the gay young daughter were married, and were
as happy as the day is long; and Jack had fine clothes to wear, fine
food to eat, fine servants to wait on him, and as many fine friends as
he liked.

So he was in luck; but he had yet to learn that a mother's malison is
sure to bring misfortune some time or another.

Thus it happened that one day when he was going a-hunting with all the
ladies and gentlemen, Jack forgot to change the golden snuff-box (which
he always carried about with him for fear of accidents) from his
waistcoat pocket to that of his scarlet hunting-coat; so he left it
behind him. And what should happen but that the servant let it fall on
the ground when he was folding up the clothes, and the snuff-box flew
open and out popped the three little red men yawning and stretching.

Well! when they found out that they hadn't really been summoned, and
that there was no fear of death, they were in a towering temper and said
they had a great mind to fly away with the Castle, golden pillars and
all.

On hearing this the servant pricked up his ears.

"Could you do that?" he asked.

"Could we?" they said, and they laughed loud. "Why, we can do anything."

Then the servant said ever so sharp, "Then move me this Castle and all
it contains right away over the sea where the master can't disturb us."

Now the little red men need not really have obeyed the order, but they
were so cross with Jack that hardly had the servant said the words
before the task was done; so when the hunting-party came back, lo and
behold! the Castle, and the church, and the golden pillars had all
disappeared!

At first all the rest set upon Jack for being a knave and a cheat; and,
in particular, his wife's father threatened to have at him for deceiving
the gay young daughter; but at last he agreed to let Jack have twelve
months and a day to find the Castle and bring it back.

So off Jack starts on a good horse with some money in his pocket.

And he travelled far and he travelled fast, and he travelled east and
west, north and south, over hills, and dales, and valleys, and
mountains, and woods, and sheepwalks, but never a sign of the missing
castle did he see. Now at last he came to the palace of the King of all
the Mice in the Wide World. And there was a little mousie in a fine
hauberk and a steel cap doing sentry at the front gate, and he was not
for letting Jack in until he had told his errand. And when Jack had told
it, he passed him on to the next mouse sentry at the inner gate; so by
degrees he reached the King's chamber, where he sate surrounded by mice
courtiers.

Now the King of the Mice received Jack very graciously, and said that he
himself knew nothing of the missing Castle, but, as he was King of all
the Mice in the whole world, it was possible that some of his subjects
might know more than he. So he ordered his chamberlain to command a
Grand Assembly for the next morning, and in the meantime he entertained
Jack right royally.

But the next morning, though there were brown mice, and black mice, and
grey mice, and white mice, and piebald mice, from all parts of the
world, they all answered with one breath:

"If it please your Majesty, we have not seen the missing Castle."

Then the King said, "You must go and ask my elder brother the King of
all the Frogs. He may be able to tell you. Leave your horse here and
take one of mine. It knows the way and will carry you safe."

So Jack set off on the King's horse, and as he passed the outer gate he
saw the little mouse sentry coming away, for its guard was up. Now Jack
was a kind-hearted lad, and he had saved some crumbs from his dinner in
order to recompense the little sentry for his kindness. So he put his
hand in his pocket and pulled out the crumbs.

"Here you are, mousekin," he said. "That's for your trouble!"

Then the mouse thanked him kindly and asked if he would take him along
to the King of the Frogs.

"Not I," says Jack. "I should get into trouble with your King."

But the mousekin insisted. "I may be of some use to you," it said. So it
ran up the horse's hind leg and up by its tail and hid in Jack's pocket.
And the horse set off at a hard gallop, for it didn't half like the
mouse running over it.

So at last Jack came to the palace of the King of all the Frogs, and
there at the front gate was a frog doing sentry in a fine coat of mail
and a brass helmet. And the frog sentry was for not letting Jack in; but
the mouse called out that they came from the King of all the Mice and
must be let in without delay. So they were taken to the King's chamber,
where he sate surrounded by frog courtiers in fine clothes; but alas!
he had heard nothing of the Castle on golden pillars, and though he
summoned all the frogs of all the world to a Grand Assembly next
morning, they all answered his question with:

  "_Kro kro, Kro kro_"

which every one knows stands for "No" in frog language.

So the King said to Jack, "There remains but one thing. You must go and
ask my eldest brother, the King of all the Birds. His subjects are
always on the wing, so mayhap they have seen something. Leave the horse
you are riding here, and take one of mine. It knows the way, and will
carry you safe."

So Jack set off, and being a kind-hearted lad he gave the frog sentry,
whom he met coming away from his guard, some crumbs he had saved from
his dinner. And the frog asked leave to go with him, and when Jack
refused to take him he just gave one hop on to the stirrup, and a second
hop on to the crupper, and the next hop he was in Jack's other pocket.

Then the horse galloped away like lightning, for it didn't like the
slimy frog coming down "plop" on its back.

Well, after a time, Jack came to the palace of the King of all the
Birds, and there at the front gate were a sparrow and a crow marching up
and down with matchlocks on their shoulders. Now at this Jack laughed
fit to split, and the mouse and the frog from his pockets called out:

"We come from the King! Sirrahs! Let us pass."

So that the sentries were right mazed, and let them pass in without more
ado.

But when they came to the King's chamber, where he sate surrounded by
all manner of birds, tomtits, wrens, cormorants, turtle-doves, and the
like, the King said he was sorry, but he had no news of the missing
Castle. And though he summoned all the birds of all the world to a Grand
Assembly next morning, not one of them had seen or heard tell of it.

So Jack was quite disconsolate till the King said, "But where is the
eagle? I don't see my eagle."

Then the Chamberlain--he was a tomtit--stepped forward with a bow and
said:

"May it please your Majesty he is late."

"Late?" says the King in a fume. "Summon him at once."

So two larks flew up into the sky till they couldn't be seen and sang
ever so loud, till at last the eagle appeared all in a perspiration from
having flown so fast.

Then the King said, "Sirrah! Have you seen a missing Castle that stands
upon twelve pillars of gold?"

And the eagle blinked its eyes and said, "May it please your Majesty
that is where I've been."

Then everybody rejoiced exceedingly, and when the eagle had eaten a
whole calf so as to be strong enough for the journey, he spread his wide
wings, on which Jack stood, with the mouse in one pocket and the frog in
the other, and started to obey the King's order to take the owner back
to his missing Castle as quickly as possible.

And they flew over land and they flew over sea, until at last in the far
distance they saw the Castle standing on its twelve golden pillars. But
all the doors and windows were fast shut and barred, for, see you, the
servant-master who had run away with it had gone out for the day
a-hunting, and he always bolted doors and windows while he was absent
lest some one else should run away with it.

Then Jack was puzzled to think how he should get hold of the golden
snuff-box, until the little mouse said:

"Let me fetch it. There is always a mouse-hole in every castle, so I am
sure I shall be able to get in."

So it went off, and Jack waited on the eagle's wings in a fume; till at
last mousekin appeared.

"Have you got it?" shouted Jack, and the little mousie cried:

                             "Yes!"

So every one rejoiced exceedingly, and they set off back to the palace
of the King of all the Birds, where Jack had left his horse; for now
that he had the golden snuff-box safe he knew he could get the Castle
back whenever he chose to send the three little red men to fetch it. But
on the way over the sea, while Jack, who was dead tired with standing so
long, lay down between the eagle's wings and fell asleep, the mouse and
the eagle fell to quarrelling as to which of them had helped Jack the
most, and they quarrelled so much that at last they laid the case before
the frog. Then the frog, who made a very wise judge, said he must see
the whole affair from the very beginning; so the mouse brought out the
golden snuff-box from Jack's pocket, and began to relate where it had
been found and all about it. Now, at that very moment Jack awoke, kicked
out his leg, and plump went the golden snuff-box down to the very bottom
of the sea!

"I thought my turn would come," said the frog, and went plump in after
it.

Well, they waited, and waited, and waited for three whole days and three
whole nights; but froggie never came up again, and they had just given
him up in despair when his nose showed above the water.

"Have you got it?" they shouted.

"No!" says he, with a great gasp.

"Then what do you want?" they cried in a rage.

"My breath," says froggie, and with that he sinks down again.

Well, they waited two days and two nights more, and at last up comes the
little frog with the golden snuff-box in its mouth.

Then they all rejoiced exceedingly, and the eagle flew ever so fast to
the palace of the King of the Birds.

But alas and alack-a-day! Jack's troubles were not ended; his mother's
malison was still bringing him ill-luck, for the King of the Birds flew
into a fearsome rage because Jack had not brought the Castle of the
golden pillars back with him. And he said that unless he saw it by eight
o'clock next morning Jack's head should come off as a cheat and a liar.

Then Jack being close to death opened the golden snuff-box, and out
tumbled the three little red men in their three little red caps. They
had recovered their tempers and were quite glad to be back with a master
who knew that they would only, as a rule, work under fear of death; for,
see you, the servant-master had been for ever disturbing their sleep
with opening the box to no purpose.

So before the clock struck eight next morning, there was the Castle on
its twelve golden pillars, and the King of the Birds was fine and
pleased, and let Jack take his horse and ride to the palace of the King
of the Frogs. But there exactly the same thing happened, and poor Jack
had to open the snuff-box again and order the Castle to come to the
palace of the King of the Frogs. At this the little red men were a wee
bit cross; but they said they supposed it could not be helped; so,
though they yawned, they brought the Castle all right, and Jack was
allowed to take his horse and go to the palace of the King of all the
Mice in the World. But here the same thing happened, and the little red
men tumbled out of the golden snuff-box in a real rage, and said fellows
might as well have no sleep at all! However, they did as they were
bidden; they brought the Castle of the golden pillars from the palace of
the King of the Frogs to the palace of the King of the Birds, and Jack
was allowed to take his own horse and ride home.

[Illustration: They brought the Castle of the golden pillars]

But the year and a day which he had been allowed was almost gone, and
even his gay young wife, after almost weeping her eyes out after her
handsome young husband, had given up Jack for lost; so every one was
astounded to see him, and not over-pleased either to see him come
without his Castle. Indeed his father-in-law swore with many oaths that
if it were not in its proper place by eight o'clock next morning Jack's
life should be forfeit.

Now this, of course, was exactly what Jack had wanted and intended from
the beginning; because when death was nigh he could open the golden
snuff-box and order about the little red men. But he had opened it so
often of late and they had become so cross that he was in a stew what to
do; whether to give them time to show their temper, or to hustle them
out of it. At last he decided to do half and half. So just as the hands
of the clock were at five minutes to eight he opened the box, and
stopped his ears!

Well! you never heard such a yawning, and scolding, and threatening, and
blustering. What did he mean by it? Why should he take four bites at one
cherry? If he was always in fear of death why didn't he die and have
done with it?

In the midst of all this the tower clock began to whirr--

"Gentlemen!" says Jack--he was really quaking with fear--"do as you are
told."

"For the last time," they shrieked. "We won't stay and serve a master
who thinks he is going to die every day."

And with that they flew out of the window.

                    _AND THEY NEVER CAME BACK._

The golden snuff-box remained empty for evermore.

But when Jack looked out of window there was the Castle in the middle of
the lake on its twelve golden pillars, and there was his young wife ever
so pretty and gay in her nightcap looking out of the window too.

So they lived happily ever after.




TATTERCOATS


In a great Palace by the sea there once dwelt a very rich old lord, who
had neither wife nor children living, only one little granddaughter,
whose face he had never seen in all her life. He hated her bitterly,
because at her birth his favourite daughter died; and when the old nurse
brought him the baby he swore that it might live or die as it liked, but
he would never look on its face as long as it lived.

So he turned his back, and sat by his window looking out over the sea,
and weeping great tears for his lost daughter, till his white hair and
beard grew down over his shoulders and twined round his chair and crept
into the chinks of the floor, and his tears, dropping on to the
window-ledge, wore a channel through the stone, and ran away in a little
river to the great sea. Meanwhile, his granddaughter grew up with no one
to care for her, or clothe her; only the old nurse, when no one was by,
would sometimes give her a dish of scraps from the kitchen, or a torn
petticoat from the rag-bag; while the other servants of the palace would
drive her from the house with blows and mocking words, calling her
"Tattercoats," and pointing to her bare feet and shoulders, till she ran
away, crying, to hide among the bushes.

So she grew up, with little to eat or to wear, spending her days out of
doors, her only companion a crippled gooseherd, who fed his flock of
geese on the common. And this gooseherd was a queer, merry little chap,
and when she was hungry, or cold, or tired, he would play to her so
gaily on his little pipe, that she forgot all her troubles, and would
fall to dancing with his flock of noisy geese for partners.

Now one day people told each other that the King was travelling through
the land, and was to give a great ball to all the lords and ladies of
the country in the town near by, and that the Prince, his only son, was
to choose a wife from amongst the maidens in the company. In due time
one of the royal invitations to the ball was brought to the Palace by
the sea, and the servants carried it up to the old lord, who still sat
by his window, wrapped in his long white hair and weeping into the
little river that was fed by his tears.

But when he heard the King's command, he dried his eyes and bade them
bring shears to cut him loose, for his hair had bound him a fast
prisoner, and he could not move. And then he sent them for rich clothes,
and jewels, which he put on; and he ordered them to saddle the white
horse, with gold and silk, that he might ride to meet the King; but he
quite forgot he had a granddaughter to take to the ball.

Meanwhile Tattercoats sat by the kitchen-door weeping, because she could
not go to see the grand doings. And when the old nurse heard her crying
she went to the Lord of the Palace, and begged him to take his
granddaughter with him to the King's ball.

But he only frowned and told her to be silent; while the servants
laughed and said, "Tattercoats is happy in her rags, playing with the
gooseherd! Let her be--it is all she is fit for."

A second, and then a third time, the old nurse begged him to let the
girl go with him, but she was answered only by black looks and fierce
words, till she was driven from the room by the jeering servants, with
blows and mocking words.

Weeping over her ill-success, the old nurse went to look for
Tattercoats; but the girl had been turned from the door by the cook, and
had run away to tell her friend the gooseherd how unhappy she was
because she could not go to the King's ball.

Now when the gooseherd had listened to her story, he bade her cheer up,
and proposed that they should go together into the town to see the King,
and all the fine things; and when she looked sorrowfully down at her
rags and bare feet he played a note or two upon his pipe, so gay and
merry, that she forgot all about her tears and her troubles, and before
she well knew, the gooseherd had taken her by the hand, and she and he,
and the geese before them, were dancing down the road towards the town.

"Even cripples can dance when they choose," said the gooseherd.

Before they had gone very far a handsome young man, splendidly dressed,
riding up, stopped to ask the way to the castle where the King was
staying, and when he found that they too were going thither, he got off
his horse and walked beside them along the road.

"You seem merry folk," he said, "and will be good company."

"Good company, indeed," said the gooseherd, and played a new tune that
was not a dance.

It was a curious tune, and it made the strange young man stare and stare
and stare at Tattercoats till he couldn't see her rags--till he
couldn't, to tell the truth, see anything but her beautiful face.

Then he said, "You are the most beautiful maiden in the world. Will you
marry me?"

Then the gooseherd smiled to himself, and played sweeter than ever.

But Tattercoats laughed. "Not I," said she; "you would be finely put to
shame, and so would I be, if you took a goose-girl for your wife! Go and
ask one of the great ladies you will see to-night at the King's ball,
and do not flout poor Tattercoats."

But the more she refused him the sweeter the pipe played, and the deeper
the young man fell in love; till at last he begged her to come that
night at twelve to the King's ball, just as she was, with the gooseherd
and his geese, in her torn petticoat and bare feet, and see if he
wouldn't dance with her before the King and the lords and ladies, and
present her to them all, as his dear and honoured bride.

[Illustration: Tattercoats dancing while the gooseherd pipes]

Now at first Tattercoats said she would not; but the gooseherd said,
"Take fortune when it comes, little one."

So when night came, and the hall in the castle was full of light and
music, and the lords and ladies were dancing before the King, just as
the clock struck twelve, Tattercoats and the gooseherd, followed by his
flock of noisy geese, hissing and swaying their heads, entered at the
great doors, and walked straight up the ball-room, while on either side
the ladies whispered, the lords laughed, and the King seated at the far
end stared in amazement.

But as they came in front of the throne Tattercoats' lover rose from
beside the King, and came to meet her. Taking her by the hand, he kissed
her thrice before them all, and turned to the King.

"Father!" he said--for it was the Prince himself--"I have made my
choice, and here is my bride, the loveliest girl in all the land, and
the sweetest as well!"

Before he had finished speaking, the gooseherd had put his pipe to his
lips and played a few notes that sounded like a bird singing far off in
the woods; and as he played Tattercoats' rags were changed to shining
robes sewn with glittering jewels, a golden crown lay upon her golden
hair, and the flock of geese behind her became a crowd of dainty pages,
bearing her long train.

And as the King rose to greet her as his daughter the trumpets sounded
loudly in honour of the new Princess, and the people outside in the
street said to each other:

"Ah! now the Prince has chosen for his wife the loveliest girl in all
the land!"

But the gooseherd was never seen again, and no one knew what became of
him; while the old lord went home once more to his Palace by the sea,
for he could not stay at Court, when he had sworn never to look on his
granddaughter's face.

So there he still sits by his window,--if you could only see him, as you
may some day--weeping more bitterly than ever. And his white hair has
bound him to the stones, and the river of his tears runs away to the
great sea.




THE THREE FEATHERS


Once upon a time there lived a girl who was wooed and married by a man
she never saw; for he came a-courting her after nightfall, and when they
were married he never came home till it was dark, and always left before
dawn.

Still he was good and kind to her, giving her everything her heart could
desire, so she was well content for a while. But, after a bit, some of
her friends, doubtless full of envy for her good luck, began to whisper
that the unseen husband must have something dreadful the matter with him
which made him averse to being seen.

Now from the very beginning the girl had wondered why her lover did not
come a-courting her as other girls' lovers came, openly and by day, and
though, at first, she paid no heed to her neighbours' nods and winks,
she began at last to think there might be something in what they said.
So she determined to see for herself, and one night when she heard her
husband come into her room, she lit her candle suddenly and saw him.

And, lo and behold! he was handsome as handsome; beautiful enough to
make every woman in the world fall in love with him on the spot. But
even as she got her glimpse of him, he changed into a big brown bird
which looked at her with eyes full of anger and blame.

"Because you have done this faithless thing," it said, "you will see me
no more, unless for seven long years and a day you serve for me
faithfully."

And she cried with tears and sobs, "I will serve seven times seven years
and a day if you will only come back. Tell me what I am to do."

Then the bird-husband said, "I will place you in service, and there you
must remain and do good work for seven years and a day, and you must
listen to no man who may seek to beguile you to leave that service. If
you do I will never return."

To this the girl agreed, and the bird, spreading its broad brown wings,
carried her to a big mansion.

"Here they need a laundry-maid," said the bird-husband. "Go in, ask to
see the mistress, and say you will do the work; but remember you must do
it for seven years and a day."

"But I cannot do it for seven days," answered the girl. "I cannot wash
or iron."

"That matters nothing," replied the bird. "All you have to do is to
pluck three feathers from under my wing close to my heart, and these
feathers will do your bidding whatever it may be. You will only have to
put them on your hand, and say, 'By virtue of these three feathers from
over my true love's heart may this be done,' and it will be done."

So the girl plucked three feathers from under the bird's wing, and after
that the bird flew away.

Then the girl did as she was bidden, and the lady of the house engaged
her for the place. And never was such a quick laundress; for, see you,
she had only to go into the wash-house, bolt the door and close the
shutters, so that no one should see what she was at; then she would out
with the three feathers and say, "By virtue of these three feathers from
over my true love's heart may the copper be lit, the clothes sorted,
washed, boiled, dried, folded, mangled, ironed," and lo! there they came
tumbling on to the table, clean and white, quite ready to be put away.
So her mistress set great store by her and said there never was such a
good laundry-maid. Thus four years passed and there was no talk of her
leaving. But the other servants grew jealous of her, all the more so,
because, being a very pretty girl, all the men-servants fell in love
with her and wanted to marry her.

But she would have none of them, because she was always waiting and
longing for the day when her bird-husband would come back to her in
man's form.

Now one of the men who wanted her was the stout butler, and one day as
he was coming back from the cider-house he chanced to stop by the
laundry, and he heard a voice say, "By virtue of these three feathers
from over my true love's heart may the copper be lit, the clothes
sorted, boiled, dried, folded, mangled, and ironed."

He thought this very queer, so he peeped through the keyhole. And there
was the girl sitting at her ease in a chair, while all the clothes came
flying to the table ready and fit to put away.

Well, that night he went to the girl and said that if she turned up her
nose at him and his proposal any longer, he would up and tell the
mistress that her fine laundress was nothing but a witch; and then, even
if she were not burnt alive, she would lose her place.

Now the girl was in great distress what to do, since if she were not
faithful to her bird-husband, or if she failed to serve her seven years
and a day in one service, he would alike fail to return; so she made an
excuse by saying she could think of no one who did not give her enough
money to satisfy her.

At this the stout butler laughed. "Money?" said he. "I have seventy
pounds laid by with master. Won't that satisfy thee?"

"Happen it would," she replied.

So the very next night the butler came to her with the seventy pounds in
golden sovereigns, and she held out her apron and took them, saying she
was content; for she had thought of a plan. Now as they were going
upstairs together she stopped and said:

"Mr. Butler, excuse me for a minute. I have left the shutters of the
wash-house open, and I must shut them, or they will be banging all night
and disturb master and missus!"

Now though the butler was stout and beginning to grow old, he was
anxious to seem young and gallant; so he said at once:

"Excuse me, my beauty, you shall not go. I will go and shut them. I
shan't be a moment!"

So off he set, and no sooner had he gone than she out with her three
feathers, and putting them on her hand, said in a hurry:

"By virtue of the three feathers from over my true love's heart may the
shutters never cease banging till morning, and may Mr. Butler's hands be
busy trying to shut them."

And so it happened.

Mr. Butler shut the shutters, but--bru-u-u! there they were hanging open
again. Then he shut them once more, and this time they hit him on the
face as they flew open. Yet he couldn't stop; he had to go on. So there
he was the whole livelong night. Such a cursing, and banging, and
swearing, and shutting, never was, until dawn came, and, too tired to be
really angry, he crept back to his bed, resolving that come what might
he would not tell what had happened to him and thus get the laugh on
him. So he kept his own counsel, and the girl kept the seventy pounds,
and laughed in her sleeve at her would-be lover.

Now after a time the coachman, a spruce middle-aged man, who had long
wanted to marry the clever, pretty laundry-maid, going to the pump to
get water for his horses overheard her giving orders to the three
feathers, and peeping through the keyhole as the butler had done, saw
her sitting at her ease in a chair while the clothes, all washed and
ironed and mangled, came flying to the table.

So, just as the butler had done, he went to the girl and said, "I have
you now, my pretty. Don't dare to turn up your nose at me, for if you do
I'll tell mistress you are a witch."

Then the girl said quite calmly, "I look on none who has no money."

"If that is all," replied the coachman, "I have forty pounds laid by
with master. That I'll bring and ask for payment to-morrow night."

So when the night came the girl held out her apron for the money, and as
she was going up the stairs she stopped suddenly and said, "Goody me!
I've left my clothes on the line. Stop a bit till I fetch them in."

Now the coachman was really a very polite fellow, so he said at once:

"Let me go. It is a cold, windy night and you'll be catching your
death."

So off he went, and the girl out with her feathers and said:

"By virtue of the three feathers from over my true love's heart may the
clothes slash and blow about till dawn, and may Mr. Coachman not be able
to gather them up or take his hand from the job."

And when she had said this she went quietly to bed, for she knew what
would happen. And sure enough it did. Never was such a night as Mr.
Coachman spent with the wet clothes flittering and fluttering about his
ears, and the sheets wrapping him into a bundle, and tripping him up,
while the towels slashed at his legs. But though he smarted all over he
had to go on till dawn came, and then a very weary, woebegone coachman
couldn't even creep away to his bed, for he had to feed and water his
horses! And he, also, kept his own counsel for fear of the laugh going
against him; so the clever laundry-maid put the forty pounds with the
seventy in her box, and went on with her work gaily. But after a time
the footman, who was quite an honest lad and truly in love, going by the
laundry peeped through the keyhole to get a glimpse of his dearest dear,
and what should he see but her sitting at her ease in a chair, and the
clothes coming all ready folded and ironed on to the table.

Now when he saw this he was greatly troubled. So he went to his master
and drew out all his savings; and then he went to the girl and told her
that he would have to tell the mistress what he had seen, unless she
consented to marry him.

"You see," he said, "I have been with master this while back, and have
saved up this bit, and you have been here this long while back and must
have saved as well. So let us put the two together and make a home, or
else stay on at service as pleases you."

Well, she tried to put him off; but he insisted so much that at last she
said:

"James! there's a dear, run down to the cellar and fetch me a drop of
brandy. You've made me feel so queer!" And when he had gone she out
with her three feathers, and said, "By virtue of the three feathers from
over my true love's heart may James not be able to pour the brandy
straight, except down his throat."

Well! so it happened. Try as he would, James could not get the brandy
into the glass. It splashed a few drops into it, then it trickled over
his hand, and fell on the floor. And so it went on and on till he grew
so tired that he thought he needed a dram himself. So he tossed off the
few drops and began again; but he fared no better. So he took another
little drain, and went on, and on, and on, till he got quite fuddled.
And who should come down into the cellar but his master to know what the
smell of brandy meant!

Now James the footman was truthful as well as honest, so he told the
master how he had come down to get the sick laundry-maid a drop of
brandy, but that his hand had shaken so that he could not pour it out,
and it had fallen on the ground, and that the smell of it had got to his
head.

"A likely tale," said the master, and beat James soundly.

Then the master went to the mistress, his wife, and said: "Send away
that laundry-maid of yours. Something has come over my men. They have
all drawn out their savings as if they were going to be married, yet
they don't leave, and I believe that girl is at the bottom of it."

But his wife would not hear of the laundry-maid being blamed; she was
the best servant in the house, and worth all the rest of them put
together; it was his men who were at fault. So they quarrelled over it;
but in the end the master gave in, and after this there was peace, since
the mistress bade the girl keep herself to herself, and none of the men
would say ought of what had happened for fear of the laughter of the
other servants.

So it went on until one day when the master was going a-driving, the
coach was at the door, and the footman was standing to hold the coach
open, and the butler on the steps all ready, when who should pass
through the yard, so saucy and bright with a great basket of clean
clothes, but the laundry-maid. And the sight of her was too much for
James, the footman, who began to blub.

"She is a wicked girl," he said. "She got all my savings, and got me a
good thrashing besides."

Then the coachman grew bold. "Did she?" he said. "That was nothing to
what she served me." So he up and told all about the wet clothes and the
awful job he had had the livelong night. Now the butler on the steps
swelled with rage until he nearly burst, and at last he out with his
night of banging shutters.

"And one," he said, "hit me on the nose."

This settled the three men, and they agreed to tell their master the
moment he came out, and get the girl sent about her business. Now the
laundry-maid had sharp ears and had paused behind a door to listen; so
when she heard this she knew she must do something to stop it. So she
out with her three feathers and said, "By virtue of the three feathers
from over my true love's heart may there be striving as to who suffered
most between the men so that they get into the pond for a ducking."

Well! no sooner had she said the words than the three men began
disputing as to which of them had been served the worst; then James up
and hit the stout butler, giving him a black eye, and the fat butler
fell upon James and pommelled him hard, while the coachman scrambled
from his box and belaboured them both, and the laundry-maid stood by
laughing.

So out comes the master, but none of them would listen, and each wanted
to be heard, and fought, and shoved, and pommelled away until they
shoved each other into the pond, and all got a fine ducking.

Then the master asked the girl what it was all about, and she said:

"They all wanted to tell a story against me because I won't marry them,
and one said his was the best, and the next said his was the best, so
they fell a-quarrelling as to which was the likeliest story to get me
into trouble. But they are well punished, so there is no need to do
more."

Then the master went to his wife and said, "You are right. That
laundry-maid of yours is a very wise girl."

So the butler and the coachman and James had nothing to do but look
sheepish and hold their tongues, and the laundry-maid went on with her
duties without further trouble.

Then when the seven years and a day were over, who should drive up to
the door in a fine gilded coach but the bird-husband restored to his
shape as a handsome young man. And he carried the laundry-maid off to be
his wife again, and her master and mistress were so pleased at her good
fortune that they ordered all the other servants to stand on the steps
and give her good luck. So as she passed the butler she put a bag with
seventy pounds in it into his hand and said sweetly, "That is to
recompense you for shutting the shutters."

And when she passed the coachman she put a bag with forty pounds into
his hand and said, "That is your reward for bringing in the clothes."
But when she passed the footman she gave him a bag with a hundred pounds
in it, and laughed, saying, "That is for the drop of brandy you never
brought me!"

So she drove off with her handsome husband, and lived happy ever after.




LAZY JACK


Once upon a time there was a boy whose name was Jack, and he lived with
his mother on a common. They were very poor, and the old woman got her
living by spinning, but Jack was so lazy that he would do nothing but
bask in the sun in the hot weather, and sit by the corner of the hearth
in the winter-time. So they called him Lazy Jack. His mother could not
get him to do anything for her, and at last told him, one Monday, that
if he did not begin to work for his porridge she would turn him out to
get his living as he could.

This roused Jack, and he went out and hired himself for the next day to
a neighbouring farmer for a penny; but as he was coming home, never
having had any money before, he lost it in passing over a brook.

"You stupid boy," said his mother, "you should have put it in your
pocket."

"I'll do so another time," replied Jack.

Well, the next day, Jack went out again and hired himself to a
cowkeeper, who gave him a jar of milk for his day's work. Jack took the
jar and put it into the large pocket of his jacket, spilling it all,
long before he got home.

"Dear me!" said the old woman; "you should have carried it on your
head."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

So the following day, Jack hired himself again to a farmer, who agreed
to give him a cream cheese for his services. In the evening Jack took
the cheese, and went home with it on his head. By the time he got home
the cheese was all spoilt, part of it being lost, and part matted with
his hair.

"You stupid lout," said his mother, "you should have carried it very
carefully in your hands."

"I'll do so another time," replied Jack.

Now the next day, Lazy Jack again went out, and hired himself to a
baker, who would give him nothing for his work but a large tom-cat. Jack
took the cat, and began carrying it very carefully in his hands, but in
a short time pussy scratched him so much that he was compelled to let it
go.

When he got home, his mother said to him, "You silly fellow, you should
have tied it with a string, and dragged it along after you."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

So on the following day, Jack hired himself to a butcher, who rewarded
him by the handsome present of a shoulder of mutton. Jack took the
mutton, tied it with a string, and trailed it along after him in the
dirt, so that by the time he had got home the meat was completely
spoilt. His mother was this time quite out of patience with him, for the
next day was Sunday, and she was obliged to do with cabbage for her
dinner.

[Illustration: Jack found it hard to hoist the donkey on his shoulders]

"You ninney-hammer," said she to her son, "you should have carried it on
your shoulder."

"I'll do so another time," replied Jack.

Well, on the Monday, Lazy Jack went once more and hired himself to a
cattle-keeper, who gave him a donkey for his trouble. Now though Jack
was strong he found it hard to hoist the donkey on his shoulders, but at
last he did it, and began walking home slowly with his prize. Now it so
happened that in the course of his journey he passed a house where a
rich man lived with his only daughter, a beautiful girl, who was deaf
and dumb. And she had never laughed in her life, and the doctors said
she would never speak till somebody made her laugh. So the father had
given out that any man who made her laugh would receive her hand in
marriage. Now this young lady happened to be looking out of the window
when Jack was passing by with the donkey on his shoulders; and the poor
beast with its legs sticking up in the air was kicking violently and
heehawing with all its might. Well, the sight was so comical that she
burst out into a great fit of laughter, and immediately recovered her
speech and hearing. Her father was overjoyed, and fulfilled his promise
by marrying her to Lazy Jack, who was thus made a rich gentleman. They
lived in a large house, and Jack's mother lived with them in great
happiness until she died.




[Illustration: The giant Cormoran was the terror of all the country-side]

JACK THE GIANT-KILLER


I

When good King Arthur reigned with Guinevere his Queen, there lived,
near the Land's End in Cornwall, a farmer who had one only son called
Jack. Now Jack was brisk and ready; of such a lively wit that none nor
nothing could worst him.

In those days, the Mount of St. Michael in Cornwall was the fastness of
a hugeous giant whose name was Cormoran.

He was full eighteen feet in height, some three yards about his middle,
of a grim fierce face, and he was the terror of all the country-side. He
lived in a cave amidst the rocky Mount, and when he desired victuals he
would wade across the tides to the mainland and furnish himself forth
with all that came in his way. The poor folk and the rich folk alike ran
out of their houses and hid themselves when they heard the swish-swash
of his big feet in the water; for if he saw them, he would think nothing
of broiling half-a-dozen or so of them for breakfast. As it was, he
seized their cattle by the score, carrying off half-a-dozen fat oxen on
his back at a time, and hanging sheep and pigs to his waistbelt like
bunches of dip-candles. Now this had gone on for long years, and the
poor folk of Cornwall were in despair, for none could put an end to the
giant Cormoran.

It so happened that one market day Jack, then quite a young lad, found
the town upside down over some new exploit of the giant's. Women were
weeping, men were cursing, and the magistrates were sitting in Council
over what was to be done. But none could suggest a plan. Then Jack,
blithe and gay, went up to the magistrates, and with a fine
courtesy--for he was ever polite--asked them what reward would be given
to him who killed the giant Cormoran.

"The treasures of the Giant's Cave," quoth they.

"Every whit of it?" quoth Jack, who was never to be done.

"To the last farthing," quoth they.

"Then will I undertake the task," said Jack, and forthwith set about the
business.

It was winter-time, and having got himself a horn, a pickaxe, and a
shovel, he went over to the Mount in the dark evening, set to work, and
before dawn he had dug a pit, no less than twenty-two feet deep and nigh
as big across. This he covered with long thin sticks and straw,
sprinkling a little loose mould over all to make it look like solid
ground. So, just as dawn was breaking, he planted himself fair and
square on the side of the pit that was farthest from the giant's cave,
raised the horn to his lips, and with full blast sounded:

                    "Tantivy! Tantivy! Tantivy!"

just as he would have done had he been hunting a fox.

Of course this woke the giant, who rushed in a rage out of his cave, and
seeing little Jack, fair and square blowing away at his horn, as calm
and cool as may be, he became still more angry, and made for the
disturber of his rest, bawling out, "I'll teach you to wake a giant, you
little whipper-snapper. You shall pay dearly for your tantivys, I'll
take you and broil you whole for break--"

He had only got as far as this when crash--he fell into the pit! So
there was a break indeed; such an one that it caused the very
foundations of the Mount to shake.

But Jack shook with laughter. "Ho, ho!" he cried, "how about breakfast
now, Sir Giant? Will you have me broiled or baked? And will no diet
serve you but poor little Jack? Faith! I've got you in Lob's pound now!
You're in the stocks for bad behaviour, and I'll plague you as I like.
Would I had rotten eggs; but this will do as well." And with that he up
with his pickaxe and dealt the giant Cormoran such a most weighty knock
on the very crown of his head, that he killed him on the spot.

Whereupon Jack calmly filled up the pit with earth again and went to
search the cave, where he found much treasure.

Now when the magistrates heard of Jack's great exploit, they proclaimed
that henceforth he should be known as--

JACK THE GIANT-KILLER.

And they presented him with a sword and belt, on which these words were
embroidered in gold:

  Here's the valiant Cornishman
  Who slew the giant Cormoran.


II

Of course the news of Jack's victory soon spread over all England, so
that another giant named Blunderbore who lived to the north, hearing of
it, vowed if ever he came across Jack he would be revenged upon him. Now
this giant Blunderbore was lord of an enchanted castle that stood in the
middle of a lonesome forest.

It so happened that Jack, about four months after he had killed
Cormoran, had occasion to journey into Wales, and on the road he passed
this forest. Weary with walking, and finding a pleasant fountain by the
wayside, he lay down to rest and was soon fast asleep.

Now the giant Blunderbore, coming to the well for water, found Jack
sleeping, and knew by the lines embroidered on his belt that here was
the far-famed giant-killer. Rejoiced at his luck, the giant, without
more ado, lifted Jack to his shoulder and began to carry him through the
wood to the enchanted castle.

But the rustling of the boughs awakened Jack, who, finding himself
already in the clutches of the giant, was terrified; nor was his alarm
decreased by seeing the courtyard of the castle all strewn with men's
bones.

"Yours will be with them ere long," said Blunderbore as he locked poor
Jack into an immense chamber above the castle gateway. It had a
high-pitched, beamed roof, and one window that looked down the road.
Here poor Jack was to stay while Blunderbore went to fetch his
brother-giant, who lived in the same wood, that he might share in the
feast.

Now, after a time, Jack, watching through the window, saw the two giants
tramping hastily down the road, eager for their dinner.

"Now," quoth Jack to himself, "my death or my deliverance is at hand."
For he had thought out a plan. In one corner of the room he had seen two
strong cords. These he took, and making a cunning noose at the end of
each, he hung them out of the window, and, as the giants were unlocking
the iron door of the gate, managed to slip them over their heads without
their noticing it. Then, quick as thought, he tied the other ends to a
beam, so that as the giants moved on the nooses tightened and throttled
them until they grew black in the face. Seeing this, Jack slid down the
ropes, and drawing his sword, slew them both.

So, taking the keys of the castle, he unlocked all the doors and set
free three beauteous ladies who, tied by the hair of their heads, he
found almost starved to death. "Sweet ladies," quoth Jack, kneeling on
one knee--for he was ever polite--"here are the keys of this enchanted
castle. I have destroyed the giant Blunderbore and his brutish brother,
and thus have restored to you your liberty. These keys should bring you
all else you require."

