Once on a time, in the good old times, there lived a cow-herd, who had neither father nor mother. He was called Jonica, that is to say Johnnie, but people had given him the name of Gura Casca(open mouth) because when he led his cows to pasture, he bellowed at every thing which he met on the way. Otherwise he was really a very pretty boy, his face was fair, and his, eyes as blue as a morsel of the sky, with hair curling, and as yellow as the rays of the sun.
The young girls of the village teased him sadly. "Hé! Hé! Jonica, where are you going with your open mouth?"
"What does that matter to you?" he would reply tranquilly, and pass on his way.
Though only a cow-herd, he was sufficiently proud of his good looks, and he knew quite well the difference between beauty and ugliness, so the young peasant girls with their faces and throats tanned by the sun, their large hands red and cracked, their feet shod in "opinci" (a rough sort of sandal) or other common leather, were not at all to his mind. He had heard tell, that, down there, a long way off, in the towns, the young girls were quite different; that they had throats as white as alabaster, pink cheeks, delicate and soft hands, their small feet covered by satin slippers, that in short they were clad in robes of silk and gold, and were called princesses. So that, while his comrades only sought to please some rustic villager, he dreamed, neither more nor less, that he should marry a princess
One noon-day in the middle of August, when the sun was so scorching that even the flies did not know where to put themselves, Jonica sat down under the shadow of an oak to eat his mammaliga(thick Indian meal porridge) and a morsel of sheep's milk cheese; seeing that his flock was lying peaceably about, he stretched himself at full length, and was soon asleep.
He had a charming dream! A zina, a fairy, appeared to him, beautiful as the day, fresh as a rose, and clad in a robe sparkling with diamonds.
She said to him, "There is a country where precious stones grow; go to the court of the emperor who reigns there, and you will marry a princess."
In the evening, when he took his cows back to the stable, Jonica recounted his dream to several of his friends, who freely laughed at him. But the words of the zina had such an influence on him, that he laughed himself at the ridicule of which he was the object.
The next day, at the same hour, and the same place, our cow-herd came to take his siesta. He had the same dream; and the same fairy, more radiant than ever, appeared again to him, and repeated, "There is a country where precious stones grow; go to the court of the emperor who reigns there and you will marry a princess."
Jonica again repeated his dream, and it was again turned into ridicule.
"What does it matter to me," said Jonica, "if they laugh? I know one thing, that if that fairy appears again to me, I'll follow her advice."
On the following day he had the same dream, he got up joyfully, and in the evening they heard him in the village singing, "I quit the cows and calves, or I am going to marry the daughter of an emperor."
His master, who overheard him, became thoughtful, but Jonica said to him, "You may do, and think as you like, but it is decided! I am going away!"
He began to make his preparations, and in the morning he left. The people of the village held their sides with laughing, when they saw him with his little bundle on a stick, slung across his shoulder, descend the hill, traverse the plain, and then slowly disappear, in the dim distance.
In those days, people did say that there was really a country where precious stones grew, as grass, plants, and flowers grow in other places. It was said that the emperor of these parts had twelve daughters: twelve princesses, the one prettier than the other, but all as proud as they were beautiful. It was said also, that they only went to sleep at sunrise, and got up at midday. They lived altogether in one large room of the palace, and slept in beds of gold, encrusted with flowers of diamonds and emeralds.
When the princesses retired in the evening, the nine doors of their apartment were locked outside with nine padlocks. It was impossible for them to get out, and yet each night something very extraordinary took place.
The satin slippers of the twelve princesses, were literally worn out each morning. One might have thought that the daughters of the emperor had danced all night. When they were questioned, they declared that they knew nothing, and could understand nothing about it. No one could explain this strange fact, for, notwithstanding the greatest watchfulness, not the least noise had ever been heard in the chamber of the princesses, after they had retired to rest.
The emperor, their father, was most perplexed, and determined, at any price, to penetrate this mystery. He had a trumpet sounded, and it was published throughout all the country, that if any one succeeded in finding out, by what means his daughters, the princesses, wore out their slippers in a single night, he might choose from amongst them, his wife. At this news, a great number of emperors' sons, and kings' sons, presented themselves to explore this adventure. They hid themselves behind a great curtain in the chamber of the princesses. But once there, no one ever heard any more of them, and they never reappeared.
Our Jonica, who arrived just then at the court of the emperor, heard talk of all these matters, and succeeded in being taken into the service of one of the imperial gardeners, who had been obliged to send away one of his best helps. His new master did not find him very intelligent, but he was convinced that his curling light hair and good looks, would make him acceptable to the princesses.
Thus his daily duty, then, was each morning to present a bouquet to the daughters of the emperor. Jonica posted himself at their door, at the hour of their awakening, and as each came forth, he presented her with a bouquet. They found the flowers very beautiful, but disdained to cast a look or smile on poor Jonica, who remained there more than ever, Gura Casca, open-mouthed.
Lina, alone, the youngest, the most graceful, and the prettiest of the princesses, let fall by hazard on him, a look as soft as velvet. Ah! my sisters," cried she, "how good looking our young gardener is!"
They burst into mocking laughter, and the eldest remarked to Lina, that it was unbecoming a princess to lower her eyes to a valet. Nevertheless, Jonica intoxicated by the looks and the beauty of Lina, thought of the promise of the emperor, and it entered into his head to try and discover the mystery of the slippers. He did not mention it to any one though, for he was afraid that the emperor might hear of it, be angry, and have him driven away from court, as a punishment for his audacity.
While these thoughts were passing through his brain, Jonica dreamed again of the fairy with the sparkling robe. She held in her right hand two small laurel branches, one was as red as a cherry, and the other like a rose; in her left hand was a little golden spade, a watering can of the same metal, and a silken veil. She gave all these to Jonica, saying, "Plant these two laurels in large boxes, turn over the earth with this spade, water them with this watering can, and wipe them with this silken veil. When they have grown three feet high, say to each separately, 'Beautiful laurels, with a golden spade I have dug you, with a golden watering can I have watered you, and with a silken veil I have wiped you.' This said, you can ask anything you wish, and it will be accorded you."
When Jonica awoke he found the two laurels and the other objects on the table, and fell on his knees to thank the good fairy. He at once began to carry out her instructions.
The shrubs grew rapidly, and when they had attained the necessary height, he went to the cherry laurel, and said, "Beautiful cherry laurel, with a golden spade I have dug you, with a golden can I have watered you, with a silken veil I have wiped you; grant me in exchange, the gift of becoming invisible whenever I desire."
Immediately he saw grow out from the laurel, a beautiful white flower. He gathered it, placed it in his buttonhole, and at once became invisible.
When night arrived, the princesses went up to their bedroom, and Jonica, barefooted, so as to make no noise, glided up behind them, and hid himself underneath one of the twelve beds.
Then, instead of preparing themselves to go to bed, each of the princesses opened a wardrobe, and took out their richest dresses and finest jewels. Each assisting the other, they dressed en grande toilette. Jonica could see nothing from his hiding place, but he heard them laugh, and dance with joy.
The eldest, who seemed to have great authority over them, hurried them, and kept exclaiming, "Be quick, my sisters, our dancers are dying of impatience."
At the end of an hour, the. laughing and talking ceased. Jonica carefully put out his head, and saw that the princesses were dressed like fairies. They wore quite new satin slippers, and held in their hands the bouquets which he had offered to them in the morning.
They placed themselves one behind the other, and the eldest who was at the head, struck three blows in a peculiar manner, on a certain part of the wall. A door quite invisible opened, and the princesses disappeared.
Jonica followed them noiselessly, but by accident he placed his foot on the train of the princess Lina.
"There is someone behind me," she cried. "Someone trod on my dress."
The eldest turned round quickly, but seeing no one, exclaimed, "How foolish you are Lina, you must have caught it against a nail."
The twelve daughters of the emperor, descended, and descended, and descended until they arrived at an underground passage, at the end of which was an iron door with a strong bolt.
The eldest opened this, and then they found themselves in an enchanted bower, where the leaves of the trees were in silver, and sparkled in the moonlight. They walked on until they came to a second bower, and here the trees had golden leaves; still on, and then a third bower, where the leaves were of emeralds and rubies and diamonds, and their rays were so bright that one might have thought it was full daylight. The princesses continued their walk, and (Jonica still following), arrived soon on the borders of a large lake.
On this lake were twelve boats, and in each boat one of the lost sons of an emperor, who, oar in hand, each waited for a princess. Jonica took his place in the boat of the princess Lina. The boat, being more heavily laden, could not float so quickly as the others, and so was always behind.
"I do not know," said Lina to her cavalier, "why we do not go so quickly as at other times, what can be the matter?"
"I do not understand it either," said the emperor's son, "for I row with all my force."
On the other side of the lake the little gardener perceived a beautiful palace, illuminated a giorno, and heard harmonious sounds of violins, trumpets and cymbals. The emperors' sons each having a princess on his arm entered the palace, and after them came Jonica into a saloon lighted by ten lustres.
The walls were immense mirrors, in gold frames set with precious stones. On a centre table a massive golden vase contained an enormous bouquet of flowers which gave forth an exquisite perfume. Poor Jonica was literally dazed and petrified by the sight of so much splendor. When able to look at, and admire the princesses in the midst of this dazzling light, he lost his wits completely, and looked so ardently with his eyes, that one would have thought that he wished to taste them also with his mouth. Some were fair, some were brown, and nearly all of them had let fall their beautiful hair down their pretty white shoulders. Never, even in his dreams, had the poor boy seen such enchantresses.
But amongst them all, and above all, it was Lina, who seemed to him the most graceful, the most beautiful, the most intoxicating, with her dark eyes and long hair -- the shade of a raven's wing. And with what fire she danced! Leaning on the shoulder of her cavalier, Lina turned as light as a spindle. Her face was flushed, her eyes shone like two stars, and it was evident that dancing was her great delight.
Poor Jonica let fall envious looks on the emperors' sons, and heartily regretted not to be on the same footing, so that he also might have had the right to be cavalier to such beautiful young creatures. All these dancers, to the number of fifty, were emperors' sons who had tried to discover the secret of the princesses. These latter had enticed them to a midnight expedition, and had given them to drink at table, an enchanted beverage, which had frozen their blood, killed in them every sentiment of love, every remembrance, or worldly desire, leaving them only the ardent pleasure of the dance, in the bosom of this splendid palace, become henceforth their eternal habitation.
The princesses danced until their white satin slippers were in holes, until the cock had crowed three times. Then the music ceased, black slaves arranged a princely table, which was instantaneously filled with the most succulent meats, and the rarest and most exquisite wines. Each one took his place, and ate and drank at his ease, excepting our poor Gura Casca, who had to content himself with feasting his eyes alone. When the repast was over, the princesses reentered their boat, and Jonica who followed them step by step, arrived with them in the wood with the silver leaves.
There, to prove to himself, and to prove also to others, that what he had seen was no dream, Jonica broke off a branch of the tree with the beautiful leaves. The noise which he made, caused Lina to turn round.
"What can that be?" said she to her sisters.
"Probably," said the eldest, "it is the rustling amongst the branches of some bird, that has its nest in one of the towers of the palace."
Jonica then got in advance of the princesses, and mounted rapidly to their chamber, opened the window, and glided silently along the trellis which covered the wall, and began his daily work.
While preparing the flowers for the princesses, he hid the branch of silver leaves in the bouquet destined for Lina.
Great was the astonishment of the young girl, who asked herself, in vain, how it was possible that the branch could have come there. Without saying anything to her sisters, she went down into the garden, and there, under the shade of a large chestnut tree, she found the gardener. She had for the moment, a great mind to speak to him, but on reflection, thought it better to wait a little, and so passed on her way.
When evening arrived, the princesses again returned to the ball, Jonica followed them, and a second time entered Lina's boat. Again the emperor's son complained of the labor required in rowing.
"No doubt it is the heat which you feel," replied Lina.
All passed as on the previous evening, but this time, on returning, Jonica broke off a branch of the golden leaves. When the daily bouquets were distributed, the princess Lina found, concealed in hers, the golden branch.
Remaining a little behind her sisters, and showing the golden branch to Jonica, she asked, "From whence, hadst thou these leaves?"
"Your highness knows quite well."
"So thou hast followed us?"