So saying he proceeded on his journey to Wales.


III

He travelled as fast as he could; perhaps too fast, for, losing his way,
he found himself benighted and far from any habitation. He wandered on
always in hopes, until on entering a narrow valley he came on a very
large, dreary-looking house standing alone. Being anxious for shelter he
went up to the door and knocked. You may imagine his surprise and alarm
when the summons was answered by a giant with two heads. But though this
monster's look was exceedingly fierce, his manners were quite polite;
the truth being that he was a Welsh giant, and as such double-faced and
smooth, given to gaining his malicious ends by a show of false
friendship.

So he welcomed Jack heartily in a strong Welsh accent, and prepared a
bedroom for him, where he was left with kind wishes for a good rest.
Jack, however, was too tired to sleep well, and as he lay awake, he
overheard his host muttering to himself in the next room. Having very
keen ears he was able to make out these words, or something like them:

  "Though here you lodge with me this night,
   You shall not see the morning light.
   My club shall dash your brains outright."

"Say'st thou so!" quoth Jack to himself, starting up at once, "So that
is your Welsh trick, is it? But I will be even with you." Then, leaving
his bed, he laid a big billet of wood among the blankets, and taking one
of these to keep himself warm, made himself snug in a corner of the
room, pretending to snore, so as to make Mr. Giant think he was asleep.

And sure enough, after a little time, in came the monster on tiptoe as
if treading on eggs, and carrying a big club. Then--

  WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!

Jack could hear the bed being belaboured until the Giant, thinking every
bone of his guest's skin must be broken, stole out of the room again;
whereupon Jack went calmly to bed once more and slept soundly! Next
morning the giant couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Jack coming down
the stairs fresh and hearty.

"Odds splutter hur nails!" he cried, astonished. "Did she sleep well?
Was there not nothing felt in the night?"

"Oh," replied Jack, laughing in his sleeve, "I think a rat did come and
give me two or three flaps of his tail."

[Illustration: Taking the keys of the castle, Jack unlocked all the doors]

[Illustration: "Odds splutter hur nails!" cried the giant, not to be
outdone. "Hur can do that hurself!"]

On this the giant was dumbfoundered, and led Jack to breakfast, bringing
him a bowl which held at least four gallons of hasty-pudding, and
bidding him, as a man of such mettle, eat the lot. Now Jack when
travelling wore under his cloak a leathern bag to carry his things
withal; so, quick as thought, he hitched this round in front with the
opening just under his chin; thus, as he ate, he could slip the best
part of the pudding into it without the giant's being any the wiser. So
they sate down to breakfast, the giant gobbling down his own measure of
hasty-pudding, while Jack made away with his.

"See," says crafty Jack when he had finished. "I'll show you a trick
worth two of yours," and with that he up with a carving-knife and,
ripping up the leathern bag, out fell all the hasty-pudding on the
floor!

"Odds splutter hur nails!" cried the giant, not to be outdone. "Hur can
do that hurself!" Whereupon he seized the carving-knife, and ripping
open his own belly fell down dead.

Thus was Jack quit of the Welsh giant.


IV

Now it so happened that in those days, when gallant knights were always
seeking adventures, King Arthur's only son, a very valiant Prince,
begged of his father a large sum of money to enable him to journey to
Wales, and there strive to set free a certain beautiful lady who was
possessed by seven evil spirits. In vain the King denied him; so at last
he gave way and the Prince set out with two horses, one of which he
rode, the other laden with gold pieces. Now after some days' journey the
Prince came to a market-town in Wales where there was a great commotion.
On asking the reason for it he was told that, according to law, the
corpse of a very generous man had been arrested on its way to the grave,
because, in life, it had owed large sums to the money-lenders.

"That is a cruel law," said the young Prince. "Go, bury the dead in
peace, and let the creditors come to my lodgings; I will pay the debts
of the dead."

So the creditors came, but they were so numerous that by evening the
Prince had but twopence left for himself, and could not go further on
his journey.

Now it so happened that Jack the Giant-Killer on his way to Wales passed
through the town, and, hearing of the Prince's plight, was so taken with
his kindness and generosity that he determined to be the Prince's
servant. So this was agreed upon, and next morning, after Jack had paid
the reckoning with his last farthing, the two set out together. But as
they were leaving the town, an old woman ran after the Prince and called
out, "Justice! Justice! The dead man owed me twopence these seven years.
Pay me as well as the others."

And the Prince, kind and generous, put his hand to his pocket and gave
the old woman the twopence that was left to him. So now they had not a
penny between them, and when the sun grew low the Prince said:

"Jack! Since we have no money, how are we to get a night's lodging?"

Then Jack replied, "We shall do well enough, Master; for within two or
three miles of this place there lives a huge and monstrous giant with
three heads, who can fight four hundred men in armour and make them fly
from him like chaff before the wind."

"And what good will that be to us?" quoth the Prince. "He will for sure
chop us up in a mouthful."

"Nay," said Jack, laughing. "Let me go and prepare the way for you. By
all accounts this giant is a dolt. Mayhap I may manage better than
that."

So the Prince remained where he was, and Jack pricked his steed at full
speed till he came to the giant's castle, at the gate of which he
knocked so loud that he made the neighbouring hills resound.

On this the giant roared from within in a voice like thunder:

"Who's there?"

Then said Jack as bold as brass, "None but your poor cousin Jack."

"Cousin Jack!" quoth the giant, astounded. "And what news with my poor
cousin Jack?" For, see you, he was quite taken aback; so Jack made haste
to reassure him.

"Dear coz, heavy news, God wot!"

"Heavy news," echoed the giant, half afraid. "God wot, no heavy news can
come to me. Have I not three heads? Can I not fight five hundred men in
armour? Can I not make them fly like chaff before the wind?"

"True," replied crafty Jack, "but I came to warn you because the great
King Arthur's son with a thousand men in armour is on his way to kill
you."

At this the giant began to shiver and to shake. "Ah! Cousin Jack! Kind
cousin Jack! This is heavy news indeed," quoth he. "Tell me, what am I
to do?"

[Illustration: "Ah! Cousin Jack! Kind cousin Jack! This is heavy news
indeed"]

"Hide yourself in the vault," says crafty Jack, "and I will lock and
bolt and bar you in; and keep the key till the Prince has gone. So you
will be safe."

Then the giant made haste and ran down into the vault, and Jack locked,
and bolted, and barred him in. Then being thus secure, he went and
fetched his master, and the two made themselves heartily merry over what
the giant was to have had for supper, while the miserable monster
shivered and shook with fright in the underground vault.

Well, after a good night's rest Jack woke his master in early morn, and
having furnished him well with gold and silver from the giant's
treasure, bade him ride three miles forward on his journey. So when Jack
judged that the Prince was pretty well out of the smell of the giant,
he took the key and let his prisoner out. He was half dead with cold and
damp, but very grateful; and he begged Jack to let him know what he
would be given as a reward for saving the giant's life and castle from
destruction, and he should have it.

"You're very welcome," said Jack, who always had his eyes about him.
"All I want is the old coat and cap, together with the rusty old sword
and slippers which are at your bed-head."

When the giant heard this he sighed and shook his head. "You don't know
what you are asking," quoth he. "They are the most precious things I
possess, but as I have promised, you must have them. The coat will make
you invisible, the cap will tell you all you want to know, the sword
will cut asunder whatever you strike, and the slippers will take you
wherever you want to go in the twinkling of an eye!"

So Jack, overjoyed, rode away with the coat and cap, the sword and the
slippers, and soon overtook his master; and they rode on together until
they reached the castle where the beautiful lady lived whom the Prince
sought.

Now she was very beautiful, for all she was possessed of seven devils,
and when she heard the Prince sought her as a suitor, she smiled and
ordered a splendid banquet to be prepared for his reception. And she
sate on his right hand, and plied him with food and drink.

And when the repast was over she took out her own handkerchief and
wiped his lips gently, and said, with a smile:

"I have a task for you, my lord! You must show me that kerchief
to-morrow morning or lose your head."

And with that she put the handkerchief in her bosom and said,
"Good-night!"

The Prince was in despair, but Jack said nothing till his master was in
bed. Then he put on the old cap he had got from the giant, and lo! in a
minute he knew all that he wanted to know. So, in the dead of the night,
when the beautiful lady called on one of her familiar spirits to carry
her to Lucifer himself, Jack was beforehand with her, and putting on his
coat of darkness and his slippers of swiftness, was there as soon as she
was. And when she gave the handkerchief to the Devil, bidding him keep
it safe, and he put it away on a high shelf, Jack just up and nipped it
away in a trice!

So the next morning, when the beauteous enchanted lady looked to see the
Prince crestfallen, he just made a fine bow and presented her with the
handkerchief.

At first she was terribly disappointed, but, as the day drew on, she
ordered another and still more splendid repast to be got ready. And this
time, when the repast was over, she kissed the Prince full on the lips
and said:

"I have a task for you, my lover. Show me to-morrow morning the last
lips I kiss to-night or you lose your head."

Then the Prince, who by this time was head over ears in love, said
tenderly, "If you will kiss none but mine, I will." Now the beauteous
lady, for all she was possessed by seven devils, could not but see that
the Prince was a very handsome young man; so she blushed a little, and
said:

"That is neither here nor there: you must show me them, or death is your
portion."

So the Prince went to his bed, sorrowful as before; but Jack put on the
cap of knowledge and knew in a moment all he wanted to know.

Thus when, in the dead of the night, the beauteous lady called on her
familiar spirit to take her to Lucifer himself, Jack in his coat of
darkness and his shoes of swiftness was there before her.

"Thou hast betrayed me once," said the beauteous lady to Lucifer,
frowning, "by letting go my handkerchief. Now will I give thee something
none can steal, and so best the Prince, King's son though he be."

With that she kissed the loathly demon full on the lips, and left him.
Whereupon Jack with one blow of the rusty sword of strength cut off
Lucifer's head, and, hiding it under his coat of darkness, brought it
back to his master.

Thus next morning when the beauteous lady, with malice in her beautiful
eyes, asked the Prince to show her the lips she had last kissed, he
pulled out the demon's head by the horns. On that the seven devils,
which possessed the poor lady, gave seven dreadful shrieks and left her.
Thus the enchantment being broken, she appeared in all her perfect
beauty and goodness.

So she and the Prince were married the very next morning. After which
they journeyed back to the court of King Arthur, where Jack the
Giant-Killer, for his many exploits, was made one of the Knights of the
Round Table.


V

This, however, did not satisfy our hero, who was soon on the road again
searching for giants. Now he had not gone far when he came upon one,
seated on a huge block of timber near the entrance to a dark cave. He
was a most terrific giant. His goggle eyes were as coals of fire, his
countenance was grim and gruesome; his cheeks, like huge flitches of
bacon, were covered with a stubbly beard, the bristles of which
resembled rods of iron wire, while the locks of hair that fell on his
brawny shoulders showed like curled snakes or hissing adders. He held a
knotted iron club, and breathed so heavily you could hear him a mile
away. Nothing daunted by this fearsome sight, Jack alighted from his
horse and, putting on his coat of darkness, went close up to the giant
and said softly: "Hullo! is that you? It will not be long before I have
you fast by your beard."

[Illustration: Seated on a huge block of timber near the entrance to a
dark cave]

So saying he made a cut with the sword of strength at the giant's head,
but, somehow, missing his aim, cut off the nose instead, clean as a
whistle! My goodness! How the giant roared! It was like claps of
thunder, and he began to lay about him with the knotted iron club, like
one possessed. But Jack in his coat of darkness easily dodged the
blows, and running in behind, drove the sword up to the hilt into the
giant's back, so that he fell stone dead.

Jack then cut off the head and sent it to King Arthur by a waggoner whom
he hired for the purpose. After which he began to search the giant's
cave to find his treasure. He passed through many windings and turnings
until he came to a huge hall paved and roofed with freestone. At the
upper end of this was an immense fireplace where hung an iron cauldron,
the like of which, for size, Jack had never seen before. It was boiling
and gave out a savoury steam; while beside it, on the right hand, stood
a big massive table set out with huge platters and mugs. Here it was
that the giants used to dine. Going a little further he came upon a
sort of window barred with iron, and looking within beheld a vast number
of miserable captives.

"Alas! Alack!" they cried on seeing him. "Art come, young man, to join
us in this dreadful prison?"

"That depends," quoth Jack: "but first tell me wherefore you are thus
held imprisoned?"

"Through no fault," they cried at once. "We are captives of the cruel
giants and are kept here and well nourished until such time as the
monsters desire a feast. Then they choose the fattest and sup off them."

On hearing this Jack straightway unlocked the door of the prison and set
the poor fellows free. Then, searching the giants' coffers, he divided
the gold and silver equally amongst the captives as some redress for
their sufferings, and taking them to a neighbouring castle gave them a
right good feast.


VI

Now as they were all making merry over their deliverance, and praising
Jack's prowess, a messenger arrived to say that one Thunderdell, a huge
giant with two heads, having heard of the death of his kinsman, was on
his way from the northern dales to be revenged, and was already within a
mile or two of the castle, the country folk with their flocks and herds
flying before him like chaff before the wind.

[Illustration: On his way ... to be revenged]

Now the castle with its gardens stood on a small island that was
surrounded by a moat twenty feet wide and thirty feet deep, having very
steep sides. And this moat was spanned by a drawbridge. This, without a
moment's delay, Jack ordered should be sawn on both sides at the middle,
so as to only leave one plank uncut over which he in his invisible coat
of darkness passed swiftly to meet his enemy, bearing in his hand the
wonderful sword of strength.

Now though the giant could not, of course, see Jack, he could smell him,
for giants have keen noses. Therefore Thunderdell cried out in a voice
like his name:

  "Fee, fi, fo, fum!
   I smell the blood of an Englishman.
   Be he alive, or be he dead,
   I'll grind his bones to make my bread!"

[Illustration: The country folk flying before him like chaff before the
wind]

"Is that so?" quoth Jack, cheerful as ever. "Then art thou a monstrous
miller for sure!"

On this the giant, peering round everywhere for a glimpse of his foe,
shouted out:

"Art thou, indeed, the villain who hath killed so many of my kinsmen?
Then, indeed, will I tear thee to pieces with my teeth, suck thy blood,
and grind thy bones to powder."

"Thou'lt have to catch me first," quoth Jack, laughing, and throwing off
his coat of darkness and putting on his slippers of swiftness, he began
nimbly to lead the giant a pretty dance, he leaping and doubling light
as a feather, the monster following heavily like a walking tower, so
that the very foundations of the earth seemed to shake at every step.
At this game the onlookers nearly split their sides with laughter, until
Jack, judging there had been enough of it, made for the drawbridge, ran
neatly over the single plank, and reaching the other side waited in
teasing fashion for his adversary.

On came the giant at full speed, foaming at the mouth with rage, and
flourishing his club. But when he came to the middle of the bridge his
great weight, of course, broke the plank, and there he was fallen
headlong into the moat, rolling and wallowing like a whale, plunging
from place to place, yet unable to get out and be revenged.

The spectators greeted his efforts with roars of laughter, and Jack
himself was at first too overcome with merriment to do more than scoff.
At last, however, he went for a rope, cast it over the giant's two
heads, so, with the help of a team of horses, drew them shorewards,
where two blows from the sword of strength settled the matter.


VII

After some time spent in mirth and pastimes, Jack began once more to
grow restless, and taking leave of his companions set out for fresh
adventures.

He travelled far and fast, through woods, and vales, and hills, till at
last he came, late at night, on a lonesome house set at the foot of a
high mountain. Knocking at the door, it was opened by an old man whose
head was white as snow.

"Father," said Jack, ever courteous, "can you lodge a benighted
traveller?"

"Ay, that will I, and welcome to my poor cottage," replied the old man.

Whereupon Jack came in, and after supper they sate together chatting in
friendly fashion. Then it was that the old man, seeing by Jack's belt
that he was the famous Giant-Killer, spoke in this wise:

"My son! You are the great conqueror of evil monsters. Now close by
there lives one well worthy of your prowess. On the top of yonder high
hill is an enchanted castle kept by a giant named Galligantua, who, by
the help of a wicked old magician, inveigles many beautiful ladies and
valiant knights into the castle, where they are transformed into all
sorts of birds and beasts, yea, even into fishes and insects. There they
live pitiably in confinement; but most of all do I grieve for a duke's
daughter whom they kidnapped in her father's garden, bringing her hither
in a burning chariot drawn by fiery dragons. Her form is that of a white
hind; and though many valiant knights have tried their utmost to break
the spell and work her deliverance, none have succeeded; for, see you,
at the entrance to the castle are two dreadful griffins who destroy
every one who attempts to pass them by."

Now Jack bethought him of the coat of darkness which had served him so
well before, and he put on the cap of knowledge, and in an instant he
knew what had to be done. Then the very next morning, at dawn-time, Jack
arose and put on his invisible coat and his slippers of swiftness. And
in the twinkling of an eye there he was on the top of the mountain! And
there were the two griffins guarding the castle gates--horrible
creatures with forked tails and tongues. But they could not see him
because of the coat of darkness, so he passed them by unharmed.

And hung to the doors of the gateway he found a golden trumpet on a
silver chain, and beneath it was engraved in red lettering:

  Whoever shall this trumpet blow
  Will cause the giant's overthrow.
  The black enchantment he will break,
  And gladness out of sadness make.

No sooner had Jack read these words than he put the horn to his lips and
blew a loud

                "Tantivy! Tantivy! Tantivy!"

Now at the very first note the castle trembled to its vast foundations,
and before he had finished the measure, both the giant and the magician
were biting their thumbs and tearing their hair, knowing that their
wickedness must now come to an end. But the giant showed fight and took
up his club to defend himself; whereupon Jack, with one clean cut of the
sword of strength, severed his head from his body, and would doubtless
have done the same to the magician, but that the latter was a coward,
and, calling up a whirlwind, was swept away by it into the air, nor
has he ever been seen or heard of since. The enchantments being thus
broken, all the valiant knights and beautiful ladies, who had been
transformed into birds and beasts and fishes and reptiles and insects,
returned to their proper shapes, including the duke's daughter, who,
from being a white hind, showed as the most beauteous maiden upon whom
the sun ever shone. Now, no sooner had this occurred than the whole
castle vanished away in a cloud of smoke, and from that moment giants
vanished also from the land.

[Illustration: The giant Galligantua and the wicked old magician
transform the duke's daughter into a white hind]

So Jack, when he had presented the head of Galligantua to King Arthur,
together with all the lords and ladies he had delivered from
enchantment, found he had nothing more to do. As a reward for past
services, however, King Arthur bestowed the hand of the duke's daughter
upon honest Jack the Giant-Killer. So married they were, and the whole
kingdom was filled with joy at their wedding. Furthermore, the King
bestowed on Jack a noble castle with a magnificent estate belonging
thereto, whereon he, his lady, and their children lived in great joy and
content for the rest of their days.




[Illustration: Headpiece--The Three Sillies]

THE THREE SILLIES


Once upon a time, when folk were not so wise as they are nowadays, there
lived a farmer and his wife who had one daughter. And she, being a
pretty lass, was courted by the young squire when he came home from his
travels.

Now every evening he would stroll over from the Hall to see her and stop
to supper in the farm-house, and every evening the daughter would go
down into the cellar to draw the cider for supper.

So one evening when she had gone down to draw the cider and had turned
the tap as usual, she happened to look up at the ceiling, and there she
saw a big wooden mallet stuck in one of the beams.

It must have been there for ages and ages, for it was all covered with
cobwebs; but somehow or another she had never noticed it before, and at
once she began thinking how dangerous it was to have the mallet just
there.

"For," thought she, "supposing him and me was married, and supposing we
was to have a son, and supposing he were to grow up to be a man, and
supposing he were to come down to draw cider like as I'm doing, and
supposing the mallet were to fall on his head and kill him, how dreadful
it would be!"

And with that she put down the candle she was carrying and, seating
herself on a cask, began to cry. And she cried and cried and cried.

Now, upstairs, they began to wonder why she was so long drawing the
cider; so after a time her mother went down to the cellar to see what
had come to her, and found her, seated on the cask, crying ever so hard,
and the cider running all over the floor.

"Lawks a mercy me!" cried her mother, "whatever is the matter?"

"O mother!" says she between her sobs, "it's that horrid mallet.
Supposing him and me was married, and supposing we was to have a son,
and supposing he was to grow up to be a man, and supposing he was to
come down to draw cider like as I'm doing, and supposing the mallet were
to fall on his head and kill him, how dreadful it would be!"

"Dear heart!" said the mother, seating herself beside her daughter and
beginning to cry: "How dreadful it would be!"

So they both sat a-crying.

Now after a time, when they did not come back, the farmer began to
wonder what had happened, and going down to the cellar found them
seated side by side on the cask, crying hard, and the cider running all
over the floor.

"Zounds!" says he, "whatever is the matter?"

"Just look at that horrid mallet up there, father," moaned the mother.
"Supposing our daughter was to marry her sweetheart, and supposing they
was to have a son, and supposing he was to grow to man's estate, and
supposing he was to come down to draw cider like as we're doing, and
supposing that there mallet was to fall on his head and kill him, how
dreadful it would be!"

"Dreadful indeed!" said the father and, seating himself beside his wife
and daughter, started a-crying too.

Now upstairs the young squire wanted his supper; so at last he lost
patience and went down into the cellar to see for himself what they were
all after. And there he found them seated side by side on the cask
a-crying, with their feet all a-wash in cider, for the floor was fair
flooded. So the first thing he did was to run straight and turn off the
tap. Then he said:

"What are you three after, sitting there crying like babies, and letting
good cider run over the floor?"

Then they all three began with one voice, "Look at that horrid mallet!
Supposing you and me/she was married, and supposing we/you had a
son, and supposing he was to grow to man's estate, and supposing he was
to come down here to draw cider like as we be, and supposing that there
mallet was to fall down on his head and kill him, how dreadful it would
be!"

Then the young squire burst out a-laughing, and laughed till he was
tired. But at last he reached up to the old mallet and pulled it out,
and put it safe on the floor. And he shook his head and said, "I've
travelled far and I've travelled fast, but never have I met with three
such sillies as you three. Now I can't marry one of the three biggest
sillies in the world. So I shall start again on my travels, and if I can
find three bigger sillies than you three, then I'll come back and be
married--not otherwise."

So he wished them good-bye and started again on his travels, leaving
them all crying; this time because the marriage was off!

Well, the young man travelled far and he travelled fast, but never did
he find a bigger silly, until one day he came upon an old woman's
cottage that had some grass growing on the thatched roof.

And the old woman was trying her best to cudgel her cow into going up a
ladder to eat the grass. But the poor thing was afraid and durst not go.
Then the old woman tried coaxing, but it wouldn't go. You never saw such
a sight! The cow getting more and more flustered and obstinate, the old
woman getting hotter and hotter.

At last the young squire said, "It would be easier if _you_ went up the
ladder, cut the grass, and threw it down for the cow to eat."

"A likely story that," says the old woman. "A cow can cut grass for
herself. And the foolish thing will be quite safe up there, for I'll tie
a rope round her neck, pass the rope down the chimney, and fasten
t'other end to my wrist, so as when I'm doing my bit o' washing, she
can't fall off the roof without my knowing it. So mind your own
business, young sir."

Well, after a while the old woman coaxed and codgered and bullied and
badgered the cow up the ladder, and when she got it on to the roof she
tied a rope round its neck, passed the rope down the chimney, and
fastened t'other end to her wrist. Then she went about her bit of
washing, and young squire he went on his way.

But he hadn't gone but a bit when he heard the awfullest hullabaloo. He
galloped back, and found that the cow had fallen off the roof and got
strangled by the rope round its neck, while the weight of the cow had
pulled the old woman by her wrist up the chimney, where she had got
stuck half-way and been smothered by the soot!

"That is one bigger silly," quoth the young squire as he journeyed on.
"So now for two more!"

He did not find any, however, till late one night he arrived at a little
inn. And the inn was so full that he had to share a room with another
traveller. Now his room-fellow proved quite a pleasant fellow, and they
forgathered, and each slept well in his bed.

But next morning, when they were dressing, what does the stranger do but
carefully hang his breeches on the knobs of the tallboy!

"What are you doing?" asks young squire.

"I'm putting on my breeches," says the stranger; and with that he goes
to the other end of the room, takes a little run, and tried to jump into
the breeches.

But he didn't succeed, so he took another run and another try, and
another and another and another, until he got quite hot and flustered,
as the old woman had got over her cow that wouldn't go up the ladder.
And all the time young squire was laughing fit to split, for never in
his life did he see anything so comical.

Then the stranger stopped a while and mopped his face with his
handkerchief, for he was all in a sweat. "It's very well laughing," says
he, "but breeches are the most awkwardest things to get into that ever
were. It takes me the best part of an hour every morning before I get
them on. How do you manage yours?"

Then young squire showed him, as well as he could for laughing, how to
put on his breeches, and the stranger was ever so grateful and said he
never should have thought of that way.

"So that," quoth young squire to himself, "is a second bigger silly."
But he travelled far and he travelled fast without finding the third,
until one bright night when the moon was shining right overhead he came
upon a village. And outside the village was a pond, and round about the
pond was a great crowd of villagers. And some had got rakes, and some
had got pitchforks, and some had got brooms. And they were as busy as
busy, shouting out, and raking, and forking, and sweeping away at the
pond.

"What is the matter?" cried young squire, jumping off his horse to help.
"Has any one fallen in?"

"Aye! Matter enough," says they. "Can't 'ee see moon's fallen into the
pond, an' we can't get her out nohow."

And with that they set to again raking, and forking, and sweeping away.
Then the young squire burst out laughing, told them they were fools for
their pains, and bade them look up over their heads where the moon was
riding broad and full. But they wouldn't, and they wouldn't believe that
what they saw in the water was only a reflection. And when he insisted
they began to abuse him roundly and threaten to duck him in the pond. So
he got on his horse again as quickly as he could, leaving them raking,
and forking, and sweeping away; and for all we know they may be at it
yet!

But the young squire said to himself, "There are many more sillies in
this world than I thought for; so I'll just go back and marry the
farmer's daughter. She is no sillier than the rest."

So they were married, and if they didn't live happy ever after, that has
nothing to do with the story of the three sillies.




[Illustration: Headpiece--The Golden Ball]

THE GOLDEN BALL


Once upon a time there lived two lasses, who were sisters, and as they
came from the fair they saw a right handsome young man standing at a
house door before them. They had never seen such a handsome young man
before. He had gold on his cap, gold on his finger, gold on his neck,
gold at his waist! And he had a golden ball in each hand. He gave a ball
to each lass, saying she was to keep it; but if she lost it, she was to
be hanged.

Now the youngest of the lasses lost her ball, and this is how. She was
by a park paling, and she was tossing her ball, and it went up, and up,
and up, till it went fair over the paling; and when she climbed to look
for it, the ball ran along the green grass, and it ran right forward to
the door of a house that stood there, and the ball went into the house
and she saw it no more.

So she was taken away to be hanged by the neck till she was dead,
because she had lost her ball.

But the lass had a sweetheart, and he said he would go and get the ball.
So he went to the park gate, but 'twas shut; then he climbed the
railing, and when he got to the top of it an old woman rose up out of
the ditch before him and said that if he wanted to get the ball he must
sleep three nights in the house: so he said he would.

Well! when it was evening, he went into the house, and looked everywhere
for the ball, but he could not find it, nor any one in the house at all;
but when night came on he thought he heard bogles moving about in the
courtyard; so he looked out o' window, and, sure enough, the yard was
full of them!

Presently he heard steps coming upstairs, so he hid behind the door, and
was as still as a mouse. Then in came a big giant five times as tall as
the lad, and looked around; but seeing nothing he went to the window and
bowed himself to look out; and as he bowed on his elbows to see the
bogles in the yard, the lad stepped behind him, and with one blow of his
sword he cut him in twain, so that the top part of him fell in the yard,
and the bottom part remained standing looking out of the window.

Well! there was a great cry from the bogles when they saw half the giant
come tumbling down to them, and they called out, "There comes half our
master; give us the other half."

Then the lad said, "It's no use of thee, thou pair of legs, standing
alone at the window, as thou hast no eye to see with, so go join thy
brother"; and he cast the lower part of the giant after the top part.
Now when the bogles had gotten all the giant they were quiet.

Next night the lad went to sleep in the house again, and this time a
second giant came in at the door, and as he came in the lad cut him in
twain; but the legs walked on to the fire and went straight up the
chimney.

"Go, get thee after thy legs," said the lad to the head, and he cast the
other half of the giant up the chimney.

Now the third night nothing happened, so the lad got into bed; but
before he went to sleep he heard the bogles striving under the bed, and
he wondered what they were at. So he peeped, and saw that they had the
ball there, and were playing with it, casting it to and fro.

Now after a time one of them thrust his leg out from under the bed, and
quick as anything the lad brings his sword down, and cuts it off. Then
another bogle thrust his arm out at t'other side of the bed, and in a
twinkling the lad cuts that off too. So it went on, till at last he had
maimed them all, and they all went off, crying and wailing, and forgot
the ball! Then the lad got out of bed, found the ball, and went off at
once to seek his true love.

[Illustration: He heard the bogles striving under the bed]

Now the lass had been taken to York to be hanged; she was brought out on
the scaffold, and the hangman said, "Now, lass, thou must hang by the
neck till thou be'st dead." But she cried out:

  "Stop, stop, I think I see my mother coming!
   O mother, hast thou brought my golden ball
      And come to set me free?"

And the mother answered:

  "I've neither brought thy golden ball
     Nor come to set thee free,
   But I have come to see thee hung
     Upon this gallows-tree."

Then the hangman said, "Now, lass, say thy prayers for thou must die."
But she said:

  "Stop, stop, I think I see my father coming!
   O father, hast thou brought my golden ball
      And come to set me free?"

And the father answered:

  "I've neither brought thy golden ball
     Nor come to set thee free,
   But I have come to see thee hung
     Upon this gallows-tree."

Then the hangman said, "Hast thee done thy prayers? Now, lass, put thy
head into the noose."

But she answered, "Stop, stop, I think I see my brother coming!" And
again she sang her little verse, and the brother sang back the same
words. And so with her sister, her uncle, her aunt, and her cousin. But
they all said the same:

  "I've neither brought thy golden ball
     Nor come to set thee free,
   But I have come to see thee hung
     Upon this gallows-tree."

Then the hangman said, "I will stop no longer, thou'rt making game of
me. Thou must be hung at once."

But now, at long last, she saw her sweetheart coming through the crowd,
so she cried to him:

  "Stop, stop, I see my sweetheart coming!
   Sweetheart, hast thou brought my golden ball
      And come to set me free?"

Then her sweetheart held up her golden ball and cried:

  "Aye, I have brought to thee thy golden ball
     And come to set thee free;
   I have not come to see thee hung
     Upon this gallows-tree."

So he took her home, then and there, and they lived happy ever after.




THE TWO SISTERS


Once upon a time there were two sisters who were as like each other as
two peas in a pod; but one was good, and the other was bad-tempered. Now
their father had no work, so the girls began to think of going to
service.

"I will go first and see what I can make of it," said the younger
sister, ever so cheerfully, "then you, sis, can follow if I have good
luck."

So she packed up a bundle, said good-bye, and started to find a place;
but no one in the town wanted a girl, and she went farther afield into
the country. And as she journeyed she came upon an oven in which a lot
of loaves were baking. Now as she passed, the loaves cried out with one
voice:

"Little girl! Little girl! Take us out! Please take us out! We have been
baking for seven years, and no one has come to take us out. Do take us
out or we shall soon be burnt!"

Then, being a kind, obliging little girl, she stopped, put down her
bundle, took out the bread, and went on her way saying:

"You will be more comfortable now."

After a time she came to a cow lowing beside an empty pail, and the cow
said to her:

"Little girl! Little girl! Milk me! Please milk me! Seven years have I
been waiting, but no one has come to milk me!"

So the kind girl stopped, put down her bundle, milked the cow into the
pail, and went on her way saying:

"Now you will be more comfortable."

By and by she came to an apple tree so laden with fruit that its
branches were nigh to break, and the apple tree called to her:

"Little girl! Little girl! Please shake my branches. The fruit is so
heavy I can't stand straight!"

Then the kind girl stopped, put down her bundle, and shook the branches
so that the apples fell off, and the tree could stand straight. Then she
went on her way saying:

"You will be more comfortable now."

So she journeyed on till she came to a house where an old witch-woman
lived. Now this witch-woman wanted a servant-maid, and promised good
wages. Therefore the girl agreed to stop with her and try how she liked
service. She had to sweep the floor, keep the house clean and tidy, the
fire bright and cheery. But there was one thing the witch-woman said she
must never do; and that was look up the chimney!

[Illustration: "Tree of mine! O Tree of mine! Have you seen my naughty
little maid?"]

"If you do," said the witch-woman, "something will fall down on you, and
you will come to a bad end." Well! the girl swept, and dusted, and
made up the fire; but ne'er a penny of wages did she see. Now the girl
wanted to go home as she did not like witch-service; for the witch used
to have boiled babies for supper, and bury the bones under some stones
in the garden. But she did not like to go home penniless; so she stayed
on, sweeping, and dusting, and doing her work, just as if she was
pleased. Then one day, as she was sweeping up the hearth, down tumbled
some soot, and, without remembering she was forbidden to look up the
chimney, she looked up to see where the soot came from. And, lo and
behold! a big bag of gold fell plump into her lap.

Now the witch happened to be out on one of her witch errands; so the
girl thought it a fine opportunity to be off home.

So she kilted up her petticoats and started to run home; but she had
only gone a little way when she heard the witch-woman coming after her
on her broomstick. Now the apple tree she had helped to stand straight
happened to be quite close; so she ran to it and cried:

  "Apple tree! Apple tree, hide me
   So the old witch can't find me,
   For if she does she'll pick my bones,
   And bury me under the garden stones."

Then the apple tree said, "Of course I will. You helped me to stand
straight, and one good turn deserves another."

So the apple tree hid her finely in its green branches; and when the
witch flew past saying:

  "Tree of mine! O Tree of mine!
   Have you seen my naughty little maid
   With a willy willy wag and a great big bag,
   She's stolen my money--all I had?"

The apple tree answered:

  "No, mother dear,
   Not for seven year!"

So the witch flew on the wrong way, and the girl got down, thanked the
tree politely, and started again. But just as she got to where the cow
was standing beside the pail, she heard the witch coming again, so she
ran to the cow and cried:

  "Cow! Cow, please hide me
   So the witch can't find me;
   If she does she'll pick my bones,
   And bury me under the garden stones!"

"Certainly I will," answered the cow. "Didn't you milk me and make me
comfortable? Hide yourself behind me and you'll be quite safe."

And when the witch flew by and called to the cow:

  "O Cow of mine! Cow of mine!
   Have you seen my naughty little maid
   With a willy willy wag and a great big bag,
   Who stole my money--all that I had?"

She just said politely:

  "No, mother dear,
   Not for seven year!"

Then the old witch went on in the wrong direction, and the girl started
afresh on her way home; but just as she got to where the oven stood, she
heard that horrid old witch coming behind her again; so she ran as fast
as she could to the oven and cried:

  "O Oven! Oven! hide me
   So as the witch can't find me,
   For if she does she'll pick my bones,
   And bury them under the garden stones."

Then the oven said, "I am afraid there is no room for you, as another
batch of bread is baking; but there is the baker--ask him."

So she asked the baker, and he said, "Of course I will. You saved my
last batch from being burnt; so run into the bakehouse, you will be
quite safe there, and I will settle the witch for you."

So she hid in the bakehouse, only just in time, for there was the old
witch calling angrily:

  "O Man of mine! Man of mine!
   Have you seen my naughty little maid
   With a willy willy wag and a great big bag,
   Who's stole my money--all I had?"

Then the baker replied, "Look in the oven. She may be there."

And the witch alighted from her broomstick and peered into the oven: but
she could see no one.

"Creep in and look in the farthest corner," said the baker slyly, and
the witch crept in, when----

                           Bang!----

he shut the door in her face, and there she was roasting. And when she
came out with the bread she was all crisp and brown, and had to go home
as best she could and put cold cream all over her!

But the kind, obliging little girl got safe home with her bag of money.

Now the ill-tempered elder sister was very jealous of this good luck,
and determined to get a bag of gold for herself. So she in her turn
packed up a bundle and started to seek service by the same road. But
when she came to the oven, and the loaves begged her to take them out
because they had been baking seven years and were nigh to burning, she
tossed her head and said:

"A likely story indeed, that I should burn my fingers to save your
crusts. No, thank you!"

And with that she went on till she came across the cow standing waiting
to be milked beside the pail. But when the cow said:

"Little girl! Little girl! Milk me! Please milk me, I've waited seven
years to be milked----"

She only laughed and replied, "You may wait another seven years for all
I care. I'm not your dairymaid!"

And with that she went on till she came to the apple tree, all
overburdened by its fruit. But when it begged her to shake its branches,
she only giggled, and plucking one ripe apple, said:

"One is enough for me: you can keep the rest yourself." And with that
she went on munching the apple, till she came to the witch-woman's
house.

Now the witch-woman, though she had got over being crisp and brown from
the oven, was dreadfully angry with all little maid-servants, and made
up her mind this one should not trick her. So for a long time she never
went out of the house; thus the ill-tempered sister never had a chance
of looking up the chimney, as she had meant to do at once. And she had
to dust, and clean, and brush, and sweep ever so hard, until she was
quite tired out.

But one day, when the witch-woman went into the garden to bury her
bones, she seized the moment, looked up the chimney, and, sure enough, a
bag of gold fell plump into her lap!

Well! she was off with it in a moment, and ran and ran till she came to
the apple tree, when she heard the witch-woman behind her. So she cried
as her sister had done:

  "Apple tree! Apple tree, hide me
   So the old witch can't find me,
   For if she does she'll break my bones,
   Or bury me under the garden stones."

But the apple tree said:

"No room here! I've too many apples."

So she had to run on; and when the witch-woman on her broomstick came
flying by and called:

  "O Tree of mine! Tree of mine!
   Have you seen a naughty little maid
   With a willy willy wag and a great big bag,
   Who's stolen my money--all I had?"

The apple tree replied:

  "Yes, mother dear,
   She's gone down there."

Then the witch-woman went after her, caught her, gave her a thorough
good beating, took the bag of money away from her, and sent her home
without a penny payment for all her dusting, and sweeping, and brushing,
and cleaning.




[Illustration: Headpiece--The Laidly Worm]

THE LAIDLY WORM


In Bamborough Castle there once lived a King who had two children, a son
named Childe Wynde, and a daughter who was called May Margret. Their
mother, a fair woman, was dead, and the King mourned her long and
faithfully. But, after his son Childe Wynde went to seek his fortune,
the King, hunting in the forest, came across a lady of such great beauty
that he fell in love with her at once and determined to marry her.

Now Princess May Margret was not over-pleased to think that her mother's
place should be taken by a strange woman, nor was she pleased to think
that she would have to give up keeping house for her father the King.
For she had always taken a pride in her work. But she said nothing,
though she stood long on the castle walls looking out across the sea
wishing for her dear brother's return; for, see you, they had mothered
each other.

Still no news came of Childe Wynde; so on the day when the old King was
to bring the new Queen home, May Margret counted over the keys of the
castle chambers, knotted them on a string, and after casting them over
her left shoulder for luck--more for her father's sake than for the new
Queen's regard--she stood at the castle gate ready to hand over the keys
to her stepmother.

Now as the bridal procession approached with all the lords of the north
countrie, and some of the Scots lords in attendance, she looked so fair
and so sweet, that the lords whispered to one another of her beauty. And
when, after saying in a voice like a mavis--

  "Oh welcome, welcome, father,
   Unto your halls and towers!
   And welcome too, my stepmother,
   For all that's here is yours!"

she turned upon the step and tripped into the yard, the Scots lords said
aloud:

  "Forsooth! May Margret's grace
   Surpasses all that we have met, she has so fair a face!"

Now the new Queen overheard this, and she stamped her foot and her face
flushed with anger as she turned her about and called:

  "You might have excepted me,
   But I will bring May Margret to a Laidly Worm's degree;
   I'll bring her low as a Laidly Worm
   That warps about a stone,
   And not till the Childe of Wynde come back
   Will the witching be undone."

Well! hearing this May Margret laughed, not knowing that her new
stepmother, for all her beauty, was a witch; and the laugh made the
wicked woman still more angry. So that same night she left her royal
bed, and, returning to the lonely cave where she had ever done her
magic, she cast Princess May Margret under a spell with charms three
times three, and passes nine times nine. And this was her spell:

  "I weird ye to a Laidly Worm,
   And such sail ye ever be
   Until Childe Wynde the King's dear son
   Comes home across the sea.
   Until the world comes to an end
   Unspelled ye'll never be,
   Unless Childe Wynde of his own free will
   Sail give you kisses three!"

So it came to pass that Princess May Margret went to her bed a beauteous
maiden, full of grace, and rose next morning a Laidly Worm; for when her
tire-women came to dress her they found coiled up in her bed an awesome
dragon, which uncoiled itself and came towards them. And when they ran
away terrified, the Laidly Worm crawled and crept, and crept and crawled
down to the sea till it reached the rock of the Spindlestone which is
called the Heugh. And there it curled itself round the stone, and lay
basking in the sun.

Then for seven miles east and seven miles west and seven miles north and
south the whole country-side knew the hunger of the Laidly Worm of
Spindlestone Heugh, for it drove the awesome beast to leave its
resting-place at night and devour everything it came across.

At last a wise warlock told the people that if they wished to be quit of
these horrors, they must take every drop of the milk of seven white
milch kine every morn and every eve to the trough of stone at the foot
of the Heugh, for the Laidly Worm to drink. And this they did, and after
that the Laidly Worm troubled the country-side no longer; but lay warped
about the Heugh, looking out to sea with its terrible snout in the air.

But the word of its doings had gone east and had gone west; it had even
gone over the sea and had come to Childe Wynde's ears; and the news of
it angered him; for he thought perchance it had something to do with his
beloved sister May Margret's disappearance. So he called his men-at-arms
together and said:

"We must sail to Bamborough and land by Spindlestone, so as to quell and
kill this Laidly Worm."

Then they built a ship without delay, laying the keel with wood from the
rowan tree. And they made masts of rowan wood also, and oars likewise;
and, so furnished, set forth.

Now the wicked Queen knew by her arts they were coming, so she sent out
her imps to still the winds so that the fluttering sails of silk hung
idle on the masts. But Childe Wynde was not to be bested; so he called
out the oarsmen. Thus it came to pass that one morn the wicked Queen,
looking from the Keep, saw the gallant ship in Bamborough Bay, and she
sent out all her witch-wives and her impets to raise a storm and sink
the ship; but they came back unable to hurt it, for, see you, it was
built of rowan wood, over which witches have no power.

Then, as a last device, the Witch Queen laid spells upon the Laidly Worm
saying:

  "Oh! Laidly Worm! Go make their topmast heel,
   Go! Worm the sand, and creep beneath the keel."

Now the Laidly Worm had no choice but to obey. So:

  "The Worm leapt up, the Worm leapt down
   And plaited round each plank,
   And aye as the ship came close to shore
   She heeled as if she sank."

Three times three did Childe Wynde attempt to land, and three times
three the Laidly Worm kept the good ship from the shore. At last Childe
Wynde gave the word to put the ship about, and the Witch Queen, who was
watching from the Keep, thought he had given up: but he was not to be
bested: for he only rounded the next point to Budley sands. And there,
jumping into the shoal water, he got safely to land, and drawing his
sword of proof, rushed up to fight the awesome Worm. But as he raised
his sword to strike he heard a voice, soft as the western wind:

  "Oh quit thy sword, unbend thy bow,
     And give me kisses three,
   For though I seem a Laidly Worm
     No harm I'll do to thee!"

And the voice seemed to him like the voice of his dear sister May
Margret. So he stayed his hand. Then once again the Laidly Worm said:

  "Oh quit thy sword, unbend thy bow,
     My laidly form forget.
   Forgive the wrong and kiss me thrice
     For love of May Margret."

Then Childe Wynde, remembering how he had loved his sister, put his arms
round the Laidly Worm and kissed it once. And he kissed the loathly
thing twice. And he kissed it yet a third time as he stood with the wet
sand at his feet.

Then with a hiss and a roar the Laidly Worm sank to the sand, and in his
arms was May Margret!

He wrapped her in his mantle, for she trembled in the cold sea air, and
carried her to Bamborough Castle, where the wicked Queen, knowing her
hour was come, stood, all deserted by her imps and witch-wives, on the
stairs, twisting her hands.

Then Childe Wynde looking at her cried:

  "Woe! Woe to thee, thou wicked Witch!
     An ill fate shalt thine be!
   The doom thou dreed on May Margret
     The same doom shalt thou dree.

   Henceforth thou'lt be a Laidly Toad
     That in the clay doth wend,
   And unspelled thou wilt never be
     Till this world hath an end."

And as he spoke the wicked Queen began to shrivel, and she shrivelled
and shrivelled to a horrid wrinkled toad that hopped down the castle
steps and disappeared in a crevice.

But to this day a loathsome toad is sometimes seen haunting Bamborough
Keep; and that Laidly Toad is the wicked Witch Queen!

But Childe Wynde and Princess May Margret loved each other as much as
ever, and lived happily ever after.




[Illustration: Tatty sat down and wept]

TITTY MOUSE AND TATTY MOUSE


Titty Mouse and Tatty Mouse both lived in a house.

Titty Mouse went a-gleaning, and Tatty Mouse went a-gleaning.

So they both went a-gleaning.

Titty Mouse gleaned an ear of corn, and Tatty Mouse gleaned an ear of
corn.

So they both gleaned an ear of corn.

Titty Mouse made a pudding, and Tatty Mouse made a pudding.

So they both made a pudding.

And Tatty Mouse put her pudding into the pot to boil.

But when Titty went to put hers in, the pot tumbled over, and scalded
her to death, and Tatty sat down and wept.

Then the three-legged stool said, "Tatty, why do you weep?"

"Titty's dead," said Tatty, "and so I weep."

"Then," said the stool, "I'll hop," so the stool hopped.

Then a broom in the corner of the room said, "Stool, why do you hop?"

"Oh!" said the stool, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and so I hop."

"Then," said the broom, "I'll sweep," so the broom began to sweep.

Then said the door, "Broom, why do you sweep?"

"Oh!" said the broom, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool
hops, and so I sweep."

"Then," said the door, "I'll jar," so the door jarred.

Then the window said, "Door, why do you jar?"

"Oh!" said the door, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool hops,
and the broom sweeps, and so I jar."

"Then," said the window, "I'll creak," so the window creaked.

Now there was an old form outside the house, and when the window
creaked, the form said, "Window, why do you creak?"

"Oh!" said the window, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool
hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and so I creak!"

"Then," said the old form, "I'll gallop round the house." So the old
form galloped round the house.

Now there was a fine large walnut tree growing by the cottage, and the
tree said to the form, "Form, why do you gallop round the house?"

"Oh!" says the form, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, and the stool
hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, and so
I gallop round the house."

"Then," said the walnut tree, "I'll shed my leaves." So the walnut tree
shed all its beautiful green leaves.

Now there was a little bird perched on one of the boughs of the tree,
and when all the leaves fell, it said, "Walnut tree, why do you shed
your leaves?"

"Oh!" said the tree, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool hops, and
the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the old form
gallops round the house, and so I shed my leaves."

"Then," said the little bird, "I'll moult all my feathers," so he
moulted all his gay feathers.

Now there was a little girl walking below, carrying a jug of milk for
her brothers' and sisters' supper, and when she saw the poor little bird
moult all its feathers, she said, "Little bird, why do you moult all
your feathers?"

"Oh!" said the little bird, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool
hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the
old form gallops round the house, the walnut tree sheds its leaves, and
so I moult all my feathers."

"Then," said the little girl, "I'll spill the milk." So she dropt the
pitcher and spilt the milk.

Now there was an old man just by on the top of a ladder thatching a
rick, and when he saw the little girl spill the milk, he said, "Little
girl, what do you mean by spilling the milk? your little brothers and
sisters must go without their suppers."

Then said the little girl, "Titty's dead, and Tatty weeps, the stool
hops, and the broom sweeps, the door jars, and the window creaks, the
old form gallops round the house, the walnut tree sheds all its leaves,
the little bird moults all its feathers, and so I spill the milk."

"Oh!" said the old man, "then I'll tumble off the ladder and break my
neck."

So he tumbled off the ladder and broke his neck; and when the old man
broke his neck, the great walnut tree fell down with a crash and upset
the old form and house, and the house falling knocked the window out,
and the window knocked the door down, and the door upset the broom, and
the broom upset the stool, and poor little Tatty Mouse was buried
beneath the ruins.




JACK AND THE BEANSTALK


A long long time ago, when most of the world was young and folk did what
they liked because all things were good, there lived a boy called Jack.

His father was bed-ridden, and his mother, a good soul, was busy early
morns and late eves planning and placing how to support her sick husband
and her young son by selling the milk and butter which Milky-White, the
beautiful cow, gave them without stint. For it was summer-time. But
winter came on; the herbs of the fields took refuge from the frosts in
the warm earth, and though his mother sent Jack to gather what fodder he
could get in the hedgerows, he came back as often as not with a very
empty sack; for Jack's eyes were so often full of wonder at all the
things he saw that sometimes he forgot to work!

So it came to pass that one morning Milky-White gave no milk at all--not
one drain! Then the good hard-working mother threw her apron over her
head and sobbed:

"What shall we do? What shall we do?"

Now Jack loved his mother; besides, he felt just a bit sneaky at being
such a big boy and doing so little to help, so he said, "Cheer up! Cheer
up! I'll go and get work somewhere." And he felt as he spoke as if he
would work his fingers to the bone; but the good woman shook her head
mournfully.

"You've tried that before, Jack," she said, "and nobody would keep you.
You are quite a good lad but your wits go a-wool-gathering. No, we must
sell Milky-White and live on the money. It is no use crying over milk
that is not here to spill!"

You see, she was a wise as well as a hard-working woman, and Jack's
spirits rose.

"Just so," he cried. "We will sell Milky-White and be richer than ever.
It's an ill wind that blows no one good. So, as it is market-day, I'll
just take her there and we shall see what we shall see."

"But--" began his mother.

"But doesn't butter parsnips," laughed Jack. "Trust me to make a good
bargain."

So, as it was washing-day, and her sick husband was more ailing than
usual, his mother let Jack set off to sell the cow.

"Not less than ten pounds," she bawled after him as he turned the
corner.

Ten pounds, indeed! Jack had made up his mind to twenty! Twenty solid
golden sovereigns!

He was just settling what he should buy his mother as a fairing out of
the money, when he saw a queer little old man on the road who called
out, "Good-morning, Jack!"

"Good-morning," replied Jack, with a polite bow, wondering how the queer
little old man happened to know his name; though, to be sure, Jacks were
as plentiful as blackberries.

"And where may you be going?" asked the queer little old man. Jack
wondered again--he was always wondering, you know--what the queer little
old man had to do with it; but, being always polite, he replied:

"I am going to market to sell Milky-White--and I mean to make a good
bargain."

"So you will! So you will!" chuckled the queer little old man. "You
look the sort of chap for it. I bet you know how many beans make five?"

"Two in each hand and one in my mouth," answered Jack readily. He really
was sharp as a needle.

"Just so, just so!" chuckled the queer little old man; and as he spoke
he drew out of his pocket five beans. "Well, here they are, so give us
Milky-White."

Jack was so flabbergasted that he stood with his mouth open as if he
expected the fifth bean to fly into it.

"What!" he said at last. "My Milky-White for five common beans! Not if I
know it!"

"But they aren't common beans," put in the queer little old man, and
there was a queer little smile on his queer little face. "If you plant
these beans over-night, by morning they will have grown up right into
the very sky."

Jack was too flabbergasted this time even to open his mouth; his eyes
opened instead.

[Illustration: As he spoke he drew out of his pocket five beans]

"Did you say right into the very sky?" he asked at last; for, see you,
Jack had wondered more about the sky than about anything else.

"_RIGHT UP INTO THE VERY SKY_" repeated the queer old man, with a nod
between each word. "It's a good bargain, Jack; and, as fair play's a
jewel, if they don't--why! meet me here to-morrow morning and you shall
have Milky-White back again. Will that please you?"

"Right as a trivet," cried Jack, without stopping to think, and the next
moment he found himself standing on an empty road.

"Two in each hand and one in my mouth," repeated Jack. "That is what I
said, and what I'll do. Everything in order, and if what the queer
little old man said isn't true, I shall get Milky-White back to-morrow
morning."

So whistling and munching the bean he trudged home cheerfully, wondering
what the sky would be like if he ever got there.

"What a long time you've been!" exclaimed his mother, who was watching
anxiously for him at the gate. "It is past sun-setting; but I see you
have sold Milky-White. Tell me quick how much you got for her."

"You'll never guess," began Jack.

"Laws-a-mercy! You don't say so," interrupted the good woman. "And I
worriting all day lest they should take you in. What was it? Ten
pounds--fifteen--sure it _can't_ be twenty!"

Jack held out the beans triumphantly.

"There," he said. "That's what I got for her, and a jolly good bargain
too!"

It was his mother's turn to be flabbergasted; but all she said was:

"What! Them beans!"

"Yes," replied Jack, beginning to doubt his own wisdom; "but they're
_magic_ beans. If you plant them over-night, by morning
they--grow--right up--into--the--sky--Oh! Please don't hit so hard!"

For Jack's mother for once had lost her temper, and was belabouring the
boy for all she was worth. And when she had finished scolding and
beating, she flung the miserable beans out of window and sent him,
supperless, to bed.

If this was the magical effect of the beans, thought Jack ruefully, he
didn't want any more magic, if you please.

However, being healthy and, as a rule, happy, he soon fell asleep and
slept like a top.

When he woke he thought at first it was moonlight, for everything in the
room showed greenish. Then he stared at the little window. It was
covered as if with a curtain by leaves. He was out of bed in a trice,
and the next moment, without waiting to dress, was climbing up the
biggest beanstalk you ever saw. For what the queer little old man had
said was true! One of the beans which his mother had chucked into the
garden had found soil, taken root, and grown in the night....

Where?...

Up to the very sky? Jack meant to see at any rate.

So he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed. It was easy work, for the
big beanstalk with the leaves growing out of each side was like a
ladder; for all that he soon was out of breath. Then he got his second
wind, and was just beginning to wonder if he had a third when he saw in
front of him a wide, shining white road stretching away, and away, and
away.

So he took to walking, and he walked, and walked, and walked, till he
came to a tall, shining white house with a wide white doorstep.

And on the doorstep stood a great big woman with a black porridge-pot
in her hand. Now Jack, having had no supper, was hungry as a hunter, and
when he saw the porridge-pot he said quite politely:

"Good-morning, 'm. I wonder if you _could_ give me some breakfast?"

"Breakfast!" echoed the woman, who, in truth, was an ogre's wife. "If it
is breakfast you're wanting, it's breakfast you'll likely be; for I
expect my man home every instant, and there is nothing he likes better
for breakfast than a boy--a fat boy grilled on toast."

Now Jack was not a bit of a coward, and when he wanted a thing he
generally got it, so he said cheerful-like:

"I'd be fatter if I'd had my breakfast!" Whereat the ogre's wife laughed
and bade Jack come in; for she was not, really, half as bad as she
looked. But he had hardly finished the great bowl of porridge and milk
she gave him when the whole house began to tremble and quake. It was the
ogre coming home!

                     Thump! THUMP!! THUMP!!!

"Into the oven with you, sharp!" cried the ogre's wife; and the iron
oven door was just closed when the ogre strode in. Jack could see him
through the little peep-hole slide at the top where the steam came out.

He was a big one for sure. He had three sheep strung to his belt, and
these he threw down on the table. "Here, wife," he cried, "roast me
these snippets for breakfast; they are all I've been able to get this
morning, worse luck! I hope the oven's hot?" And he went to touch the
handle, while Jack burst out all of a sweat, wondering what would happen
next.

"Roast!" echoed the ogre's wife. "Pooh! the little things would dry to
cinders. Better boil them."

So she set to work to boil them; but the ogre began sniffing about the
room. "They don't smell--mutton meat," he growled. Then he frowned
horribly and began the real ogre's rhyme:

  "_Fee-fi-fo-fum,
   I smell the blood of an Englishman.
   Be he alive, or be he dead,
   I'll grind his bones to make my bread._"

"Don't be silly!" said his wife. "It's the bones of the little boy you
had for supper that I'm boiling down for soup! Come, eat your breakfast,
there's a good ogre!"

So the ogre ate his three sheep, and when he had done he went to a big
oaken chest and took out three big bags of golden pieces. These he put
on the table, and began to count their contents while his wife cleared
away the breakfast things. And by and by his head began to nod, and at
last he began to snore, and snored so loud that the whole house shook.

Then Jack nipped out of the oven and, seizing one of the bags of gold,
crept away, and ran along the straight, wide, shining white road as fast
as his legs would carry him till he came to the beanstalk. He couldn't
climb down it with the bag of gold, it was so heavy, so he just flung
his burden down first, and, helter-skelter, climbed after it.

And when he came to the bottom, there was his mother picking up gold
pieces out of the garden as fast as she could; for, of course, the bag
had burst.

"Laws-a-mercy me!" she says. "Wherever have you been? See! It's been
rainin' gold!"

"No, it hasn't," began Jack. "I climbed up--"

Then he turned to look for the beanstalk; but, lo and behold! it wasn't
there at all! So he knew, then, it was all real magic.

After that they lived happily on the gold pieces for a long time, and
the bed-ridden father got all sorts of nice things to eat; but, at last,
a day came when Jack's mother showed a doleful face as she put a big
yellow sovereign into Jack's hand and bade him be careful marketing,
because there was not one more in the coffer. After that they must
starve.

That night Jack went supperless to bed of his own accord. If he couldn't
make money, he thought, at any rate he could eat less money. It was a
shame for a big boy to stuff himself and bring no grist to the mill.

He slept like a top, as boys do when they don't overeat themselves, and
when he woke....

Hey, presto! the whole room showed greenish, and there was a curtain of
leaves over the window! Another bean had grown in the night, and Jack
was up it like a lamp-lighter before you could say knife.

This time he didn't take nearly so long climbing until he reached the
straight, wide, white road, and in a trice he found himself before the
tall white house, where on the wide white steps the ogre's wife was
standing with the black porridge-pot in her hand.

And this time Jack was as bold as brass. "Good-morning, 'm," he said.
"I've come to ask you for breakfast, for I had no supper, and I'm as
hungry as a hunter."

"Go away, bad boy!" replied the ogre's wife. "Last time I gave a boy
breakfast my man missed a whole bag of gold. I believe you are the same
boy."

"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not," said Jack, with a laugh. "I'll tell you
true when I've had my breakfast; but not till then."

So the ogre's wife, who was dreadfully curious, gave him a big bowl full
of porridge; but before he had half finished it he heard the ogre
coming--

                    Thump! THUMP! THUMP!

"In with you to the oven," shrieked the ogre's wife. "You shall tell me
when he has gone to sleep."

This time Jack saw through the steam peep-hole that the ogre had three
fat calves strung to his belt.

"Better luck to-day, wife!" he cried, and his voice shook the house.
"Quick! Roast these trifles for my breakfast! I hope the oven's hot?"

And he went to feel the handle of the door, but his wife cried out
sharply:

"Roast! Why, you'd have to wait hours before they were done! I'll broil
them--see how bright the fire is!"

"Umph!" growled the ogre. And then he began sniffing and calling out:

  "_Fee-fi-fo-fum,
   I smell the blood of an Englishman.
   Be he alive, or be he dead,
   I'll grind his bones to make my bread._"

"Twaddle!" said the ogre's wife. "It's only the bones of the boy you had
last week that I've put into the pig-bucket!"

"Umph!" said the ogre harshly; but he ate the broiled calves, and then
he said to his wife, "Bring me my hen that lays the magic eggs. I want
to see gold."

So the ogre's wife brought him a great big black hen with a shiny red
comb. She plumped it down on the table and took away the breakfast
things.

Then the ogre said to the hen, "Lay!" and it promptly laid--what do you
think?--a beautiful, shiny, yellow, golden egg!

"None so dusty, henny-penny," laughed the ogre. "I shan't have to beg as
long as I've got you." Then he said, "Lay!" once more; and, lo and
behold! there was another beautiful, shiny, yellow, golden egg!

Jack could hardly believe his eyes, and made up his mind that he would
have that hen, come what might. So, when the ogre began to doze, he just
out like a flash from the oven, seized the hen, and ran for his life!
But, you see, he reckoned without his prize; for hens, you know, always
cackle when they leave their nests after laying an egg, and this one set
up such a scrawing that it woke the ogre.

"Where's my hen?" he shouted, and his wife came rushing in, and they
both rushed to the door; but Jack had got the better of them by a good
start, and all they could see was a little figure right away down the
wide white road, holding a big, scrawing, cackling, fluttering black hen
by the legs!

How Jack got down the beanstalk he never knew. It was all wings, and
leaves, and feathers, and cacklings; but get down he did, and there was
his mother wondering if the sky was going to fall!

But the very moment Jack touched ground he called out, "Lay!" and the
black hen ceased cackling and laid a great, big, shiny, yellow, golden
egg.

So every one was satisfied; and from that moment everybody had
everything that money could buy. For, whenever they wanted anything,
they just said, "Lay!" and the black hen provided them with gold.

But Jack began to wonder if he couldn't find something else besides
money in the sky. So one fine moonlight midsummer night he refused his
supper, and before he went to bed stole out to the garden with a big
watering-can and watered the ground under his window; for, thought he,
"there must be two more beans somewhere, and perhaps it is too dry for
them to grow." Then he slept like a top.

And, lo and behold! when he woke, there was the green light shimmering
through his room, and there he was in an instant on the beanstalk,
climbing, climbing, climbing for all he was worth.

But this time he knew better than to ask for his breakfast; for the
ogre's wife would be sure to recognise him. So he just hid in some
bushes beside the great white house, till he saw her in the scullery,
and then he slipped out and hid himself in the copper; for he knew she
would be sure to look in the oven first thing.

And by and by he heard--

                   Thump! THUMP! THUMP!

And peeping through a crack in the copper-lid, he could see the ogre
stalk in with three huge oxen strung at his belt. But this time, no
sooner had the ogre got into the house than he began shouting:

  "_Fee-fi-fo-fum,
   I smell the blood of an Englishman.
   Be he alive, or be he dead,
   I'll grind his bones to make my bread._"

For, see you, the copper-lid didn't fit tight like the oven door, and
ogres have noses like a dog's for scent.

"Well, I declare, so do I!" exclaimed the ogre's wife. "It will be that
horrid boy who stole the bag of gold and the hen. If so, he's hid in the
oven!"

But when she opened the door, lo and behold! Jack wasn't there! Only
some joints of meat roasting and sizzling away. Then she laughed and
said, "You and me be fools for sure. Why, it's the boy you caught last
night as I was getting ready for your breakfast. Yes, we be fools to
take dead meat for live flesh! So eat your breakfast, there's a good
ogre!"

But the ogre, though he enjoyed roast boy very much, wasn't satisfied,
and every now and then he would burst out with "_Fee-fi-fo-fum_," and
get up and search the cupboards, keeping Jack in a fever of fear lest he
should think of the copper.

But he didn't. And when he had finished his breakfast he called out to
his wife, "Bring me my magic harp! I want to be amused."

So she brought out a little harp and put it on the table. And the ogre
leant back in his chair and said lazily:

                    "Sing!"

And, lo and behold! the harp began to sing. If you want to know what it
sang about? Why! It sang about everything! And it sang so beautifully
that Jack forgot to be frightened, and the ogre forgot to think of
"_Fee-fi-fo-fum_," and fell asleep and

                    did
                    NOT
                   SNORE.

Then Jack stole out of the copper like a mouse and crept hands and knees
to the table, raised himself up ever so softly and laid hold of the
magic harp; for he was determined to have it.

But, no sooner had he touched it, than it cried out quite loud, "Master!
Master!" So the ogre woke, saw Jack making off, and rushed after him.

My goodness, it was a race! Jack was nimble, but the ogre's stride was
twice as long. So, though Jack turned, and twisted, and doubled like a
hare, yet at last, when he got to the beanstalk, the ogre was not a
dozen yards behind him. There wasn't time to think, so Jack just flung
himself on to the stalk and began to go down as fast as he could, while
the harp kept calling, "Master! Master!" at the very top of its voice.
He had only got down about a quarter of the way when there was the most
awful lurch you can think of, and Jack nearly fell off the beanstalk. It
was the ogre beginning to climb down, and his weight made the stalk sway
like a tree in a storm. Then Jack knew it was life or death, and he
climbed down faster and faster, and as he climbed he shouted, "Mother!
Mother! Bring an axe! Bring an axe!"

Now his mother, as luck would have it, was in the backyard chopping
wood, and she ran out thinking that this time the sky must have fallen.
Just at that moment Jack touched ground, and he flung down the
harp--which immediately began to sing of all sorts of beautiful
things--and he seized the axe and gave a great chop at the beanstalk,
which shook and swayed and bent like barley before a breeze.

"Have a care!" shouted the ogre, clinging on as hard as he could. But
Jack _did_ have a care, and he dealt that beanstalk such a shrewd blow
that the whole of it, ogre and all, came toppling down, and, of course,
the ogre broke his crown, so that he died on the spot.

[Illustration: "Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman."]

[Illustration: Jack seized the axe and gave a great chop at the
beanstalk]

After that every one was quite happy. For they had gold and to spare,
and if the bed-ridden father was dull, Jack just brought out the harp
and said, "Sing!" And, lo and behold! It sang about everything under the
sun.

So Jack ceased wondering so much and became quite a useful person.

And the last bean still hasn't grown yet. It is still in the garden.

I wonder if it will ever grow?

And what little child will climb its beanstalk into the sky?

And what will that child find?

Goody me!




THE BLACK BULL OF NORROWAY


Long ago in Norroway there lived a lady who had three daughters. Now
they were all pretty, and one night they fell a-talking of whom they
meant to marry.

And the eldest said, "I will have no one lower than an Earl."

And the second said, "I will have none lower than a Lord."

But the third, the prettiest and the merriest, tossed her head and said,
with a twinkle in her eye, "Why so proud? As for me I would be content
with the Black Bull of Norroway."

At that the other sisters bade her be silent and not talk lightly of
such a monster. For, see you, is it not written:

  To wilder measures now they turn,
    The black black Bull of Norroway;
  Sudden the tapers cease to burn,
    The minstrels cease to play.

So, no doubt, the Black Bull of Norroway was held to be a horrid
monster.

But the youngest daughter would have her laugh, so she said three times
that she would be content with the Black Bull of Norroway.

Well! It so happened that the very next morning a coach-and-six came
swinging along the road, and in it sate an Earl who had come to ask the
hand of the eldest daughter in marriage. So there were great rejoicings
over the wedding, and the bride and bridegroom drove away in the
coach-and-six.

Then the next thing that happened was that a coach-and-four with a Lord
in it came swinging along the road; and he wanted to marry the second
daughter. So they were wed, and there were great rejoicings, and the
bride and bridegroom drove away in the coach-and-four.

Now after this there was only the youngest, the prettiest and the
merriest, of the sisters left, and she became the apple of her mother's
eye. So you may imagine how the mother felt when one morning a terrible
bellowing was heard at the door, and there was a great big Black Bull
waiting for his bride.

She wept and she wailed, and at first the girl ran away and hid herself
in the cellar for fear, but there the Bull stood waiting, and at last
the girl came up and said:

"I promised I would be content with the Black Bull of Norroway, and I
must keep my word. Farewell, mother, you will not see me again."

Then she mounted on the Black Bull's back, and it walked away with her
quite quietly. And ever it chose the smoothest paths and the easiest
roads, so that at last the girl grew less afraid. But she became very
hungry and was nigh to faint when the Black Bull said to her, in quite a
soft voice that wasn't a bellow at all:

  "Eat out of my left ear,
     Drink out of my right,
   And set by what you leave
     To serve the morrow's night."

So she did as she was bid, and, lo and behold! the left ear was full of
delicious things to eat, and the right was full of the most delicious
drinks, and there was plenty left over for several days.

Thus they journeyed on, and they journeyed on, through many dreadful
forests and many lonely wastes, and the Black Bull never paused for bite
or sup, but ever the girl he carried ate out of his left ear and drank
out of his right, and set by what she left to serve the morrow's night.
And she slept soft and warm on his broad back.

Now at last they reached a noble castle where a large company of lords
and ladies were assembled, and greatly the company wondered at the sight
of these strange companions. And they invited the girl to supper, but
the Black Bull they turned into the field, and left to spend the night
after his kind.

But when the next morning came, there he was ready for his burden again.
Now, though the girl was loth to leave her pleasant companions, she
remembered her promise, and mounted on his back, so they journeyed on,
and journeyed on, and journeyed on, through many tangled woods and over
many high mountains. And ever the Black Bull chose the smoothest paths
for her and set aside the briars and brambles, while she ate out of his
left ear and drank out of his right.

So at last they came to a magnificent mansion where Dukes and Duchesses
and Earls and Countesses were enjoying themselves. Now the company,
though much surprised at the strange companions, asked the girl in to
supper; and the Black Bull they would have turned into the park for the
night, but that the girl, remembering how well he had cared for her,
asked them to put him into the stable and give him a good feed.

So this was done, and the next morning he was waiting before the
hall-door for his burden; and she, though somewhat loth at leaving the
fine company, mounted him cheerfully enough, and they rode away, and
they rode away, and they rode away, through thick briar brakes and up
fearsome cliffs. But ever the Black Bull trod the brambles underfoot and
chose the easiest paths, while she ate out of his left ear and drank out
of his right, and wanted for nothing, though he had neither bite nor
sup. So it came to pass that he grew tired and was limping with one foot
when, just as the sun was setting, they came to a beautiful palace where
Princes and Princesses were disporting themselves with ball on the green
grass. Now, though the company greatly wondered at the strange
companions, they asked the girl to join them, and ordered the grooms to
lead away the Black Bull to a field.

But she, remembering all he had done for her, said, "Not so! He will
stay with me!" Then seeing a large thorn in the foot with which he had
been limping, she stooped down and pulled it out.

And, lo and behold! in an instant, to every one's surprise, there
appeared, not a frightful monstrous bull, but one of the most beautiful
Princes ever beheld, who fell at his deliverer's feet, thanking her for
having broken his cruel enchantment.

A wicked witch-woman who wanted to marry him had, he said, spelled him
until a beautiful maiden of her own free will should do him a favour.

"But," he said, "the danger is not all over. You have broken the
enchantment by night; that by day has yet to be overcome."

So the next morning the Prince had to resume the form of a bull, and
they set out together; and they rode, and they rode, and they rode, till
they came to a dark and ugsome glen. And here he bade her dismount and
sit on a great rock.

"Here you must stay," he said, "while I go yonder and fight the Old One.
And mind! move neither hand nor foot whilst I am away, else I shall
never find you again. If everything around you turns blue, I shall have
beaten the Old One; but if everything turns red, he will have conquered
me."

And with that, and a tremendous roaring bellow, he set off to find his
foe.

Well, she sate as still as a mouse, moving neither hand nor foot, nor
even her eyes, and waited, and waited, and waited. Then at last
everything turned blue. But she was so overcome with joy to think that
her lover was victorious that she forgot to keep still, and lifting one
of her feet, crossed it over the other!

So she waited, and waited, and waited. Long she sate, and aye she
wearied; and all the time he was seeking for her, but he never found
her.

At last she rose and went she knew not whither, determined to seek for
her lover through the whole wide world. So she journeyed on, and she
journeyed on, and she journeyed on, until one day in a dark wood she
came to a little hut where lived an old, old woman who gave her food and
shelter, and bid her God-speed on her errand, giving her three nuts, a
walnut, a filbert, and a hazel nut, with these words:

  "When your heart is like to break,
     And once again is like to break,
   Crack a nut and in its shell
     That will be that suits you well."

After this she felt heartened up, and wandered on till her road was
blocked by a great hill of glass; and though she tried all she could to
climb it, she could not; for aye she slipped back, and slipped back, and
slipped back; for it was like ice.

Then she sought a passage elsewhere, and round and about the foot of the
hill she went sobbing and wailing, but ne'er a foothold could she find.
At last she came to a smithy; and the smith promised if she would serve
him faithfully for seven years and seven days, that he would make her
iron shoon wherewith to climb the hill of glass. So for seven long years
and seven short days she toiled, and span, and swept, and washed in the
smith's house. And for wage he gave her a pair of iron shoon, and with
them she clomb the glassy hill and went on her way.

Now she had not gone far before a company of fine lords and ladies rode
past her talking of all the grand doings that were to be done at the
young Duke of Norroway's wedding. Then she passed a number of people
carrying all sorts of good things which they told her were for the
Duke's wedding. And at last she came to a palace castle where the
courtyards were full of cooks and bakers, some running this way, some
running that, and all so busy that they did not know what to do first.

Then she heard the horns of hunters and cries of "Room! Room for the
Duke of Norroway and his bride!"

And who should ride past but the beautiful Prince she had but half
unspelled, and by his side was the witch-woman who was determined to
marry him that very day.

Well! at the sight she felt that her heart was indeed like to break, and
over again was like to break, so that the time had come for her to crack
one of the nuts. So she broke the walnut, as it was the biggest, and out
of it came a wonderful wee woman carding wool as fast as ever she could
card.

Now when the witch-woman saw this wonderful thing she offered the girl
her choice of anything in the castle for it.

"If you will put off your wedding with the Duke for a day, and let me
watch in his room to-night," said the girl, "you shall have it."

Now, like all witch-women, the bride wanted everything her own way, and
she was so sure she had her groom safe, that she consented; but before
the Duke went to rest she gave him, with her own hands, a posset so made
that any one who drank it would sleep till morning.

Thus, though the girl was allowed alone into the Duke's chamber, and
though she spent the livelong night sighing and singing:

  "Far have I sought for thee,
   Long have I wrought for thee,
   Near am I brought to thee,
   Dear Duke o' Norroway;
   Wilt thou say naught to me?"

the Duke never wakened, but slept on. So when day came the girl had to
leave him without his ever knowing she had been there.

Then once again her heart was like to break, and over and over again
like to break, and she cracked the filbert nut, because it was the next
biggest. And out of it came a wonderful wee, wee woman spinning away as
fast as ever she could spin. Now when the witch-bride saw this wonderful
thing she once again put off her wedding so that she might possess it.
And once again the girl spent the livelong night in the Duke's chamber
sighing and singing:

  "Far have I sought for thee,
   Long have I wrought for thee,
   Near am I brought to thee,
   Dear Duke o' Norroway;
   Wilt thou say naught to me?"

But the Duke, who had drunk the sleeping-draught from the hands of his
witch-bride, never stirred, and when dawn came the girl had to leave him
without his ever knowing she had been there.