"And how didst thou manage that?"
"It is a secret."
"We did not see thee."
"I was invisible."
"At any rate, I see that thou hast penetrated the mystery. Speak of it to no one, and take this purse as the price of thy silence," and she threw to the poor boy, a purse of gold.
"I do not sell my silence," said Jonica, with a haughtiness which astonished the princess.
"I know how to hold my tongue, without being paid for it." And he walked away, leaving the purse on the ground.
The three succeeding days, Lina neither saw nor heard anything particular, during their nocturnal excursions; but the fourth night, there was a distinct rustling in the wood of diamond leaves, and the next morning she found a diamond branch, hidden in her bouquet.
Then she was fully convinced that the young gardener knew all their escapades, and calling him to her, she asked "Dost thou know the price, which the emperor, our father, offers for the discovery of our secret?"
"I know it, highness."
"Then why dost thou not go to him, and betray it?"
"I do not wish."
"Art thou afraid?"
"Then, why wilt thou not speak?"
Jonica looked up at her, his eyes full of expression, but did not reply.
While Lina was talking with the youth, her sisters were laughing at her, and when she came back they still went on with their ridicule, until she became quite red with anger.
"Thou canst marry him," said her sisters, "there is nothing to prevent; thou wilt be the gardener's wife, and thou wilt live in the cottage at the bottom of the garden. Thou canst help thy husband to draw the water from the fountain, and thou canst offer us our daily nosegays."
Lina became still more angry, and the weight of her anger fell on poor Jonica. When he again presented her with flowers, she took them with supreme indifference, and treated him with the greatest disdain. The poor fellow could not understand it, for he was always most respectful. He never dared to look her full in the face, and yet she felt he was present with her all day long. At length, she came to the resolution to confide to her sisters all that she knew.
"What!" cried they, "this stupid boy has learned our secret, and thou hast kept it from us! We must, at once, absolutely get rid of him."
"By what means?"
"Have him stabbed, and thrown into a cave."
This was the usual way by which troublesome people were disposed of. But Lina would not hear of this, saying that the poor boy had committed no fault.
"If you touch a hair of his head," she said, "I will go and confess all to our father the emperor."
To tranquilize Lina, it was decided to get Jonica to go again to the ball, and to make him drink the enchanted beverage, which would put him in the same state as the other cavaliers.
So they called the young gardener to them, and the eldest sister asked him by what means he had discovered their secret? but he would give them no answer. Then they informed him of the decision which they had come to respecting him. He replied, that he accepted it, and that he would drink willingly the enchanted beverage, so as to become the cavalier of her whom he loved.
On the day fixed, wishing to have as fine clothes, and to be able to make as handsome presents as the emperors' sons, Jonica went to the rose laurel, and said "my beautiful laurel, I have dug you with a golden spade, I have watered you with a golden watering can, I have wiped you with a silken veil, grant that, in one moment, I may be as richly dressed as an emperor's son."
Immediately he saw a beautiful flower expand, and gathering it, he was at once clad in velvet as dark and soft as Lina's eyes, a toque to match, with an agraffe of diamonds, and a flower in his buttonhole. From being tanned and brown, his complexion became fair and fresh as an infant's and his beauty was marvelous. Even his common, vulgar manner changed completely, and any one might have thought him really an emperor's son.
Thus metamorphosed, he presented himself before the emperor, to ask his authority to try in his turn, to unravel the secret of the princesses. He was so changed that the emperor did not recognize him.
When the princesses went back to their bedroom, Jonica was waiting for them behind the door After their usual excursion, Jonica gave his arm to the eldest princess, and afterwards danced with each of the sisters successively, and with so much dignity and grace, that they were all enchanted. When it was Lina's turn, he was in raptures; but he did not address a single word to her.
While conducting her to her place, the princess said to him, jokingly, "Being treated like an emperor's son, thou must be in blissful happiness."
"Never fear, princess," replied he, "you shall not be a gardener's wife."
Lina looked at him, half frightened, but he walked away, without waiting for her answer.
When the princesses had once more danced until their slippers were in holes, the music ceased, the black slaves prepared the table as usual, and Jonica was placed at the right hand of the eldest princess, and facing Lina. He was served with the most delicate meats, the choicest wines; compliments and praises were showered on him, but he was neither intoxicated by their wines, nor by their flatteries. Presently the eldest princess made a sign, and one of the slaves came forward bearing a massive golden cup.
"This enchanted palace has no longer any secrets for thee," cried the princess to Jonica. "Let us drink to your triumph!"
The young man casting a tender glance at Lina, raised the cup to his lips.
"Do not drink it," she cried impetuously. "Do not drink it, I would rather be a gardener's wife," and she began to weep. Jonica threw the enchanted beverage over his shoulder, cleared the table, and fell on his knees at the feet of the princess Lina. All the other emperors' sons fell each at the feet of their respective princesses, who choosing them for their husbands, held out their hands and raised them from the ground.
The charm was broken! The twelve couples crossed the lake in boats, traversed the forests, passed through the cellar, and arrived at the emperor's chamber. Jonica, with the golden cup in his hand, explained to him the mystery of the worn-out slippers.
"God give thee life, young man," said the emperor. "Take thy choice from amongst my daughters."
"My choice has been made for a long time," said he, taking by the hand the princess Lina, who blushed and could not look up.
The princess Lina did not become a gardener's wife, for Jonica became a prince. Before their marriage took place, Lina enquired of him, how he had discovered their secret. Jonica showed her the two laurels. Lina, like an intelligent woman, thought that Jonica would have too great an advantage over her, if he enjoyed the power which was given to him by possessing these shrubs, so she tore the laurels up by their roots and flung them into the fire.
A short time afterwards, the marriage took place with imperial splendor. It was followed by festivities which lasted three days and three nights, and the young people lived very happily together, to a good old age.
THERE lived once together a king and a queen, and a princess who was their daughter. The princess had worn out every evening seven pairs of slippers made of iron; and the king could not make out how that could be, though he was always trying to find out. The king at last issued a decree, that whosoever should be able to find out how the princess managed to wear out seven slippers made of iron in the short space of time between morning and evening, he would give the princess in marriage if he were a man, and if a woman he would marry her to a prince.
It happened that a soldier was walking along an open country road carrying on his back a sack of oranges, and he saw two men fighting and giving each other great blows. The soldier went up to them and asked them, "Oh, men, why are you giving each other such blows?" "Why indeed should it be!" they replied, "because our father is dead, and he has left us this cap, and we both wish to possess it." "Is it possible that for the sake of a cap you should be fighting?" inquired the soldier. The men then said, "The reason is that this cap has a charm, and if any one puts it on and says, "Cap, cover me so that no one shall see me! no one can see us." The soldier upon hearing this said to them, "I'll tell you what I can do for you; you let me remain here with the cap whilst I throw this orange to a great distance, and you run after it, and the one that shall pick it up first shall be the possessor of the cap." The men agreed to this, and the soldier threw the orange to a great distance, as far as he possibly could, whilst the men both ran to pick it up. Here the soldier without loss of' time put on the cap saying, "Cap, make me invisible." When the men returned with the orange they could see nothing and nobody. The soldier went away with the cap, and further on he met on his road two other men fighting, and he said to them, "Oh, foolish men, why do you give each other such blows?" The men replied, "Indeed, you may well ask why, if it were not that father died and left us this pair of boots, and we, each of us, wish to be the sole possessor of them." The soldier replied, "Is it possible that for the matter of a pair of boots you should be fighting thus?" And they replying said, "It is because these boots are, charmed, and when one wishes to go any distance he has only to say: 'Boots take me here or there,' wherever one should wish to go, and instantly they convey one to any place." The soldier said to them, "I will tell you what to do; I will throw an orange to a great distance, and you give me the boots to keep; you run for the orange, and the first who shall pick it up shall have the pair of boots." He threw the orange to a great distance and both men ran to catch it. Upon this the soldier said, "Cap, make me invisible, boots take me to the city!" and when the men returned they missed the boots, and the soldier, for he had gone away. He arrived at the capital and heard the decree read which the king had promulgated, and he began to consider what he had better do in this case. "With this cap, and with these boots I can surely find out what the princess does to wear out seven pairs of slippers made of iron in one night." He went and presented himself at the palace. When the king saw him he said, "Do you really know a way of finding out how the princess, my daughter, can wear out seven slippers in one night?" The soldier replied, "I only ask you to let me try ""But you must remember," said the king, "that if at the end of three days you have not found out the mystery, I shall order you to be put to death." The soldier to this replied that he was prepared to take the consequences. The king ordered him to remain in the palace. Every attention was paid to all his wants and wishes, he had his meals with the king at the same table, and slept in the princess's room. But what did the princes do? She took him a beverage to his bedside and gave it to him to drink. This beverage was a sleeping draught which she gave him to make him sleep all night. Next morning the soldier had not seen the princess do anything, for he had slept very soundly the whole night. When he appeared at breakfast the king asked him, "Well, did you see anything?" "Your majesty must know that I have seen nothing whatever." The king said, "Look well what you are at, for now there only remains two days more for you, or else you die!" The soldier replied, "I have not the least misgivings." Night came on and the princess acted as before. Next morning the king asked him again at breakfast, "Well, have you seen anything last night?" The soldier replied, "Your majesty must know that I have seen nothing whatever." "Be careful, then, what you do, only one day more and you die!" The soldier replied, "I have no misgivings." He then began to think it over. "It is very curious that I should sleep all night-it cannot be from anything else but from drinking the beverage which the princess gives me…Leave me alone, I know what I shall do; when the princess brings me the cup I shall pretend to drink, but shall throw away the beverage." The night came and the princess did not fail to bring him the beverage to drink to his bedside. The soldier made a pretence to drink it, but instead threw it away, and feigned sleep though he was awake. In the middle of the night he 'saw the princess rise up, prepare to go out, and advance towards the door to leave. What did he do then? He put on the cap, drew on the boots, and said, "Cap make me invisible, boots take me wherever the princess goes."
The princess entered a carriage, and the soldier followed her into the carriage and accompanied her. He saw the carriage stop at the seashore. The princess then embarked on board a vessel decked with flags. The soldier on seeing this said, "Cap, cover me, that I may be invisible," and embarked with the princess. She reached the land of giants, and when on passing the first sentinel, he challenged her with "Who's there?" "The Princess of Harmony," she replied. The sentinel rejoined, "Pass with your suite." The princess looked behind her, and not seeing any one following her she said to herself, "The sentinel cannot be in his sound mind; he said 'pass with your suite;' I do not see any one." She reached the second sentinel, who cried out at the top of his voice, "Who's there?" "The Princess of Harmony," replied the princess. "Pass with your suite," said the sentinel. The princess was each time more and more astonished. She came to the third sentinel, who challenged her as the others had done, "Who's there?" "The Princess of Harmony." "Pass on with your suite," rejoined the sentinel. The princess as before wondered what the man could mean. After journeying for a long time the soldier who followed her closely saw the princess arrive at a beautiful palace, enter in, and go into a hall for dancing, where he saw many giants. The princess sat upon a seat by the side of her lover who was a giant. The soldier hid himself under their seat. The band struck up, and she rose to dance with the giant, and when she finished the dance she had her iron slippers all in pieces. She took them off and pushed them under her seat. The soldier immediately took possession of them and put them inside his sack. The princess again sat down to converse with her lover. The band again struck up some dance music and the princess rose to dance When she finished this dance another of her slippers had worn out. She took them off and left them under her seat. The soldier put these also into his sack. Finally, she danced seven times, and each time she danced she tore a pair of slippers made of iron. The soldier kept them all in his sack. After the ball the princess sat down to converse with her lover; and what did the soldier do? He turned their chairs over and threw them both on the middle of the floor. They were very much surprised and they searched everywhere and through all the houses and could find no one. The giants then looked out for a book of fates they had, wherein could be seen the course of the winds and other auguries peculiar to their race. They called in a black servant to read in the book and find out what was the matter. The soldier rose up from where he was and said, "Cap, make me invisible." He then gave the negro a slap on the face, the negro fell to the ground, while he took possession of the book and kept it. The time was approaching when the princess must depart and return home, and not being able to stay longer she went away. The soldier followed her and she returned by the same way she came. She went on board and when she reached the city the carriage was already waiting for her. The soldier then said, "Boots take me to the palace," and he arrived there, took off his clothes, and went to bed. When the princess arrived she found everything in her chamber just as she left it, and even found the soldier fast asleep In the morning the king said, "Well, soldier, did you see anything remarkable last night?" "Be it known to your majesty that I saw nothing whatever last night," replied the soldier. The king then said, "According to what you say, I do not know if you are aware that you must die to-day." The soldier replied, "If it is so I must have patience, what else can I do?" When the princess heard this she rejoiced much. The king then ordered that everything for the execution should be prepared before the palace windows. When the soldier was proceeding to execution he asked the king to grant him a favour for the last time and to send for the princess so that she should be present. The king gave the desired permission, and the princess was present, when he said to her, "Is it true to say that the princess went out at midnight?" "It is not true," replied the princess. "Is it true to say," again asked the soldier, "that the princess entered a carriage, and afterwards went on board a vessel and proceeded to a ball given in the kingdom of the giants?" The princess replied, "It is not true." The soldier yet asked her another question, "Is it true that the princess tore seven pair of slippers during the seven times she danced?" and then he showed her the slippers. "There is no truth in all this," replied the princess. The soldier at last said to her, "Is it true to say that the princess at the end of the ball fell on the floor from her seat, and the giants had a book brought to them to see what bewitchery and magic pervaded and had taken possession of the house, and which book is here?" The princess now said, "It is so." The king was delighted at the discovery and happy ending of this affair, and the soldier came to live in the palace and married the princess.