Then, indeed, the girl's heart was like to break, and over and over and
over again like to break, so she cracked the last nut--the hazel
nut--and out of it came the most wonderful wee, wee, wee-est woman
reeling away at yarn as fast as she could reel.

And this marvel so delighted the witch-bride that once again she
consented to put off her wedding for a day, and allow the girl to watch
in the Duke's chamber the night through, in order to possess it.

Now it so happened that when the Duke was dressing that morning he heard
his pages talking amongst themselves of the strange sighing and singing
they had heard in the night; and he said to his faithful old valet,
"What do the pages mean?"

And the old valet, who hated the witch-bride, said:

"If the master will take no sleeping-draught to-night, mayhap he may
also hear what for two nights has kept me awake."

At this the Duke marvelled greatly, and when the witch-bride brought
him his evening posset, he made excuse it was not sweet enough, and
while she went away to get honey to sweeten it withal, he poured away
the posset and made believe he had swallowed it.

So that night when dark had come, and the girl stole in to his chamber
with a heavy heart thinking it would be the very last time she would
ever see him, the Duke was really broad awake. And when she sate down by
his bedside and began to sing:

                "Far have I sought for thee,"

he knew her voice at once, and clasped her in his arms.

Then he told her how he had been in the power of the witch-woman and had
forgotten everything, but that now he remembered all and that the spell
was broken for ever and aye.

So the wedding feast served for their marriage, since the witch-bride,
seeing her power was gone, quickly fled the country and was never heard
of again.




CATSKIN


Once upon a time there lived a gentleman who owned fine lands and
houses, and he very much wanted to have a son to be heir to them. So
when his wife brought him a daughter, though she was bonny as bonny
could be, he cared nought for her, and said:

"Let me never see her face."

So she grew up to be a beautiful maiden, though her father never set
eyes on her till she was fifteen years old and was ready to be married.

Then her father said roughly, "She shall marry the first that comes for
her." Now when this became known, who should come along and be first but
a nasty, horrid old man! So she didn't know what to do, and went to the
hen-wife and asked her advice. And the hen-wife said, "Say you will not
take him unless they give you a coat of silver cloth." Well, they gave
her a coat of silver cloth, but she wouldn't take him for all that, but
went again to the hen-wife, who said, "Say you will not take him unless
they give you a coat of beaten gold." Well, they gave her a coat of
beaten gold, but still she would not take the old man, but went again
to the hen-wife, who said, "Say you will not take him unless they give
you a coat made of the feathers of all the birds of the air." So they
sent out a man with a great heap of peas; and the man cried to all the
birds of the air, "Each bird take a pea and put down a feather." So each
bird took a pea and put down one of its feathers: and they took all the
feathers and made a coat of them and gave it to her; but still she would
not take the nasty, horrid old man, but asked the hen-wife once again
what she was to do, and the hen-wife said, "Say they must first make you
a coat of catskin." Then they made her a coat of catskin; and she put it
on, and tied up her other coats into a bundle, and when it was
night-time ran away with it into the woods.

Now she went along, and went along, and went along, till at the end of
the wood she saw a fine castle. Then she hid her fine dresses by a
crystal waterfall and went up to the castle gates and asked for work.
The lady of the castle saw her, and told her, "I'm sorry I have no
better place, but if you like you may be our scullion." So down she went
into the kitchen, and they called her Catskin, because of her dress. But
the cook was very cruel to her, and led her a sad life.

Well, soon after that it happened that the young lord of the castle came
home, and there was to be a grand ball in honour of the occasion. And
when they were speaking about it among the servants, "Dear me, Mrs.
Cook," said Catskin, "how much I should like to go!"

"What! You dirty, impudent slut," said the cook, "you go among all the
fine lords and ladies with your filthy catskin? A fine figure you'd
cut!" and with that she took a basin of water and dashed it into
Catskin's face. But Catskin only shook her ears and said nothing.

Now when the day of the ball arrived, Catskin slipped out of the house
and went to the edge of the forest where she had hidden her dresses.
Then she bathed herself in a crystal waterfall, and put on her coat of
silver cloth, and hastened away to the ball. As soon as she entered all
were overcome by her beauty and grace, while the young lord at once lost
his heart to her. He asked her to be his partner for the first dance;
and he would dance with none other the livelong night.

When it came to parting time, the young lord said, "Pray tell me, fair
maid, where you live?"

But Catskin curtsied and said:

  "Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
   At the sign of the 'Basin of Water' I dwell."

Then she flew from the castle and donned her catskin robe again, and
slipped into the scullery, unbeknown to the cook.

The young lord went the very next day and searched for the sign of the
"Basin of Water"; but he could not find it. So he went to his mother,
the lady of the castle, and declared he would wed none other but the
lady of the silver dress, and would never rest till he had found her.
So another ball was soon arranged in hopes that the beautiful maid would
appear again.

So Catskin said to the cook, "Oh, how I should like to go!" Whereupon
the cook screamed out in a rage, "What, you, you dirty, impudent slut!
You would cut a fine figure among all the fine lords and ladies." And
with that she up with a ladle and broke it across Catskin's back. But
Catskin only shook her ears, and ran off to the forest, where, first of
all, she bathed, and then she put on her coat of beaten gold, and off
she went to the ball-room.

As soon as she entered all eyes were upon her; and the young lord at
once recognised her as the lady of the "Basin of Water," claimed her
hand for the first dance, and did not leave her till the last. When that
came, he again asked her where she lived. But all that she would say
was:

  "Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
   At the sign of the 'Broken Ladle' I dwell";

and with that she curtsied and flew from the ball, off with her golden
robe, on with her catskin, and into the scullery without the cook's
knowing.

Next day, when the young lord could not find where the sign of the
"Basin of Water" was, he begged his mother to have another grand ball,
so that he might meet the beautiful maid once more.

Then Catskin said to the cook, "Oh, how I wish I could go to the ball!"
Whereupon the cook called out: "A fine figure you'd cut!" and broke the
skimmer across her head. But Catskin only shook her ears, and went off
to the forest, where she first bathed in the crystal spring, and then
donned her coat of feathers, and so off to the ball-room.

When she entered every one was surprised at so beautiful a face and form
dressed in so rich and rare a dress; but the young lord at once
recognised his beautiful sweetheart, and would dance with none but her
the whole evening. When the ball came to an end he pressed her to tell
him where she lived, but all she would answer was:

  "Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
   At the sign of the 'Broken Skimmer' I dwell";

and with that she curtsied, and was off to the forest. But this time the
young lord followed her, and watched her change her fine dress of
feathers for her catskin dress, and then he knew her for his own
scullery-maid.

Next day he went to his mother, and told her that he wished to marry the
scullery-maid, Catskin.

"Never," said the lady of the castle--"never so long as I live."

[Illustration: She went along, and went along, and went along]

Well, the young lord was so grieved that he took to his bed and was very
ill indeed. The doctor tried to cure him, but he would not take any
medicine unless from the hands of Catskin. At last the doctor went to
the mother, and said that her son would die if she did not consent to
his marriage with Catskin; so she had to give way. Then she summoned
Catskin to her, and Catskin put on her coat of beaten gold before she
went to see the lady; and she, of course, was overcome at once, and was
only too glad to wed her son to so beautiful a maid.

So they were married, and after a time a little son was born to them,
and grew up a fine little lad. Now one day, when he was about four years
old, a beggar woman came to the door, and Lady Catskin gave some money
to the little lord and told him to go and give it to the beggar woman.
So he went and gave it, putting it into the hand of the woman's baby
child; and the child leant forward and kissed the little lord.

Now the wicked old cook (who had never been sent away, because Catskin
was too kind-hearted) was looking on, and she said, "See how beggars'
brats take to one another!"

This insult hurt Catskin dreadfully: and she went to her husband, the
young lord, and told him all about her father, and begged he would go
and find out what had become of her parents. So they set out in the
lord's grand coach, and travelled through the forest till they came to
the house of Catskin's father. Then they put up at an inn near, and
Catskin stopped there, while her husband went to see if her father would
own she was his daughter.

Now her father had never had any other child, and his wife had died; so
he was all alone in the world, and sate moping and miserable. When the
young lord came in he hardly looked up, he was so miserable. Then
Catskin's husband drew a chair close up to him, and asked him, "Pray,
sir, had you not once a young daughter whom you would never see or
own?"

And the miserable man said with tears, "It is true; I am a hardened
sinner. But I would give all my worldly goods if I could but see her
once before I die."

Then the young lord told him what had happened to Catskin, and took him
to the inn, and afterwards brought his father-in-law to his own castle,
where they lived happy ever afterwards.




THE THREE LITTLE PIGS


Once upon a time there was an old sow who had three little pigs, and as
she had not enough for them to eat, she said they had better go out into
the world and seek their fortunes.

Now the eldest pig went first, and as he trotted along the road he met a
man carrying a bundle of straw. So he said very politely:

"If you please, sir, could you give me that straw to build me a house?"

And the man, seeing what good manners the little pig had, gave him the
straw, and the little pig set to work and built a beautiful house with
it.

Now, when it was finished, a wolf happened to pass that way; and he saw
the house, and _he smelt the pig inside_.

So he knocked at the door and said:

"_Little pig! Little pig! Let me in! Let me in!_"

But the little pig saw the wolf's big paws through the keyhole, so he
answered back:

"_No! No! No! by the hair of my chinny chin chin!_" Then the wolf
showed his teeth and said:

"_Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in._"

[Illustration: So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in]

So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in. Then he ate up
little piggy and went on his way.

Now, the next piggy, when he started, met a man carrying a bundle of
furze, and, being very polite, he said to him:

"If you please, sir, could you give me that furze to build me a house?"

And the man, seeing what good manners the little pig had, gave him the
furze, and the little pig set to work and built himself a beautiful
house.

Now it so happened that when the house was finished the wolf passed that
way; and he saw the house, and _he smelt the pig inside_.

So he knocked at the door and said:

"_Little pig! Little pig! Let me in! Let me in!_"

But the little pig peeped through the keyhole and saw the wolf's great
ears, so he answered back:

"_No! No! No! by the hair of my chinny chin chin!_"

Then the wolf showed his teeth and said:

"_Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!_"

[Illustration: So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in]

So he huffed and he puffed and he blew the house in. Then he ate up
little piggy and went on his way.

Now the third little piggy, when he started, met a man carrying a load
of bricks, and, being very polite, he said:

"If you please sir, could you give me those bricks to build me a house?"

And the man, seeing that he had been well brought up, gave him the
bricks, and the little pig set to work and built himself a beautiful
house.

And once again it happened that when it was finished the wolf chanced to
come that way; and he saw the house, and he _smelt the pig inside_.

So he knocked at the door and said:

"_Little pig! Little pig! Let me in! Let me in!_"

But the little pig peeped through the keyhole and saw the wolf's great
eyes, so he answered:

"_No! No! No! by the hair of my chinny chin chin!_"

"_Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!_" says the
wolf, showing his teeth.

[Illustration: Well! he huffed and he puffed ... but he could _not_
blow the house down]

Well! he huffed and he puffed. He puffed and he huffed. And he huffed,
huffed, and he puffed, puffed; but he could _not_ blow the house down.
At last he was so out of breath that he couldn't huff and he couldn't
puff any more. So he thought a bit. Then he said:

"Little pig! I know where there is ever such a nice field of turnips."

"Do you," says little piggy, "and where may that be?"

"I'll show you," says the wolf; "if you will be ready at six o'clock
to-morrow morning, I will call round for you, and we can go together to
Farmer Smith's field and get turnips for dinner."

"Thank you kindly," says the little piggy. "I will be ready at six
o'clock sharp."

But, you see, the little pig was not one to be taken in with chaff, so
he got up at five, trotted off to Farmer Smith's field, rooted up the
turnips, and was home eating them for breakfast when the wolf clattered
at the door and cried:

"Little pig! Little pig! Aren't you ready?"

"Ready?" says the little piggy. "Why! what a sluggard you are! I've been
to the field and come back again, and I'm having a nice potful of
turnips for breakfast."

Then the wolf grew red with rage; but he was determined to eat little
piggy, so he said, as if he didn't care:

"I'm glad you like them; but I know of something better than turnips."

"Indeed," says little piggy, "and what may that be?"

"A nice apple tree down in Merry gardens with the juiciest, sweetest
apples on it! So if you will be ready at five o'clock to-morrow morning
I will come round for you and we can get the apples together."

"Thank you kindly," says little piggy. "I will sure and be ready at five
o'clock sharp."

Now the next morning he bustled up ever so early, and it wasn't four
o'clock when he started to get the apples; but, you see, the wolf had
been taken in once and wasn't going to be taken in again, so he also
started at four o'clock, and the little pig had but just got his basket
half full of apples when he saw the wolf coming down the road licking
his lips.

"Hullo!" says the wolf, "here already! You _are_ an early bird! Are the
apples nice?"

"Very nice," says little piggy; "I'll throw you down one to try."

And he threw it so far away, that when the wolf had gone to pick it up,
the little pig was able to jump down with his basket and run home.

Well, the wolf was fair angry; but he went next day to the little
piggy's house and called through the door, as mild as milk:

"Little pig! Little pig! You are so clever, I should like to give you a
fairing; so if you will come with me to the fair this afternoon you
shall have one."

"Thank you kindly," says little piggy. "What time shall we start?"

"At three o'clock sharp," says the wolf, "so be sure to be ready."

"I'll be ready before three," sniggered the little piggy. And he was! He
started early in the morning and went to the fair, and rode in a swing,
and enjoyed himself ever so much, and bought himself a butter-churn as a
fairing, and trotted away towards home long before three o'clock. But
just as he got to the top of the hill, what should he see but the wolf
coming up it, all panting and red with rage!

Well, there was no place to hide in but the butter-churn; so he crept
into it, and was just pulling down the cover when the churn started to
roll down the hill--

_Bumpety, bumpety, bump!_

Of course piggy, inside, began to squeal, and when the wolf heard the
noise, and saw the butter-churn rolling down on top of him--

_Bumpety, bumpety, bump!_

--he was so frightened that he turned tail and ran away.

But he was still determined to get the little pig for his dinner; so he
went next day to the house and told the little pig how sorry he was not
to have been able to keep his promise of going to the fair, because of
an awful, dreadful, terrible Thing that had rushed at him, making a
fearsome noise.

"Dear me!" says the little piggy, "that must have been me! I hid inside
the butter-churn when I saw you coming, and it started to roll! I am
sorry I frightened you!"

But this was too much. The wolf danced about with rage and swore he
would come down the chimney and eat up the little pig for his supper.
But while he was climbing on to the roof the little pig made up a
blazing fire and put on a big pot full of water to boil. Then, just as
the wolf was coming down the chimney, the little piggy off with the lid,
and plump! in fell the wolf into the scalding water.

So the little piggy put on the cover again, boiled the wolf up, and ate
_him_ for supper.




NIX NAUGHT NOTHING


Once upon a time there lived a King and a Queen who didn't differ much
from all the other kings and queens who have lived since Time began. But
they had no children, and this made them very sad indeed. Now it so
happened that the King had to go and fight battles in a far country, and
he was away for many long months. And, lo and behold! while he was away
the Queen at long last bore him a little son. As you may imagine, she
was fair delighted, and thought how pleased the King would be when he
came home and found that his dearest wish had been fulfilled. And all
the courtiers were fine and pleased too, and set about at once to
arrange a grand festival for the naming of the little Prince. But the
Queen said, "No! The child shall have no name till his father gives it
to him. Till then we will call him 'Nix! Naught! Nothing!' because his
father knows nothing about him!"

So little Prince Nix Naught Nothing grew into a strong, hearty little
lad; for his father did not come back for a long time, and did not even
know that he had a son.

But at long last he turned his face homewards. Now, on the way, he came
to a big rushing river which neither he nor his army could cross, for it
was flood-time and the water was full of dangerous whirlpools, where
nixies and water-wraiths lived, always ready to drown men.

So they were stopped, until a huge giant appeared, who could take the
river, whirlpool and all, in his stride; and he said kindly, "I'll carry
you all over, if you like." Now, though the giant smiled and was very
polite, the King knew enough of the ways of giants to think it wiser to
have a hard and fast bargain. So he said, quite curt, "What's your pay?"

"Pay?" echoed the giant, with a grin, "what do you take me for? Give me
Nix Naught Nothing, and I'll do the job with a glad heart."

Now the King felt just a trifle ashamed at the giant's generosity; so he
said, "Certainly, certainly. I'll give you nix naught nothing and my
thanks into the bargain."

So the giant carried them safely over the stream and past the
whirlpools, and the King hastened homewards. If he was glad to see his
dear wife, the Queen, you may imagine how he felt when she showed him
his young son, tall and strong for his age.

"And what's your name, young sir?" he asked of the child fast clasped in
his arms.

"Nix Naught Nothing," answered the boy; "that's what they call me till
my father gives me a name."

Well! the King nearly dropped the child, he was so horrified. "What
have I done?" he cried. "I promised to give nix naught nothing to the
giant who carried us over the whirlpools where the nixies and
water-wraiths live."

At this the Queen wept and wailed; but being a clever woman she thought
out a plan whereby to save her son. So she said to her husband the King,
"If the giant comes to claim his promise, we will give him the
hen-wife's youngest boy. She has so many she will not mind if we give
her a crown piece, and the giant will never know the difference."

Now sure enough the very next morning the giant appeared to claim Nix
Naught Nothing, and they dressed up the hen-wife's boy in the Prince's
clothes and wept and wailed when the giant, fine and satisfied, carried
his prize off on his back. But after a while he came to a big stone and
sat down to ease his shoulders. And he fell a-dozing. Now, when he woke,
he started up in a fluster, and called out:

  "Hodge, Hodge, on my shoulders! Say
   What d'ye make the time o' day?"

And the hen-wife's little boy replied:

  "Time that my mother the hen-wife takes
   The eggs for the wise Queen's breakfast cakes!"

Then the giant saw at once the trick that had been played on him, and he
threw the hen-wife's boy on the ground, so that his head hit on the
stone and he was killed.

Then the giant strode back to the palace in a tower of a temper, and
demanded "Nix Naught Nothing." So this time they dressed up the
gardener's boy, and wept and wailed when the giant, fine and satisfied,
carried his prize off on his back. Then the same thing happened. The
giant grew weary of his burden, and sate down on the big stone to rest.
So he fell a-dozing, woke with a start, and called out:

  "Hodge, Hodge, on my shoulders! Say
   What d'ye make the time o' day?"

And the gardener's boy replied:

  "Time that my father the gardener took
   Greens for the wise Queen's dinner to cook!"

So the giant saw at once that a second trick had been played on him and
became quite mad with rage. He flung the boy from him so that he was
killed, and then strode back to the palace, where he cried with fury:
"Give me what you promised to give, Nix Naught Nothing, or I will
destroy you all, root and branch."

So then they saw they must give up the dear little Prince, and this time
they really wept and wailed as the giant carried off the boy on his
back. And this time, after the giant had had his rest at the big stone,
and had woke up and called:

  "Hodge, Hodge, on my shoulders! Say
   What d'ye make the time o' day?"

the little Prince replied:

  "Time for the King my father to call,
  'Let supper be served in the banqueting hall.'"

Then the giant laughed with glee and rubbed his hands saying, "I've got
the right one at last." So he took Nix Naught Nothing to his own house
under the whirlpools; for the giant was really a great Magician who
could take any form he chose. And the reason he wanted a little prince
so badly was that he had lost his wife, and had only one little daughter
who needed a playmate sorely. So Nix Naught Nothing and the Magician's
daughter grew up together, and every year made them fonder and fonder of
each other, until she promised to marry him.

Now the Magician had no notion that his daughter should marry just an
ordinary human prince, the like of whom he had eaten a thousand times,
so he sought some way in which he could quietly get rid of Nix Naught
Nothing. So he said one day, "I have work for you, Nix Naught Nothing!
There is a stable hard by which is seven miles long, and seven miles
broad, and it has not been cleaned for seven years. By to-morrow evening
you must have cleaned it, or I will have you for my supper."

Well, before dawn, Nix Naught Nothing set to work at his task; but, as
fast as he cleared the muck, it just fell back again. So by
breakfast-time he was in a terrible sweat; yet not one whit nearer the
end of his job was he. Now the Magician's daughter, coming to bring him
his breakfast, found him so distraught and distracted that he could
scarce speak to her.

"We'll soon set that to rights," she said. So she just clapped her hands
and called:

  "Beasts and birds o' each degree,
   Clean me this stable for love o' me."

And, lo and behold! in a minute the beasts of the fields came trooping,
and the sky was just dark with the wings of birds, and they carried away
the muck, and the stable was clean as a new pin before the evening.

Now when the Magician saw this, he grew hot and angry, and he guessed it
was his daughter's magic that had wrought the miracle. So he said:
"Shame on the wit that helped you; but I have a harder job for you
to-morrow. Yonder is a lake seven miles long, seven miles broad, and
seven miles deep. Drain it by nightfall, so that not one drop remains,
or, of a certainty, I eat you for supper."

So once again Nix Naught Nothing rose before dawn, and began his task;
but though he baled out the water without ceasing, it ever ran back, so
that though he sweated and laboured, by breakfast-time he was no nearer
the end of his job.

But when the Magician's daughter came with his breakfast she only
laughed and said, "I'll soon mend that!" Then she clapped her hands and
called:

  "Oh! all ye fish of river and sea,
   Drink me this water for love of me!"

And, lo and behold! the lake was thick with fishes. And they drank and
drank, till not one drop remained.

Now when the Magician returned in the morning and saw this he was as
angry as angry. And he knew it was his daughter's magic, so he said:
"Double shame on the wit that helped you! Yet it betters you not, for I
will give you a yet harder task than the last. If you do that, you may
have my daughter. See you, yonder is a tree, seven miles high, and no
branch to it till the top, and there on the fork is a nest with some
eggs in it. Bring those eggs down without breaking one or, sure as fate,
I'll eat you for my supper."

Then the Magician's daughter was very sad; for with all her magic she
could think of no way of helping her lover to fetch the eggs and bring
them down unbroken. So she sate with Nix Naught Nothing underneath the
tree, and thought, and thought, and thought; until an idea came to her,
and she clapped her hands and cried:

  "Fingers of mine, for love of me,
   Help my true lover to climb the tree."

Then her fingers dropped off her hands one by one and ranged themselves
like the steps of a ladder up the tree; but they were not quite enough
of them to reach the top, so she cried again:

  "Oh! toes of mine, for love o' me,
   Help my true lover to climb the tree."

Then her toes began to drop off one by one and range themselves like the
rungs of a ladder; but when the toes of one foot had gone to their
places the ladder was tall enough. So Nix Naught Nothing climbed up it,
reached the nest, and got the seven eggs. Now, as he was coming down
with the last, he was so overjoyed at having finished his task, that he
turned to see if the Magician's daughter was overjoyed too: and lo! the
seventh egg slipped from his hand and fell

                         Crash!

"Quick! Quick!" cried the Magician's daughter, who, as you will observe,
always had her wits about her. "There is nothing for it now but to fly
at once. But first I must have my magic flask, or I shall be unable to
help. It is in my room and the door is locked. Put your fingers, since I
have none, in my pocket, take the key, unlock the door, get the flask,
and follow me fast. I shall go slower than you, for I have no toes on
one foot!"

So Nix Naught Nothing did as he was bid, and soon caught up the
Magician's daughter. But alas! they could not run very fast, so ere long
the Magician, who had once again taken a giant's form in order to have a
long stride, could be seen behind them. Nearer and nearer he came until
he was just going to seize Nix Naught Nothing, when the Magician's
daughter cried: "Put your fingers, since I have none, into my hair, take
my comb and throw it down." So Nix Naught Nothing did as he was bid,
and, lo and behold! out of every one of the comb-prongs there sprang up
a prickly briar, which grew so fast that the Magician found himself in
the middle of a thorn hedge! You may guess how angry and scratched he
was before he tore his way out. So Nix Naught Nothing and his sweetheart
had time for a good start; but the Magician's daughter could not run
fast because she had lost her toes on one foot! Therefore the Magician
in giant form soon caught them up, and he was just about to grip Nix
Naught Nothing when the Magician's daughter cried: "Put your fingers,
since I have none, to my breast. Take out my veil-dagger and throw it
down."

So he did as he was bid, and in a moment the dagger had grown to
thousands and thousands of sharp razors, criss-cross on the ground, and
the Magician giant was howling with pain as he trod among them. You may
guess how he danced and stumbled and how long it took for him to pick
his way through as if he were walking on eggs!

So Nix Naught Nothing and his sweetheart were nearly out of sight ere
the giant could start again; yet it wasn't long before he was like to
catch them up; for the Magician's daughter, you see, could not run fast
because she had lost her toes on one foot! She did what she could, but
it was no use. So just as the giant was reaching out a hand to lay hold
of Nix Naught Nothing she cried breathlessly:

"There's nothing left but the magic flask. Take it out and sprinkle some
of what it holds on the ground."

And Nix Naught Nothing did as he was bid; but in his hurry he nearly
emptied the flask altogether; and so the big, big wave of water which
instantly welled up, swept him off his feet, and would have carried him
away, had not the Magician's daughter's loosened veil caught him and
held him fast. But the wave grew, and grew, and grew behind them, until
it reached the giant's waist; then it grew and grew until it reached
his shoulders; and it grew and grew until it swept over his head: a
great big sea-wave full of little fishes and crabs and sea-snails and
all sorts of strange creatures.

So that was the last of the Magician giant. But the poor little
Magician's daughter was so weary that, after a time she couldn't move a
step further, and she said to her lover, "Yonder are lights burning. Go
and see if you can find a night's lodging: I will climb this tree by the
pool where I shall be safe, and by the time you return I shall be
rested."

Now, by chance, it happened that the lights they saw were the lights of
the castle where Nix Naught Nothing's father and mother, the King and
Queen, lived (though of course, he did not know this); so, as he walked
towards the castle, he came upon the hen-wife's cottage and asked for a
night's lodging.

"Who are you?" asked the hen-wife suspiciously.

"I am Nix Naught Nothing," replied the young man.

Now the hen-wife still grieved over her boy who had been killed, so she
instantly resolved to be revenged.

"I cannot give you a night's lodging," she said, "but you shall have a
drink of milk, for you look weary. Then you can go on to the castle and
beg for a bed there."

So she gave him a cup of milk; but, being a witch-woman, she put a
potion to it so that the very moment he saw his father and mother he
should fall fast asleep, and none should be able to waken him so he
would be no use to anybody, and would not recognize his father and
mother.

Now the King and Queen had never ceased grieving for their lost son.
They were always very kind to wandering young men, and when they heard
that one was begging a night's lodging, they went down to the hall to
see him. And lo, the moment Nix Naught Nothing caught sight of his
father and mother, there he was on the floor fast asleep, and none could
waken him! He did not recognize his father and mother nor they did not
recognize him.

But Prince Nix Naught Nothing had grown into a very handsome young man,
so they pitied him very much, and when none, do what they would, could
waken him, the King said, "A maiden will likely take more trouble to
waken him than others, seeing how handsome he is. Send forth a
proclamation that if any maiden in my realm can waken this young man,
she shall have him in marriage, and a handsome dowry to boot."

So the proclamation was sent forth, and all the pretty maidens of the
realm came to try their luck, but they had no success.

Now the gardener whose boy had been killed by the giant had a daughter
who was very ugly indeed--so ugly that she thought it no use to try her
luck, and went about her work as usual. So she took her pitcher to the
pool to fill it. Now the Magician's daughter was still hiding in the
tree waiting for her lover to return. Thus it came to pass that the
gardener's ugly daughter, bending down to fill her pitcher in the pool,
saw a beautiful shadow in the water, and thought it was her own!

"If I am as pretty as that," she cried, "I'll draw water no longer!"

So she threw down her pitcher, and went straight to the castle to see if
she hadn't a chance of the handsome stranger and the handsome dowry. But
of course she hadn't; though at the sight of Nix Naught Nothing she fell
so much in love with him, that, knowing the hen-wife to be a witch, she
went straight to her, and offered all her savings for a charm by which
she could awaken the sleeper.

Now when the hen-wife witch heard her tale, she thought it would be a
rare revenge to marry the King and Queen's long-lost son to a gardener's
ugly daughter; so she straightway took the girl's savings and gave her a
charm by which she could unspell the Prince or spell him again at her
pleasure.

So away went the gardener's daughter to the castle, and sure enough, no
sooner had she sung her charm, than Nix Naught Nothing awoke.

"I am going to marry you, my charmer," she said coaxingly; but Nix
Naught Nothing said he would prefer sleep. So she thought it wiser to
put him to sleep again till the marriage feast was ready and she had got
her fine clothes. So she spelled him asleep again.

Now the gardener had, of course, to draw the water himself, since his
daughter would not work. And he took the pitcher to the pool; and he
also saw the Magician's daughter's shadow in the water; but he did not
think the face was his own, for, see you, he had a beard!

Then he looked up and saw the lady in the tree.

She, poor thing, was half dead with sorrow, and hunger, and fatigue,
so, being a kind man, he took her to his house and gave her food. And he
told her that that _very day_ his daughter was to marry a handsome young
stranger at the castle, and to get a handsome dowry to boot from the
King and Queen, in memory of their son, Nix Naught Nothing, who had been
carried off by a giant when he was a little boy.

Then the Magician's daughter felt sure that something had happened to
her lover; so she went to the castle, and there she found him fast
asleep in a chair.

But she could not waken him, for, see you, her magic had gone from her
with the magic flask which Nix Naught Nothing had emptied.

So, though she put her fingerless hands on his and wept and sang:

  "I cleaned the stable for love o' thee,
   I laved the lake and I clomb the tree,
   Wilt thou not waken for love o' me?"

he never stirred nor woke.

Now one of the old servants there, seeing how she wept, took pity on her
and said, "She that is to marry the young man will be back ere long, and
unspell him for the wedding. Hide yourself and listen to her charm."

So the Magician's daughter hid herself, and, by and by, in comes the
gardener's daughter in her fine wedding-dress, and begins to sing her
charm. But the Magician's daughter didn't wait for her to finish it; for
the moment Nix Naught Nothing opened his eyes, she rushed out of her
hiding-place, and put her fingerless hands in his.

Then Nix Naught Nothing remembered everything. He remembered the castle,
he remembered his father and mother, he remembered the Magician's
daughter and all that she had done for him.

Then he drew out the magic flask and said, "Surely, surely there must be
enough magic in it to mend your hands." And there was. There were just
fourteen drops left, ten for the fingers and four for the toes; but
there was not one for the little toe, so it could not be brought back.
Of course, after that there was great rejoicing, and Prince Nix Naught
Nothing and the Magician's daughter were married and lived happy ever
after, even though she only had four toes on one foot. As for the
hen-wife witch, she was burnt, and so the gardener's daughter got back
her earnings; but she was not happy, because her shadow in the water was
ugly again.




MR. AND MRS. VINEGAR


Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar, a worthy couple, lived in a glass pickle-jar. The
house, though small, was snug, and so light that each speck of dust on
the furniture showed like a mole-hill; so while Mr. Vinegar tilled his
garden with a pickle-fork and grew vegetables for pickling, Mrs.
Vinegar, who was a sharp, bustling, tidy woman, swept, brushed, and
dusted, brushed and dusted and swept to keep the house clean as a new
pin. Now one day she lost her temper with a cobweb and swept so hard
after it that bang! bang! the broom-handle went right through the glass,
and crash! crash! clitter! clatter! there was the pickle-jar house about
her ears all in splinters and bits.

She picked her way over these as best she might, and rushed into the
garden.

"Oh, Vinegar, Vinegar!" she cried. "We are clean ruined and done for!
Quit these vegetables! they won't be wanted! What is the use of pickles
if you haven't a pickle-jar to put them in, and--I've broken ours--into
little bits!" And with that she fell to crying bitterly.

But Mr. Vinegar was of different mettle; though a small man, he was a
cheerful one, always looking at the best side of things, so he said,
"Accidents will happen, lovey! But there are as good pickle-bottles in
the shop as ever came out of it. All we need is money to buy another. So
let us go out into the world and seek our fortunes."

"But what about the furniture?" sobbed Mrs. Vinegar.

"I will take the door of the house with me, lovey," quoth Mr. Vinegar
stoutly. "Then no one will be able to open it, will they?"

Mrs. Vinegar did not quite see how this fact would mend matters, but,
being a good wife, she held her peace. So off they trudged into the
world to seek fortune, Mr. Vinegar bearing the door on his back like a
snail carries its house.

Well, they walked all day long, but not a brass farthing did they make,
and when night fell they found themselves in a dark, thick forest. Now
Mrs. Vinegar, for all she was a smart, strong woman, was tired to death,
and filled with fear of wild beasts, so she began once more to cry
bitterly; but Mr. Vinegar was cheerful as ever.

"Don't alarm yourself, lovey," he said. "I will climb into a tree, fix
the door firmly in a fork, and you can sleep there as safe and
comfortable as in your own bed."

So he climbed the tree, fixed the door, and Mrs. Vinegar lay down on it,
and being dead tired was soon fast asleep. But her weight tilted the
door sideways, so, after a time, Mr. Vinegar, being afraid she might
slip off, sate down on the other side to balance her and keep watch.

Now in the very middle of the night, just as he was beginning to nod,
what should happen but that a band of robbers should meet beneath that
very tree in order to divide their spoils. Mr. Vinegar could hear every
word said quite distinctly, and began to tremble like an aspen as he
listened to the terrible deeds the thieves had done to gain their ends.

"Don't shake so!" murmured Mrs. Vinegar, half asleep. "You'll have me
off the bed."

"I'm not shaking, lovey," whispered back Mr. Vinegar in a quaking voice.
"It is only the wind in the trees."

But for all his cheerfulness he was not really _very_ brave _inside_, so
he went on trembling and shaking, and shaking and trembling, till, just
as the robbers were beginning to parcel out the money, he actually shook
the door right out of the tree-fork, and down it came--with Mrs. Vinegar
still asleep upon it--right on top of the robbers' heads!

As you may imagine, they thought the sky had fallen, and made off as
fast as their legs would carry them, leaving their booty behind them.
But Mr. Vinegar, who had saved himself from the fall by clinging to a
branch, was far too frightened to go down in the dark to see what had
happened. So up in the tree he sate like a big bird until dawn came.

Then Mrs. Vinegar woke, rubbed her eyes, yawned, and said, "Where am I?"

"On the ground, lovey," answered Mr. Vinegar, scrambling down.

And when they lifted up the door, what do you think they found?

One robber squashed flat as a pancake, and forty golden guineas all
scattered about!

My goodness! How Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar jumped for joy!

"Now, Vinegar!" said his wife when they had gathered up all the gold
pieces, "I will tell you what we must do. You must go to the next
market-town and buy a cow; for, see you, money makes the mare to go,
truly; but it also goes itself. Now a cow won't run away, but will give
us milk and butter, which we can sell. So we shall live in comfort for
the rest of our days."

"What a head you have, lovey!" said Mr. Vinegar admiringly, and started
off on his errand.

"Mind you make a good bargain," bawled his wife after him.

"I always do," bawled back Mr. Vinegar. "I made a good bargain when I
married such a clever wife, and I made a better one when I shook her
down from the tree. I am the happiest man alive!"

So he trudged on, laughing and jingling the forty gold pieces in his
pocket.

Now the first thing he saw in the market was an old red cow.

"I am in luck to-day," he thought; "that is the very beast for me. I
shall be the happiest of men if I get that cow." So he went up to the
owner, jingling the gold in his pocket.

"What will you take for your cow?" he asked.

And the owner of the cow, seeing he was a simpleton, said, "What you've
got in your pocket."

"Done!" said Mr. Vinegar, handed over the forty guineas, and led off the
cow, marching her up and down the market, much against her will, to show
off his bargain.

Now, as he drove it about, proud as Punch, he noticed a man who was
playing the bagpipes. He was followed about by a crowd of children who
danced to the music, and a perfect shower of pennies fell into his cap
every time he held it out.

"Ho, ho!" thought Mr. Vinegar. "That is an easier way of earning a
livelihood than by driving about a beast of a cow! Then the feeding, and
the milking, and the churning! Ah, I should be the happiest man alive if
I had those bagpipes!"

So he went up to the musician and said, "What will you take for your
bagpipes?"

"Well," replied the musician, seeing he was a simpleton, "it is a
beautiful instrument, and I make so much money by it, that I cannot take
anything less than that red cow."

"Done!" cried Mr. Vinegar in a hurry, lest the man should repent of his
offer.

So the musician walked off with the red cow, and Mr. Vinegar tried to
play the bagpipes. But, alas and alack! though he blew till he almost
burst, not a sound could he make at first, and when he did at last, it
was such a terrific squeal and screech that all the children ran away
frightened, and the people stopped their ears.

But he went on and on, trying to play a tune, and never earning
anything, save hootings and peltings, until his fingers were almost
frozen with the cold, when of course the noise he made on the bagpipes
was worse than ever.

Then he noticed a man who had on a pair of warm gloves, and he said to
himself, "Music is impossible when one's fingers are frozen. I believe I
should be the happiest man alive if I had those gloves."

So he went up to the owner and said, "You seem, sir, to have a very good
pair of gloves." And the man replied, "Truly, sir, my hands are as warm
as toast this bitter November day."

That quite decided Mr. Vinegar, and he asked at once what the owner
would take for them; and the owner, seeing he was a simpleton, said, "As
your hands seem frozen, sir, I will, as a favour, let you have them for
your bagpipes."

"Done!" cried Mr. Vinegar, delighted, and made the exchange.

Then he set off to find his wife, quite pleased with himself. "Warm
hands, warm heart!" he thought. "I'm the happiest man alive!"