Pedroso, Consiglieri. Portuguese Folk-Tales. Folk Lore Society Publications, Vol. 9. Miss Henrietta Monteiro, translator. New York: Folk Lore Society Publications, 1882.
Once upon a time there lived in the village of Montignies-sur-Roc a little cow-boy, without either father or mother. His real name was Michael, but he was always called the Star Gazer, because when he drove his cows over the commons to seek for pasture, he went along with his head in the air, gaping at nothing.
As he had a white skin, blue eyes, and hair that curled all over his head, the village girls used to cry after him, "Well, Star Gazer, what are you doing? " and Michael would answer, "Oh, nothing," and go on his way without even turning to look at them.
The fact was he thought them very ugly, with their sun-burnt necks, their great red hands, their coarse petticoats and their wooden shoes. He had heard that somewhere in the world there were girls whose necks were white and whose hands were small, who were always dressed in the finest silks and laces, and were called princesses, and while his companions round the fire saw nothing in the flames but common everyday fancies, he dreamed that he had the happiness to marry a princess.
One morning about the middle of August, just at mid-day when the sun was hottest, Michael ate his dinner of a piece of dry bread, and went to sleep under an oak. And while he slept he dreamt that there appeared before him a beautiful lady, dressed in a robe of cloth of gold, who said to him, "Go to the castle of Beloeil, and there you shall marry a princess."
That evening the little cow-boy, who had been thinking a great deal about the advice of the lady in the golden dress, told his dream to the farm people. But, as was natural, they only laughed at the Star Gazer.
The next day at the same hour he went to sleep again under the same tree. The lady appeared to him a second time, and said, "Go to the castle of Beloeil, and you shall marry a princess."
In the evening Michael told his friends that he had dreamed the same dream again, but they only laughed at him more than before. "Never mind," he thought to himself; "if the lady appears to me a third time, I will do as she tells me."
The following day, to the great astonishment of all the village, about two o'clock in the afternoon a voice was heard singing:
How the cattle go!
It was the little cow-boy driving his herd back to the byre.
The farmer began to scold him furiously, but he answered quietly, "I am going away," made his clothes into a bundle, said good-bye to all his friends, and boldly set out to seek his fortunes.
There was great excitement through all the village, and on the top of the hill the people stood holding their sides with laughing, as they watched the Star Gazer trudging bravely along the valley with his bundle at the end of his stick. It was enough to make anyone laugh, certainly.
It was well known for full twenty miles round that there lived in the castle of Beloeil twelve princesses of wonderful beauty, and as proud as they were beautiful, and who were besides so very sensitive and of such truly royal blood, that they would have felt at once the presence of a pea in their beds, even if the mattresses had been laid over it.
It was whispered about that they led exactly the lives that princesses ought to lead, sleeping far into the morning, and never getting up till midday. They had twelve beds all in the same room, but what was very extraordinary was the fact that though they were locked in by triple bolts, every morning their satin shoes were found worn into holes.
When they were asked what they had been doing all night, they always answered that they had been asleep; and, indeed, no noise was ever heard in the room, yet the shoes could not wear themselves out alone!
At last the Duke of Beloeil ordered the trumpet to be sounded, and a proclamation to be made that whoever could discover how his daughters wore out their shoes should choose one of them for his wife.
On hearing the proclamation a number of princes arrived at the castle to try their luck. They watched all night behind the open door of the princesses, but when the morning came they had all disappeared, and no one could tell what had become of them.
When he reached the castle, Michael went straight to the gardener and offered his services. Now it happened that the garden boy had just been sent away, and though the Star Gazer did not look very sturdy, the gardener agreed to take him, as he thought that his pretty face and golden curls would please the princesses.
The first thing he was told was that when the princesses got up he was to present each one with a bouquet, and Michael thought that if he had nothing more unpleasant to do than that he should get on very well.
Accordingly he placed himself behind the door of the princesses' room, with the twelve bouquets in a basket. He gave one to each of the sisters, and they took them without even deigning to look at the lad, except Lina the youngest, who fixed her large black eyes as soft as velvet on him, and exclaimed, "Oh, how pretty he is -- our new flower boy!" The rest all burst out laughing, and the eldest pointed out that a princess ought never to lower herself by looking at a garden boy.
Now Michael knew quite well what had happened to all the princes, but notwithstanding, the beautiful eyes of the princess Lina inspired him with a violent longing to try his fate. Unhappily he did not dare to come forward, being afraid that he should only be jeered at, or even turned away from the castle on account of his impudence.
Nevertheless, the Star Gazer had another dream. The lady in the golden dress appeared to him once more, holding in one hand two young laurel trees, a cherry laurel and a rose laurel, and in the other hand a little golden rake, a little golden bucket, and a silken towel.
She thus addressed him, "Plant these two laurels in two large pots, rake them over with the rake, water them with the bucket, and wipe them with the towel. When they have grown as tall as a girl of fifteen, say to each of them, 'My beautiful laurel, with the golden rake I have raked you, with the golden bucket I have watered you, with the silken towel I have wiped you.' Then after that ask anything you choose, and the laurels will give it to you."
Michael thanked the lady in the golden dress, and when he woke he found the two laurel bushes beside him. So he carefully obeyed the orders he had been given by the lady.
The trees grew very fast, and when they were as tall as a girl of fifteen he said to the cherry laurel, "My lovely cherry laurel, with the golden rake I have raked thee, with the golden bucket I have watered thee, with the silken towel I have wiped thee. Teach me how to become invisible." Then there instantly appeared on the laurel a pretty white flower, which Michael gathered and stuck into his buttonhole.
That evening, when the princesses went upstairs to bed, he followed them barefoot, so that he might make no noise, and hid himself under one of the twelve beds, so as not to take up much room.
The princesses began at once to open their wardrobes and boxes. They took out of them the most magnificent dresses, which they put on before their mirrors, and when they had finished, turned themselves all round to admire their appearances. Michael could see nothing from his hiding place, but he could hear everything, and he listened to the princesses laughing and jumping with pleasure.
At last the eldest said, "Be quick, my sisters, our partners will be impatient."
At the end of an hour, when the Star Gazer heard no more noise, he peeped out and saw the twelve sisters in splendid garments, with their satin shoes on their feet, and in their hands the bouquets he had brought them.
"Are you ready?" asked the eldest.
"Yes," replied the other eleven in chorus, and they took their places one by one behind her.
Then the eldest princess clapped her hands three times and a trap door opened. All the princesses disappeared down a secret staircase, and Michael hastily followed them.
As he was following on the steps of the princess Lina, he carelessly trod on her dress.
"There is somebody behind me," cried the princess; "they are holding my dress."
"You foolish thing," said her eldest sister, "you are always afraid of something. It is only a nail which caught you."
They went down, down, down, till at last they came to a passage with a door at one end, which was only fastened with a latch. The eldest princess opened it, and they found themselves immediately in a lovely little wood, where the leaves were spangled with drops of silver which shone in the brilliant light of the moon.
They next crossed another wood where the leaves were sprinkled with gold, and after that another still, where the leaves glittered with diamonds.
At last the Star Gazer perceived a large lake, and on the shores of the lake twelve little boats with awnings, in which were seated twelve princes, who, grasping their oars, awaited the princesses.
Each princess entered one of the boats, and Michael slipped into that which held the youngest. The boats glided along rapidly, but Lina's, from being heavier, was always behind the rest.
"We never went so slowly before," said the princess; "what can be the reason?"
"I don't know," answered the prince. "I assure you I am rowing as hard as I can."
On the other side of the lake the garden boy saw a beautiful castle splendidly illuminated, whence came the lively music of fiddles, kettledrums, and trumpets. In a moment they touched land, and the company jumped out of the boats; and the princes, after having securely fastened their barks, gave their arms to the princesses and conducted them to the castle.
Michael followed, and entered the ballroom in their train. Everywhere were mirrors, lights, flowers, and damask hangings.
The Star Gazer was quite bewildered at the magnificence of the sight. He placed himself out of the way in a corner, admiring the grace and beauty of the princesses. Their loveliness was of every kind. Some were fair and some were dark; some had chestnut hair, or curls darker still, and some had golden locks. Never were so many beautiful princesses seen together at one time, but the one whom the cow-boy thought the most beautiful and the most fascinating was the little princess with the velvet eyes.
With what eagerness she danced! Leaning on her partner's shoulder she swept by like a whirlwind. Her cheeks flushed, her eyes sparkled, and it was plain that she loved dancing better than anything else.
The poor boy envied those handsome young men with whom she danced so gracefully, but he did not know how little reason he had to be jealous of them. The young men were really the princes who, to the number of fifty at least, had tried to steal the princesses' secret. The princesses had made them drink something of a philter, which froze the heart and left nothing but the love of dancing.
They danced on till the shoes of the princesses were worn into holes. When the cock crowed the third time the fiddles stopped, and a delicious supper was served by negro boys, consisting of sugared orange flowers, crystallized rose leaves, powdered violets, cracknels, wafers, and other dishes, which are, as everyone knows, the favorite food of princesses.
After supper, the dancers all went back to their boats, and this time the Star Gazer entered that of the eldest princess. They crossed again the wood with the diamond-spangled leaves, the wood with gold-sprinkled leaves, and the wood whose leaves glittered with drops of silver, and as a proof of what he had seen, the boy broke a small branch from a tree in the last wood. Lina turned as she heard the noise made by the breaking of the branch.
"What was that noise?" she said.
"It was nothing," replied her eldest sister; "it was only the screech of the barn owl that roosts in one of the turrets of the castle."
While she was speaking Michael managed to slip in front, and running up the staircase, he reached the princesses' room first. He flung open the window, and sliding down the vine which climbed up the wall, found himself in the garden just as the sun was beginning to rise, and it was time for him to set to his work.
That day, when he made up the bouquets, Michael hid the branch with the silver drops in the nosegay intended for the youngest princess.
When Lina discovered it she was much surprised. However, she said nothing to her sisters, but as she met the boy by accident while she was walking under the shade of the elms, she suddenly stopped as if to speak to him; then, altering her mind, went on her way.
The same evening the twelve sisters went again to the ball, and the Star Gazer again followed them and crossed the lake in Lina's boat. This time it was the prince who complained that the boat seemed very heavy.
"It is the heat," replied the princess. "I, too, have been feeling very warm."
During the ball she looked everywhere for the gardener's boy, but she never saw him.
As they came back, Michael gathered a branch from the wood with the gold-spangled leaves, and now it was the eldest princess who heard the noise that it made in breaking.
"It is nothing," said Lina; "only the cry of the owl which roosts in the turrets of the castle."
As soon as she got up she found the branch in her bouquet. When the sisters went down she stayed a little behind and said to the cow-boy, "Where does this branch come from?"
"Your Royal Highness knows well enough," answered Michael.
"So you have followed us?"
"How did you manage it? We never saw you."
"I hid myself," replied the Star Gazer quietly.
The princess was silent a moment, and then said, "You know our secret! Keep it. Here is the reward of your discretion." And she flung the boy a purse of gold.
"I do not sell my silence," answered Michael, and he went away without picking up the purse.
For three nights Lina neither saw nor heard anything extraordinary; on the fourth she heard a rustling among the diamond-spangled leaves of the wood. That day there was a branch of the trees in her bouquet.
She took the Star Gazer aside, and said to him in a harsh voice, "You know what price my father has promised to pay for our secret?"
"I know, princess," answered Michael.
"Don't you mean to tell him?"
"That is not my intention."
"Are you afraid?"
"What makes you so discreet, then?"
But Michael was silent.
Lina's sisters had seen her talking to the little garden boy, and jeered at her for it.
"What prevents your marrying him?" asked the eldest. "You would become a gardener too; it is a charming profession. You could live in a cottage at the end of the park, and help your husband to draw up water from the well, and when we get up you could bring us our bouquets."
The princess Lina was very angry, and when the Star Gazer presented her bouquet, she received it in a disdainful manner.
Michael behaved most respectfully. He never raised his eyes to her, but nearly all day she felt him at her side without ever seeing him.
One day she made up her mind to tell everything to her eldest sister.
"What!" said she, "this rogue knows our secret, and you never told me! I must lose no time in getting rid of him."
"Why, by having him taken to the tower with the dungeons, of course."
For this was the way that in old times beautiful princesses got rid of people who knew too much. But the astonishing part of it was that the youngest sister did not seem at all to relish this method of stopping the mouth of the gardener's boy, who, after all, had said nothing to their father.
It was agreed that the question should be submitted to the other ten sisters. All were on the side of the eldest. Then the youngest sister declared that if they laid a finger on the little garden boy, she would herself go and tell their father the secret of the holes in their shoes.
At last it was decided that Michael should be put to the test; that they would take him to the ball, and at the end of supper would give him the philter which was to enchant him like the rest.
They sent for the Star Gazer, and asked him how he had contrived to learn their secret; but still he remained silent. Then, in commanding tones, the eldest sister gave him the order they had agreed upon.
He only answered, " I will obey."
He had really been present, invisible, at the council of princesses, and had heard all; but he had make up his mind to drink of the philter, and sacrifice himself to the happiness of her he loved. Not wishing, however, to cut a poor figure at the ball by the side of the other dancers, he went at once to the laurels, and said, "My lovely rose laurel, with the golden rake I have raked thee, with the golden bucket I have watered thee, with a silken towel I have dried thee. Dress me like a prince."
A beautiful pink flower appeared. Michael gathered it, and found himself in a moment clothed in velvet, which was as black as the eyes of the little princess, with a cap to match, a diamond aigrette, and a blossom of the rose laurel in his buttonhole. Thus dressed, he presented himself that evening before the Duke of Beloeil, and obtained leave to try and discover his daughters' secret. He looked so distinguished that hardly anyone would have known who he was.
The twelve princesses went upstairs to bed. Michael followed them, and waited behind the open door till they gave the signal for departure.
This time he did not cross in Lina's boat. He gave his arm to the eldest sister, danced with each in turn, and was so graceful that everyone was delighted with him. At last the time came for him o dance with the little princess. She found him the best partner in the world, but he did not dare to speak a single word to her.
When he was taking her back to her place she said to him in a mocking voice, "Here you are at the summit of your wishes. You are being treated like a prince."
"Don't be afraid," replied the Star Gazer gently. "You shall never be a gardener's wife."
The little princess stared at him with a frightened face, and he left her without waiting for an answer. When the satin slippers were worn through the fiddles stopped, and the negro boys set the table. Michael was placed next to the eldest sister, and opposite to the youngest.
They gave him the most exquisite dishes to eat, and the most delicate wines to drink; and in order to turn his head more completely, compliments and flattery were heaped on him from every side. But he took care not to be intoxicated, either by the wine or the compliments.
At last the eldest sister made a sign, and one of the black pages brought in a large golden cup.
"The enchanted castle has no more secrets for you," she said to the Star Gazer. "Let us drink to your triumph." He cast a lingering glance at the little princess, and without hesitation lifted the cup.
"Don't drink!" suddenly cried out the little princess; "I would rather marry a gardener." And she burst into tears.
Michael flung the contents .of the cup behind him, sprang over the table, and fell at Lina's feet. The rest of the princes fell likewise at the knees of the princesses, each of whom chose a husband and raised him to her side. The charm was broken.
The twelve couples embarked in the boats, which crossed back many times in order to carry over the other princes. Then they all went through the three woods, and when they had passed the door of the underground passage a great noise was heard, as if the enchanted castle was crumbling to the earth.
They went straight to the room of the Duke of Beloeil, who had just awoke. Michael held in his hand the golden cup, and he revealed the secret of the holes in the shoes.
"Choose, then," said the duke, "whichever you prefer."
"My choice is already made," replied the garden boy, and he offered his hand to the youngest princess, who blushed and lowered her eyes.
The princess Lina did not become a gardener's wife; on the contrary, it was the Star Gazer who became a prince. But before the marriage ceremony the princess insisted that her lover should tell her how he came to discover the secret. So he showed her the two laurels which had helped him, and she, like a prudent girl, thinking they gave him too much advantage over his wife, cut them off at the root and threw them in the fire.
And this is why the country girls go about singing:
Nous n'irons plus au bois,
Les lauriers sont coupés,
and dancing in summer by the light of the moon.
Somewhere there was a king who had three daughters, princesses. Those three sisters used to go to meet the devils, and the father knew not where they went to. But there was one called Jankos; Halenka [a fairy] aided him.
The king asks Jankos, "Don't you know where my daughters go? Not one single night are they at home, and they are always wearing out new shoes."
Then Jankos lay down in front of the door, and kept watch to see where they went to. But Halenka told him everything; she aided him. "They will, when they come, fling fire on you, and prick you with needles." Halenka told him he must not stir, but be like a corpse.
They came, those devils, for the girls, and straightway the girls set out with them to hell. On, on, they walked, but he stuck close to them. As the girls went to hell he followed close behind, but so that they knew it not. He went through the diamond forest; when he came there he cut himself a diamond twig from the forest. He follows; straightway they, those girls, cried, "Jankos is coming behind us." For when he broke it, he made a great noise. The girls heard it. "Jankos is coming behind us."
But the devils said, "What does it matter if he is?"
Next they went through the forest of glass, and once more he cut off a twig; now he had two tokens. Then they went through the golden forest, and once more he cut off a twig; so now he had three.
Then Halenka tells him, "I shall change you into a fly, and when you come into hell, creep under the bed, hide yourself there, and see what will happen."
Then the devils danced with the girls, who tore their shoes all to pieces, for they danced upon blades of knives, and so they must tear them. Then they flung the shoes under the bed, where Jankos took them, so that he might show them at home. When the devils had danced with the girls, each of them threw his girl upon the bed and lay with her; thus did they with two of them, but the third would not yield herself.
Then Jankos, having got all he wanted, returned home and lay down again in front of the door, "that the girls may know I am lying here."
The girls returned after midnight, and went to bed in their room as if nothing had happened. But Jankos knew well what had happened, and straightway he went to their father, the king, and showed him the tokens. "I know where your daughters go: to hell. The three girls must own they were there, in the fire. Isn't it true? weren't you there? And if you believe me not, I will show you the tokens. See, here is one token from the diamond forest; then here is one from the forest of glass; a third from the golden forest; and the fourth is the shoes which you tore dancing with the devils. And two of you lay with the devils, but that third one not, she would not yield herself."
Straightway the king seized his rifle, and straightway he shot them dead. Then he seized a knife, and slit up their bellies, and straightway the devils were scattered out from their bellies. Then he buried them in the church, and laid each coffin in front of the altar, and every night a soldier stood guard over them. But every night those two used to rend the soldier in pieces; more than a hundred were rent thus. At last it fell to a new soldier, a recruit, to stand guard; when he went upon guard he was weeping.
But a little old man came to him -- it was my God; and Jankos was there with the soldier. And the old man tells him, "When the twelfth hour strikes and they come out of their coffins, straightway jump in and lie down in the coffin, and don't leave the coffin, for if you do they will rend you. So don't you go out, even if they beg you and fling fire on you, for they will beg you hard to come out."
Thus then till morning he lay in the coffin. In the morning those two were alive again, and both kneeling in front of the altar. They were lovelier than ever. Then the soldier took one to wife, and Jankos took the other. Then when they came home with them their father was very glad. Then Jankos and the soldier got married, and if they are not dead they are still alive.
WHEN Jupiter and his brothers had defeated the Titans and banished them to Tartarus, a new enemy rose up against the gods. They were the giants Typhon, Briareus, Enceladus, and others. Some of them had a hundred arms, others breathed out fire. They were finally subdued and buried alive under Mount Aetna, where they still sometimes struggle to get loose, and shake the whole island with earthquakes. Their breath comes up through the mountain, and is what men call the eruption of the volcano.
The fall of these monsters shook the earth, so that Pluto was alarmed, and feared that his kingdom would be laid open to the light of day. Under this apprehension, he mounted his chariot, drawn by black horses, and took a circuit of inspection to satisfy himself of the extent of the damage. While he was thus engaged, Venus, who was sitting on Mount Eryx playing with her boy Cupid, espied him, and said, "My son, take your darts with which you conquer all, even Jove himself, and send one into the breast of yonder dark monarch, who rules the realm of Tartarus. Why should he alone escape? Seize the opportunity to extend your empire and mine. Do you not see that even in heaven some despise our power? Minerva the wise, and Diana the huntress, defy us; and there is that daughter of Ceres, who threatens to follow their example. Now do you, if you have any regard for your own interest or mine, join these two in one." The boy unbound his quiver, and selected his sharpest and truest arrow; then straining the bow against his knee, he attached the string, and, having made ready, shot the arrow with its barbed point right into the heart of Pluto.
In the vale of Enna there is a lake embowered in woods, which screen it from the fervid rays of the sun, while the moist ground is covered with flowers, and Spring reigns perpetual. Here Proserpine was playing with her companions, gathering lilies and violets, and filling her basket and her apron with them, when Pluto saw her, loved her, and carried her off. She screamed for help to her mother and companions; and when in her fright she
dropped the corners of her apron and let the flowers fall, childlike she felt the loss of them as an addition to her grief. The ravisher urged on his steeds, calling them each by name, and throwing loose over their heads and necks his iron-colored reins. When he reached the River Cyane, and it opposed his passage, he struck the river-bank with his trident, and the earth opened and gave him a passage to Tartarus.
Ceres sought her daughter all the world over. Bright-haired Aurora, when she came forth in the morning, and Hesperus when he led out the stars in the evening, found her still busy in the search. But it was all unavailing. At length, weary and sad, she sat down upon a stone, and continued sitting nine days and nights, in the open air, under the sunlight and moonlight and falling showers. It was where now stands the city of Eleusis, then the home of an old man named Celeus. He was out in the field, gathering acorns and blackberries, and sticks for his fire. His little girl was driving home their two goats, and as she passed the goddess, who appeared in the guise of an old woman, she said to her, "Mother,"--and the name was sweet to the ears of Ceres,-- "why do you sit here alone upon the rocks?" The old man also stopped, though his load was heavy, and begged her to come into his cottage, such as it was. She declined, and he urged her. "Go in peace," she replied, "and be happy in your daughter; I have lost mine." As she spoke, tears--or something like tears, for the gods never weep--fell down her cheeks upon her bosom. The compassionate old man and his child wept with her. Then said he, "Come with us, and despise not our humble roof; so may your daughter be restored to you in safety." "Lead on," said she, "I cannot resist that appeal!" So she rose from the stone and went
with them. As they walked he told her that his only son, a little boy, lay very sick, feverish, and sleepless. She stooped and gathered some poppies. As they entered the cottage, they found all in great distress, for the boy seemed past hope of recovery. Metanira, his mother, received her kindly, and the goddess stooped and kissed the lips of the sick child. Instantly the paleness left his face, and healthy vigor returned to his body. The whole family were delighted--that is, the father, mother, and little girl, for they were all; they had no servants. They spread the table, and put upon it curds and cream, apples, and honey in the comb. While they ate, Ceres mingled poppy juice in the milk of the boy. When night came and all was still, she arose, and taking the sleeping boy, moulded his limbs with her hands, and uttered over him three times a solemn charm, then went and laid him in the ashes. His mother, who had been watching what her guest was doing, sprang forward with a cry and snatched the child from the fire. Then Ceres assumed her own form, and a divine splendor shone all around. While they were overcome with astonishment, she said, "Mother, you have been cruel in your fondness to your son. I would have made him immortal, but you have frustrated my attempt. Nevertheless, he shall be great and useful. He shall teach men the use of the plough, and the rewards which labor can win from the cultivated soil." So saying, she wrapped a cloud about her, and mounting her chariot rode away.