But as he trudged he grew very, very tired, and at last began to limp.
Then he saw a man coming along the road with a stout stick.

"I should be the happiest man alive if I had that stick," he thought.
"What is the use of warm hands if your feet ache!" So he said to the man
with the stick, "What will you take for your stick?" and the man,
seeing he was a simpleton, replied:

"Well, I don't want to part with my stick, but as you are so pressing
I'll oblige you, as a friend, for those warm gloves you are wearing."

"Done for you!" cried Mr. Vinegar delightedly; and trudged off with the
stick, chuckling to himself over his good bargain.

But as he went along a magpie fluttered out of the hedge and sate on a
branch in front of him, and chuckled and laughed as magpies do. "What
are you laughing at?" asked Mr. Vinegar.

"At you, forsooth!" chuckled the magpie, fluttering just a little
further. "At you, Mr. Vinegar, you foolish man--you simpleton--you
blockhead! You bought a cow for forty guineas when she wasn't worth ten,
you exchanged her for bagpipes you couldn't play--you changed the
bagpipes for a pair of gloves, and the pair of gloves for a miserable
stick. Ho, ho! Ha, ha! So you've nothing to show for your forty guineas
save a stick you might have cut in any hedge. Ah, you fool! you
simpleton! you blockhead!"

And the magpie chuckled, and chuckled, and chuckled in such guffaws,
fluttering from branch to branch as Mr. Vinegar trudged along, that at
last he flew into a violent rage and flung his stick at the bird. And
the stick stuck in a tree out of his reach; so he had to go back to his
wife without anything at all.

[Illustration: At last he flew into a violent rage and flung his stick
at the bird]

But he was glad the stick had stuck in a tree, for Mrs. Vinegar's hands
were quite hard enough.

When it was all over Mr. Vinegar said cheerfully, "You are too violent,
lovey. You broke the pickle-jar, and now you've nearly broken every bone
in my body. I think we had better turn over a new leaf and begin
afresh. I shall take service as a gardener, and you can go as a
housemaid, until we have enough money to buy a new pickle-jar. There are
as good ones in the shop as ever came out of it."

And that is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar.

[Illustration: And that is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar]




THE TRUE HISTORY OF SIR THOMAS THUMB


At the court of great King Arthur, who lived, as all know, when knights
were bold, and ladies were fair indeed, one of the most renowned of men
was the wizard Merlin. Never before or since was there such another. All
that was to be known of wizardry he knew, and his advice was ever good
and kindly.

Now once when he was travelling in the guise of a beggar, he chanced
upon an honest ploughman and his wife who, giving him a hearty welcome,
supplied him, cheerfully, with a big wooden bowl of fresh milk and some
coarse brown bread on a wooden platter. Still, though both they and the
little cottage where they dwelt were neat and tidy, Merlin noticed that
neither the husband nor the wife seemed happy; and when he asked the
cause they said it was because they had no children.

"Had I but a son, no matter if he were no bigger than my goodman's
thumb," said the poor woman, "we should be quite content."

Now this idea of a boy no bigger than a man's thumb so tickled Wizard
Merlin's fancy that he promised straight away that such a son should
come in due time to bring the good couple content. This done, he went
off at once to pay a visit to the Queen of the Fairies, since he felt
that the little people would best be able to carry out his promise. And,
sure enough, the droll fancy of a mannikin no bigger than his father's
thumb tickled the Fairy Queen also, and she set about the task at once.

So behold the ploughman and his wife as happy as King and Queen over the
tiniest of tiny babies; and all the happier because the Fairy Queen,
anxious to see the little fellow, flew in at the window, bringing with
her clothes fit for the wee mannikin to wear.

  An oak-leaf hat he had for his crown;
  His jacket was woven of thistle-down.
  His shirt was a web by spiders spun;
  His breeches of softest feathers were done.
  His stockings of red-apple rind were tyne
  With an eyelash plucked from his mother's eyne.
  His shoes were made of a mouse's skin,
  Tanned with the soft furry hair within.

Dressed in this guise he looked the prettiest little fellow ever seen,
and the Fairy Queen kissed him over and over again, and gave him the
name of Tom Thumb.

Now as he grew older--though, mind you, he never grew bigger--he was so
full of antics and tricks that he was for ever getting into trouble.
Once his mother was making a batter pudding, and Tom, wanting to see how
it was made, climbed up to the edge of the bowl. His mother was so busy
beating the batter that she didn't notice him; and when his foot
slipped, and he plumped head and ears into the bowl, she just went on
beating until the batter was light enough. Then she put it into the
pudding-cloth and set it on the fire to boil.

Now the batter had so filled poor Tom's mouth that he couldn't cry; but
no sooner did he feel the hot water than he began to struggle and kick
so much that the pudding bobbed up and down, and jumped about in such
strange fashion that the ploughman's wife thought it was bewitched, and
in a great fright flung it to the door.

Here a poor tinker passing by picked it up and put it in his wallet. But
by this time Tom had got his mouth clear of the batter, and he began
holloaing, and making such a to-do, that the tinker, even more
frightened than Tom's mother had been, threw the pudding in the road,
and ran away as fast as he could run. Luckily for Tom, this second fall
broke the pudding string and he was able to creep out, all covered with
half-cooked batter, and make his way home, where his mother, distressed
to see her little dear in such a woeful state, put him into a teacup of
water to clean him, and then tucked him up in bed.

Another time Tom's mother went to milk her red cow in the meadow and
took Tom with her, for she was ever afraid lest he should fall into
mischief when left alone. Now the wind was high, and fearful lest he
should be blown away, she tied him to a thistle-head with one of her own
long hairs, and then began to milk. But the red cow, nosing about for
something to do while she was being milked, as all cows will, spied
Tom's oak-leaf hat, and thinking it looked good, curled its tongue round
the thistle-stalk and--

There was Tom dodging the cow's teeth, and roaring as loud as he could:

"Mother! Mother! Help! Help!"

"Lawks-a-mercy-me," cried his mother, "where's the child got to now?
Where are you, you bad boy?"

"Here!" roared Tom, "in the red cow's mouth!"

With that his mother began to weep and wail, not knowing what else to
do; and Tom, hearing her, roared louder than ever. Whereat the red cow,
alarmed--and no wonder!--at the dreadful noise in her throat, opened
her mouth, and Tom dropped out, luckily into his mother's apron;
otherwise he would have been badly hurt falling so far.

Adventures like these were not Tom's fault. He could not help being so
small, but he got into dreadful trouble once for which he was entirely
to blame. This is what happened. He loved playing cherry-stones with the
big boys, and when he had lost all his own he would creep unbeknownst
into the other players' pockets or bags, and make off with cherry-stones
enough and galore to carry on the game!

Now one day it so happened that one of the boys saw Master Tom on the
point of coming out of a bag with a whole fistful of cherry-stones. So
he just drew the string of the bag tight.

"Ha! ha! Mr. Thomas Thumb," says he jeeringly, "so you were going to
pinch my cherry-stones, were you? Well! you shall have more of them than
you like." And with that he gave the cherry-stone bag such a hearty
shake that all Tom's body and legs were sadly bruised black and blue;
nor was he let out till he had promised never to steal cherry-stones
again.

So the years passed, and when Tom was a lad, still no bigger than a
thumb, his father thought he might begin to make himself useful. So he
made him a whip out of a barley straw, and set him to drive the cattle
home. But Tom, in trying to climb a furrow's ridge--which to him, of
course, was a steep hill--slipped down and lay half stunned, so that a
raven, happening to fly over, thought he was a frog, and picked him up
intending to eat him. Not relishing the morsel, however, the bird
dropped him above the battlements of a big castle that stood close to
the sea. Now the castle belonged to one Grumbo, an ill-tempered giant
who happened to be taking the air on the roof of his tower. And when Tom
dropped on his bald pate the giant put up his great hand to catch what
he thought was an impudent fly, and finding something that smelt man's
meat, he just swallowed the little fellow as he would have swallowed a
pill!

He began, however, to repent very soon, for Tom kicked and struggled in
the giant's inside as he had done in the red cow's throat until the
giant felt quite squeamish, and finally got rid of Tom by being sick
over the battlements into the sea.

And here, doubtless, would have been Tom Thumb's end by drowning, had
not a big fish, thinking that he was a shrimp, rushed at him and gulped
him down!

Now by good chance some fishermen were standing by with their nets, and
when they drew them in, the fish that had swallowed Tom was one of the
haul. Being a very fine fish it was sent to the Court kitchen, where,
when the fish was opened, out popped Tom on the dresser, as spry as
spry, to the astonishment of the cook and the scullions! Never had such
a mite of a man been seen, while his quips and pranks kept the whole
buttery in roars of laughter. What is more, he soon became the favourite
of the whole Court, and when the King went out a-riding Tom sat in the
Royal waistcoat pocket ready to amuse Royalty and the Knights of the
Round Table.

After a while, however, Tom wearied to see his parents again; so the
King gave him leave to go home and take with him as much money as he
could carry. Tom therefore chose a threepenny bit, and putting it into a
purse made of a water bubble, lifted it with difficulty on to his back,
and trudged away to his father's house, which was some half a mile
distant.

It took him two days and two nights to cover the ground, and he was fair
outwearied by his heavy burden ere he reached home. However, his mother
put him to rest in a walnut shell by the fire and gave him a whole hazel
nut to eat; which, sad to say, disagreed with him dreadfully. However,
he recovered in some measure, but had grown so thin and light that to
save him the trouble of walking back to the Court, his mother tied him
to a dandelion-clock, and as there was a high wind, away he went as if
on wings. Unfortunately, however, just as he was flying low in order to
alight, the Court cook, an ill-natured fellow, was coming across the
palace yard with a bowl of hot furmenty for the King's supper. Now Tom
was unskilled in the handling of dandelion horses, so what should happen
but that he rode straight into the furmenty, spilt the half of it, and
splashed the other half, scalding hot, into the cook's face.

He was in a fine rage, and going straight to King Arthur said that Tom,
at his old antics, had done it on purpose.

Now the King's favourite dish was hot furmenty; so he also fell into a
fine rage and ordered Tom to be tried for high treason. He was therefore
imprisoned in a mouse-trap, where he remained for several days tormented
by a cat, who, thinking him some new kind of mouse, spent its time in
sparring at him through the bars. At the end of a week, however, King
Arthur, having recovered the loss of the furmenty, sent for Tom and once
more received him into favour. After this Tom's life was happy and
successful. He became so renowned for his dexterity and wonderful
activity, that he was knighted, by the King under the name of Sir Thomas
Thumb, and as his clothes, what with the batter and the furmenty, to say
nothing of the insides of giants and fishes, had become somewhat shabby,
His Majesty ordered him a new suit of clothes fit for a mounted knight
to wear. He also gave him a beautiful prancing grey mouse as a charger.

It was certainly very diverting to see Tom dressed up to the nines, and
as proud as Punch.

  Of butterflies' wings his shirt was made,
  His boots of chicken hide,
  And by a nimble fairy blade,
  All learned in the tailoring trade,
  His coat was well supplied.
  A needle dangled at his side,
  And thus attired in stately pride
  A dapper mouse he used to ride.

In truth the King and all the Knights of the Round Table were ready to
expire with laughter at Tom on his fine curveting steed.

But one day, as the hunt was passing a farm-house, a big cat, lurking
about, made one spring and carried both Tom and the mouse up a tree.
Nothing daunted, Tom boldly drew his needle sword and attacked the enemy
with such fierceness that she let her prey fall. Luckily one of the
nobles caught the little fellow in his cap, otherwise he must have been
killed by the fall. As it was he became very ill, and the doctor almost
despaired of his life. However, his friend and guardian, the Queen of
the Fairies, arrived in a chariot drawn by flying mice, and then and
there carried Tom back with her to Fairyland, where, amongst folk of his
own size, he, after a time, recovered. But time runs swiftly in
Fairyland, and when Tom Thumb returned to Court he was surprised to find
that his father and mother and nearly all his old friends were dead, and
that King Thunstone reigned in King Arthur's place. So every one was
astonished at his size, and carried him as a curiosity to the Audience
Hall.

"Who art thou, mannikin?" asked King Thunstone. "Whence dost come? And
where dost live?"

To which Tom replied with a bow:

  "My name is well known.
   From the Fairies I come.
   When King Arthur shone,
   This Court was my home.
   By him I was knighted,
   In me he delighted
   --Your servant--Sir Thomas Thumb."

This address so pleased His Majesty that he ordered a little golden
chair to be made, so that Tom might sit beside him at table. Also a
little palace of gold, but a span high, with doors a bare inch wide, in
which the little fellow might take his ease.

Now King Thunstone's Queen was a very jealous woman, and could not bear
to see such honours showered on the little fellow; so she up and told
the King all sorts of bad tales about his favourite; amongst others,
that he had been saucy and rude to her.

Whereupon the King sent for Tom; but forewarned is forearmed, and
knowing by bitter experience the danger of royal displeasure, Tom hid
himself in an empty snail-shell, where he lay till he was nigh starved.
Then seeing a fine large butterfly on a dandelion close by, he climbed
up and managed to get astride it. No sooner had he gained his seat than
the butterfly was off, hovering from tree to tree, from flower to
flower.

At last the royal gardener saw it and gave chase, then the nobles joined
in the hunt, even the King himself, and finally the Queen, who forgot
her anger in the merriment. Hither and thither they ran, trying in vain
to catch the pair, and almost expiring with laughter, until poor Tom,
dizzy with so much fluttering, and doubling, and flittering, fell from
his seat into a watering-pot, where he was nearly drowned.

So they all agreed he must be forgiven, because he had afforded them so
much amusement.

[Illustration: A spider one day attacked him]

Thus Tom was once more in favour; but he did not live long to enjoy his
good luck, for a spider one day attacked him, and though he fought well,
the creature's poisonous breath proved too much for him; he fell dead on
the ground where he stood, and the spider soon sucked every drop of his
blood.

Thus ended Sir Thomas Thumb; but the King and the Court were so sorry at
the loss of their little favourite that they went into mourning for him.
And they put a fine white marble monument over his grave whereon was
carven the following epitaph:

  Here lyes Tom Thumb, King Arthur's Knight,
  Who died by a spider's fell despite.
  He was well known in Arthur's Court,
  Where he afforded gallant sport.
  He rode at tilt and tournament,
  And on a mouse a-hunting went.
  Alive he filled the Court with mirth,
  His death to sadness must give birth.
  So wipe your eyes and shake your head,
  And say, "Alas, Tom Thumb is dead!"




HENNY-PENNY


One day Henny-penny was picking up corn in the rickyard when--whack!--an
acorn hit her upon the head. "Goodness gracious me!" said Henny-penny,
"the sky's a-going to fall; I must go and tell the King."

So she went along, and she went along, and she went along, till she met
Cocky-locky. "Where are you going, Henny-penny?" says Cocky-locky. "Oh!
I'm going to tell the King the sky's a-falling," says Henny-penny. "May
I come with you?" says Cocky-locky. "Certainly," says Henny-penny. So
Henny-penny and Cocky-locky went to tell the King the sky was falling.

They went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they met
Ducky-daddles. "Where are you going to, Henny-penny and Cocky-locky?"
says Ducky-daddles. "Oh! we're going to tell the King the sky's
a-falling," said Henny-penny and Cocky-locky. "May I come with you?"
says Ducky-daddles. "Certainly," said Henny-penny and Cocky-locky. So
Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles went to tell the King the
sky was a-falling.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they
met Goosey-poosey. "Where are you going to, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky,
and Ducky-daddles?" said Goosey-poosey. "Oh! we're going to tell the
King the sky's a-falling," said Henny-penny and Cocky-locky and
Ducky-daddles. "May I come with you?" said Goosey-poosey. "Certainly,"
said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, and Ducky-daddles. So Henny-penny,
Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey went to tell the King the
sky was a-falling.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they
met Turkey-lurkey. "Where are you going, Henny-penny, Cocky-locky,
Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey?" says Turkey-lurkey. "Oh! we're going
to tell the King the sky's a-falling," said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky,
Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey. "May I come with you, Henny-penny,
Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, and Goosey-poosey?" said Turkey-lurkey. "Oh,
certainly, Turkey-lurkey," said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles,
and Goosey-poosey. So Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles,
Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey all went to tell the King the sky was
a-falling.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they
met Foxy-woxy, and Foxy-woxy said to Henny-penny, Cocky-locky,
Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey, "Where are you going,
Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and
Turkey-lurkey?" And Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles,
Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey said to Foxy-woxy, "We're going to tell
the King the sky's a-falling." "Oh! but this is not the way to the King,
Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and
Turkey-lurkey," says Foxy-woxy; "I know the proper way; shall I show it
you?" "Oh, certainly, Foxy-woxy," said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky,
Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey. So Henny-penny,
Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, Turkey-lurkey, and Foxy-woxy
all went to tell the King the sky was a-falling. So they went along, and
they went along, and they went along, till they came to a narrow and
dark hole. Now this was the door of Foxy-woxy's burrow. But Foxy-woxy
said to Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and
Turkey-lurkey, "This is the short cut to the King's palace: you'll
soon get there if you follow me. I will go first and you come after,
Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and
Turkey-lurkey." "Why, of course, certainly, without doubt, why not?"
said Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and
Turkey-lurkey.

[Illustration: "I will go first and you come after, Henny-penny,
Cocky-locky Ducky-daddles, Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey"]

So Foxy-woxy went into his burrow, and he didn't go very far but turned
round to wait for Henny-penny, Cocky-locky, Ducky-daddles,
Goosey-poosey, and Turkey-lurkey. Now Turkey-lurkey was the first to go
through the dark hole into the burrow. He hadn't got far when--

"Hrumph!"

Foxy-woxy snapped off Turkey-lurkey's head and threw his body over his
left shoulder. Then Goosey-poosey went in, and--

"Hrumph!"

[Illustration: So she escaped]

Off went her head and Goosey-poosey was thrown beside Turkey-lurkey.
Then Ducky-daddles waddled down, and--

"Hrumph!"

Foxy-woxy had snapped off Ducky-daddles' head and Ducky-daddles was
thrown alongside Turkey-lurkey and Goosey-poosey. Then Cocky-locky
strutted down into the burrow, and he hadn't gone far when--

"Hrumph!"

But Cocky-locky _will_ always crow whether you want him to do so or not,
and so he had just time for one "Cock-a-doo-dle d--" before he went to
join Turkey-lurkey, Goosey-poosey, and Ducky-daddles over Foxy-woxy's
shoulders.

Now when Henny-penny, who had just got into the dark burrow, heard
Cocky-locky crow, she said to herself:

"My goodness! it must be dawn. Time for me to lay my egg."

So she turned round and bustled off to her nest; so she escaped, but she
never told the King the sky was falling!

[Illustration: So she escaped]


[Illustration: They thanked her and said good-bye, and she went on her
journey.]




THE THREE HEADS OF THE WELL


Once upon a time there reigned a King in Colchester, valiant, strong,
wise, famous as a good ruler.

But in the midst of his glory his dear Queen died, leaving him with a
daughter just touching woman's estate; and this maiden was renowned, far
and wide, for beauty, kindness, grace. Now strange things happen, and
the King of Colchester, hearing of a lady who had immense riches, had a
mind to marry her, though she was old, ugly, hook-nosed, and
ill-tempered; and though she was, furthermore, possessed of a daughter
as ugly as herself. None could give the reason why, but only a few weeks
after the death of his dear Queen, the King brought this loathly bride
to Court, and married her with great pomp and festivities. Now the very
first thing she did was to poison the King's mind against his own
beautiful, kind, gracious daughter, of whom, naturally, the ugly Queen
and her ugly daughter were dreadfully jealous.

Now when the young Princess found that even her father had turned
against her, she grew weary of Court life, and longed to get away from
it; so, one day, happening to meet the King alone in the garden, she
went down on her knees, and begged and prayed him to give her some help,
and let her go out into the world to seek her fortune. To this the King
agreed, and told his consort to fit the girl out for her enterprise in
proper fashion. But the jealous woman only gave her a canvas bag of
brown bread and hard cheese, with a bottle of small-beer.

Though this was but a pitiful dowry for a King's daughter, the Princess
was too proud to complain; so she took it, returned her thanks, and set
off on her journey through woods and forests, by rivers and lakes, over
mountain and valley.

At last she came to a cave at the mouth of which, on a stone, sate an
old, old man with a white beard.

"Good morrow, fair damsel," he said; "whither away so fast?"

"Reverend father," replies she, "I go to seek my fortune."

"And what hast thou for dowry, fair damsel," said he, "in thy bag and
bottle?"

"Bread and cheese and small-beer, father," says she, smiling. "Will it
please you to partake of either?"

"With all my heart," says he, and when she pulled out her provisions he
ate them nearly all. But once again she made no complaint, but bade him
eat what he needed, and welcome.

Now when he had finished he gave her many thanks, and said:

"For your beauty, and your kindness, and your grace, take this wand.
There is a thick thorny hedge before you which seems impassable. But
strike it thrice with this wand, saying each time, 'Please, hedge, let
me through,' and it will open a pathway for you. Then, when you come to
a well, sit down on the brink of it; do not be surprised at anything you
may see, but, whatever you are asked to do, that do!"

So saying the old man went into the cave, and she went on her way. After
a while she came to a high, thick thorny hedge; but when she struck it
three times with the wand, saying, "Please, hedge, let me through," it
opened a wide pathway for her. So she came to the well, on the brink of
which she sate down, and no sooner had she done so, than a golden head
without any body came up through the water, singing as it came:

  "Wash me, and comb me, lay me on a bank to dry
   Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."

"Certainly," she said, pulling out her silver comb. Then, placing the
head on her lap, she began to comb the golden hair. When she had combed
it, she lifted the golden head softly, and laid it on a primrose bank to
dry. No sooner had she done this than another golden head appeared,
singing as it came:

  "Wash me, and comb me, lay me on a bank to dry
   Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."

"Certainly," says she, and after combing the golden hair, placed the
golden head softly on the primrose bank, beside the first one.

Then came a third head out of the well, and it said the same thing:

  "Wash me, and comb me, lay me on a bank to dry
   Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."

"With all my heart," says she graciously, and after taking the head on
her lap, and combing its golden hair with her silver comb, there were
the three golden heads in a row on the primrose bank. And she sate down
to rest herself and looked at them, they were so quaint and pretty; and
as she rested she cheerfully ate and drank the meagre portion of the
brown bread, hard cheese, and small-beer which the old man had left to
her; for, though she was a king's daughter, she was too proud to
complain.

Then the first head spoke. "Brothers, what shall we weird for this
damsel who has been so gracious unto us? I weird her to be so beautiful
that she shall charm every one she meets."

"And I," said the second head, "weird her a voice that shall exceed the
nightingale's in sweetness."

"And I," said the third head, "weird her to be so fortunate that she
shall marry the greatest King that reigns."

"Thank you with all my heart," says she; "but don't you think I had
better put you back in the well before I go on? Remember you are golden,
and the passers-by might steal you."

To this they agreed; so she put them back. And when they had thanked
her for her kind thought and said good-bye, she went on her journey.

Now she had not travelled far before she came to a forest where the King
of the country was hunting with his nobles, and as the gay cavalcade
passed down the glade she stood back to avoid them; but the King caught
sight of her, and drew up his horse, fairly amazed at her beauty.

"Fair maid," he said, "who art thou, and whither goest thou through the
forest thus alone?"

"I am the King of Colchester's daughter, and I go to seek my fortune,"
says she, and her voice was sweeter than the nightingale's.

Then the King jumped from his horse, being so struck by her that he felt
it would be impossible to live without her, and falling on his knee
begged and prayed her to marry him without delay.

And he begged and prayed so well that at last she consented. So, with
all courtesy, he mounted her on his horse behind him, and commanding the
hunt to follow, he returned to his palace, where the wedding festivities
took place with all possible pomp and merriment. Then, ordering out the
royal chariot, the happy pair started to pay the King of Colchester a
bridal visit: and you may imagine the surprise and delight with which,
after so short an absence, the people of Colchester saw their beloved,
beautiful, kind, and gracious princess return in a chariot all gemmed
with gold, as the bride of the most powerful King in the world. The
bells rang out, flags flew, drums beat, the people huzzaed, and all was
gladness, save for the ugly Queen and her ugly daughter, who were ready
to burst with envy and malice; for, see you, the despised maiden was now
above them both, and went before them at every Court ceremonial.

So, after the visit was ended, and the young King and his bride had gone
back to their own country, there to live happily ever after, the ugly
ill-natured princess said to her mother, the ugly Queen:

"I also will go into the world and seek my fortune. If that drab of a
girl with her mincing ways got so much, what may I not get?"

So her mother agreed, and furnished her forth with silken dresses and
furs, and gave her as provisions sugar, almonds, and sweetmeats of every
variety, besides a large flagon of Malaga sack. Altogether a right royal
dowry.

Armed with these she set forth, following the same road as her
step-sister. Thus she soon came upon the old man with a white beard, who
was seated on a stone by the mouth of a cave.

"Good morrow," says he. "Whither away so fast?"

"What's that to you, old man?" she replied rudely.

"And what hast thou for dowry in bag and bottle?" he asked quietly.

"Good things with which you shall not be troubled," she answered pertly.

"Wilt thou not spare an old man something?" he said.

[Illustration: The thorns closed in around her so that she was all
scratched and torn]

Then she laughed. "Not a bite, not a sup, lest they should choke you:
though that would be small matter to me," she replied, with a toss of
her head.

"Then ill luck go with thee," remarked the old man as he rose and went
into the cave.

So she went on her way, and after a time came to the thick thorny hedge,
and seeing what she thought was a gap in it, she tried to pass through;
but no sooner had she got well into the middle of the hedge than the
thorns closed in around her so that she was all scratched and torn
before she won her way. Thus, streaming with blood, she went on to the
well, and seeing water, sate on the brink intending to cleanse herself.
But just as she dipped her hands, up came a golden head singing as it
came:

  "Wash me, and comb me, lay me on the bank to dry
   Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."

"A likely story," says she. "I'm going to wash myself." And with that
she gave the head such a bang with her bottle that it bobbed below the
water. But it came up again, and so did a second head, singing as it
came:

  "Wash me, and comb me, lay me on the bank to dry
   Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."

"Not I," scoffs she. "I'm going to wash my hands and face and have my
dinner." So she fetches the second head a cruel bang with the bottle,
and both heads ducked down in the water.

But when they came up again all draggled and dripping, the third head
came also, singing as it came:

  "Wash me, and comb me, lay me on the bank to dry
   Softly and prettily to watch the passers-by."

By this time the ugly princess had cleansed herself, and, seated on the
primrose bank, had her mouth full of sugar and almonds.

"Not I," says she as well as she could. "I'm not a washerwoman nor a
barber. So take that for your washing and combing."

And with that, having finished the Malaga sack, she flung the empty
bottle at the three heads.

But this time they didn't duck. They looked at each other and said, "How
shall we weird this rude girl for her bad manners?" Then the first head
said:

"I weird that to her ugliness shall be added blotches on her face."

And the second head said:

"I weird that she shall ever be hoarse as a crow and speak as if she had
her mouth full."

Then the third head said:

"And I weird that she shall be glad to marry a cobbler."

Then the three heads sank into the well and were no more seen, and the
ugly princess went on her way. But, lo and behold! when she came to a
town, the children ran from her ugly blotched face screaming with
fright, and when she tried to tell them she was the King of Colchester's
daughter, her voice squeaked like a corn-crake's, was hoarse as a
crow's, and folk could not understand a word she said, because she spoke
as if her mouth was full!

Now in the town there happened to be a cobbler who not long before had
mended the shoes of a poor old hermit; and the latter, having no money,
had paid for the job by the gift of a wonderful ointment which would
cure blotches on the face, and a bottle of medicine that would banish
any hoarseness.

So, seeing the miserable, ugly princess in great distress, he went up to
her and gave her a few drops out of his bottle; and then understanding
from her rich attire and clearer speech that she was indeed a King's
daughter, he craftily said that if she would take him for a husband he
would undertake to cure her.

"Anything! Anything!" sobbed the miserable princess.

So they were married, and the cobbler straightway set off with his bride
to visit the King of Colchester. But the bells did not ring, the drums
did not beat, and the people, instead of huzzaing, burst into loud
guffaws at the cobbler in leather, and his wife in silks and satins.

As for the ugly Queen, she was so enraged and disappointed that she went
mad, and hanged herself in wrath. Whereupon the King, really pleased at
getting rid of her so soon, gave the cobbler a hundred pounds and bade
him go about his business with his ugly bride.

Which he did quite contentedly, for a hundred pounds means much to a
poor cobbler. So they went to a remote part of the kingdom and lived
unhappily for many years, he cobbling shoes, and she spinning the thread
for him.




MR. FOX


Lady Mary was young and Lady Mary was fair, and she had more lovers than
she could count on the fingers of both hands.

She lived with her two brothers, who were very proud and very fond of
their beautiful sister, and very anxious that she should choose well
amongst her many suitors.

Now amongst them there was a certain Mr. Fox, handsome and young and
rich; and though nobody quite knew who he was, he was so gallant and so
gay that every one liked him. And he wooed Lady Mary so well that at
last she promised to marry him. But though he talked much of the
beautiful home to which he would take her, and described the castle and
all the wonderful things that furnished it, he never offered to show it
to her, neither did he invite Lady Mary's brothers to see it.

Now this seemed to her very strange indeed; and, being a lass of spirit,
she made up her mind to see the castle if she could.

So one day, just before the wedding, when she knew Mr. Fox would be
away seeing the lawyers with her brothers, she just kilted up her skirts
and set out unbeknownst--for, see you, the whole household was busy
preparing for the marriage feastings--to see for herself what Mr. Fox's
beautiful castle was like.

After many searchings, and much travelling, she found it at last; and a
fine strong building it was, with high walls and a deep moat to it. A
bit frowning and gloomy, but when she came up to the wide gateway she
saw these words carven over the arch:

                _BE BOLD--BE BOLD._

So she plucked up courage, and the gate being open, went through it and
found herself in a wide, empty, open courtyard. At the end of this was a
smaller door, and over this was carven:

        _BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD._

So she went through it to a wide, empty hall, and up the wide, empty
staircase. Now at the top of the staircase there was a wide, empty
gallery at one end of which were wide windows with the sunlight
streaming through them from a beautiful garden, and at the other end a
narrow door, over the archway of which was carven:

    _BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD,
    LEST THAT YOUR HEART'S BLOOD SHOULD RUN COLD._

Now Lady Mary was a lass of spirit, and so, of course, she turned her
back on the sunshine, and opened the narrow, dark door. And there she
was in a narrow, dark passage. But at the end there was a chink of
light. So she went forward and put her eye to the chink--and what do you
think she saw?

Why! a wide saloon lit with many candles, and all round it, some hanging
by their necks, some seated on chairs, some lying on the floor, were the
skeletons and bodies of numbers of beautiful young maidens in their
wedding-dresses that were all stained with blood.

Now Lady Mary, for all she was a lass of spirit, and brave as brave,
could not look for long on such a horrid sight, so she turned and fled.
Down the dark narrow passage, through the dark narrow door (which she
did not forget to close behind her), and along the wide gallery she fled
like a hare, and was just going down the wide stairs into the wide hall
when, what did she see, through the window, but Mr. Fox dragging a
beautiful young lady across the wide courtyard! There was nothing for
it, Lady Mary decided, but to hide herself as quickly and as best she
might; so she fled faster down the wide stairs, and hid herself behind a
big wine-butt that stood in a corner of the wide hall. She was only just
in time, for there at the wide door was Mr. Fox dragging the poor young
maiden along by the hair; and he dragged her across the wide hall and up
the wide stairs. And when she clutched at the bannisters to stop
herself, Mr. Fox cursed and swore dreadfully; and at last he drew his
sword and brought it down so hard on the poor young lady's wrist that
the hand, cut off, jumped up into the air so that the diamond ring on
the finger flashed in the sunlight as it fell, of all places in the
world, into Lady Mary's very lap as she crouched behind the wine-butt!

Then she was fair frightened, thinking Mr. Fox would be sure to find
her; but after looking about a little while in vain (for, of course, he
coveted the diamond ring), he continued his dreadful task of dragging
the poor, beautiful young maiden upstairs to the horrid chamber,
intending, doubtless, to return when he had finished his loathly work,
and seek for the hand.

But by that time Lady Mary had fled; for no sooner did she hear the
awful, dragging noise pass into the gallery, than she upped and ran for
dear life--through the wide door with

            _BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD_

engraven over the arch, across the wide courtyard past the wide gate
with

                _BE BOLD--BE BOLD_

engraven over it, never stopping, never thinking till she reached her
own chamber. And all the while the hand with the diamond ring lay in her
kilted lap.

Now the very next day, when Mr. Fox and Lady Mary's brothers returned
from the lawyers, the marriage-contract had to be signed. And all the
neighbourhood was asked to witness it and partake of a splendid
breakfast. And there was Lady Mary in bridal array, and there was Mr.
Fox, looking so gay and so gallant. He was seated at the table just
opposite Lady Mary, and he looked at her and said:

"How pale you are this morning, dear heart."

Then Lady Mary looked at him quietly and said, "Yes, dear sir! I had a
bad night's rest, for I had horrible dreams."

Then Mr. Fox smiled and said, "Dreams go by contraries, dear heart; but
tell me your dream, and your sweet voice will speed the time till I can
call you mine."

"I dreamed," said Lady Mary, with a quiet smile, and her eyes were
clear, "that I went yesterday to seek the castle that is to be my home,
and I found it in the woods with high walls and a deep dark moat. And
over the gateway were carven these words:

                   _BE BOLD--BE BOLD._"

Then Mr. Fox spoke in a hurry. "But it is not so--nor it was not so."

"Then I crossed the wide courtyard and went through a wide door over
which was carven:

            _BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD,_"

went on Lady Mary, still smiling, and her voice was cold; "but, of
course, it is not so, and it was not so."

And Mr. Fox said nothing; he sate like a stone.

"Then I dreamed," continued Lady Mary, still smiling, though her eyes
were stern, "that I passed through a wide hall and up a wide stair and
along a wide gallery until I came to a dark narrow door, and over it was
carven:

    _BE BOLD, BE BOLD; BUT NOT TOO BOLD,
     LEST THAT YOUR HEART'S BLOOD SHOULD RUN COLD._

"But it is not so, of course, and it was not so."

And Mr. Fox said nothing; he sate frozen.

"Then I dreamed that I opened the door and went down a dark narrow
passage," said Lady Mary, still smiling, though her voice was ice. "And
at the end of the passage there was a door, and the door had a chink in
it. And through the chink I saw a wide saloon lit with many candles, and
all round it were the bones and bodies of poor dead maidens, their
clothes all stained with blood; but of course it is not so, and it was
not so."

By this time all the neighbours were looking Mr. Fox-ways with all their
eyes, while he sate silent.

But Lady Mary went on, and her smiling lips were set:

"Then I dreamed that I ran downstairs and had just time to hide myself
when you, Mr. Fox, came in dragging a young lady by the hair. And the
sunlight glittered on her diamond ring as she clutched the stair-rail,
and you out with your sword and cut off the poor lady's hand."

Then Mr. Fox rose in his seat stonily and glared about him as if to
escape, and his eye-teeth showed like a fox beset by the dogs, and he
grew pale.

And he said, trying to smile, though his whispering voice could scarcely
be heard:

"But it is not so, dear heart, and it was not so, and God forbid it
should be so!"

Then Lady Mary rose in her seat also, and the smile left her face, and
her voice rang as she cried:

  "But it is so, and it was so;
   Here's hand and ring I have to show."

[Illustration: Many's the beating he had from the broomstick or the
ladle]

And with that she pulled out the poor dead hand with the glittering
ring from her bosom and pointed it straight at Mr. Fox.

At this all the company rose, and drawing their swords cut Mr. Fox to
pieces.

And served him very well right.




DICK WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT


More than five hundred years ago there was a little boy named Dick
Whittington, and this is true. His father and mother died when he was
too young to work, and so poor little Dick was very badly off. He was
quite glad to get the parings of the potatoes to eat and a dry crust of
bread now and then, and more than that he did not often get, for the
village where he lived was a very poor one and the neighbours were not
able to spare him much.

Now the country folk in those days thought that the people of London
were all fine ladies and gentlemen, and that there was singing and
dancing all the day long, and so rich were they there that even the
streets, they said, were paved with gold. Dick used to sit by and listen
while all these strange tales of the wealth of London were told, and it
made him long to go and live there and have plenty to eat and fine
clothes to wear, instead of the rags and hard fare that fell to his lot
in the country.

So one day when a great waggon with eight horses stopped on its way
through the village, Dick made friends with the waggoner and begged to
be taken with him to London. The man felt sorry for poor little Dick
when he heard that he had no father or mother to take care of him, and
saw how ragged and how badly in need of help he was. So he agreed to
take him, and off they set.

How far it was and how many days they took over the journey I do not
know, but in due time Dick found himself in the wonderful city which he
had heard so much of and pictured to himself so grandly. But oh! how
disappointed he was when he got there. How dirty it was! And the people,
how unlike the gay company, with music and singing, that he had dreamt
of! He wandered up and down the streets, one after another, until he was
tired out, but not one did he find that was paved with gold. Dirt in
plenty he could see, but none of the gold that he thought to have put in
his pockets as fast as he chose to pick it up.

[Illustration: Dick finds that the streets of London are not paved with
gold]

Little Dick ran about till he was tired and it was growing dark. And at
last he sat himself down in a corner and fell asleep. When morning came
he was very cold and hungry, and though he asked every one he met to
help him, only one or two gave him a halfpenny to buy some bread. For
two or three days he lived in the streets in this way, only just able to
keep himself alive, when he managed to get some work to do in a
hayfield, and that kept him for a short time longer, till the haymaking
was over.

After this he was as badly off as ever, and did not know where to turn.
One day in his wanderings he lay down to rest in the doorway of the
house of a rich merchant whose name was Fitzwarren. But here he was soon
seen by the cook-maid, who was an unkind, bad-tempered woman, and she
cried out to him to be off. "Lazy rogue," she called him; and she said
she'd precious quick throw some dirty dishwater over him, boiling hot,
if he didn't go. However, just then Mr. Fitzwarren himself came home to
dinner, and when he saw what was happening, he asked Dick why he was
lying there. "You're old enough to be at work, my boy," he said. "I'm
afraid you have a mind to be lazy."

"Indeed, sir," said Dick to him, "indeed that is not so"; and he told
him how hard he had tried to get work to do, and how ill he was for want
of food. Dick, poor fellow, was now so weak that though he tried to
stand he had to lie down again, for it was more than three days since he
had had anything to eat at all. The kind merchant gave orders for him to
be taken into the house and gave him a good dinner, and then he said
that he was to be kept, to do what work he could to help the cook.

And now Dick would have been happy enough in this good family if it had
not been for the ill-natured cook, who did her best to make life a
burden to him. Night and morning she was for ever scolding him. Nothing
he did was good enough. It was "Look sharp here" and "Hurry up there,"
and there was no pleasing her. And many's the beating he had from the
broomstick or the ladle, or whatever else she had in her hand.

At last it came to the ears of Miss Alice, Mr. Fitzwarren's daughter,
how badly the cook was treating poor Dick. And she told the cook that
she would quickly lose her place if she didn't treat him more kindly,
for Dick had become quite a favourite with the family.

After that the cook's behaviour was a little better, but Dick still had
another hardship that he bore with difficulty. For he slept in a garret
where were so many holes in the walls and the floor that every night as
he lay in bed the room was overrun with rats and mice, and sometimes he
could hardly sleep a wink. One day when he had earned a penny for
cleaning a gentleman's shoes, he met a little girl with a cat in her
arms, and asked whether she would not sell it to him. "Yes, she would,"
she said, though the cat was such a good mouser that she was sorry to
part with her. This just suited Dick, who kept pussy up in his garret,
feeding her on scraps of his own dinner that he saved for her every day.
In a little while he had no more bother with the rats and mice. Puss
soon saw to that, and he slept sound every night.

Soon after this Mr. Fitzwarren had a ship ready to sail; and as it was
his custom that all his servants should be given a chance of good
fortune as well as himself, he called them all into the counting-house
and asked them what they would send out.

They all had something that they were willing to venture except poor
Dick, who had neither money nor goods, and so could send nothing. For
this reason he did not come into the room with the rest. But Miss Alice
guessed what was the matter, and ordered him to be called in. She then
said, "I will lay down some money for him out of my own purse"; but her
father told her that would not do, for it must be something of his own.

When Dick heard this he said, "I have nothing whatever but a cat, which
I bought for a penny some time ago."

"Go, my boy, fetch your cat then," said his master, "and let her go."

Dick went upstairs and fetched poor puss, but there were tears in his
eyes when he gave her to the captain. "For," he said, "I shall now be
kept awake all night by the rats and mice." All the company laughed at
Dick's odd venture, and Miss Alice, who felt sorry for him, gave him
some money to buy another cat.

Now this, and other marks of kindness shown him by Miss Alice, made the
ill-tempered cook jealous of poor Dick, and she began to use him more
cruelly than ever, and was always making game of him for sending his cat
to sea. "What do you think your cat will sell for?" she'd ask. "As much
money as would buy a stick to beat you with?"

At last poor Dick could not bear this usage any longer, and he thought
he would run away. So he made a bundle of his things--he hadn't
many--and started very early in the morning, on All-hallows Day, the
first of November. He walked as far as Holloway, and there he sat down
to rest on a stone, which to this day, they say, is called
"Whittington's Stone," and began to wonder to himself which road he
should take.

[Illustration: Dick Whittington hears Bow Bells]

While he was thinking what he should do the Bells of Bow Church in
Cheapside began to chime, and as they rang he fancied that they were
singing over and over again:

  "Turn again, Whittington,
   Lord Mayor of London."

"Lord Mayor of London!" said he to himself. "Why, to be sure, wouldn't I
put up with almost anything now to be Lord Mayor of London, and ride in
a fine coach, when I grow to be a man! Well, I'll go back, and think
nothing of the cuffing and scolding of the cross old cook if I am to be
Lord Mayor of London at last."

So back he went, and he was lucky enough to get into the house and set
about his work before the cook came down.

But now you must hear what befell Mrs. Puss all this while. The ship
_Unicorn_ that she was on was a long time at sea, and the cat made
herself useful, as she would, among the unwelcome rats that lived on
board too. At last the ship put into harbour on the coast of Barbary,
where the only people are the Moors. They had never before seen a ship
from England, and flocked in numbers to see the sailors, whose different
colour and foreign dress were a great wonder to them. They were soon
eager to buy the goods with which the ship was laden, and patterns were
sent ashore for the King to see. He was so much pleased with them that
he sent for the captain to come to the palace, and honoured him with an
invitation to dinner. But no sooner were they seated, as is the custom
there, on the fine rugs and carpets that covered the floor, than great
numbers of rats and mice came scampering in, swarming over all the
dishes, and helping themselves from all the good things there were to
eat. The captain was amazed, and wondered whether they didn't find such
a pest most unpleasant.

[Illustration: When Puss saw the rats and mice she didn't wait to be
told]

"Oh yes," said they, "it was so, and the King would give half his
treasure to be freed of them, for they not only spoil his dinner, but
they even attack him in his bed at night, so that a watch has to be kept
while he is sleeping, for fear of them."

The captain was overjoyed; he thought at once of poor Dick Whittington
and his cat, and said he had a creature on board ship that would soon do
for all these vermin if she were there. Of course, when the King heard
this he was eager to possess this wonderful animal.

"Bring it to me at once," he said; "for the vermin are dreadful, and if
only it will do what you say, I will load your ship with gold and jewels
in exchange for it."

The captain, who knew his business, took care not to underrate the value
of Dick's cat. He told His Majesty how inconvenient it would be to part
with her, as when she was gone the rats might destroy the goods in the
ship; however, to oblige the King, he would fetch her.

"Oh, make haste, do!" cried the Queen; "I, too, am all impatience to see
this dear creature."

Off went the captain, while another dinner was got ready. He took Puss
under his arm and got back to the palace just in time to see the carpet
covered with rats and mice once again. When Puss saw them, she didn't
wait to be told, but jumped out of the captain's arms, and in no time
almost all the rats and mice were dead at her feet, while the rest of
them had scuttled off to their holes in fright.

The King was delighted to get rid so easily of such an intolerable
plague, and the Queen desired that the animal who had done them such a
service might be brought to her. Upon which the captain called out,
"Puss, puss, puss," and she came running to him. Then he presented her
to the Queen, who was rather afraid at first to touch a creature who had
made such a havoc with her claws. However, when the captain called her,
"Pussy, pussy," and began to stroke her, the Queen also ventured to
touch her and cried, "Putty, putty," in imitation of the captain, for
she hadn't learned to speak English. He then put her on to the Queen's
lap, where she purred and played with Her Majesty's hand and was soon
asleep.

The King having seen what Mrs. Puss could do, and learning that her
kittens would soon stock the whole country, and keep it free from rats,
after bargaining with the captain for the whole ship's cargo, then gave
him ten times as much for the cat as all the rest amounted to.

The captain then said farewell to the court of Barbary, and after a fair
voyage reached London again with his precious load of gold and jewels
safe and sound.

One morning early Mr. Fitzwarren had just come to his counting-house and
settled himself at the desk to count the cash, when there came a knock
at the door. "Who's there?" said he. "A friend," replied a voice. "I
come with good news of your ship the _Unicorn_." The merchant in haste
opened the door, and who were there but the ship's captain and the mate,
bearing a chest of jewels and a bill of lading. When he had looked this
over he lifted his eyes and thanked heaven for sending him such a
prosperous voyage.

The honest captain next told him all about the cat, and showed him the
rich present the King had sent for her to poor Dick. Rejoicing on behalf
of Dick as much as he had done over his own good fortune, he called out
to his servants to come and to bring up Dick:

  "Go fetch him, and we'll tell him of his fame;
   Pray call him Mr. Whittington by name."

The servants, some of them, hesitated at this, and said so great a
treasure was too much for a lad like Dick; but Mr. Fitzwarren now showed
himself the good man that he was and refused to deprive him of the value
of a single penny. "God forbid!" he cried. "It's all his own, and he
shall have it, to a farthing."

He then sent for Dick, who at the moment was scouring pots for the cook
and was black with dirt. He tried to excuse himself from coming into the
room in such a plight, but the merchant made him come, and had a chair
set for him. And he then began to think they must be making game of him,
so he begged them not to play tricks on a poor simple boy, but to let
him go downstairs again back to his work in the scullery.

"Indeed, Mr. Whittington," said the merchant, "we are all quite in
earnest with you, and I most heartily rejoice at the news that these
gentlemen have brought. For the captain has sold your cat to the King of
Barbary, and brings you in return for her more riches than I possess in
the whole world; and may you long enjoy them!"

Mr. Fitzwarren then told the men to open the great treasure they had
brought with them, saying, "There is nothing more now for Mr.
Whittington to do but to put it in some place of safety."

Poor Dick hardly knew how to behave himself for joy. He begged his
master to take what part of it he pleased, since he owed it all to his
kindness. "No, no," answered Mr. Fitzwarren, "this all belongs to you;
and I have no doubt that you will use it well."

Dick next begged his mistress, and then Miss Alice, to accept a part of
his good fortune, but they would not, and at the same time told him what
great joy they felt at his great success. But he was far too
kind-hearted to keep it all to himself; so he made a present to the
captain, the mate, and the rest of Mr. Fitzwarren's servants; and even
to his old enemy, the cross cook.

After this Mr. Fitzwarren advised him to send for a tailor and get
himself dressed like a gentleman, and told him he was welcome to live in
his house till he could provide himself with a better.

When Whittington's face was washed, his hair curled, and he was dressed
in a smart suit of clothes, he was just as handsome and fine a young man
as any who visited at Mr. Fitzwarren's, and so thought fair Alice
Fitzwarren, who had once been so kind to him and looked upon him with
pity. And now she felt he was quite fit to be her sweetheart, and none
the less, no doubt, because Whittington was always thinking what he
could do to please her, and making her the prettiest presents that could
be.

Mr. Fitzwarren soon saw which way the wind blew, and ere long proposed
to join them in marriage, and to this they both readily agreed. A day
for the wedding was soon fixed; and they were attended to church by the
Lord Mayor, the court of aldermen, the sheriffs, and a great number of
the richest merchants in London, whom they afterwards treated with a
magnificent feast.

History tells us that Mr. Whittington and his lady lived in great
splendour, and were very happy. They had several children. He was
Sheriff, and thrice Lord Mayor of London, and received the honour of
knighthood from Henry V.

After the King's conquest of France, Sir Richard Whittington entertained
him and the Queen at dinner at the Mansion House in so sumptuous a
manner that the King said, "Never had Prince such a subject!" To which
Sir Richard replied, "Never had subject such a Prince."




THE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG


An old woman was sweeping her house, and she found a little crooked
sixpence. "What," said she, "shall I do with this little sixpence? I
will go to market, and buy a little pig."

So she bought a little pig; but as she was coming home, she came to a
stile, and the piggy would not go over the stile.

[Illustration: The old woman and her pig]

She went a little further, and she met a dog. So she said to him, "Dog!
dog! bite pig; piggy won't go over the stile; and I shan't get home till
midnight." But the dog wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met a stick. So she said, "Stick!
stick! beat dog; dog won't bite pig; piggy won't get over the stile; and
I shan't get home till midnight." But the stick wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met a fire. So she said, "Fire! fire!
burn stick; stick won't beat dog; dog won't bite pig; pig won't get over
the stile; and I shan't get home till midnight." But the fire wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met some water. So she said, "Water!
water! quench fire; fire won't burn stick; stick won't beat dog; dog
won't bite pig; pig won't get over the stile; and I shan't get home till
midnight." But the water wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met an ox. So she said, "Ox! ox!
drink water; water won't quench fire; fire won't burn stick; stick won't
beat dog; dog won't bite pig; pig won't get over the stile; and I shan't
get home till midnight." But the ox wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met a butcher. So she said, "Butcher!
butcher! kill ox; ox won't drink water; water won't quench fire; fire
won't burn stick; stick won't beat dog; dog won't bite pig; pig won't
get over the stile; and I shan't get home till midnight." But the
butcher wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met a rope. So she said, "Rope! rope!
hang butcher; butcher won't kill ox; ox won't drink water; water won't
quench fire; fire won't burn stick; stick won't beat dog; dog won't bite
pig; pig won't get over the stile; and I shan't get home till
midnight." But the rope wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met a rat. So she said, "Rat! rat!
gnaw rope; rope won't hang butcher; butcher won't kill ox; ox won't
drink water; water won't quench fire; fire won't burn stick; stick won't
beat dog; dog won't bite pig; pig won't get over the stile; and I shan't
get home till midnight." But the rat wouldn't.

She went a little further, and she met a cat. So she said, "Cat! cat!
kill rat; rat won't gnaw rope; rope won't hang butcher; butcher won't
kill ox; ox won't drink water; water won't quench fire; fire won't burn
stick; stick won't beat dog; dog won't bite pig; pig won't get over the
stile; and I shan't get home till midnight." But the cat said to her,
"If you will go to yonder cow, and fetch me a saucer of milk, I will
kill the rat." So away went the old woman to the cow.

But the cow said to her, "If you will go to yonder haystack, and fetch
me a handful of hay, I'll give you the milk." So away went the old woman
to the haystack; and she brought the hay to the cow.

As soon as the cow had eaten the hay, she gave the old woman the milk;
and away she went with it in a saucer to the cat.

As soon as the cat had lapped up the milk, the cat began to kill the
rat; the rat began to gnaw the rope; the rope began to hang the butcher;
the butcher began to kill the ox; the ox began to drink the water; the
water began to quench the fire; the fire began to burn the stick; the
stick began to beat the dog; the dog began to bite the pig; the little
pig squealed and jumped over the stile; and so the old woman got home
before midnight.




THE WEE BANNOCK


Once upon a time there was an old man and his old wife who lived in a
wee cottage beside a wee burnie. They had two cows, five hens, and a
cock, a cat and two kittens. Now the old man looked after the cows, the
cock looked after the hens, the cat looked after a mouse in the
cupboard, and the two kittens looked after the old wife's spindle as it
twirled and tussled about on the hearthstone. But though the old wife
should have looked after the kittens, the more she said, "Sho! Sho! Go
away, kitty!" the more they looked after the spindle!

So, one day, when she was quite tired out with saying, "Sho! Sho!" the
old wife felt hungry and thought she could take a wee bite of something.
So she up and baked two wee oatmeal bannocks and set them to toast
before the fire. Now just as they were toasting away, smelling so fresh
and tasty, in came the old man, and seeing them look so crisp and nice,
takes up one of them and snaps a piece out of it. On this the other
bannock thought it high time to be off, so up it jumps and away it
trundles as fast as ever it could. And away ran the old wife after it
as fast as she could run, with her spindle in one hand and her distaff
in the other. But the wee bannock trundled faster than she could run, so
it was soon out of sight, and the old wife was obliged to go back and
tussle with the kittens again.

The wee bannock meanwhile trundled gaily down the hill till it came to a
big thatched house, and it ran boldly in at the door and sate itself
down by the fireside quite comfortably. Now there were three tailors in
the room working away on a big bench, and being tailors they were, of
course, dreadfully afraid, and jumped up to hide behind the goodwife who
was carding wool by the fire.

"Hout-tout!" she cried. "What are ye a-feared of? 'Tis naught but a wee
bit bannock. Just grip hold o' it, and I'll give ye a sup o' milk to
drink with it."

So up she gets with the carders in her hands, and the tailor had his
iron goose, and the apprentices, one with the big scissors and the other
with the ironing-board, and they all made for the wee bannock; but it
was too clever for them, and dodged about the fireside until the
apprentice, thinking to snap it with the big scissors, fell into the hot
ashes and got badly burnt. Then the tailor cast the goose at it, and the
other apprentice the ironing-board; but it wouldn't do. The wee bannock
got out at the doorway, where the goodwife flung the carders at it; but
it dodged them and trundled away gaily till it came to a small house by
the road-side. So in it ran bold as bold and sate itself down by the
hearth where the wife was winding a clue of yarn for her husband, the
weaver, who was click-clacking away at his loom.

"Tibby!" quoth the weaver. "Whatever's that?"

"Naught but a wee bannock," quoth she.

"Well, come and welcome," says he, "for the porridge was thin the morn;
so grip it, woman! grip it!"

"Aye," says she, and reaches out her hand to it. But the wee bannock
just dodged.

"Man!" says she, "yon's a clever wee bannockie! Catch it, man! Catch it
if you can."

But the wee bannock just dodged. "Cast the clue at it, woman!" shouted
the weaver.

But the wee bannock was out at the door, trundling away over the hill
like a new tarred sheep or a mad cow!

And it trundled away till it came to a cowherd's house where the
goodwife was churning her butter.

"Come in by," cried the goodwife when she saw the wee bannock all crisp
and fresh and tasty; "I've plenty cream to eat with you."

But at this the wee bannock began dodging about, and it dodged so
craftily that the goodwife overset the churn in trying to grip it, and
before she set it straight again the wee bannock was off, trundling away
down the hill till it came to a mill-house where the miller was sifting
meal. So in it ran and sate down by the trough.

"Ho, ho!" says the miller. "It's a sign o' plenty when the likes of you
run about the country-side with none to look after you. But come in by.
I like bannock and cheese for supper, so I'll give ye a night's
quarters." And with that he tapped his fat stomach.

At this the wee bannock turned and ran; it wasn't going to trust itself
with the miller and his cheese; and the miller, having nothing but the
meal to fling after it, just stood and stared; so the wee bannock
trundled quietly along the level till it came to the smithy where the
smith was welding horse-nails.

"Hullo!" says he, "you're a well-toasted bannock. You'll do fine with a
glass of ale! So come in by and I'll give you a lodging inside." And
with that he laughed, and tapped his fat stomach.

But the wee bannock thought the ale was as bad as the cheese, so it up
and away, with the smith after it. And when he couldn't come up with it,
he just cast his hammer at it. But the hammer missed and the wee bannock
was out of sight in a crack, and trundled and trundled till it came to a
farm-house where the goodman and his wife were beating out flax and
combing it. So it ran in to the fireside and began to toast itself
again.

"Janet," says the goodman, "yon is a well-toasted wee bannock. I'll have
the half of it."

"And I'll take t'other half," says the goodwife, and reached out a hand
to grip it. But the wee bannock played dodgings again.

"My certy," says the wife, "but you're spirity!" And with that she cast
the flax comb at it. But it was too clever for her, so out it trundled
through the door and away was it down the road, till it came to another
house where the goodwife was stirring the scalding soup and the goodman
was plaiting a thorn collar for the calf. So it trundled in, and sate
down by the fire.

"Ho, Jock!" quoth the goodwife, "you're always crying on a well-toasted
bannock. Here's one! Come and eat it!"

Then the wee bannock tried dodgings again, and the goodwife cried on the
goodman to help her grip it.

"Aye, mother!" says he, "but where's it gone?"

"Over there!" cries she. "Quick! run to t'other side o' yon chair." And
the chair upset, and down came the goodman among the thorns. And the
goodwife she flung the soup spoon at it, and the scalding soup fell on
the goodman and scalded him, so the wee bannock ran out in a crack and
was away to the next house, where the folk were just sitting down to
their supper and the goodwife was scraping the pot.

"Look!" cries she, "here's a wee well-toasted bannock for him as catches
it!"

"Let's shut the door first," says the cautious goodman, "afore we try to
get a grip on it."

Now when the wee bannock heard this it judged it was time to be off; so
away it trundled and they after it helter-skelter. But though they threw
their spoons at it, and the goodman cast his best hat, the wee bannock
was too clever for them, and was out of sight in a crack.

Then away it trundled till it came to a house where the folk were just
away to their beds. The goodwife she was raking out the fire, and the
goodman had taken off his breeches.

"What's yon?" says he, for it was nigh dark.

"It will just be a wee bannock," says she.

"I could eat the half of it," says he.

"And I could eat t'other," quoth she.

Then they tried to grip it; but the wee bannock tried dodging. And the
goodman and the goodwife tumbled against each other in the dark and grew
angry.

"Cast your breeches at it, man!" cries the goodwife at last. "What's the
use of standing staring like a stuck pig?"

So the goodman cast his breeches at it and thought he had smothered it
sure enough; but somehow it wriggled out, and away it was, the goodman
after it without his breeches. You never saw such a race--a real clean
chase over the park, and through the whins, and round by the bramble
patch. But there the goodman lost sight of it and had to go back all
scratched and tired and shivering.

The wee bannock, however, trundled on till it was too dark even for a
wee bannock to see.

Then it came to a fox's hole in the side of a big whinbush and trundled
in to spend the night there; but the fox had had no meat for three whole
days, so he just said, "You're welcome, friend! I wish there were two of
you!"

And there were two! For he snapped the wee bannock into halves with one
bite. So that was an end of _it_!

[Illustration: Headpiece--How Jack went out to seek his Fortune]




HOW JACK WENT OUT TO SEEK HIS FORTUNE


Once on a time there was a boy named Jack, and one morning he started to
go and seek his fortune.

He hadn't gone very far before he met a cat.

"Where are you going, Jack?" said the cat.

"I am going to seek my fortune."

"May I go with you?"

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier."

So on they went, Jack and the cat. Jiggelty-jolt, jiggelty-jolt,
jiggelty-jolt!

They went a little farther and they met a dog.

"Where are you going, Jack?" said the dog.

"I am going to seek my fortune."

"May I go with you?"

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier."

So on they went, Jack, the cat, and the dog! Jiggelty-jolt,
jiggelty-jolt, jiggelty-jolt!

They went a little farther and they met a goat.

"Where are you going, Jack?" said the goat.

"I am going to seek my fortune."

"May I go with you?"

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier."

So on they went, Jack, the cat, the dog, and the goat. Jiggelty-jolt,
jiggelty-jolt, jiggelty-jolt!

They went a little farther and they met a bull.

"Where are you going, Jack?" said the bull.

"I am going to seek my fortune."

"May I go with you?"

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier."

So on they went, Jack, the cat, the dog, the goat, and the bull.
Jiggelty-jolt, jiggelty-jolt, jiggelty-jolt!

They went a little farther and they met a rooster.

"Where are you going, Jack?" said the rooster.

"I am going to seek my fortune."

"May I go with you?"

"Yes," said Jack, "the more the merrier."

So on they went, Jack, the cat, the dog, the goat, the bull, and the
rooster. Jiggelty-jolt, jiggelty-jolt, jiggelty-jolt!

And they went on jiggelty-jolting till it was about dark, and it was
time to think of some place where they could spend the night. Now, after
a bit, they came in sight of a house, and Jack told his companions to
keep still while he went up and looked in through the window to see if
all was safe. And what did he see through the window but a band of
robbers seated at a table counting over great bags of gold!

"That gold shall be mine," quoth Jack to himself. "I have found my
fortune already."

Then he went back and told his companions to wait till he gave the word,
and then to make all the noise they possibly could in their own fashion.
So when they were all ready Jack gave the word, and the cat mewed, and
the dog barked, and the goat bleated, and the bull bellowed, and the
rooster crowed, and all together they made such a terrific hubbub that
the robbers jumped up in a fright and ran away, leaving their gold on
the table. So, after a good laugh, Jack and his companions went in and
took possession of the house and the gold.

Now Jack was a wise boy, and he knew that the robbers would come back in
the dead of the night to get their gold, and so when it came time to go
to bed he put the cat in the rocking-chair, and he put the dog under the
table, and he put the goat upstairs, and he put the bull in the cellar,
and bade the rooster fly up on to the roof.

Then he went to bed.

Now sure enough, in the dead of the night, the robbers sent one man back
to the house to look after their money. But before long he came back in
a great fright and told them a fearsome tale!

"I went back to the house," said he, "and went in and tried to sit down
in the rocking-chair, and there was an old woman knitting there, and
she--oh my!--stuck her knitting-needles into me."

(_That was the cat, you know._)

"Then I went to the table to look after the money, but there was a
shoemaker under the table, and my! how he stuck his awl into me."

(_That was the dog, you know._)

"So I started to go upstairs, but there was a man up there threshing,
and goody! how he knocked me down with his flail!"

(_That was the goat, you know._)

"Then I started to go down to the cellar, but--oh dear me!--there was a
man down there chopping wood, and he knocked me up and he knocked me
down just terrible with his axe."

(_That was the bull, you know._)

"But I shouldn't have minded all that if it hadn't been for an awful
little fellow on the top of the house by the kitchen chimney, who kept
a-hollering and hollering, 'Cook him in a stew! Cook him in a stew! Cook
him in a stew!'"

(_And that, of course, was the cock-a-doodle-doo._)

Then the robbers agreed that they would rather lose their gold than meet
with such a fate; so they made off, and Jack next morning went gaily
home with his booty. And each of the animals carried a portion of it.
The cat hung a bag on its tail (a cat when it walks always carries its
tail stiff), the dog on his collar, the goat and the bull on their
horns, but Jack made the rooster carry a golden guinea in its beak to
prevent it from calling all the time:

  "Cock-a-doodle-doo,
   Cook him in a stew!"




THE BOGEY-BEAST


There was once a woman who was very, very cheerful, though she had
little to make her so; for she was old, and poor, and lonely. She lived
in a little bit of a cottage and earned a scant living by running
errands for her neighbours, getting a bite here, a sup there, as reward
for her services. So she made shift to get on, and always looked as spry
and cheery as if she had not a want in the world.

Now one summer evening, as she was trotting, full of smiles as ever,
along the high road to her hovel, what should she see but a big black
pot lying in the ditch!

"Goodness me!" she cried, "that would be just the very thing for me if I
only had something to put in it! But I haven't! Now who could have left
it in the ditch?"

And she looked about her expecting the owner would not be far off; but
she could see nobody.

"Maybe there is a hole in it," she went on, "and that's why it has been
cast away. But it would do fine to put a flower in for my window; so
I'll just take it home with me."

And with that she lifted the lid and looked inside. "Mercy me!" she
cried, fair amazed. "If it isn't full of gold pieces. Here's luck!"

And so it was, brimful of great gold coins. Well, at first she simply
stood stock-still, wondering if she was standing on her head or her
heels. Then she began saying:

"Lawks! But I do feel rich. I feel awful rich!"

After she had said this many times, she began to wonder how she was to
get her treasure home. It was too heavy for her to carry, and she could
see no better way than to tie the end of her shawl to it and drag it
behind her like a go-cart.

"It will soon be dark," she said to herself as she trotted along. "So
much the better! The neighbours will not see what I'm bringing home, and
I shall have all the night to myself, and be able to think what I'll do!
Mayhap I'll buy a grand house and just sit by the fire with a cup o' tea
and do no work at all like a queen. Or maybe I'll bury it at the garden
foot and just keep a bit in the old china teapot on the chimney-piece.
Or maybe--Goody! Goody! I feel that grand I don't know myself."

By this time she was a bit tired of dragging such a heavy weight, and,
stopping to rest a while, turned to look at her treasure.

And lo! it wasn't a pot of gold at all! It was nothing but a lump of
silver.

She stared at it, and rubbed her eyes, and stared at it again.

"Well! I never!" she said at last. "And me thinking it was a pot of
gold! I must have been dreaming. But this is luck! Silver is far less
trouble--easier to mind, and not so easy stolen. Them gold pieces would
have been the death o' me, and with this great lump of silver--"

So she went off again planning what she would do, and feeling as rich as
rich, until becoming a bit tired again she stopped to rest and gave a
look round to see if her treasure was safe; and she saw nothing but a
great lump of iron!

"Well! I never!" says she again. "And I mistaking it for silver! I must
have been dreaming. But this is luck! It's real convenient. I can get
penny pieces for old iron, and penny pieces are a deal handier for me
than your gold and silver. Why! I should never have slept a wink for
fear of being robbed. But a penny piece comes in useful, and I shall
sell that iron for a lot and be real rich--rolling rich."

So on she trotted full of plans as to how she would spend her penny
pieces, till once more she stopped to rest and looked round to see her
treasure was safe. And this time she saw nothing but a big stone.

"Well! I never!" she cried, full of smiles. "And to think I mistook it
for iron. I must have been dreaming. But here's luck indeed, and me
wanting a stone terrible bad to stick open the gate. Eh my! but it's a
change for the better! It's a fine thing to have good luck."

So, all in a hurry to see how the stone would keep the gate open, she
trotted off down the hill till she came to her own cottage. She
unlatched the gate and then turned to unfasten her shawl from the stone
which lay on the path behind her. Aye! It was a stone sure enough. There
was plenty light to see it lying there, douce and peaceable as a stone
should.

So she bent over it to unfasten the shawl end, when--"Oh my!" All of a
sudden it gave a jump, a squeal, and in one moment was as big as a
haystack. Then it let down four great lanky legs and threw out two long
ears, nourished a great long tail and romped off, kicking and squealing
and whinnying and laughing like a naughty, mischievous boy!

The old woman stared after it till it was fairly out of sight, then she
burst out laughing too.

"Well!" she chuckled, "I am in luck! Quite the luckiest body hereabouts.
Fancy my seeing the Bogey-Beast all to myself; and making myself so free
with it too! My goodness! I do feel that uplifted--that _GRAND_!"--

So she went into her cottage and spent the evening chuckling over her
good luck.

[Illustration: "Well!" she chuckled, "I am in luck!"]




LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD


Once upon a time there was a little girl who was called little Red
Riding-Hood, because she was quite small and because she always wore a
red cloak with a big red hood to it, which her grandmother had made for
her.

Now one day her mother, who had been churning and baking cakes, said to
her:

"My dear, put on your red cloak with the hood to it, and take this cake
and this pot of butter to your Grannie, and ask how she is, for I hear
she is ailing."

Now little Red Riding-Hood was very fond of her grandmother, who made
her so many nice things, so she put on her cloak joyfully and started on
her errand. But her grandmother lived some way off, and to reach the
cottage little Red Riding-Hood had to pass through a vast lonely forest.
However, some wood-cutters were at work in it, so little Red Riding-Hood
was not so very much alarmed when she saw a great big wolf coming
towards her, because she knew that wolves were cowardly things.

And sure enough the wolf, though but for the wood-cutters he would
surely have eaten little Red Riding-Hood, only stopped and asked her
politely where she was going.

"I am going to see Grannie, take her this cake and this pot of butter,
and ask how she is," says little Red Riding-Hood.

"Does she live a very long way off?" asks the wolf craftily.

"Not so very far if you go by the straight road," replied little Red
Riding-Hood. "You only have to pass the mill and the first cottage on
the right is Grannie's; but I am going by the wood path because there
are such a lot of nuts and flowers and butterflies."

"I wish you good luck," says the wolf politely. "Give my respects to
your grandmother and tell her I hope she is quite well."

And with that he trotted off. But instead of going his ways he turned
back, took the straight road to the old woman's cottage, and knocked at
the door.

Rap! Rap! Rap!

"Who's there?" asked the old woman, who was in bed.

"Little Red Riding-Hood," sings out the wolf, making his voice as shrill
as he could. "I've come to bring dear Grannie a pot of butter and a cake
from mother, and to ask how you are."

"Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up," says the old woman, well
satisfied.

So the wolf pulled the bobbin, the latch went up, and--oh my!--it
wasn't a minute before he had gobbled up old Grannie, for he had had
nothing to eat for a week.

Then he shut the door, put on Grannie's nightcap, and, getting into bed,
rolled himself well up in the clothes.

By and by along comes little Red Riding-Hood, who had been amusing
herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and picking
flowers.

So she knocked at the door.

Rap! Rap! Rap!

"Who's there?" says the wolf, making his voice as soft as he could.

Now little Red Riding-Hood heard the voice was very gruff, but she
thought her grandmother had a cold; so she said:

"Little Red Riding-Hood, with a pot of butter and a cake from mother, to
ask how you are."

"Pull the bobbin, and the latch will go up."

So little Red Riding-Hood pulled the bobbin, the latch went up, and
there, she thought, was her grandmother in the bed; for the cottage was
so dark one could not see well. Besides, the crafty wolf turned his face
to the wall at first. And he made his voice as soft, as soft as he
could, when he said:

"Come and kiss me, my dear."

Then little Red Riding-Hood took off her cloak and went to the bed.

"Oh, Grandmamma, Grandmamma," says she, "what big arms you've got!"

"All the better to hug you with," says he.

"But, Grandmamma, Grandmamma, what big legs you have!"

"All the better to run with, my dear."

"Oh, Grandmamma, Grandmamma, what big ears you've got!"

"All the better to hear with, my dear."

"But, Grandmamma, Grandmamma, what big eyes you've got!"

"All the better to see you with, my dear!"

"Oh, Grandmamma, Grandmamma, what big teeth you've got!"

"All the better to eat you with, my dear!" says that wicked, wicked
wolf, and with that he gobbled up little Red Riding-Hood.




CHILDE ROWLAND


  Childe Rowland and his brothers twain
  Were playing at the ball.
  Their sister, Burd Helen, she played
  In the midst among them all.

For Burd Helen loved her brothers, and they loved her exceedingly. At
play she was ever their companion and they cared for her as brothers
should. And one day when they were at ball close to the churchyard--

  Childe Rowland kicked it with his foot
  And caught it on his knee.
  At last as he plunged among them all,
  O'er the church he made it flee.

Now Childe Rowland was Burd Helen's youngest, dearest brother, and there
was ever a loving rivalry between them as to which should win. So with a
laugh--

  Burd Helen round about the aisle
  To seek the ball is gone.

Now the ball had trundled to the right of the church; so, as Burd Helen
ran the nearest way to get it, she ran contrary to the sun's course,
and the light, shining full on her face, sent her shadow behind her.
Thus that happened which will happen at times when folk forget and run
widershins, that is against the light, so that their shadows are out of
sight and cannot be taken care of properly.

Now what happened you will learn by and by; meanwhile, Burd Helen's
three brothers waited for her return.

  But long they waited, and longer still,
  And she came not back again.

Then they grew alarmed, and--

  They sought her east, they sought her west,
  They sought her up and down.
  And woe were the hearts of her brethren,
  Since she was not to be found.

Not to be found anywhere--she had disappeared like dew on a May morning.

So at last her eldest brother went to Great Merlin the Magician, who
could tell and foretell, see and foresee all things under the sun and
beyond it, and asked him where Burd Helen could have gone.

"Fair Burd Helen," said the Magician, "must have been carried off with
her shadow by the fairies when she was running round the church
widershins; for fairies have power when folk go against the light. She
will now be in the Dark Tower of the King of Elfland, and none but the
boldest knight in Christendom will be able to bring her back."

"If it be possible to bring her back," said the eldest brother, "I will
do it, or perish in the attempt."

"Possible it is," quoth Merlin the Magician gravely. "But woe be to the
man or mother's son who attempts the task if he be not well taught
beforehand what he is to do."

Now the eldest brother of fair Burd Helen was brave indeed, danger did
not dismay him, so he begged the Magician to tell him exactly what he
should do, and what he should not do, as he was determined to go and
seek his sister. And the Great Magician told him, and schooled him, and
after he had learnt his lesson right well he girt on his sword, said
good-bye to his brothers and his mother, and set out for the Dark Tower
of Elfland to bring Burd Helen back.

  But long they waited, and longer still,
  With doubt and muckle pain.
  But woe were the hearts of his brethren,
  For he came not back again.

So after a time Burd Helen's second brother went to Merlin the Magician
and said:

"School me also, for I go to find my brother and sister in the Dark
Tower of the King of Elfland and bring them back." For he also was brave
indeed, danger did not dismay him.

Then when he had been well schooled and had learnt his lesson, he said
good-bye to Childe Rowland, his brother, and to his mother the good
Queen, girt on his sword, and set out for the Dark Tower of Elfland to
bring back Burd Helen and her brother.

  But long they waited, and longer still,
  With muckle doubt and pain.
  And woe were his mother's and brother's hearts,
  For he came not back again.

Now when they had waited and waited a long, long time, and none had come
back from the Dark Tower of Elfland, Childe Rowland, the youngest, the
best beloved of Burd Helen's brothers, besought his mother to let him
also go on the quest; for he was the bravest of them all, and neither
death nor danger could dismay him. But at first his mother the Queen
said:

"Not so! You are the last of my children; if you are lost, all is lost
indeed!"

But he begged so hard that at length the good Queen his mother bade him
God-speed, and girt about his waist his father's sword, the brand that
never struck in vain, and as she girt it on she chanted the spell that
gives victory.

So Childe Rowland bade her good-bye and went to the cave of the Great
Magician Merlin.

"Yet once more, Master," said the youth, "and but once more, tell how
man or mother's son may find fair Burd Helen and her brothers twain in
the Dark Tower of Elfland."

"My son," replied the wizard Merlin, "there be things twain; simple they
seem to say, but hard are they to perform. One thing is to do, and one
thing is not to do. Now the first thing you have to do is this: after
you have once entered the Land of Faery, _whoever speaks to you_, you
must out with your father's brand and cut off their head. In this you
must not fail. And the second thing you have not to do is this: after
you have entered the Land of Faery, bite no bit, sup no drop; for if in
Elfland you sup one drop or bite one bit, never again will you see
Middle Earth."