Ceres continued her search for her daughter, passing from land to land, and across seas and rivers, till at length she returned to Sicily, whence she at first set out, and stood by the banks of the River Cyane, where Pluto made himself a passage with his prize to his own dominions. The river nymph would have told the goddess all she had witnessed, but dared not, for fear of Pluto; so she only ventured to take up the girdle which Proserpine had dropped in her flight, and waft it to the feet of the mother. Ceres, seeing this, was no longer in doubt of her loss, but she did not yet know the cause, and laid the blame on the innocent land. "Ungrateful soil," said she, "which I have endowed with fertility and clothed with herbage and nourishing grain, no more shall you enjoy my favors." Then the cattle died, the plough broke in the furrow, the seed failed to come up; there was too much sun, there was too much rain; the birds stole the seeds--thistles and brambles were the only growth. Seeing this, the fountain Arethusa interceded for the land.
"Goddess," said she, "blame not the land; it opened unwillingly to yield a passage to your daughter. I can tell you of her fate, for I have seen her. This is not my native country; I came hither from Elis. I was a woodland nymph, and delighted in the chase. They praised my beauty, but I cared nothing for it, and rather boasted of my hunting exploits. One day I was returning from the wood, heated with exercise, when I came to a stream silently flowing, so clear that you might count the pebbles on the bottom. The willows shaded it, and the grassy bank sloped down to the water's edge. I approached, I touched the water with my foot. I stepped in knee-deep, and not content with that, I laid my garments on the willows and went in. While I sported in the water, I heard an indistinct murmur coming up as out of the depths of the stream: and made haste to escape to the nearest bank. The voice said, 'Why do you fly, Arethusa? I am Alpheus, the god of this stream.' I ran, he pursued; he was not more swift than I, but he was stronger, and gained upon me, as my strength failed. At last, exhausted, I cried for help to Diana. 'Help me, goddess! help your votary!' The goddess heard, and wrapped me suddenly in a thick cloud. The river god looked now this way and now that, and twice came close to me, but could not find me. 'Arethusa! Arethusa!' he cried. Oh, how I trembled,--like a lamb that hears the wolf growling outside the fold. A cold sweat came over me, my hair flowed down in streams; where my foot stood there was a pool. In short, in less time than it takes to tell it I became a fountain. But in this form Alpheus knew me and attempted to mingle his stream with mine. Diana cleft the ground, and I, endeavoring to escape him, plunged into the cavern, and through the bowels of the earth came out here in Sicily. While I passed through the lower parts of the earth, I saw your Proserpine. She was sad, but no longer showing alarm in her countenance. Her look was such as became a queen--the queen of Erebus; the powerful bride of the monarch of the realms of the dead."
When Ceres heard this, she stood for a while like one stupefied; then turned her chariot towards heaven, and hastened to present herself before the throne of Jove. She told the story of her bereavement, and implored Jupiter to interfere to procure the restitution of her daughter. Jupiter consented on one condition, namely, that Proserpine should not during her stay in the lower world have taken any food; otherwise, the Fates forbade her release. Accordingly, Mercury was sent, accompanied by Spring, to demand Proserpine of Pluto. The wily monarch consented; but, alas! the maiden had taken a pomegranate which Pluto offered her, and had sucked the sweet pulp from a few of the seeds. This was enough to prevent her complete release; but a compromise was made, by which she was to pass half the time with her mother, and the rest with her husband Pluto.
Ceres allowed herself to be pacified with this arrangement, and restored the earth to her favor. Now she remembered Celeus and his family, and her promise to his infant son Triptolemus. When the boy grew up, she taught him the use of the plough, and how to sow the seed. She took him in her chariot, drawn by winged dragons, through all the countries of the earth, imparting to mankind valuable grains, and the knowledge of agriculture. After his return, Triptolemus built a magnificent temple to Ceres in Eleusis, and established the worship of the goddess, under the name of the Eleusinian mysteries, which, in the splendor and solemnity of their observance, surpassed all other religious celebrations among the Greeks.
There can be little doubt of this story of Ceres and Proserpine being an allegory. Proserpine signifies the seed-corn which when cast into the ground lies there concealed--that is, she is carried off by the god of the underworld. It reappears--that is, Proserpine is restored to her mother. Spring leads her back to the light of day.
Milton alludes to the story of Proserpine in "Paradise Lost," Book IV.:
". . . Not that fair field
Of Enna where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world,--
... might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive."
Hood, in his "Ode to Melancholy," uses the same allusion very
"Forgive, if somewhile I forget,
In woe to come the present bliss;
As frighted Proserpine let fall
Her flowers at the sight of Dis."
The River Alpheus does in fact disappear underground, in part of its course, finding its way through subterranean channels till it again appears on the surface. It was said that the Sicilian
fountain Arethusa was the same stream, which, after passing under the sea, came up again in Sicily. Hence the story ran that a cup thrown into the Alpheus appeared again in Arethusa. It is this fable of the underground course of Alpheus that Coleridge alludes to in his poem of "Kubla Khan":
"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree,
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man,
Down to a sunless sea."
In one of Moore's juvenile poems he thus alludes to the same
story, and to the practice of throwing garlands or other light
objects on his stream to be carried downward by it, and afterwards reproduced at its emerging:
"O my beloved, how divinely sweet
Is the pure joy when kindred spirits meet!
Like him the river god, whose waters flow,
With love their only light, through caves below,
Wafting in triumph all the flowery braids
And festal rings, with which Olympic maids
Have decked his current, as an offering meet
To lay at Arethusa's shining feet.
Think, when he meets at last his fountain bride,
What perfect love must thrill the blended tide!
Each lost in each, till mingling into one,
Their lot the same for shadow or for sun,
A type of true love, to the deep they run."
The following extract from Moore's "Rhymes on the Road" gives an account of a celebrated picture by Albano, at Milan, called a Dance of Loves:
"'Tis for the theft ef Enna's flower from earth
These urchins celebrate their dance of mirth,
Round the green tree, like fays upon a heath;--
Those that are nearest linked in order bright,
Cheek after cheek, like rosebuds in a wreath;
And those more distant showing from beneath
The others' wings their little eyes of light.
While see! among the clouds, their eldest brother,
But just flown up, tells with a smile of bliss,
This prank of Pluto to his charmed mother,
Who turns to greet the tidings with a kiss.
Bulfinch, Thomas. "Proserpine." Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Fable. Boston: S. W. Tilton & Co. 1855.
ONCE upon a time there was a king and a queen, as in many lands have been. The king had a daughter, Anne, and the queen had one named Kate, but Anne was far bonnier than the queen's daughter, though they loved one another like real sisters. The queen was jealous of the king's daughter being bonnier than her own, and cast about to spoil her beauty. So she took counsel of the hen-wife, who told her to send the lassie to her next morning fasting.
So next morning early, the queen said to Anne, 'Go, my dear, to the hen-wife in the glen, and ask her for some eggs.'
So Anne set out, but as she passed through the kitchen she saw a crust, and she took and munched it as she went along.
When she came to the hen-wife's she asked for eggs, as she had been told to do; the hen-wife said to her, 'Lift the lid off that pot there and see.' The lassie did so, but nothing happened. 'Go home to your minnie and tell her to keep her larder door better locked,' said the hen-wife. So she went home to the queen and told her what the hen-wife had said. The queen knew from this that the lassie had had something to eat, so watched the next morning and sent her away fasting; but the princess saw some countryfolk picking peas by the roadside, and being very kind she spoke to them and took a handful of the peas, which she ate by the way.
When she came to the hen-wife's, the hen-wife said, 'Lift the lid off the pot and you'll see.' So Anne lifted the lid, but nothing happened. Then the hen-wife was rare angry and said to Anne, 'Tell your minnie the pot won't boil if the fire's away.' So Anne went home and told the queen.
The third day the queen goes along with the girl herself to the hen-wife. Now, this time, when Anne lifted the lid off the pot, off falls her own pretty head, and on jumps a sheep's head.
So the queen was now satisfied, and went back home.
Her own daughter, Kate, however, took a fine linen cloth and wrapped it round her sister's head and took her by the hand and they both went out to seek their fortune. They went on, and they went on, and they went on, till they came to a castle. Kate knocked at the door and asked for a night's lodging for herself and a sick sister. They went in and found it was a king's castle, who had two sons, and one of them was sickening away to death and no one could find out what ailed him. And the curious thing was that whoever watched him at night was never seen any more. So the king had offered a peck of silver to anyone who would stop up with him. Now Katie was a very brave girl, so she offered to sit up with him.
Till midnight all went well. As twelve o'clock rang, however, the sick prince rose, dressed himself, and slipped downstairs. Kate followed, but he didn't seem to notice her. The prince went to the stable, saddled his horse, called his hound, jumped into the saddle, and Kate leaped lightly up behind him. Away rode the prince and Kate through the greenwood, Kate, as they passed, plucking nuts from the trees and filling her apron with them. They rode on and on till they came to a green hill. The prince here drew bridle and spoke, 'Open, open, green hill, and let the young prince in with his horse and his hound', and Kate added, 'and his lady behind him'.
Immediately the green hill opened and they passed in. The prince entered a magnificent hall, brightly lighted up, and many beautiful fairies surrounded the prince and led him off to the dance. Meanwhile, Kate, without being noticed, hid herself behind the door. There she saw the prince dancing, and dancing, and dancing, till he could dance no longer and fell upon a couch. Then the fairies would fan him till he could rise again and go on dancing.
At last the cock crew, and the prince made all haste to get on horseback; Kate jumped up behind and home they rode. When the morning sun rose, they came in and found Kate sitting down by the fire and cracking her nuts. Kate said the prince had a good night; but she would not sit up another night unless she was to get a peck of gold. The second night passed as the first had done. The prince got up at midnight and rode away to the green hill and the fairy ball, and Kate went with him, gathering nuts as they rode through the forest. This time she did not watch the prince, for she knew he would dance, and dance, and dance. But she saw a fairy baby playing with a wand, and overheard one of the fairies say: 'Three strokes of that wand would make Kate's sister as bonnie as ever she was.' So Kate rolled nuts to the fairy baby, and rolled nuts till the baby toddled after the nuts and let fall the wand, and Kate took it up and put it in her apron. And at cockcrow they rode home as before, and the moment Kate got home to her room she rushed and touched Anne three times with the wand, and the nasty sheep's head fell off and she was her own pretty self again. The third night Kate consented to watch, only if she should marry the sick prince. All went on as on the first two nights. This time the fairy baby was playing with a birdie; Kate heard one of the fairies say: 'Three bites of that birdie would make the sick prince as well as ever he was.' Kate rolled all the nuts she had to the fairy baby till the birdie was dropped, and Kate put it in her apron.
At cockcrow they set off again, but instead of cracking her nuts as she used to do, this time Kate plucked the feathers off and cooked the birdie. Soon there arose a very savoury smell. 'Oh!' said the sick prince, 'I wish I had a bite of that birdie,' so Kate gave him a bite of the birdie, and he rose up on his elbow. By and by he cried out again: 'Oh, if I had another bite of that birdie!' so Kate gave him another bite, and he sat up on his bed. Then he said again: 'Oh! if I had but a third bite of that birdie!' So Kate gave him a third bite, and he rose hale and strong, dressed himself, and sat down by the fire, and when the folk came in next morning they found Kate and the young prince cracking nuts together. Meanwhile his brother had seen Anne and had fallen in love with her, as everybody did who saw her sweet pretty face. So the sick son married the well sister, and the well son married the sick sister, and they all lived happy and died happy, and never drank out of a dry cappy.