Then Childe Rowland said these two lessons over and over until he knew
them by heart; so, well schooled, he thanked the Great Master and went
on his way to seek the Dark Tower of Elfland.

And he journeyed far, and he journeyed fast, until at last on a wide
moorland he came upon a horse-herd feeding his horses; and the horses
were wild, and their eyes were like coals of fire.

Then he knew they must be the horses of the King of Elfland, and that at
last he must be in the Land of Faery.

So Childe Rowland said to the horse-herd, "Canst tell me where lies the
Dark Tower of the Elfland King?"

And the horse-herd answered, "Nay, that is beyond my ken; but go a
little farther and thou wilt come to a cow-herd who mayhap can tell
thee."

Then at once Childe Rowland drew his father's sword that never struck in
vain, and smote off the horse-herd's head, so that it rolled on the wide
moorland and frightened the King of Elfland's horses. And he journeyed
further till he came to a wide pasture where a cow-herd was herding
cows. And the cows looked at him with fiery eyes, so he knew that they
must be the King of Elfland's cows, and that he was still in the Land of
Faery. Then he said to the cow-herd:

"Canst tell me where lies the Dark Tower of the Elfland King?"

And the cow-herd answered, "Nay, that is beyond my ken; but go a little
farther and thou wilt come to a hen-wife who, mayhap, can tell thee."

So at once Childe Rowland, remembering his lesson, out with his father's
good sword that never struck in vain, and off went the cow-herd's head
spinning amongst the grasses and frightening the King of Elfland's cows.

Then he journeyed further till he came to an orchard where an old woman
in a grey cloak was feeding fowls.

And the fowls' little eyes were like little coals of fire, so he knew
that they were the King of Elfland's fowls, and that he was still in the
Land of Faery.

And he said to the hen-wife, "Canst tell me where lies the Dark Tower of
the King of Elfland?"

Now the hen-wife looked at him and smiled. "Surely I can tell you," said
she. "Go on a little farther. There you will find a low green hill;
green and low against the sky. And the hill will have three
terrace-rings upon it from bottom to top. Go round the first terrace
saying:

  'Open from within;
   Let me in! Let me in!'

"Then go round the second terrace and say:

  'Open wide, open wide;
   Let me inside.'

"Then go round the third terrace and say:

  'Open fast, open fast;
   Let me in at last.'

"Then a door will open and let you in to the Dark Tower of the King of
Elfland. Only remember to go round widershins. If you go round with the
sun the door will not open. So good luck to you!"

Now the hen-wife spoke so fair, and smiled so frank, that Childe Rowland
forgot for a moment what he had to do. Therefore he thanked the old
woman for her courtesy and was just going on, when, all of a sudden, he
remembered his lesson. And he out with his father's sword that never yet
struck in vain, and smote off the hen-wife's head, so that it rolled
among the corn and frightened the fiery-eyed fowls of the King of
Elfland.

After that he went on and on, till, against the blue sky, he saw a round
green hill set with three terraces from top to bottom.

Then he did as the hen-wife had told him, not forgetting to go round
widershins, so that the sun was always on his face.

Now when he had gone round the third terrace saying:

  "Open fast, open fast;
   Let me in at last,"

what should happen but that he should see a door in the hill-side. And
it opened and let him in. Then it closed behind him with a click, and
Childe Rowland was left in the dark; for he had gotten at last to the
Dark Tower of the King of Elfland.

It was very dark at first, perhaps because the sun had part blinded his
eyes; for after a while it became twilight, though where the light came
from none could tell, unless through the walls and the roof; for there
were neither windows nor candles. But in the gloaming light he could see
a long passage of rough arches made of rock that was transparent and all
encrusted with sheep-silver, rock-spar, and many bright stones. And the
air was warm as it ever is in Elfland. So he went on and on in the
twilight that came from nowhere, till he found himself before two wide
doors all barred with iron. But they flew open at his touch, and he saw
a wonderful, large, and spacious hall that seemed to him to be as long
and as broad as the green hill itself. The roof was supported by pillars
wide and lofty beyond the pillars of a cathedral; and they were of gold
and silver, fretted into foliage, and between and around them were woven
wreaths of flowers. And the flowers were of diamonds, and rubies, and
topaz, and the leaves of emerald. And the arches met in the middle of
the roof where hung, by a golden chain, an immense lamp made of a
hollowed pearl, white and translucent. And in the middle of this lamp
was a mighty carbuncle, blood-red, that kept spinning round and round,
shedding its light to the very ends of the huge hall, which thus seemed
to be filled with the shining of the setting sun.

Now at one end of the hall was a marvelous, wondrous, glorious couch of
velvet, silk and gold, and on it sate fair Burd Helen combing her
beautiful golden hair with a golden comb. But her face was all set and
wan, as if it were made of stone. When she saw Childe Rowland she never
moved, and her voice came like the voice of the dead as she said:

  "God pity you, poor luckless fool!
   What have you here to do?"

Now at first Childe Rowland felt he must clasp this semblance of his
dear sister in his arms, but he remembered the lesson which the Great
Magician Merlin had taught him, and drawing his father's brand which had
never yet been drawn in vain, and turning his eyes from the horrid
sight, he struck with all his force at the enchanted form of fair Burd
Helen.

And lo, when he turned to look in fear and trembling, there she was her
own self, her joy fighting with her fears. And she clasped him in her
arms and cried:

  "Oh, hear you this, my youngest brother,
   Why didn't you bide at home?
   Had you a hundred thousand lives,
   Ye couldn't spare ne'er a one!

  "But sit you down, my dearest dear,
   Oh! woe that ye were born,
   For, come the King of Elfland in,
   Your fortune is forlorn."

So with tears and smiles she seated him beside her on the wondrous
couch, and they told each other what they each had suffered and done. He
told her how he had come to Elfland. She told him how she had been
carried off, shadow and all, because she ran round a church widershins,
and how her brothers had been enchanted, and lay intombed as if dead, as
she had been. Because they had not had the courage to obey the Great
Magician's lesson to the letter, and cut off her head.

Now after a time Childe Rowland, who had travelled far and travelled
fast, became very hungry, and forgetting all about the second lesson of
the Magician Merlin, asked his sister for some food; and she, being
still under the spell of Elfland, could not warn him of his danger. She
could only look at him sadly as she rose up and brought him a golden
basin full of bread and milk.

Now in those days it was manners before taking food from anyone to say
thank you with your eyes, and so just as Childe Rowland was about to put
the golden bowl to his lips, he raised his eyes to his sister's.

And in an instant he remembered what the Great Magician had said: "Bite
no bit, sup no drop, for if in Elfland you sup one drop or bite one bit,
never again will you see Middle Earth."

So he dashed the bowl to the ground, and standing square and fair, lithe
and young and strong, he cried like a challenge:

"Not a sup will I swallow, not a bit will I bite, till fair Burd Helen
is set free."

Then immediately there was a loud noise like thunder, and a voice was
heard saying:

  "Fee, fi, fo, fum,
   I smell the blood of a Christian Man.
   Be he alive or dead, my brand
   Shall dash his brains from his brain-pan."

Then the folding-doors of the vast hall burst open and the King of
Elfland entered like a storm of wind. What he was really like Childe
Rowland had not time to see, for with a bold cry:

"Strike, Bogle! thy hardest if thou darest!" he rushed to meet the foe,
his good sword, that never yet did fail, in his hand.

And Childe Rowland and the King of Elfland fought, and fought, and
fought, while Burd Helen, with her hands clasped, watched them in fear
and hope.

So they fought, and fought, and fought, until at last Childe Rowland
beat the King of Elfland to his knees. Whereupon he cried, "I yield me.
Thou hast beaten me in fair fight."

Then Childe Rowland said, "I grant thee mercy if thou wilt release my
sister and my brothers from all spells and enchantments, and let us go
back to Middle Earth."

So that was agreed; and the Elfin King went to a golden chest whence he
took a phial that was filled with a blood-red liquor. And with this
liquor he anointed the ears and the eyelids, the nostrils, the lips, and
the finger-tips of the bodies of Burd Helen's two brothers that lay as
dead in two golden coffers.

And immediately they sprang to life and declared that their souls only
had been away, but had now returned.

After this the Elfin King said a charm which took away the very last bit
of enchantment, and adown the huge hall that showed as if it were lit by
the setting sun, and through the long passage of rough arches made of
rock that was transparent and all encrusted with sheep-silver,
rock-spar, and many bright stones, where twilight reigned, the three
brothers and their sister passed. Then the door opened in the green
hill, it clicked behind them, and they left the Dark Tower of the King
of Elfland never to return.

For, no sooner were they in the light of day, than they found themselves
at home.

But fair Burd Helen took care never to go widershins round a church
again.

[Illustration: They both met together upon Nottingham bridge]




THE WISE MEN OF GOTHAM


OF BUYING OF SHEEP

There were two men of Gotham, and one of them was going to market to
Nottingham to buy sheep, and the other came from the market, and they
both met together upon Nottingham bridge.

"Where are you going?" said the one who came from Nottingham.

"Marry," said he that was going to Nottingham, "I am going to buy
sheep."

"Buy sheep?" said the other; "and which way will you bring them home?"

"Marry," said the other, "I will bring them over this bridge."

"By Robin Hood," said he that came from Nottingham, "but thou shalt
not."

"By Maid Marion," said he that was going thither, "but I will."

"You will not," said the one.

"I will."

Then they beat their staves against the ground, one against the other,
as if there had been a hundred sheep between them.

"Hold in," said one; "beware lest my sheep leap over the bridge."

"I care not," said the other; "they shall not come this way."

"But they shall," said the other.

Then the other said, "If that thou make much to do, I will put my
fingers in thy mouth."

"Will you?" said the other.

Now, as they were at their contention, another man of Gotham came from
the market with a sack of meal upon a horse, and seeing and hearing his
neighbours at strife about sheep, though there were none between them,
said:

"Ah, fools! will you ever learn wisdom? Help me, and lay my sack upon my
shoulders."

They did so, and he went to the side of the bridge, unloosened the mouth
of the sack, and shook all his meal out into the river.

"Now, neighbours," he said, "how much meal is there in my sack?"

"Marry," said they, "there is none at all."

"Now, by my faith," said he, "even as much wit as is in your two heads
to stir up strife about a thing you have not."

Which was the wisest of these three persons, judge yourself.

[Illustration: "A vengeance on her!" said they. "We did not make our
hedge high enough"]

OF HEDGING A CUCKOO

Once upon a time the men of Gotham would have kept the Cuckoo so that
she might sing all the year, and in the midst of their town they made a
hedge round in compass and they got a Cuckoo, and put her into it, and
said, "Sing there all through the year, or thou shalt have neither meat
nor water." The Cuckoo, as soon as she perceived herself within the
hedge, flew away. "A vengeance on her!" said they. "We did not make our
hedge high enough."

[Illustration: He took out the cheeses and rolled them down the hill]

OF SENDING CHEESES

There was a man of Gotham who went to the market at Nottingham to sell
cheese, and as he was going down the hill to Nottingham bridge, one of
his cheeses fell out of his wallet and rolled down the hill. "Ah,
gaffer," said the fellow, "can you run to market alone? I will send one
after another after you." Then he laid down his wallet and took out the
cheeses and rolled them down the hill. Some went into one bush, and some
went into another.

"I charge you all to meet me near the market-place," cried he; and when
the fellow came to the market to meet his cheeses, he stayed there till
the market was nearly done. Then he went about to inquire of his friends
and neighbours, and other men, if they did see his cheeses come to the
market.

"Who should bring them?" said one of the market men.

"Marry, themselves," said the fellow; "they know the way well enough."

He said, "A vengeance on them all. I did fear, to see them run so fast,
that they would run beyond the market. I am now fully persuaded that
they must be now almost at York." Whereupon he forthwith hired a horse
to ride to York, to seek his cheeses where they were not; but to this
day no man can tell him of his cheeses.

[Illustration: And they left the eel to drown]

OF DROWNING EELS

When Good Friday came, the men of Gotham cast their heads together what
to do with their white herrings, their red herrings, their sprats, and
other salt fish. One consulted with the other, and agreed that such
fish should be cast into their pond (which was in the middle of the
town), that they might breed against the next year, and every man that
had salt fish left cast them into the pool.

"I have many white herrings," said one.

"I have many sprats," said another.

"I have many red herrings," said the other.

"I have much salt fish. Let all go into the pond or pool, and we shall
fare like lords next year."

At the beginning of next year following the men drew near the pond to
have their fish, and there was nothing but a great eel. "Ah," said they
all, "a mischief on this eel, for he has eaten up all our fish."

"What shall we do to him?" said one to the other.

"Kill him," said one.

"Chop him into pieces," said another.

"Not so," said another; "let us drown him."

"Be it so," said all. And they went to another pond, and cast the eel
into the pond. "Lie there and shift for yourself, for no help thou shalt
have from us"; and they left the eel to drown.

[Illustration: The hare ran on along the country way]

OF SENDING RENT

Once on a time the men of Gotham had forgotten to pay their landlord.
One said to the other, "To-morrow is our pay-day, and what shall we find
to send our money to our landlord?"

The one said, "This day I have caught a hare, and he shall carry it, for
he is light of foot."

"Be it so," said all; "he shall have a letter and a purse to put our
money in, and we shall direct him the right way." So when the letters
were written and the money put in a purse, they tied it round the hare's
neck, saying, "First you go to Lancaster, then thou must go to
Loughborough, and Newarke is our landlord, and commend us to him, and
there is his dues."

The hare, as soon as he was out of their hands, ran on along the country
way. Some cried, "Thou must go to Lancaster first."

"Let the hare alone," said another; "he can tell a nearer way than the
best of us all. Let him go."

Another said, "It is a subtle hare; let her alone; she will not keep the
highway for fear of dogs."

[Illustration: A courtier came riding by, and he did ask what they were
seeking]

OF COUNTING

On a certain time there were twelve men of Gotham who went fishing, and
some went into the water and some on dry ground; and, as they were
coming back, one of them said, "We have ventured much this day wading; I
pray God that none of us that did come from home be drowned."

"Marry," said one, "let us see about that. Twelve of us came out." And
every man did count eleven, and the twelfth man did never count himself.

"Alas!" said one to another, "one of us is drowned." They went back to
the brook where they had been fishing, and looked up and down for him
that was drowned, and made great lamentation. A courtier came riding by,
and he did ask what they were seeking, and why they were so sorrowful.
"Oh," said they, "this day we came to fish in this brook, and there were
twelve of us, and one is drowned."

"Why," said the courtier, "count me how many of you there be"; and one
counted eleven and did not count himself. "Well," said the courtier,
"what will you give me if I find the twelfth man?"

"Sir," said they, "all the money we have."

"Give me the money," said the courtier; and he began with the first, and
gave him a whack over the shoulders that he groaned, and said, "There is
one," and he served all of them that they groaned; but when he came to
the last he gave him a good blow, saying, "Here is the twelfth man."

"God bless you on your heart," said all the company; "you have found our
neighbour."




CAPORUSHES


Once upon a time, a long, long while ago, when all the world was young
and all sorts of strange things happened, there lived a very rich
gentleman whose wife had died leaving him three lovely daughters. They
were as the apple of his eye, and he loved them exceedingly.

Now one day he wanted to find out if they loved him in return, so he
said to the eldest, "How much do you love me, my dear?"

And she answered as pat as may be, "As I love my life."

"Very good, my dear," said he, and gave her a kiss. Then he said to the
second girl, "How much do you love me, my dear?"

And she answered as swift as thought, "Better than all the world
beside."

"Good!" he replied, and patted her on the cheek. Then he turned to the
youngest, who was also the prettiest.

"And how much do _you_ love me, my dearest?"

Now the youngest daughter was not only pretty, she was clever. So she
thought a moment, then she said slowly:

"I love you as fresh meat loves salt!"

Now when her father heard this he was very angry, because he really
loved her more than the others.

"What!" he said. "If that is all you give me in return for all I've
given you, out of my house you go." So there and then he turned her out
of the home where she had been born and bred, and shut the door in her
face.

Not knowing where to go, she wandered on, and she wandered on, till she
came to a big fen where the reeds grew ever so tall and the rushes
swayed in the wind like a field of corn. There she sate down and plaited
herself an overall of rushes and a cap to match, so as to hide her fine
clothes, and her beautiful golden hair that was all set with milk-white
pearls. For she was a wise girl, and thought that in such lonely
country, mayhap, some robber might fall in with her and kill her to get
her fine clothes and jewels.

It took a long time to plait the dress and cap, and while she plaited
she sang a little song:

  "Hide my hair, O cap o' rushes,
   Hide my heart, O robe o' rushes.
   Sure! my answer had no fault,
   I love him more than he loves salt."

And the fen birds sate and listened and sang back to her:

  "Cap o' rushes, shed no tear,
   Robe o' rushes, have no fear;
   With these words if fault he'd find,
   Sure your father must be blind."

When her task was finished she put on her robe of rushes and it hid all
her fine clothes, and she put on the cap and it hid all her beautiful
hair, so that she looked quite a common country girl. But the fen birds
flew away, singing as they flew:

  "Cap-o-rushes! we can see,
   Robe o' rushes! what you be,
   Fair and clean, and fine and tidy,
   So you'll be whate'er betide ye."

By this time she was very, very hungry, so she wandered on, and she
wandered on; but ne'er a cottage or a hamlet did she see, till just at
sun-setting she came on a great house on the edge of the fen. It had a
fine front door to it; but mindful of her dress of rushes she went round
to the back. And there she saw a strapping fat scullion washing pots and
pans with a very sulky face. So, being a clever girl, she guessed what
the maid was wanting, and said:

"If I may have a night's lodging, I will scrub the pots and pans for
you."

"Why! Here's luck," replied the scullery-maid, ever so pleased. "I was
just wanting badly to go a-walking with my sweetheart. So if you will do
my work you shall share my bed and have a bite of my supper. Only mind
you scrub the pots clean or cook will be at me."

Now next morning the pots were scraped so clean that they looked like
new, and the saucepans were polished like silver, and the cook said to
the scullion, "Who cleaned these pots? Not you, I'll swear." So the maid
had to up and out with the truth. Then the cook would have turned away
the old maid and put on the new, but the latter would not hear of it.

"The maid was kind to me and gave me a night's lodging," she said. "So
now I will stay without wage and do the dirty work for her."

So Caporushes--for so they called her since she would give no other
name--stayed on and cleaned the pots and scraped the saucepans.

Now it so happened that her master's son came of age, and to celebrate
the occasion a ball was given to the neighbourhood, for the young man
was a grand dancer, and loved nothing so well as a country measure. It
was a very fine party, and after supper was served, the servants were
allowed to go and watch the quality from the gallery of the ball-room.

But Caporushes refused to go, for she also was a grand dancer, and she
was afraid that when she heard the fiddles starting a merry jig, she
might start dancing. So she excused herself by saying she was too tired
with scraping pots and washing saucepans; and when the others went off,
she crept up to her bed.

But alas! and alack-a-day! The door had been left open, and as she lay
in her bed she could hear the fiddlers fiddling away and the tramp of
dancing feet.

Then she upped and off with her cap and robe of rushes, and there she
was ever so fine and tidy. She was in the ball-room in a trice joining
in the jig, and none was more beautiful or better dressed than she.
While as for her dancing...!

Her master's son singled her out at once, and with the finest of bows
engaged her as his partner for the rest of the night. So she danced away
to her heart's content, while the whole room was agog, trying to find
out who the beautiful young stranger could be. But she kept her own
counsel and, making some excuse, slipped away before the ball finished;
so when her fellow-servants came to bed, there she was in hers in her
cap and robe of rushes, pretending to be fast asleep.

Next morning, however, the maids could talk of nothing but the beautiful
stranger.

"You should ha' seen her," they said. "She was the loveliest young lady
as ever you see, not a bit like the likes o' we. Her golden hair was all
silvered wi' pearls, and her dress--law! You wouldn't believe how she
was dressed. Young master never took his eyes off her."

And Caporushes only smiled and said, with a twinkle in her eye, "I
should like to see her, but I don't think I ever shall."

"Oh yes, you will," they replied, "for young master has ordered another
ball to-night in hopes she will come to dance again."

But that evening Caporushes refused once more to go to the gallery,
saying she was too tired with cleaning pots and scraping saucepans. And
once more when she heard the fiddlers fiddling she said to herself, "I
must have one dance--just one with the young master: he dances so
beautifully." For she felt certain he would dance with her.

And sure enough, when she had upped and offed with her cap and robe of
rushes, there he was at the door waiting for her to come; for he had
determined to dance with no one else.

So he took her by the hand, and they danced down the ball-room. It was a
sight of all sights! Never were such dancers! So young, so handsome, so
fine, so gay!

But once again Caporushes kept her own counsel and just slipped away on
some excuse in time, so that when her fellow-servants came to their beds
they found her in hers, pretending to be fast asleep; but her cheeks
were all flushed and her breath came fast. So they said, "She is
dreaming. We hope her dreams are happy."

But next morning they were full of what she had missed. Never was such a
beautiful young gentleman as young master! Never was such a beautiful
young lady! Never was such beautiful dancing! Every one else had stopped
theirs to look on.

And Caporushes, with a twinkle in her eyes, said, "I should like to see
her; but I'm _sure_ I never shall!"

"Oh yes!" they replied. "If you come to-night you're sure to see her;
for young master has ordered another ball in hopes the beautiful
stranger will come again; for it's easy to see he is madly in love with
her."

Then Caporushes told herself she would not dance again, since it was not
fit for a gay young master to be in love with his scullery-maid; but,
alas! the moment she heard the fiddlers fiddling, she just upped and
offed with her rushes, and there she was fine and tidy as ever! She
didn't even have to brush her beautiful golden hair! And once again she
was in the ball-room in a trice, dancing away with young master, who
never took his eyes off her, and implored her to tell him who she was.
But she kept her own counsel and only told him that she never, never,
never would come to dance any more, and that he must say good-bye. And
he held her hand so fast that she had a job to get away, and lo and
behold! his ring came off his finger, and as she ran up to her bed there
it was in her hand! She had just time to put on her cap and robe of
rushes, when her fellow-servants came trooping in and found her awake.

"It was the noise you made coming upstairs," she made excuse; but they
said, "Not we! It is the whole place that is in an uproar searching for
the beautiful stranger. Young master he tried to detain her; but she
slipped from him like an eel. But he declares he will find her; for if
he doesn't he will die of love for her."

Then Caporushes laughed. "Young men don't die of love," says she. "He
will find some one else."

But he didn't. He spent his whole time looking for his beautiful dancer,
but go where he might, and ask whom he would, he never heard anything
about her. And day by day he grew thinner and thinner, and paler and
paler, until at last he took to his bed.

And the housekeeper came to the cook and said, "Cook the nicest dinner
you can cook, for young master eats nothing."

Then the cook prepared soups, and jellies, and creams, and roast
chicken, and bread sauce; but the young man would none of them.

And Caporushes cleaned the pots and scraped the saucepans and said
nothing.

Then the housekeeper came crying and said to the cook, "Prepare some
gruel for young master. Mayhap he'd take that. If not he will die for
love of the beautiful dancer. If she could see him now she would have
pity on him."

So the cook began to make the gruel, and Caporushes left scraping
saucepans and watched her.

"Let me stir it," she said, "while you fetch a cup from the
pantry-room."

So Caporushes stirred the gruel, and what did she do but slips young
master's ring into it before the cook came back!

Then the butler took the cup upstairs on a silver salver. But when the
young master saw it he waved it away, till the butler with tears begged
him just to taste it.

So the young master took a silver spoon and stirred the gruel; and he
felt something hard at the bottom of the cup. And when he fished it up,
lo! it was his own ring! Then he sate up in bed and said quite loud,
"Send for the cook!" And when she came he asked her who made the gruel.

"I did," she said, for she was half-pleased and half-frightened.

Then he looked at her all over and said, "No, you didn't! You're too
stout! Tell me who made it and you shan't be harmed!"

Then the cook began to cry. "If you please, sir, I _did_ make it; but
Caporushes stirred it."

"And who is Caporushes?" asked the young man.

"If you please, sir, Caporushes is the scullion," whimpered the cook.

Then the young man sighed and fell back on his pillow. "Send Caporushes
here," he said in a faint voice; for he really was very near dying.

And when Caporushes came he just looked at her cap and her robe of
rushes and turned his face to the wall; but he asked her in a weak
little voice, "From whom did you get that ring?"

Now when Caporushes saw the poor young man so weak and worn with love
for her, her heart melted, and she replied softly:

"From him that gave it me," quoth she, and offed with her cap and robe
of rushes, and there she was as fine and tidy as ever with her beautiful
golden hair all silvered over with pearls.

And the young man caught sight of her with the tail of his eye, and sate
up in bed as strong as may be, and drew her to him and gave her a great
big kiss.

So, of course, they were to be married in spite of her being only a
scullery-maid, for she told no one who she was. Now every one far and
near was asked to the wedding. Amongst the invited guests was
Caporushes' father, who, from grief at losing his favourite daughter,
had lost his sight, and was very dull and miserable. However, as a
friend of the family, he had to come to the young master's wedding.

Now the marriage feast was to be the finest ever seen; but Caporushes
went to her friend the cook and said:

"Dress every dish without one mite of salt."

"That'll be rare and nasty," replied the cook; but because she prided
herself on having let Caporushes stir the gruel and so saved the young
master's life, she did as she was asked, and dressed every dish for the
wedding breakfast without one mite of salt.

Now when the company sate down to table their faces were full of smiles
and content, for all the dishes looked so nice and tasty; but no sooner
had the guests begun to eat than their faces fell; for nothing can be
tasty without salt.

Then Caporushes' blind father, whom his daughter had seated next to her,
burst out crying.

"What is the matter?" she asked.

Then the old man sobbed, "I had a daughter whom I loved dearly, dearly.
And I asked her how much she loved me, and she replied, 'As fresh meat
loves salt.' And I was angry with her and turned her out of house and
home, for I thought she didn't love me at all. But now I see she loved
me best of all."

And as he said the words his eyes were opened, and there beside him was
his daughter lovelier than ever.

And she gave him one hand, and her husband, the young master, the other,
and laughed saying, "I love you both as fresh meat loves salt." And
after that they were all happy for evermore.

[Illustration: She sate down and plaited herself an overall of rushes
and a cap to match]


    THE BABES IN THE WOOD


    Now ponder well, you parents dear,
      These words which I shall write;
    A doleful story you shall hear,
      In time brought forth to light.
    A gentleman of good account
      In Norfolk dwelt of late,
    Who did in honour far surmount
      Most men of his estate.

    Sore sick he was and like to die,
      No help his life could save;
    His wife by him as sick did lie,
      And both possest one grave.
    No love between these two was lost,
      Each was to other kind;
    In love they lived, in love they died,
      And left two babes behind:

    The one a fine and pretty boy
      Not passing three years old,
    The other a girl more young than he,
      And framed in beauty's mould.
    The father left his little son,
      As plainly did appear,
    When he to perfect age should come,
      Three hundred pounds a year;

    And to his little daughter Jane
      Five hundred pounds in gold,
    To be paid down on marriage-day,
      Which might not be controlled.
    But if the children chanced to die
      Ere they to age should come,
    Their uncle should possess their wealth;
      For so the will did run.

    "Now, brother," said the dying man,
      "Look to my children dear;
    Be good unto my boy and girl,
      No friends else have they here;
    To God and you I recommend
      My children dear this day;
    But little while be sure we have
      Within this world to stay.

    "You must be father and mother both,
      And uncle, all in one;
    God knows what will become of them
      When I am dead and gone."
    With that bespake their mother dear:
      "O brother kind," quoth she,
    "You are the man must bring our babes
      To wealth or misery.

    "And if you keep them carefully,
      Then God will you reward;
    But if you otherwise should deal,
      God will your deeds regard."
    With lips as cold as any stone,
      They kissed their children small:
    "God bless you both, my children dear!"
      With that the tears did fall.

    These speeches then their brother spake
      To this sick couple there:
    "The keeping of your little ones,
      Sweet sister, do not fear;
    God never prosper me nor mine,
      Nor aught else that I have,
    If I do wrong your children dear
      When you are laid in grave!"

    The parents being dead and gone,
      The children home he takes,
    And brings them straight unto his house,
      Where much of them he makes.
    He had not kept these pretty babes
      A twelvemonth and a day,
    But, for their wealth, he did devise
      To make them both away.

    He bargained with two ruffians strong,
      Which were of furious mood,
    That they should take these children young.
      And slay them in a wood.
    He told his wife an artful tale
      He would the children send
    To be brought up in London town
      With one that was his friend.

    Away then went those pretty babes,
      Rejoicing at that tide,
    Rejoicing with a merry mind
      They should on cock-horse ride.
    They prate and prattle pleasantly,
      As they ride on the way,
    To those that should their butchers be
      And work their lives' decay:

    So that the pretty speech they had
      Made Murder's heart relent;
    And they that undertook the deed
      Full sore now did repent.
    Yet one of them, more hard of heart,
      Did vow to do his charge,
    Because the wretch that hired him
      Had paid him very large.

    The other won't agree thereto,
      So there they fall to strife;
    With one another they did fight
      About the children's life;
    And he that was of mildest mood
      Did slay the other there,
    Within an unfrequented wood;
      The babes did quake for fear!

    He took the children by the hand,
      Tears standing in their eye,
    And bade them straightway follow him,
      And look they did not cry;
    And two long miles he led them on,
      While they for food complain:
    "Stay here," quoth he, "I'll bring you bread,
      When I come back again."

    These pretty babes, with hand in hand,
      Went wandering up and down;
    But never more could see the man
      Approaching from the town.
    Their pretty lips with blackberries
      Were all besmeared and dyed;
    And when they saw the darksome night,
      They sat them down and cried.

    Thus wandered these poor innocents,
      Till death did end their grief;
    In one another's arms they died,
      As wanting due relief:
    No burial this pretty pair
      From any man receives,
    Till Robin Redbreast piously
      Did cover them with leaves.

    And now the heavy wrath of God
      Upon their uncle fell;
    Yea, fearful fiends did haunt his house,
      His conscience felt an hell:
    His barns were fired, his goods consumed,
      His lands were barren made,
    His cattle died within the field,
      And nothing with him stayed.

    And in a voyage to Portugal
      Two of his sons did die;
    And to conclude, himself was brought
      To want and misery:
    He pawned and mortgaged all his land
      Ere seven years came about.
    And now at last this wicked act
      Did by this means come out.

    The fellow that did take in hand
      These children for to kill,
    Was for a robbery judged to die,
      Such was God's blessed will:
    Who did confess the very truth,
      As here hath been displayed:
    The uncle having died in jail,
      Where he for debt was laid.

    You that executors be made,
      And overseers eke,
    Of children that be fatherless,
      And infants mild and meek,
    Take you example by this thing,
      And yield to each his right,
    Lest God with suchlike misery
      Your wicked minds requite.




THE RED ETTIN


There was once a widow that lived on a small bit of ground, which she
rented from a farmer. And she had two sons; and by and by it was time
for the wife to send them away to seek their fortune. So she told her
eldest son one day to take a can and bring her water from the well, that
she might bake a cake for him; and however much or however little water
he might bring, the cake would be great or small accordingly, and that
cake was to be all that she could give him when he went on his travels.

The lad went away with the can to the well, and filled it with water,
and then came away home again; but the can being broken, the most part
of the water had run out before he got back. So his cake was very small;
yet small as it was, his mother asked him if he was willing to take the
half of it with her blessing, telling him that, if he chose rather to
take the whole, he would only get it with her curse. The young man,
thinking he might have to travel a far way, and not knowing when or how
he might get other provisions, said he would like to have the whole
cake, come of his mother's malison what might; so she gave him the
whole cake, and her malison along with it. Then he took his brother
aside, and gave him a knife to keep till he should come back, desiring
him to look at it every morning, and as long as it continued to be
clear, then he might be sure that the owner of it was well; but if it
grew dim and rusty, then for certain some ill had befallen him.

So the young man went to seek his fortune. And he went all that day, and
all the next day; and on the third day, in the afternoon, he came up to
where a shepherd was sitting with a flock of sheep. And he went up to
the shepherd and asked him to whom the sheep belonged; and he answered:

    "To the Red Ettin of Ireland
     Who lives in Ballygan,
   He stole King Malcolm's daughter,
     The king of fair Scotland.
   He beats her, he binds her,
     He lays her on a hand;
   And every day he strikes her
     With a bright silver wand.
   'Tis said there's one predestinate
     To be his mortal foe;
   But sure that man is yet unborn,
     And long may it be so!"

After this the shepherd told him to beware of the beasts he should next
meet, for they were of a very different kind from any he had yet seen.

So the young man went on, and by and by he saw a multitude of very
dreadful, terrible, horrible beasts, with two heads, and on every head
four horns! And he was sore frightened, and ran away from them as fast
as he could; and glad was he when he came to a castle that stood on a
hillock, with the door standing wide open to the wall. And he went in to
the castle for shelter, and there he saw an old wife sitting beside the
kitchen fire. He asked the wife if he might stay for the night, as he
was tired with a long journey; and the wife said he might, but it was
not a good place for him to be in, as it belonged to the Red Ettin, who
was a very terrible monster with three heads, who spared no living man
it could get hold of. The young man would have gone away, but he was
afraid of the two-headed four-horned beasts outside; so he beseeched the
old woman to hide him as best she could, and not tell the Ettin he was
there. He thought, if he could put over the night, he might get away in
the morning, without meeting with the dreadful, terrible, horrible
beasts, and so escape.

But he had not been long in his hiding-hole, before the awful Ettin came
in; and no sooner was he in, than he was heard crying:

  "Snouk but! and snouk ben!
   I find the smell of an earthly man;
   Be he living, or be he dead,
   His heart this night shall kitchen my bread."

Well, the monster began to search about, and he soon found the poor
young man, and pulled him from his hiding-place. And when he had got him
out, he told him that if he could answer him three questions his life
should be spared.

So the first head asked: "A thing without an end; what's that?"

But the young man knew not.

Then the second head said: "The smaller the more dangerous; what's
that?"

But the young man knew not.

And then the third head asked: "The dead carrying the living? riddle me
that."

But the young man knew not.

So the lad not being able to answer one of these questions, the Red
Ettin took a mallet from behind the door, knocked him on the head, and
turned him into a pillar of stone.

Now on the morning after this happened the younger brother took out the
knife to look at it, and he was grieved to find it all brown with rust.
So he told his mother that the time was now come for him to go away upon
his travels also. At first she refused to let him go; but at last she
requested him to take the can to the well for water, that she might make
a cake for him. So he went, but as he was bringing home the water, a
raven over his head cried to him to look, and he would see that the
water was running out. Now being a young man of sense, and seeing the
water running out, he took some clay and patched up the holes, so that
he brought home enough water to bake a large cake. And when his mother
put it to him to take the half cake with her blessing, he took it
instead of having the whole with her malison.

So he went away on his journey with his mother's blessing. Now after he
had travelled a far way, he met with an old woman who asked him if he
would give her a bit of his cake. And he said, "I will gladly do that";
so he gave her a piece of the cake. Then the old woman, who was a fairy,
gave him a magic wand, that might yet be of service to him, if he took
care to use it rightly; and she told him a great deal that would happen
to him, and what he ought to do in all circumstances; and after that,
she vanished in an instant, out of his sight. Then he went on his way
until he came up to the old man who was herding the sheep; and when he
asked him to whom the sheep belonged, the answer was:

  "To the Red Ettin of Ireland
     Who lives in Ballygan,
   He stole King Malcolm's daughter,
     The king of fair Scotland.
   He beats her, he binds her,
     He lays her on a band;
   And every day he strikes her
     With a bright silver wand.
   But now I fear his end is near,
     And death is close at hand;
   For you're to be, I plainly see,
     The heir of all his land."

So the younger brother went on his way; but when he came to the place
where the dreadful, terrible, horrible beasts were standing, he did not
stop nor run away, but went boldly through amongst them. One came up
roaring with open mouth to devour him, when he struck it with his wand,
and laid it in an instant dead at his feet. He soon came to the Ettin's
castle, where he found the door shut, but he knocked boldly, and was
admitted. Then the old woman who sat by the fire warned him of the
terrible Ettin, and what had been the fate of his brother; but he was
not to be daunted, and would not even hide.

Then by and by the monster came in, crying as before:

  "Snouk but! and snouk ben!
   I find the smell of an earthly man;
   Be he living, or be he dead,
   His heart this night shall kitchen my bread."

Well, he quickly espied the young man, and bade him stand forth on the
floor, and told him that if he could answer three questions his life
would be spared.

So the first head asked: "What's the thing without an end?"

Now the younger brother had been told by the fairy to whom he had given
a piece of his cake what he ought to say; so he answered:

"A bowl."

Then the first head frowned, but the second head asked:

"The smaller the more dangerous; what's that?"

"A bridge," says the younger brother, quite fast.

Then the first and the second heads frowned, but the third head asked:

"When does the dead carry the living? riddle me that."

At this the young man answered up at once and said:

"When a ship sails on the sea with men inside her."

When the Red Ettin found all his riddles answered, he knew that his
power was gone, so he tried to escape, but the young man took up an axe
and hewed off the monster's three heads. Then he asked the old woman to
show him where the king's daughter lay; and the old woman took him
upstairs, and opened a great many doors, and out of every door came a
beautiful lady who had been imprisoned there by the Red Ettin; and last
of all the ladies was the king's daughter. Then the old woman took him
down into a low room, and there stood a stone pillar; but he had only to
touch it with his wand, and his brother started into life.

So the whole of the prisoners were overjoyed at their deliverance, for
which they thanked the younger brother again and again. Next day they
all set out for the king's court, and a gallant company they made. Then
the king married his daughter to the young man who had delivered her,
and gave a noble's daughter to his brother.

So they all lived happily all the rest of their days.




THE FISH AND THE RING


Once upon a time there lived a Baron who was a great magician, and could
tell by his arts and charms everything that was going to happen at any
time.

Now this great lord had a little son born to him as heir to all his
castles and lands. So, when the little lad was about four years old,
wishing to know what his fortune would be, the Baron looked in his Book
of Fate to see what it foretold.

And, lo and behold! it was written that this much-loved, much-prized
heir to all the great lands and castles was to marry a low-born maiden.
So the Baron was dismayed, and set to work by more arts and charms to
discover if this maiden were already born, and if so, where she lived.

And he found out that she had just been born in a very poor house, where
the poor parents were already burdened with five children.

So he called for his horse and rode away, and away, until he came to the
poor man's house, and there he found the poor man sitting at his
doorstep very sad and doleful.

"What is the matter, my friend?" asked he; and the poor man replied:

"May it please your honour, a little lass has just been born to our
house; and we have five children already, and where the bread is to come
from to fill the sixth mouth, we know not."

"If that be all your trouble," quoth the Baron readily, "mayhap I can
help you: so don't be down-hearted. I am just looking for such a little
lass to companion my son, so, if you will, I will give you ten crowns
for her."

Well! the man he nigh jumped for joy, since he was to get good money,
and his daughter, so he thought, a good home. Therefore he brought out
the child then and there, and the Baron, wrapping the babe in his cloak,
rode away. But when he got to the river he flung the little thing into
the swollen stream, and said to himself as he galloped back to his
castle:

"There goes Fate!"

But, you see, he was just sore mistaken. For the little lass didn't
sink. The stream was very swift, and her long clothes kept her up till
she caught in a snag just opposite a fisherman, who was mending his
nets.

Now the fisherman and his wife had no children, and they were just
longing for a baby; so when the goodman saw the little lass he was
overcome with joy, and took her home to his wife, who received her with
open arms.

And there she grew up, the apple of their eyes, into the most beautiful
maiden that ever was seen.

Now, when she was about fifteen years of age, it so happened that the
Baron and his friends went a-hunting along the banks of the river and
stopped to get a drink of water at the fisherman's hut. And who should
bring the water out but, as they thought, the fisherman's daughter.

Now the young men of the party noticed her beauty, and one of them said
to the Baron, "She should marry well; read us her fate, since you are so
learned in the art."

Then the Baron, scarce looking at her, said carelessly: "I could guess
her fate! Some wretched yokel or other. But, to please you, I will cast
her horoscope by the stars; so tell me, girl, what day you were born?"

"That I cannot tell, sir," replied the girl, "for I was picked up in the
river about fifteen years ago."

Then the Baron grew pale, for he guessed at once that she was the little
lass he had flung into the stream, and that Fate had been stronger than
he was. But he kept his own counsel and said nothing at the time.
Afterwards, however, he thought out a plan, so he rode back and gave the
girl a letter.

"See you!" he said. "I will make your fortune. Take this letter to my
brother, who needs a good girl, and you will be settled for life."

Now the fisherman and his wife were growing old and needed help; so the
girl said she would go, and took the letter.

And the Baron rode back to his castle saying to himself once more:

"There goes Fate!"

For what he had written in the letter was this:

"DEAR BROTHER,

"Take the bearer and put her to death immediately."

But once again he was sore mistaken; since on the way to the town where
his brother lived, the girl had to stop the night in a little inn. And
it so happened that that very night a gang of thieves broke into the
inn, and not content with carrying off all that the innkeeper possessed,
they searched the pockets of the guests, and found the letter which the
girl carried. And when they read it, they agreed that it was a mean
trick and a shame. So their captain sat down and, taking pen and paper,
wrote instead:

"DEAR BROTHER,

"Take the bearer and marry her to my son without delay."

Then, after putting the note into an envelope and sealing it up, they
gave it to the girl and bade her go on her way. So when she arrived at
the brother's castle, though rather surprised, he gave orders for a
wedding feast to be prepared. And the Baron's son, who was staying with
his uncle, seeing the girl's great beauty, was nothing loth, so they
were fast wedded.

Well! when the news was brought to the Baron, he was nigh beside
himself; but he was determined not to be done by Fate. So he rode
post-haste to his brother's and pretended to be quite pleased. And then
one day, when no one was nigh, he asked the young bride to come for a
walk with him, and when they were close to some cliffs, seized hold of
her, and was for throwing her over into the sea. But she begged hard for
her life.

"It is not my fault," she said. "I have done nothing. It is Fate. But if
you will spare my life I promise that I will fight against Fate also. I
will never see you or your son again until you desire it. That will be
safer for you; since, see you, the sea may preserve me, as the river
did."

Well! the Baron agreed to this. So he took off his gold ring from his
finger and flung it over the cliffs into the sea and said:

"Never dare to show me your face again till you can show me that ring
likewise."

And with that he let her go.

Well! the girl wandered on, and she wandered on, until she came to a
nobleman's castle; and there, as they needed a kitchen girl, she engaged
as a scullion, since she had been used to such work in the fisherman's
hut.

Now one day, as she was cleaning a big fish, she looked out of the
kitchen window, and who should she see driving up to dinner but the
Baron and his young son, her husband. At first she thought that, to keep
her promise, she must run away; but afterwards she remembered they would
not see her in the kitchen, so she went on with her cleaning of the big
fish.

And, lo and behold! she saw something shine in its inside, and there,
sure enough, was the Baron's ring! She was glad enough to see it, I can
tell you; so she slipped it on to her thumb. But she went on with her
work, and dressed the fish as nicely as ever she could, and served it up
as pretty as may be, with parsley sauce and butter.

Well! when it came to table the guests liked it so well that they asked
the host who cooked it. And he called to his servants, "Send up the cook
who cooked that fine fish, that she may get her reward."

Well! when the girl heard she was wanted she made herself ready, and
with the gold ring on her thumb, went boldly into the dining-hall. And
all the guests when they saw her were struck dumb by her wonderful
beauty. And the young husband started up gladly; but the Baron,
recognising her, jumped up angrily and looked as if he would kill her.
So, without one word, the girl held up her hand before his face, and the
gold ring shone and glittered on it; and she went straight up to the
Baron, and laid her hand with the ring on it before him on the table.

Then the Baron understood that Fate had been too strong for him; so he
took her by the hand, and, placing her beside him, turned to the guests
and said:

"This is my son's wife. Let us drink a toast in her honour."

And after dinner he took her and his son home to his castle, where they
all lived as happy as could be for ever afterwards.




[Illustration: Headpiece--Lawkamercyme]

    LAWKAMERCYME


    There was an old woman, as I've heard tell,
    She went to the market her eggs for to sell;
    She went to the market, all on a market-day,
    And she fell asleep on the king's highway.

    There came by a pedlar, whose name it was Stout,
    He cut all her petticoats all round about;
    He cut her petticoats up to the knees,
    Which made the old woman to shiver and freeze.

    When this old woman first did awake,
    She 'gan to shiver, she 'gan to shake;
    She 'gan to wonder, she 'gan to cry--
    "Lawkamercyme! this is none of I!

    "But if it be I, as I do hope it be,
    I've a little dog at home, and sure he'll know me;
    If it be I, he'll wag his little tail,
    And if it be not I, then he'll bark and wail."

    Home went the old woman, all in the dark;
    Up got the little dog, and he began to bark,
    He began to bark, and she began to cry--
    "Lawkamercyme! this is none of I!"




[Illustration: A funny-looking old gentleman engaged her and took her
home]

MASTER OF ALL MASTERS


A Girl once went to the fair to hire herself for servant. At last a
funny-looking old gentleman engaged her and took her home to his house.
When she got there, he told her that he had something to teach her, for
that in his house he had his own names for things.

He said to her, "What will you call me?"

"Master or mister, or whatever you please, sir," says she.

He said, "You must call me 'master of all masters.' And what would you
call this?" pointing to his bed.

"Bed or couch, or whatever you please, sir."

"No, that's my 'barnacle'. And what do you call these?" said he,
pointing to his pantaloons.

"Breeches or trousers, or whatever you please, sir."

"You must call them 'squibs and crackers.' And what would you call her?"
pointing to the cat.

"Cat or kit, or whatever you please, sir.'

"You must call her 'white-faced simminy' And this now," showing the
fire, "what would you call this?"

"Fire or flame, or whatever you please, sir."

"You must call it 'hot cockalorum'; and what this?" he went on, pointing
to the water.

"Water or wet, or whatever you please, sir."

"No, 'pondalorum' is its name. And what do you call all this?" asked he,
as he pointed to the house.

"House or cottage, or whatever you please, sir."

"You must call it 'high topper mountain.'"

That very night the servant woke her master up in a fright and said,
"Master of all masters, get out of your barnacle and put on your squibs
and crackers. For white-faced simminy has got a spark of hot cockalorum
on its tail, and unless you get some pondalorum high topper mountain
will be all on hot cockalorum...."

That's all!!

[Illustration: White-faced simminy has got a spark of hot cockalorum on
its tail]




MOLLY WHUPPIE AND THE DOUBLE-FACED GIANT


Once upon a time there was a man and his wife who were not over rich.
And they had so many children that they couldn't find meat for them; so,
as the three youngest were girls, they just took them out to the forest
one day, and left them there to fend for themselves as best they might.

Now the two eldest were just ordinary girls, so they cried a bit and
felt afraid; but the youngest, whose name was Molly Whuppie, was bold,
so she counselled her sisters not to despair, but to try and find some
house where they might get a night's lodging. So they set off through
the forest, and journeyed, and journeyed, and journeyed, but never a
house did they see. It began to grow dark, her sisters were faint with
hunger, and even Molly Whuppie began to think of supper. At last in the
distance they saw a great big light, and made for it. Now when they drew
near they saw that it came from a huge window in a huge house.

"It will be a giant's house," said the two elder girls, trembling with
fright.

"If there were two giants in it I mean to have my supper," quoth Molly
Whuppie, and knocked at a huge door, as bold as brass. It was opened by
the giant's wife, who shook her head when Molly Whuppie asked for
victuals and a night's lodging.

"You wouldn't thank me for it," she said, "for my man is a giant, and
when he comes home he will kill you of a certainty."

"But if you give us supper at once," says Molly craftily, "we shall have
finished it before the giant comes home; for we are very sharp-set."

Now the giant's wife was not unkindly; besides, her three daughters, who
were just of an age with Molly and her sisters, tugged at her skirts
well pleased; so she took the girls in, set them by the fire, and gave
them each a bowl of bread and milk. But they had hardly begun to gobble
it up before the door burst open, and a fearful giant strode in saying:

  "_Fee-fi-fo-fum,
   I smell the smell of some earthly one._"

"Don't put yourself about, my dear," said the giant's wife, trying to
make the best of it. "See for yourself. They are only three poor little
girlies like our girlies. They were cold and hungry so I gave them some
supper; but they have promised to go away as soon as they have
finished. Now be a good giant and don't touch them. They've eaten of
our salt, so don't _you_ be at fault!"

Now this giant was not at all a straightforward giant. He was a
double-faced giant. So he only said,

  "Umph!"

and remarked that as they had come, they had better stay all night,
since they could easily sleep with his three daughters. And after he had
had his supper he made himself quite pleasant, and plaited chains of
straw for the little strangers to wear round their necks, to match the
gold chains his daughters wore. Then he wished them all pleasant dreams
and sent them to bed.

Dear me! He _was_ a double-faced giant!

But Molly Whuppie, the youngest of the three girls, was not only bold,
she was clever. So when she was in bed, instead of going to sleep like
the others, she lay awake and thought, and thought, and thought; until
at last she up ever so softly, took off her own and her sisters' straw
chains, put them round the neck of the ogre's daughters, and placed
their gold chains round her own and her sisters' necks.

And even then she did not go to sleep, but lay still and waited to see
if she was wise; and she was! For in the very middle of the night, when
everybody else was dead asleep and it was pitch dark, in comes the
giant, all stealthy, feels for the straw chains, twists them tight round
the wearers' necks, half strangles his daughters, drags them on to the
floor, and beats them till they were quite dead; so, all stealthy and
satisfied, goes back to his own bed, thinking he had been very clever.

But he was no match, you see, for Molly Whuppie; for she at once roused
her sisters, bade them be quiet, and follow her. Then she slipped out of
the giant's house and ran, and ran, and ran until the dawn broke and
they found themselves before another great house. It was surrounded by a
wide deep moat, which was spanned by a drawbridge. But the drawbridge
was up. However, beside it hung a Single-Hair rope over which any one
very light-footed could cross.

Now Molly's sisters were feared to try it; besides, they said that for
aught they knew the house might be another giant's house, and they had
best keep away.

"Taste and try," says Molly Whuppie, laughing, and was over the Bridge
of a Single Hair before you could say knife. And, after all, it was not
a giant's house but a King's castle. Now it so happened that the very
giant whom Molly had tricked was the terror of the whole country-side,
and it was to gain safety from him that the drawbridge was kept up, and
the Bridge of a Single Hair had been made. So when the sentry heard
Molly Whuppie's tale, he took her to the King and said:

"My lord! Here is a girlie who has tricked the giant!"

Then the King when he had heard the story said, "You are a clever girl,
Molly Whuppie, and you managed very well; but if you could manage still
better and steal the giant's sword, in which part of his strength lies,
I will give your eldest sister in marriage to my eldest son."

Well! Molly Whuppie thought this would be a very good downsitting for
her sister, so she said she would try.

So that evening, all alone, she ran across the Bridge of One Hair, and
ran and ran till she came to the giant's house. The sun was just
setting, and shone on it so beautifully that Molly Whuppie thought it
looked like a castle in Spain, and could hardly believe that such a
dreadful, double-faced giant lived within. However, she knew he did; so
she slipped into the house unbeknownst, stole up to the giant's room,
and crept in behind the bed. By and by the giant came home, ate a huge
supper, and came crashing up the stairs to his bed. But Molly kept very
still and held her breath. So after a time he fell asleep, and soon he
began to snore. Then Molly crept out from under the bed, ever so softly,
and crept up the bed-clothes, and crept past his great snoring face, and
laid hold of the sword that hung above it. But alas! as she jumped from
the bed in a hurry, the sword rattled in the scabbard. The noise woke
the giant, and up he jumped and ran after Molly, who ran as she had
never run before, carrying the sword over her shoulder. And he ran, and
she ran, and they both ran, until they came to the Bridge of One Hair.
Then she fled over it light-footed, balancing the sword, but he
couldn't. So he stopped, foaming at the mouth with rage, and called
after her:

"Woe worth you, Molly Whuppie! Never you dare to come again!"

And she, turning her head about as she sped over the One Hair Bridge,
laughed lightly:

"Twice yet, gaffer, will I come to the Castle in Spain!"

So Molly gave the sword to the King, and, as he had promised, his eldest
son wedded her eldest sister.

But after the marriage festivities were over the King says again to
Molly Whuppie:

"You're a main clever girl, Molly, and you have managed very well, but
if you could manage still better and steal the giant's purse, in which
part of his strength lies, I will marry my second son to your second
sister. But you need to be careful, for the giant sleeps with the purse
under his pillow!"

Well! Molly Whuppie thought this would be a very good downsitting,
indeed, for her second sister, so she said she would try her luck.

So that evening, just at sunsetting, she ran over the One Hair Bridge,
and ran, and ran, and ran until she came to the giant's house looking
for all the world like a castle in the air, all ruddy and golden and
glinting. She could scarce believe such a dreadful double-faced giant
lived within. However, she _knew_ he did; so she slipped into the house
unbeknownst, stole up to the giant's room, and crept in below the
giant's bed. By and by the giant came home, ate a hearty supper, and
then came crashing upstairs, and soon fell a-snoring. Then Molly Whuppie
slipped from under the bed, and slipped up the bed-clothes, and reaching
out her hand slipped it under the pillow, and got hold of the purse.
But the giant's head was so heavy on it she had to tug and tug away. At
last out it came, she fell backward over the bedside, the purse opened,
and some of the money fell out with a crash. The noise wakened the
giant, and she had only time to grab the money off the floor, when he
was after her. How they ran, and ran, and ran, and ran! At last she
reached the One Hair Bridge and, with the purse in one hand, the money
in the other, she sped across it while the giant shook his fist at her
and cried:

"Woe worth you, Molly Whuppie! Never you dare to come again!"

And she, turning her head, laughed lightly:

"Yet once more, gaffer, will I come to the Castle in Spain."

So she took the purse to the King, and he ordered a splendid marriage
feast for his second son and her second sister.

But after the wedding was over the King says to her, says he:

"Molly! You are the most main clever girl in the world; but if you would
do better yet, and steal me from his finger the giant's ring, in which
all his strength lies, I will give you my dearest, youngest, handsomest
son for yourself."

Now Molly thought the King's son was the nicest young prince she had
ever seen, so she said she would try, and that evening, all alone, she
sped across the One Hair Bridge as light as a feather, and ran, and ran,
and ran until she came to the giant's house all lit up with the red
setting sun like any castle in the air. And she slipped inside, stole
upstairs, and crept under the bed in no time. And the giant came in, and
supped, and crashed up to bed, and snored. Oh! he snored louder than
ever!

But you know he was a double-faced giant; so perhaps he snored louder
on purpose. For no sooner had Molly Whuppie began to tug at his ring
than ... My!...

He had her fast between his finger and thumb. And he sate up in bed, and
shook his head at her and said, "Molly Whuppie, you are a main clever
girl! Now, if I had done as much ill to you as you have done to me, what
would you do to me?"

Then Molly thought for a moment and she said, "I'd put you in a sack,
and I'd put the cat inside with you, and I'd put the dog inside with
you, and I'd put a needle and thread and a pair of shears inside with
you, and I'd hang you up on a nail, and I'd go to the wood and cut the
thickest stick I could get, and come home and take you down and bang
you, and bang, and bang, and bang you till you were dead!"

"Right you are!" cried the giant gleefully, "and that's just what I'll
do to you!"

So he got a sack and put Molly into it with the dog and the cat, and the
needle and thread and the shears, and hung her on a nail in the wall,
and went out to the wood to choose a stick.

Then Molly Whuppie began to laugh like anything, and the dog joined in
with barks, and the cat with mews.

Now the giant's wife was sitting in the next room, and when she heard
the commotion she went in to see what was up.

"Whatever is the matter?" quoth she.

"Nothing, 'm," quoth Molly Whuppie from inside the sack, laughing like
anything. "Ho, ho! Ha, ha! If you saw what we see you'd laugh too. Ho,
ho! Ha, ha!"

And no matter how the giant's wife begged to know what she saw, there
never was any answer but, "Ho, ho! Ha, ha! Could ye but see what I
see!!!"

At last the giant's wife begged Molly to let her see, so Molly took the
shears, cut a hole in the sack, jumped out, helped the giant's wife in,
and sewed up the hole! For of course she hadn't forgotten to take out
the needle and thread with her.

Now, just at that very moment, the giant burst in, and Molly had barely
time to hide behind the door before he rushed at the sack, tore it down,
and began to batter it with a huge tree he had cut in the wood.

"Stop! stop!" cried his wife. "It's me! It's me!"

But he couldn't hear, for, see you, the dog and the cat had tumbled one
on the top of the other, and such a growling and spitting, and yelling
and caterwauling you never heard! It was fair deafening, and the giant
would have gone on battering till his wife was dead had he not caught
sight of Molly Whuppie escaping with the ring which he had left on the
table.

Well, he threw down the tree and ran after her. Never was such a race.
They ran, and they ran, and they ran, and they ran, until they came to
the One Hair Bridge. And then, balancing herself with the ring like a
hoop, Molly Whuppie sped over the bridge light as a feather, but the
giant had to stand on the other side, and shake his fist at her, and cry
louder than ever:

"Woe worth you, Molly Whuppie! Never you dare to come again!"

And she, turning her head back as she sped, laughed gaily:

"Never more, gaffer, will I come to the castle in the air!"

So she took the ring to the King, and she and the handsome young prince
were married, and no one ever saw the double-faced giant again.




THE ASS, THE TABLE, AND THE STICK


A lad named Jack was once so unhappy at home through his father's
ill-treatment, that he made up his mind to run away and seek his fortune
in the wide world.

He ran, and he ran, till he could run no longer, and then he ran right
up against a little old woman who was gathering sticks. He was too much
out of breath to beg pardon, but the woman was good-natured, and she
said he seemed to be a likely lad, so she would take him to be her
servant, and would pay him well. He agreed, for he was very hungry, and
she brought him to her house in the wood, where he served her for a
twelvemonths and a day. When the year had passed, she called him to her,
and said she had good wages for him. So she presented him with an ass
out of the stable, and he had but to pull Neddy's ears to make him begin
at once to hee-haw! And when he brayed there dropped from his mouth
silver sixpences, and half-crowns, and golden guineas.

The lad was well pleased with the wage he had received, and away he rode
till he reached an inn. There he ordered the best of everything, and
when the innkeeper refused to serve him without being paid beforehand,
the boy went off to the stable, pulled the ass's ears, and obtained his
pocket full of money. The host had watched all this through a crack in
the door, and when night came on he put an ass of his own for the
precious Neddy belonging to the youth. So Jack, without knowing that any
change had been made, rode away next morning to his father's house.

Now I must tell you that near his home dwelt a poor widow with an only
daughter. The lad and the maiden were fast friends and true-loves. So
when Jack returned he asked his father's leave to marry the girl.

"Never till you have the money to keep her," was the reply.

"I have that, father," said the lad, and going to the ass he pulled its
long ears; well, he pulled, and he pulled, till one of them came off in
his hands; but Neddy, though he hee-hawed and he hee-hawed, let fall no
half-crowns or guineas. Then the father picked up a hayfork and beat his
son out of the house.

I promise you he ran; he ran and ran till he came bang against a door,
and burst it open, and there he was in a joiner's shop. "You're a likely
lad," said the joiner; "serve me for a twelvemonths and a day and I will
pay you well." So he agreed, and served the carpenter for a year and a
day. "Now," said the master, "I will give you your wage"; and he
presented him with a table, telling him he had but to say, "Table, be
covered," and at once it would be spread with lots to eat and drink.

Jack hitched the table on his back, and away he went with it till he
came to the inn. "Well, host," shouted he, putting down the table, "my
dinner to-day, and that of the best."

"Very sorry, sir," says the host, "but there is nothing in the house but
ham and eggs."

"No ham and eggs for me!" exclaimed Jack. "I can do better than
that.--Come, my table, be covered!"

So at once the table was spread with turkey and sausages, roast mutton,
potatoes, and greens. The innkeeper opened his eyes, but he said
nothing, not he! But that night he fetched down from his attic a table
very like the magic one, and exchanged the two, and Jack, none the
wiser, next morning hitched the worthless table on to his back and
carried it home.

"Now, father, may I marry my lass?" he asked.

"Not unless you can keep her," replied the father.

"Look here!" exclaimed Jack. "Father, I have a table which does all my
bidding."

"Let me see it," said the old man.

The lad set it in the middle of the room, and bade it be covered; but
all in vain, the table remained bare. Then, in a rage, the father caught
the warming-pan down from the wall and warmed his son's back with it so
that the boy fled howling from the house, and ran and ran till he came
to a river and tumbled in. A man picked him out and bade him help in
making a bridge over the river by casting a tree across. Then Jack
climbed up to the top of the tree and threw his weight on it, so that
when the man had rooted the tree up, Jack and the tree-head dropped on
the farther bank.

[Illustration: The fisherman and his wife had no children, and they were
just longing for a baby]

"Thank you," said the man; "and now for what you have done I will pay
you"; so saying, he tore a branch from the tree, and fettled it up into
a club with his knife. "There," exclaimed he; "take this stick, and when
you say to it, 'Up, stick, and bang him,' it will knock any one down who
angers you."

The lad was overjoyed to get this stick, for he had begun to see he had
been tricked by the innkeeper, so away he went with it to the inn, and
as soon as the man appeared he cried:

"Up, stick, and bang him!"

At the word the cudgel flew from his hand and battered the old fellow on
the back, rapped his head, bruised his arms, tickled his ribs, till he
fell groaning on the floor; and still the stick belaboured the prostrate
man, nor would Jack call it off till he had got back the stolen ass and
table. Then he galloped home on the ass, with the table on his
shoulders, and the stick in his hand. When he arrived there he found his
father was dead, so he brought his ass into the stable, and pulled its
ears till he had filled the manger with money.

It was soon known through the town that Jack had returned rolling in
wealth, and accordingly all the girls in the place set their caps at
him.

"Now," said Jack, "I shall marry the richest lass in the place; so
to-morrow do you all come in front of my house with your money in your
aprons."

Next morning the street was full of girls with aprons held out, and
gold and silver in them; but Jack's own sweetheart was among them, and
she had neither gold nor silver; nought but two copper pennies, that was
all she had.

"Stand aside, lass," said Jack to her, speaking roughly. "Thou hast no
silver nor gold--stand off from the rest." She obeyed, and the tears ran
down her cheeks, and filled her apron with diamonds.

"Up, stick, and bang them!" exclaimed Jack; whereupon the cudgel leaped
up, and running along the line of girls, knocked them all on the heads
and left them senseless on the pavement. Jack took all their money and
poured it into his true-love's lap. "Now, lass," he exclaimed, "thou art
the richest, and I shall marry thee."




THE WELL OF THE WORLD'S END


Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, though it wasn't in my
time, nor in your time, nor any one else's time, there was a girl whose
mother had died, and her father had married again. And her stepmother
hated her because she was more beautiful than she was. And she was very
cruel to her; she used to make her do all the servant's work, and never
let her have any peace. At last, one day, the stepmother thought to get
rid of her altogether; so she handed her a sieve and said to her:

"Go, fill it at the Well of the World's End and bring it home to me
full, or woe betide you." For she thought she would never be able to
find the Well of the World's End, and, if she did, how could she bring
home a sieve full of water?

Well, the girl started off, and asked every one she met to tell her
where was the Well of the World's End. But nobody knew, and she didn't
know what to do, when a queer little old woman, all bent double, told
her where it was, and how she could get to it. So she did what the old
woman told her, and at last arrived at the Well of the World's End. But
when she dipped the sieve in the cold cold water, it all ran out again.
She tried and she tried again, but every time it was the same; and at
last she sate down and cried as if her heart would break.

Suddenly she heard a croaking voice, and she looked up and saw a great
frog with goggle eyes looking at her and speaking to her.

"What's the matter, dearie?" it said.

"Oh dear! oh dear!" she said, "my stepmother has sent me all this long
way to fill this sieve with water from the Well of the World's End, and
I can't fill it no how at all."

"Well," said the frog, "if you promise me to do whatever I bid you for a
whole night long, I'll tell you how to fill it."

So the girl agreed, and then the frog said:

  "Stop it with moss and daub it with clay,
   And then it will carry the water away";

and then it gave a hop, skip, and jump, and went flop into the Well of
the World's End.

So the girl looked about for some moss, and lined the bottom of the
sieve with it, and over that she put some clay, and then she dipped it
once-again into the Well of the World's End; and this time the water
didn't run out, and she turned to go away.

Just then the frog popped up its head out of the Well of the World's
End, and said, "Remember your promise."

"All right," said the girl; for, thought she, "what harm can a frog do
me?"

So she went back to her stepmother, and brought the sieve full of water
from the Well of the World's End. The stepmother was angry as angry, but
she said nothing at all.

That very evening they heard something tap-tapping at the door low down,
and a voice cried out:

  "Open the door, my hinny, my heart,
     Open the door, my own darling;
   Remember the words that you and I spoke,
     At the World's End Well but this morning."

"Whatever can that be?" cried out the stepmother.

Then the girl had to tell her all about it, and what she had promised
the frog.

"Girls must keep their promises," said the stepmother, who was glad the
girl would have to obey a nasty frog. "Go and open the door this
instant."

So the girl went and opened the door, and there was the frog from the
Well of the World's End. And it hopped, and it hopped, and it jumped,
till it reached the girl, and then it said:

  "Lift me up, my hinny, my heart,
     Lift to your knee, my own darling;
   Remember the words that you and I spoke,
     At the World's End Well but this morning."

But the girl would not do the frog's bidding, till her stepmother said,
"Lift it up this instant, you hussy! Girls _must_ keep their promises!"

So she lifted the frog up on to her lap, and it lay there comfortably
for a time; till at last it said:

  "Give me some supper, my hinny, my heart,
     Give me some supper, my darling;
   Remember the words you and I spoke,
     At the World's End Well but this morning."

Well, that she did not mind doing, so she got it a bowl of milk and
bread, and fed it well. But when the frog had finished, it said:

  "Take me to bed, my hinny, my heart,
     Take me to bed, my own darling;
   Remember the promise you promised to me,
     At the World's End Well but this morning."

But that the girl refused to do, till her stepmother said harshly:

"Do what you promised, girl; girls _must_ keep their promises. Do what
you're bid, or out you go, you and your froggie."

So the girl took the frog with her to bed, and kept it as far away from
her as she could. Well, just as the day was beginning to break, what
should the frog say but:

  "Chop off my head, my hinny, my heart,
     Chop off my head, my own darling;
   Remember the promise you promised to me,
     At the World's End Well but this morning."

At first the girl wouldn't, for she thought of what the frog had done
for her at the Well of the World's End. But when the frog said the words
over and over again in a pleading voice, she went and took an axe and
chopped off its head, and, lo and behold! there stood before her a
handsome young prince, who told her that he had been enchanted by a
wicked magician, and he could never be unspelled till some girl would do
his bidding for a whole night, and chop off his head at the end of it.

The stepmother was surprised indeed when she found the young prince
instead of the nasty frog, and she was not best pleased, you may be
sure, when the prince told her that he was going to marry her
stepdaughter because she had unspelled him. But married they were, and
went away to live in the castle of the king, his father; and all the
stepmother had to console her was, that it was all through _her_ that
her stepdaughter was married to a prince.




THE ROSE TREE


Once upon a time, long long years ago, in the days when one had to be
careful about witches, there lived a good man, whose young wife died,
leaving him a baby girl.

Now this good man felt he could not look after the baby properly, so he
married a young woman whose husband had died leaving her with a baby
boy.

Thus the two children grew up together, and loved each other dearly,
dearly.

But the boy's mother was really a wicked witch-woman, and so jealous
that she wanted all the boy's love for herself, and when the girl-baby
grew white as milk, with cheeks like roses and lips like cherries, and
when her hair, shining like golden silk, hung down to her feet so that
her father and all the neighbours began to praise her looks, the
stepmother fairly hated her, and did all in her power to spoil her
looks. She would set the child hard tasks, and send her out in all
weathers to do difficult messages, and if they were not well performed
would beat her and scold her cruelly.

Now one cold winter evening when the snow was drifting fast, and the
wild rose tree in the garden under which the children used to play in
summer was all brown and barren save for snowflake flowers, the
stepmother said to the little girl:

"Child! go and buy me a bunch of candles at the grocer's. Here is some
money; go quickly, and don't loiter by the way."

So the little girl took the money and set off quickly through the snow,
for already it was growing dark. Now there was such a wind blowing that
it nearly blew her off her feet, and as she ran her beautiful hair got
all tangled and almost tripped her up. However, she got the candles,
paid for them, and started home again. But this time the wind was behind
her and blew all her beautiful golden hair in front of her like a cloud,
so that she could not see her steps, and, coming to a stile, had to stop
and put down the bundle of candles in order to see how to get over it.
And when she was climbing it a big black dog came by and ran off with
the bunch of candles! Now she was so afraid of her stepmother that she
durst not go home, but turned back and bought another bunch of candles
at the grocer's, and when she arrived at the stile once more, the same
thing happened. A big black dog came down the road and ran away with the
bunch of candles. So yet once again she journeyed back to the grocer's
through wind and snow, and, with her last penny, bought yet another
bunch of candles. To no purpose, for alas, and alack-a-day! when she
laid them down in order to part her beautiful golden hair and to see how
to get over the stile, a big black dog ran away with them.

So nothing was left save to go back to her stepmother in fear and
trembling. But, for a wonder, her stepmother did not seem very angry.
She only scolded her for being so late, for, see you, her father and her
little playmate had gone to their beds and were in the Land of Nod.

Then she said to the child, "I must take the tangles out of your hair
before you go to sleep. Come, put your head on my lap."

So the little girl put her head on her stepmother's lap, and, lo and
behold! her beautiful yellow-silk hair rolled right over the woman's
knees and lay upon the ground.

Then the beauty of it made the stepmother more jealous than before, so
she said, "I cannot part your hair properly on my knee, fetch me a
billet of wood."

So the little girl fetched one. Then said the stepmother, "Your hair is
so thick I cannot part it with a comb; fetch me an axe!"

So the child fetched an axe.

"Now," said that wicked, wicked woman, "lay your head down on the billet
while I part your hair."

And the child did as she was bid without fear; and lo! the beautiful
little golden head was off in a second, by one blow of the axe.

Now the wicked stepmother had thought it all out before, so she took the
poor little dead girl out to the garden, dug a hollow in the snow under
the rose tree, and said to herself, "When spring comes and the snow
melts if people find her bones, they will say she lost her way and fell
asleep in the snow."

But first, because she was a wicked witch-woman, knowing spells and
charms, she took out the heart of the little girl and made it into two
savoury pasties, one for her husband's breakfast and one for the little
boy's, for thus would the love they bore to the little girl become hers.
Nevertheless, she was mistaken, for when morning came and the little
child could not be found, the father sent away his breakfast barely
tasted, and the little boy wept so that he could eat nothing.

So they grieved and grieved. And when the snow melted and they found the
bones of the poor child, they said, "She must have lost her way that
dark night going to the grocer's to buy candles." So they buried the
bones under the children's rose tree, and every day the little boy sate
there and wept and wept for his lost playmate.

Now when summer came the wild rose tree flowered. It was covered with
white roses, and amongst the flowers there sate a beautiful white bird.
And it sang and sang and sang like an angel out of heaven; but what it
sang the little boy could never make out, for he could hardly see for
weeping, hardly hear for sobbing.

So at last the beautiful white bird unfolded its broad white wings and
flew to a cobbler's shop, where a myrtle bush hung over the man and his
last, on which he was making a dainty little pair of rose-red shoes.
Then it perched on a bough and sang ever so sweetly:

  "Stepmother slew me,
   Father nigh ate me,
   He whom I dearly love
   Sits below, I sing above,
   Stick! Stock! Stone dead!"

"Sing that beautiful song again," said the cobbler. "It is better than a
nightingale's."

"That will I gladly," sang the bird, "if you will give me the little
rose-red shoes you are making."

And the cobbler gave them willingly, so the white bird sang its song
once more. Then with the rose-red shoes in one foot it flew to an ash
tree that grew close beside a goldsmith's bench, and sang:

  "Stepmother slew me,
   Father nigh ate me,
   He whom I dearly love
   Sits below, I sing above,
   Stick! Stock! Stone dead!"

"Oh, what a beautiful song!" cried the goldsmith.

"Sing again, dear bird, it is sweeter than a nightingale's."

"That will I gladly," sang the bird, "if you will give me the gold chain
you're making."

And the goldsmith gave the bauble willingly, and the bird sang its song
once more. Then with the rose-red shoes in one foot and the golden chain
in the other, the bird flew to an oak tree which overhung the mill
stream, beside which three millers were busy picking out a millstone,
and, perching on a bough, sang its song ever so sweetly:

  "My stepmother slew me,
   My father nigh ate me,
   He whom I dearly love
   Sits below, I sing above,
   Stick!--"

Just then one of the millers put down his tool and listened.

"Stock!" sang the bird.

And the second miller put aside his tool and listened.

"Stone," sang the bird.

Then the third miller put aside his tool and listened.

"Dead!" sang the bird so sweetly that with one accord the millers looked
up and cried with one voice:

"Oh, what a beautiful song! Sing it again, dear bird, it is sweeter than
a nightingale's."

"That will I gladly," answered the bird, "if you will hang the millstone
you are picking round my neck."

So the millers hung it as they were asked; and when the song was
finished, the bird spread its wide white wings and, with the millstone
round its neck and the little rose-red shoes in one foot, the golden
chain in the other, it flew back to the rose tree. But the little
playmate was not there; he was inside the house eating his dinner.

Then the bird flew to the house, and rattled the millstone about the
eaves until the stepmother cried, "Hearken! How it thunders!"

So the little boy ran out to see, and down dropped the dainty rose-red
shoes at his feet.

"See what fine things the thunder has brought!" he cried with glee as he
ran back.

Then the white bird rattled the millstone about the eaves once more, and
once again the stepmother said, "Hearken! How it thunders!"

So this time the father went out to see, and down dropped the golden
chain about his neck.

"It is true," he said when he came back. "The thunder does bring fine
things!"

Then once more the white bird rattled the millstone about the eaves, and
this time the stepmother said hurriedly, "Hark! there it is again!
Perhaps it has got something for me!"

Then she ran out; but the moment she stepped outside the door, down fell
the millstone right on her head and killed her.

So that was an end of her. And after that the little boy was ever so
much happier, and all the summer time he sate with his little
rose-coloured shoes under the wild rose tree and listened to the white
bird's song. But when winter came and the wild rose tree was all barren
and bare save for snowflake flowers, the white bird came no longer and
the little boy grew tired of waiting for it. So one day he gave up
altogether, and they buried him under the rose tree beside his little
playmate.

Now when the spring came and the rose tree blossomed, the flowers were
no longer white. They were edged with rose colour like the little boy's
shoes, and in the centre of each blossom there was a beautiful tuft of
golden silk like the little girl's hair.

And if you look in a wild rose you will find these things there still.



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