Jacobs, Joseph. "Katie Crackernuts." English Fairy Tales. London: David Nutt, 1890.
ONCE upon a time there lived in a city of Hindustan a seller of scents and essences, who had a very beautiful daughter named Dorani. This maiden had a friend who was a fairy, and the two were high in favour with Indra, the king of fairyland, because they were able to sing so sweetly and dance so deftly that no one in the kingdom could equal them for grace and beauty. Dorani had the most lovely hair in the world, for it was like spun gold, and the smell of it was like the smell of fresh roses. But her locks were so long and thick that the weight of it was often unbearable, and one day she cut off a shining tress, and wrapping it in a large leaf, threw it in the river which ran just below her window. Now it happened that the king's son was out hunting, and had gone down to the river to drink, when there floated towards him a folded leaf, from which came a perfume of roses. The prince, with idle curiosity, took a step into the water and caught the leaf as it was sailing by. He opened it, and within he found a lock of hair like spun gold, and from which came a faint, exquisite odour.
When the prince reached home that day he looked so sad and was so quiet that his father wondered if any ill had befallen him, and asked what was the matter. Then the youth took from his breast the tress of hair which he had found in the river, and holding it up to the light, replied:
'See, my father, was ever hair like this? Unless I may win and marry the maiden that owns that lock I must die!'
So the king immediately sent heralds throughout all his dominions to search for the damsel with hair like spun gold; and at last he learned that she was the daughter of the scent-seller. The object of the herald's mission was quickly noised abroad, and Dorani heard of it with the rest; and, one day, she said to her father:
'If the hair is mine, and the king requires me to marry his son I must do so; but, remember, you must tell him that if, after the wedding, I stay all day at the palace, every night will be spent in my old home.'
The old man listened to her with amazement, but answered nothing, as he knew she was wiser than he. Of course the hair was Dorani's, and the heralds soon returned and informed the king, their master, who summoned the scent-seller, and told him that be wished for his daughter to be given in marriage to the prince. The father bowed his head three times to the ground, and replied:
'Your highness is our lord, and all that you bid us we will do. The maiden asks this only - that if, after the wedding, she stays all day at the palace, she may go back each night to her father's house.'
The king thought this a very strange request; but said to himself it was, after all, his son's affair, and the girl would surely soon get tired of going to and fro. So he made no difficulty, and everything was speedily arranged and the wedding was celebrated with great rejoicings.
At first, the condition attaching to his wedding with the lovely Dorani troubled the prince very little, for he thought that he would at least see his bride all day. But, to his dismay, he found that she would do nothing but sit the whole time upon a stool with her head bowed forward upon her knees, and he could never persuade her to say a single word. Each evening she was carried in a palanquin to her father's house, and each morning she was brought back soon after daybreak; and yet never a sound passed her lips, nor did she show by any sign that she saw, or heard, or heeded her husband.
One evening the prince, very unhappy and troubled, was wandering in an old and beautiful garden near the palace. The gardener was a very aged man, who had served the prince's great grandfather; and when he saw the prince he came and bowed himself to him, and said:
'Child! child! why do you look so sad - is aught the matter ?' Then the prince replied, 'I am sad, old friend, because I have married a wife as lovely as the stars, but she will not speak to me, and I know not what to do. Night after night she leaves me for her father's house, and day after day she sits in mine as though turned to stone, and utters no word, whatever I may do or say.'
The old man stood thinking for a moment, and then be hobbled off to his own cottage. A little later he came back to the prince with five or six small packets, which he placed in his hands and said:
'To-morrow, when your bride leaves the palace, sprinkle the powder from one of these packets upon your body, and while seeing clearly, you will become yourself invisible. More I cannot do for you, but may all go well!'
And the prince thanked him, and put the packets carefully away in his turban.
The next night, when Dorani left for her father's house in her palanquin, the prince took out a packet of the magic powder and sprinkled it over himself, and then hurried after her. He soon found that, as the old man bad promised, he was invisible to everyone, although be felt as usual, and could see all that passed. He speedily overtook the palanquin and walked beside It to the scent-seller's dwelling. There it was set down, and, when his bride, closely veiled, left it and entered the house, he, too, entered unperceived.
At the first door Dorani removed one veil; then she entered another doorway at the end of a passage where she removed another veil; next she mounted the stairs, and at the door of the women's quarters removed a third veil. After this she proceeded to her own room where were set two large basins, one of attar of roses and one of water; in these she washed herself, and afterwards called for food. A servant brought her a bowl of curds, which she ate hastily, and then arrayed herself in a robe of silver, and wound about her strings of pearls, while a wreath of roses crowned her hair. When fully dressed, she seated herself upon a four-legged stool over which was a canopy with silken curtains, these she drew around her, and then called out:
'Fly, stool, to the palace of rajah Indra.'
Instantly the stool rose in the air, and the invisible prince, who had watched all these proceedings with great wonder, seized it by one leg as it flew away, and found himself being borne through the air at a rapid rate.
In a short while they arrived at the house of the fairy who, as I told you before, was the favourite friend of Dorani. The fairy stood waiting on the threshold, as beautifully dressed as Dorani herself was, and when the stool stopped at her door she cried in astonishment:
'Why, the stool is flying all crooked to-day! What is the reason of that, I wonder? I suspect that you have been talking to your husband, and so it will not fly straight.'
But Dorani declared that she had not spoken one word to him, and she couldn't think why the stool flew as if weighed down at one side. The fairy still looked doubtful, but made no answer, and took her seat beside Dorani, the prince again holding tightly one leg. Then the stool flew on through the air until it came to the palace of Indra the rajah.
All through the night the women sang and danced before the rajah Indra, whilst a magic lute played of itself the most bewitching music; till the prince, who sat watching it all, was quite entranced. Just before dawn the rajah gave the signal to cease; and again the two women seated themselves on the stool, and, with the prince clinging to the leg, it flew back to earth, and bore Dorani and her husband safely to the scent-seller's shop.
Here the prince hurried away by himself past Dorani's palanquin with its sleepy bearers, straight on to the palace; and as be passed the threshold of his own rooms be became visible again. Then be lay down upon a couch and waited for Dorani's arrival.
As soon as she arrived she took a seat and remained as silent as usual, with her head bowed on her knees. For a while not a sound was heard, but presently the prince said:
'I dreamed a curious dream last night, and as it was all about you I am going to tell it you, although you heed nothing.'
The girl, indeed, took no notice of his words, but in spite of that be proceeded to relate every single thing that had happened the evening before, leaving out no detail of all that he had seen or beard. And when he praised her singing - and his voice shook a little - Dorani just looked at him; but she said naught, though, in her own mind, she was filled with wonder. 'What a dream!' she thought. 'Could it have been a dream? How could he have learnt in a dream all she had done or said?' Still she kept silent; only she looked that once at the prince, and then remained all day as before, with her bead bowed upon her knees.
When night came the prince again made himself invisible and followed her. The same things happened again as had happened before, but Dorani sang better than ever. In the morning the prince a second time told Dorani all that she had done, pretending that he had dreamt of it. Directly he had finished Dorani gazed at him, and said:
'Is it true that you dreamt this, or were you really there?'
'I was there,' answered the prince.
'But why do you follow me?' asked the girl.
'Because,' replied the prince, 'I love you, and to be with you is happiness.'
This time Dorani's eyelids quivered; but she said no more, and was silent the rest of the day. However, in the evening, just as she was stepping into her palanquin, she said to the prince:
'If you love me, prove it by not following me to-night.'
And so the prince did as she wished, and stayed at home.
That evening the magic stool flew so unsteadily that they could hardly keep their seats, and at last the fairy exclaimed:
'There is only one reason that it should jerk like this! You have been talking to your husband!'
And Dorani replied: 'Yes, I have spoken; oh, yes, I have spoken!' But no more would she say.
That night Dorani sang so marvellously that at the end the rajah Indra rose up and vowed that she might ask what she would and he would give it to her. At first she was silent; but, when he pressed her, she answered:
'Give me the magic lute.'
The rajah, when he heard this, was displeased with himself for having made so rash a promise, because this lute he valued above all his possessions. But as he had promised, so he must perform, and with an ill grace he handed it to her.
'You must never come here again,' said he, 'for, once having asked so much, how will you in future be content with smaller gifts?'
Dorani bowed her head silently as she took the lute, and passed with the fairy out of the great gate, where the stool awaited them. More unsteadily than before, it flew back to earth.
When Dorani got to the palace that morning she asked the prince whether he had dreamt again. He laughed with happiness, for this time she had spoken to him of her own free will; and he replied:
'No; but I begin to dream now - not of what has happened in the past, but of what may happen in the future.'
That day Dorani sat very quietly, but she answered the prince when he spoke to her; and when evening fell, and with it the time for her departure, she still sat on. Then the prince came close to her and said softly:
'Are you not going to your house, Dorani?'
At that she rose and threw herself weeping into his arms, whispering gently:
'Never again, my lord, never again would I leave thee!'
So the prince won his beautiful bride; and though they neither of them dealt any further with fairies and their magic, they learnt more daily of the magic of Love, which one may still learn, although fairy magic has fled away.
Lang, Andrew, ed. "Dorani." The Olive Fairy Book. New York: Dover, 1968. (Original published 1907.)
Alexander Afanasyev / Irina Zheleznova
In a certain kingdom, in a certain realm there was once a soldier who happened to be standing guard by a stone tower one night. The door to it was locked and sealed, but just as midnight struck, the soldier seemed to hear someone calling to him from inside the tower. "Who is that calling me?" the soldier asked. "It is I, an evil spirit!" came the reply. "For thirty years have I been kept in the tower, and I haven't had anything to eat or drink in all that time." "What do you want of me?" "Set me free, and I will come to your help if ever you have need of me. All you have to do is think of me, and I will be there beside you the same moment." The soldier at once broke both the seal and the lock and opened the door, and the evil spirit flew out of the tower and up to the sky and vanished as fast as a flash of lightning. "What have I done!" thought the soldier. "All my years of service have gone for nothing. I will be arrested, court-martialled and may even be made to run a gauntlet. I had better go while the going is good." And he threw down his gun and knapsack and went off he knew not where.
He walked for a day, and another, and a third and was very, very hungry, but as there was nothing to eat or drink, he sat down by the wayside and burst into tears. "Fool that I am!" said he to himself. "I served the king for ten years and was given three pounds of bread to eat every day, and look what I've done—run away only to starve to death. It was that evil spirit, he's to blame for it!" And no sooner had he thought of him than there was the evil spirit before him. "Good day to you, soldier!" said he. "Why so sad?" "How can I help it when I haven't had anything to eat for three days!" "Oh, is that all!" said the evil spirit, and he rushed away only to come back again at once, bringing all sorts of foods and drinks with him. The soldier ate and drank, and when he had had his fill, the evil spirit begged him to come and live in his house. "You will have an easy time of it there," said he. "You will feast and make merry whenever you have a mind to and your only duty will be to keep an eye on my daughters and see that they don't get into mischief." To this the soldier agreed, and the evil spirit lifted him up from the ground and to the sky and carried him off beyond the thrice-nine lands to the thrice-ten realm. It was there, in a house of white stone, that the evil spirit's three daughters lived, and they were fair maids all three.
The evil spirit bade his daughters feed the soldier well and do as he told them to and himself flew away to do evil. And what else could be expected of him! Don't we all know that evil spirits never stay in one
place but roam the earth sowing confusion in people's hearts and putting them up to sinful deeds. The soldier stayed with the three maids, and a better life no man could wish for! Only one thing grieved him, and that was that the three maids would leave the house every night without telling him where they went. He tried asking them about it, but they would tell him nothing. "Never mind!" said the soldier to himself. "I will stay awake all night if I have to but I'll find out where it is they go."
Evening arrived and the soldier went to bed and pretended to be asleep. Then, at an hour when the three maids usually left the house, he rose, crept up to their sleeping chamber and looked through the keyhole. What was his surprise when he saw them spread a carpet on the floor, strike it, turn into pigeons and fly out through the window. "Never have I seen the like!" thought the soldier. "But that must be a magic carpet and perhaps I can change myself into a bird too!" He ran into the chamber, struck the carpet, and, turning into a robin, flew out of the window after the pigeons. By and by, when he saw them alight in a green meadow, he did the same, and, hiding himself behind a currant bush, peeked out from under it to see what there was to see. Very soon many pigeons came flying up, so many that they covered the meadow from one end to another. After them, setting the sky and the earth aglow, a chariot of gold drawn by six fiery dragons came sweeping through the air, and seated in it was Elena the Wise, a maid fair beyond compare! She stepped out of the chariot, placed herself on a gold throne that stood in the middle of the meadow and began calling the pigeons to her side one after another and showing them how to do all sorts of magic tricks. This done, she sprang into the chariot and was off in a trice!
All of the pigeons now rose into the air and flew back to wherever it was they had come from, and the robin followed the three sisters and soon found himself back in their chamber again. The pigeons struck the carpet and got back their proper shape, and the robin did the same and got back his. "Where have you been?" the three maids asked him. "In the same place as you. I flew after you to the green meadow, I saw the lovely princess on her throne of gold and I watched her show you how to do all kinds of magic tricks." "Well, it's your good luck that you're still alive! For the princess was none other than Elena the Wise, our ruler and queen. Had she had her book of magic with her she would have known it was you in a robin's shape and would have put you to death. Beware, soldier! Do not fly to the green meadow again or try to see Elena the Wise if you want to stay alive." But the soldier would not listen to them. As soon as night came he struck the carpet,
turned into a robin, flew to the green meadow and hid under a currant bush. Elena the Wise came there in her chariot and he watched her and marvelled at her beauty. "If only I could marry her, there would be nothing left for me to wish for!" thought he. "I think I'll fly after her and find out where she lives."
And as soon as Elena the Wise got into her chariot and swept to the sky in it, the robin flapped his wings and flew after her. Elena the Wise arrived at the door of her palace, which was very beautiful, and her women and maids hurried out to meet her and led her inside. And the robin flew into the garden, and, lighting on the branch of a tree that grew under the window of Elena the Wise's sleeping chamber, began to sing. It was a sad song and he sang so piteously that Elena the Wise never closed an eye and listened to him the whole night through. Dawn arrived, the sun rose in the sky, and she called out in a loud voice: "Come, my women and maids, hurry and go to the garden and catch the robin for me!" The women and maids rushed out into the garden, but they were old and slow, and the robin flitted from bush to bush, and though he did not fly far, would not let himself be caught.
Filled with impatience, Elena the Wise ran out into the garden to try and catch the robin herself. She came up to the bush on which he had perched, and, much to her surprise, the robin did not try to fly away but sat there with folded wings as if waiting for her to seize him. Elena the Wise was overjoyed. She lifted the bird gently off the branch, carried him into the palace and put him in a gold cage which she hung in her chamber. The day passed, the sun sank in the sky, and Elena the Wise flew to the green meadow. But she was soon back, and, taking off her robe, lay down on her bed. And so lovely was she that the robin trembled at the sight of her, and as soon as she was asleep, took the shape of a fly, flew out of the cage, struck the floor and turned back into a soldier again. He came up to the bed in which Elena the Wise lay sleeping and stood there gazing at her, but then, unable to stop himself, bent and planted a kiss on her honey-sweet lips. Elena the Wise stirred, and, seeing that she was about to wake, he turned into a fly, flew back into the cage and took the robin's shape.
Elena the Wise opened her eyes and looked about her, but, seeing no one, told herself that she had dreamt it all, turned over and fell asleep again. The soldier could not contain himself and kissed her a second and then a third time, and Elena the Wise, who was a light sleeper, woke after every kiss. After the third kiss she got out of bed and said: "This can't be just a dream, I think I had better look in my book of magic." And no sooner had she looked in the book than she knew that sitting in the cage was not a bird but a young man in a bird's
shape. "You boor!" cried she. "Come out of the cage at once! You will pay with your life for trying to trick me."
It could not be helped, and the robin flew out of the cage, struck the floor and became a soldier again. He fell on his knees before Elena the Wise and begged her to forgive him. "A villain like you deserves no mercy!" said Elena the Wise, and she summoned a headsman and ordered him to chop off the soldier's head. A scaffold at once appeared before her, and the headsman, a great giant of a fellow, seized the soldier, threw him to the ground, and, pressing down his head with one hand, raised high his axe with the other. Elena the Wise had only to wave her kerchief, and the soldier's head would roll off his shoulders. "O fairest of princesses, allow me to sing a song before I die!" the soldier begged with tears in his eyes. "Oh, very well! Sing your song and get it over with!" said Elena the Wise. The soldier began to sing, and so sad was his song that Elena the Wise felt sorry for him and could hardly stop herself from bursting into tears. "I give you ten hours," said she. "If during that time you will find yourself a hiding place that I will be unable to discover, I shall marry you; if not, your shall die."
The soldier left the palace and wandered off into a thick forest. He sat down under a bush there and gave himself up to sorrowful thoughts. "It's all because of you, evil spirit, that I am in such straits!" said he with a sigh. And no sooner were the words out of his mouth than the evil spirit appeared before him. "What can I do for you, soldier?" he asked. "Nothing, for my end has come!" the soldier said. "Where can I hide from Elena the Wise!" At this the evil spirit struck the ground and turned into a grey-winged eagle. "Get on my back, soldier, I will carry you beyond the clouds in the sky!" said he. The soldier got on the eagle's back, and the eagle soared to the sky and hid behind a thundercloud. Five hours went by, and Elena the Wise looked into her book of magic and saw the eagle and the soldier on his back as clearly as if they were there before her. "Come down to the ground, eagle!" she called. "You cannot hide from me."
The eagle came down to the ground, and the soldier felt more sad than ever. "What am I to do now? Where can I hide!" said he. "I will help you, never you fear!" said the evil spirit. He struck the soldier on the cheek, turned him into a pin and himself into a mouse, and, stealing into the palace, found the book of magic and stuck the pin in it.
Another five hours went by, and Elena the Wise opened the book, but though she turned the pages and gazed at each in turn, there was nothing there for her to see. Elena the Wise flew into a temper and flung the book into the stove, but the pin fell out of it, and, no sooner
had it touched the floor, than it turned into the soldier again. Seeing him so tall and handsome, for tall and handsome he was, Elena the Wise smiled and took his hand. "I am wise, but you are wiser still!" said she. And they were married then and there and lived happily ever after.
HERE were once two brothers, whose parents were dead. With his share of the inheritance the elder opened a shop, but the younger squandered his portion in foolish pleasures. A day came when the latter had no more money, so he went to his brother and begged a few paras.
When he had spent those, he went again to his brother and obtained more money. This practice he continued until eventually the elder realized that in order to save the remnant of his fortune, he must sell his business and emigrate to Egypt. The younger, however, got wind of his brother's intention, and before the ship sailed, he stole on board with out being observed and hid himself. The elder brother, fearing that if he discovered his intention the younger would follow him, avoided showing him, self on deck. Hardly had the ship set sail than both appeared on the deck, and the elder saw that his plan had failed, and that his younger brother would still be as a burden hanging round his neck.
The elder brother was angry, but anger was of no avail; the ship bore them both to Egypt. After they had disembarked, the elder said to the younger: "Remain here while I procure mules to carry us farther."
Accordingly the younger sat down on the shore to await the other's return--but in vain. "I will seek him," he said to himself, and set out after his brother.
He took short steps and long strides and travelled in this way for six months, when looking backward one day he saw that nevertheless he had accomplished only a short distance. Then he took longer strides and went for half a year forward, gathering violets, and in this way he came to the foot of a mountain. Here, seeing three fellows quarrelling, he went up and asked them the cause of their difference.
"We are the children of one father," said the eldest; "he died not long ago and left behind him a turban, a whip, and a praying-carpet. Whoever sets the turban on his head becomes invisible. Whoever sits on the carpet and cracks the whip, flies away like a bird. Who shall have the turban, who the whip, and who the carpet? This is the matter about which we are continually wrangling."
"All three things should belong to one of us," they all cried.
"I am the eldest--they ought to belong to me." "No, to me, the second son." "Oh no, to me, the youngest." With words and sticks they belaboured each other so mercilessly that the prodigal had much difficulty in separating them.
"Not so," said he, "I will make an arrow out of a piece of wood and shoot it. You will all run after it, and whichever of you brings it back to me becomes the possessor of the three things."
The arrow sped its way, and the three brothers ran after it. While this was happening, however, our prodigal was thinking: "I have only to put on the turban, sit on the carpet, crack the whip, and in a twinkling I shall be where my brother is." To think was to act, and before he was aware of moving he found himself at the entrance to a large city.
As soon as he had arrived in the town he was informed by one of the Padishah's entourage that the Sultan's daughter disappeared every night. Whoever could discover what became of her would be given the maiden in marriage and half of the kingdom besides. "I will solve the mystery," said the prodigal; "take me to the Padishah; if I fail, here is my head!" He was accordingly taken to the palace, and at night posted at the door of the Princess's sleeping-chamber, to await with one eye open whatever should happen. The Princess waited until she thought he would be asleep and then peeped cautiously round the door. He appeared to be in a sound sleep, but, to make assurance doubly sure, she pricked the soles of his feet with a pin, and as he did not stir, she took up the candle in her hand and went out stealthily by a side-door.
Putting the turban on his head, the young man rose and followed her. As he came outside he saw before him an Arab, on whose head rested a golden basin, and in this bowl sat the Princess. The prodigal immediately sprang into the basin, nearly upsetting it as he did so. The Arab, astonished, asked the maiden what she was doing, for he had nearly dropped her. "I have not moved a finger," answered the maiden; "I am sitting in the basin exactly as you put me."
When the Arab took a few steps he perceived that the basin was unusually heavy. (The young man was, of course, rendered invisible through wearing the magic turban.) "What has happened to you, lady?" asked the Arab; "today you are so heavy that you nearly crush me."
"Nothing, dear lala," replied the Princess. "I am neither heavier nor lighter."
Shaking his head dubiously, the Arab set out and ere long they came to a splendid garden, the trees of which were composed of silver set with diamonds. The prodigal broke off a branch and put it in his pocket, where, at the trees began to sigh: "A mortal has injured us! A mortal has injured us!" The Arab and the Princess were bewildered and knew not what to think.
However, they journeyed farther and ere long came to another garden, the trees of which were of gold and precious stones. Here also the young man broke off a branch, whereupon all the trees commenced to groan so loudly that the heavens were shaken. "A mortal has injured us!" they complained. The Arab was dumb with amazement.
Now they reached a bridge, crossing which they arrived at a palace, where a multitude of slaves awaited the Princess. Folding their arms over their breasts, they bowed themselves to the earth. The Sultan's daughter alighted from the basin, stepping on to the Arab's body and thence to the earth. As slaves brought her a pair of slippers studded with jewels, the prodigal seized one and put it in his pocket. The other the Princess put on and then looked about for the missing one, but it had entirely disappeared.
Angry, she entered the palace, and the young man followed her the turban on his head and the whip and carpet in his hands. The maiden entered an apartment in which she found the Dew whose lips swept heaven and earth. He asked her where she had been so long. She told him about the young man who had been set to watch her, but the Dew consoled her and assured her that there was no need for her to be anxious.
They both sat down, and sherbet in diamond-studded cups was brought by a slave. As the Sultan's daughter reached out her hand to take one, the young man struck the slave's arm, whereon he dropped the cup, and it fell broken to the floor. The young man picked up a fragment and put it in his pocket.
"Did I not tell you," cried the Sultan's daughter, "that nothing goes right today? I will not take any sherbet; I will not take anything. I will go home again." The Dew calmed her, and ordered other food to be brought by a different slave. The table was laid, and many dishes were set thereon; but while they ate, the young man, who was hungry, also helped himself The Dew and his visitor nearly swooned with fright when they realized that there was a third--and invisible--guest.
The Dew was now quite perturbed, especially as so much of the confectionery and so many of the cups disappeared. He himself advised the Sultan's daughter to return home earlier than usual that day, and he was about to kiss the Princess in farewell, when the invisible youth tore them apart.
OTH grew pale and summoned the lala. The maiden, sitting in the bowl, ordered the slave to take her home. The prodigal quickly seized a sword from the wall and severed the Dew's head from his body. As the head fell to the ground, heaven and earth trembled, and groans and wailing arose. "Woe to us! a mortal has killed our king!" Even the prodigal was terrified, knowing not where he was. He quickly spread his carpet, sat thereon, and cracked his whip. When the Sultan's daughter arrived back, behold! the young man was already outside the door of her chamber, apparently fast asleep and snoring loudly.
"Interfering pig!" grumbled the Princess in a fury, "thou hast caused me enough unhappiness today." So saying, she again pricked the soles of his feet with a pin, and as he gave no sign she concluded that he was still asleep.
Next morning the prodigal was sent for, and asked whether he had solved the mystery of the Princess's nocturnal disappearances. If he had not, his head would be cut off. "Oh yes, I know all," he answered, "but I shall not tell you; take me to the Padishah." Brought before the ruler, he promised to tell him all if he would assemble together the inhabitants of the city. "Thus I can easily find my brother," he thought to himself. Accordingly all the inhabitants were collected in the marketplace, where the prodigal severed the Dew's head from his body. The Padishah and his daughter sat on a dais. Near at hand stood the prodigal, who related the account of his adventure from beginning to end. "Do not believe it, father; it is not true!" frequently interrupted the Princess.
Here the youth took from his pocket the jewelled branch, the golden slipper, the costly plate; and just as he was describing the death of the Dew-King he caught sight of his brother in the crowd. He said no more and heard no more, but sprang down to join his brother, who at once began to run. The prodigal ran after him, and at length caught him.
When they both returned the younger begged the Padishah to give the Princess and half the kingdom to his brother. For himself, the magic turban, the magic carpet, and the magic whip were enough; with those he could always procure a livelihood. His only desire was always to be near his brother.
The Sultan's daughter rejoiced when she heard of the death of the Dew-King, who had cast a spell over her. Now that this spell was broken she felt nothing but abhorrence for the monster, and in her joy at being free she was quite willing to become the wife of the prodigal's brother. Their wedding festivities lasted forty days and forty nights. I was there also, and when I asked for pilaf the cook gave me such a blow on my hand that it has been lame ever since.
Source: Forty-four Turkish Fairy Tales , at sacred-texts.com
Once, in a mountainous district, there lived a certain farmer, whose name and that of his farm have not been handed down to us; so we cannot tell them. He was unmarried, and had a housekeeper named Hildur, concerning whose family and descent he knew nothing whatever. She had all the indoor affairs of the farm under her charge, and managed them wondrous well. All the inmates of the house, the farmer himself to boot, were fond of her, as she was clean and thrifty in her habits, and kind and gentle in speech.
Everything about the place flourished exceedingly, but the farmer always found the greatest difficulty in hiring a herdsman; a very important matter, as the well-being of the farm depended not a little on the care taken of the sheep. This difficulty did not arise from any fault of the farmer's own, or from neglect on the part of the housekeeper to the comforts of the servants, but from the fact, that no herdsman who entered his service lived more than a year, each one being without fail found dead in his bed, on the morning of Christmas Day. No wonder, therefore, the farmer found herdsmen scarce.
In those times it was the custom of the country to spend the night of Christmas Eve at church, and this occasion for service was looked upon as a very solemn one. But so far was this farm from the church, that the herdsmen, who did not return from their flocks till late in the evening, were unable to go to it on that night until long after the usual time; and as for Hildur, she always remained behind to take care of the house, and always had so much to do in the way of cleaning the rooms and dealing out the rations for the servants, that the family used to come home from church and go to bed long before she had finished her work, and was able to go to bed herself.
The more the reports of the death of herdsman after herdsman, on the night of Christmas Eve, were spread abroad, the greater became the difficulty the farmer found in hiring one, although it was never supposed for an instant that violence was used towards the men, as no mark had ever been found on their bodies; and as, moreover, there was no one to suspect. At length the farmer declared that his conscience would no longer let him thus hire men only in order that they might die, so he determined in future to let luck take care of his sheep, or the sheep take care of themselves.
Not long after he had made this determination, a bold and hardy-looking man came to him and made him a proffer of his services.
The farmer said, "My good friend, I am not in so great need of your services as to hire you."
Then the man asked him, "Have you, then, taken a herdsman for this winter?"
The farmer said, "No; for I suppose you know what a terrible fate has hitherto befallen every one I have hired."
"I have heard of it," said the other, "but the fear of it shall neither trouble me nor prevent my keeping your sheep this winter for you, if you will but make up your mind to take me."
But the farmer would not hear of it at first. "For," said he, "it is a pity, indeed, that so fine a fellow as you should lose your chance of life. Begone, if you are wise, and get work elsewhere."
Yet still the man declared, again and again, that he cared not a whit for the terrors of Christmas Eve, and still urged the farmer to hire him.
At length the farmer consented, in answer to the man's urgent prayer, to take him as herdsman; and very well they agreed together. For everyone, both high and low, liked the man, as he was honest and open, zealous in everything he laid his hands to, and willing to do anyone a good turn, if need were.
On Christmas Eve, towards nightfall, the farmer and all his family went (as has been before declared to be the custom) to church, except Hildur, who remained behind to look after household matters, and the herdsman, who could not leave his sheep in time. Late in the evening, the latter as usual returned home, and after having eaten his supper, went to bed.
As soon as he was well between the sheets, the remembrance struck him of what had befallen fallen all the former herdsmen in his position on the same evening, and he thought it would be the best plan for him to he awake and thus to be ready for any accident, though he was mighty little troubled with fear. Quite late at night, he heard the farmer and his family return from church, enter the house, and having taken supper, go to bed. Still, nothing happened, except that whenever he closed his eyes for a moment, a strange and deadly faintness stole over him, which only acted as one reason the more for his doing his best to keep awake.
Shortly after he had become aware of these feelings, he heard someone creep stealthily up to the side of his bed, and looking through the gloom at the figure, fancied he recognized Hildur the housekeeper. So he feigned to be fast asleep, and felt her place something in his mouth, which he knew instantly to be the bit of a magic bridle, but yet allowed her to fix it on him, without moving. When she had fastened the bridle, she dragged him from his bed with it, and out of the farmhouse, without his being either able or willing to make the least resistance. Then mounting on his back, she made him rise from the ground as if on wings, and rode him through the air, till they arrived at a huge and awful precipice, which yawned, like a great well, down into the earth.
She dismounted at a large stone, and fastening the reins to it, leaped into the precipice. But the herdsman, objecting strongly to being tied to this stone all night, and thinking to himself that it would be no bad thing to know what became of the woman, tried to escape, bridle and all, from the stone. This he found, however, to be impossible, for as long as the bit was in his mouth, he was quite powerless to get away. So he managed, after a short struggle, to get the bridle off his head, and having so done, leapt into the precipice, down which he had seen Hildur disappear. After sinking for a long, long time, he caught a glimpse of Hildur beneath him, and at last they came to some beautiful green meadows.
From all this, the man guessed that Hildur was by no means a common mortal, as she had before made believe to be, and feared if he were to follow her along these green fields, and she turn round and catch sight of him, he might, not unlikely, pay for his curiosity with his life. So he took a magic stone which he always carried about him, the nature of which was to make him invisible when he held it in his palm, and placing it in the hollow of his hand, ran after her with all his strength.
When they had gone some way along the meadows, a splendid palace rose before them, with the way to which Hildur seemed perfectly well acquainted. At her approach a great crowd of people came forth from the doors, and saluted Hildur with respect and joy.
Foremost of these walked a man of kingly and noble aspect, whose salutation seemed to be that of a lover or a husband. All the rest bowed to her as if she were their queen. This man was accompanied by two children, who ran up to Hildur, calling her mother, and embraced her. After the people had welcomed their queen, they all returned to the palace, where they dressed her in royal robes, and loaded her hands with costly rings and bracelets.
The herdsman followed the crowd, and posted himself where he would be least in the way of the company, but where he could catch sight easily of all that passed, and lose nothing. So gorgeous and dazzling were the hangings of the hall, and the silver and golden vessels on the table, that he thought he had never, in all his life before, seen the like; not to mention the wonderful dishes and wines which seemed plentiful there, and which, only by the look of them, filled his mouth with water, while he would much rather have filled it with something else.
After he had waited a little time, Hildur appeared in the hall, and all the assembled guests were begged to take their seats, while Hildur sat on her throne beside the king; after which all the people of the court ranged themselves on each side of the royal couple, and the feast commenced.
When it was concluded, the various guests amused themselves, some by dancing, some by singing, others by drinking and revel; but the king and queen talked together, and seemed to the herdsman to be very sad.
While they were thus conversing, three children, younger than those the man had seen before, ran in, and clung round the neck of their mother. Hildur received them with all a mother's love, and, as the youngest was restless, put it on the ground and gave it one of her rings to play with.
After the little one had played a while with the ring he lost it, and it rolled along the floor towards the herdsman, who, being invisible, picked it up without being perceived, and put it carefully into his pocket. Of course all search for it by the guests was in vain.
When the night was far advanced, Hildur made preparations for departure, at which all the people assembled showed great sorrow, and begged her to remain longer. The herdsman had observed, that in one corner of the hall sat an old and ugly woman, who had neither received the queen with joy nor pressed her to stay longer.
As soon as the king perceived that Hildur addressed herself to her journey, and that neither his entreaties nor those of the assembly could induce her to stay, he went up to the old woman, and said to her. "Mother, rid us now of thy curse; cause no longer my queen to live apart and afar from me. Surely her short and rare visits are more pain to me than joy."
The old woman answered him with a wrathful face. "Never will I depart from what I have said. My words shall hold true in all their force, and on no condition will I abolish my curse."
On this the king turned from her, and going up to his wife, entreated her in the fondest and most loving terms not to depart from him.
The queen answered, "The infernal power of thy mother's curse forces me to go, and perchance this may be the last time that I shall see thee. For lying, as I do, under this horrible ban, it is not possible that my constant murders can remain much longer secret, and then I must suffer the full penalty of crimes which I have committed against my will."
While she was thus speaking the herdsman sped from the palace and across the fields to the precipice, up which he mounted as rapidly as he had come down, thanks to the magic stone.
When he arrived at the rock he put the stone into his pocket, and the bridle over his head again, and awaited the coming of the elf queen. He had not long to wait, for very soon afterwards Hildur came up through the abyss, and mounted on his back, and off they flew again to the farmhouse, where Hildur, taking the bridle from his head, placed him again in his bed, and retired to her own. The herdsman, who by this time was well tired out, now considered it safe to go to sleep, which he did, so soundly as not to wake till quite late on Christmas morning. Early that same day the farmer rose, agitated and filled with the fear that, instead of passing Christmas in joy, he should assuredly, as he so often had before, find his herdsman dead, and pass it in sorrow and mourning. So he and all the rest of the family went to the bedside of the herdsman.
When the farmer had looked at him and found him breathing, he praised God aloud for his mercy in preserving the man from death.
Not long afterwards the man himself awoke and got up.
Wondering at his strange preservation the farmer asked him how he had passed the night, and whether he had seen or heard anything.
The man replied, "No; but I have had a very curious dream."
"What was it?" asked the farmer.
Upon which the man related everything that had passed in the night, circumstance for circumstance, and word for word, as well as he could remember.
When he had finished his story everyone was silent for wonder, except Hildur, who went up to him and said, "I declare you to be a liar in all that you have said, unless you can prove it by sure evidence."
Not in the least abashed, the herdsman took from his pocket the ring which he had picked up on the floor of the hall in Elf-Land, and showing it to her said, "Though my dream needs no proof, yet here is one you will not doubtless deem other than a sure one; for is not this your gold ring, Queen Hildur?"
Hildur answered, "It is, no doubt, my ring. Happy man! may you prosper in all you undertake, for you have released me from the awful yoke which my mother-in-law laid, in her wrath, upon me, and from the curse of a yearly murder."
And then Hildur told them the story of her life as follows:
I was born of an obscure family among the elves. Our king fell in love with me and married me, in spite of the strong disapproval of his mother.
She swore eternal hatred to me in her anger against her son, and said to him, "Short shall be your joy with this fair wife of yours, for you shall see her but once a year, and that only at the expense of a murder. This is my curse upon her, and it shall be carried out to the letter. She shall go and serve in the upper world, this queen, and every Christmas Eve shall ride a man, one of her fellow servants, with this magic bridle, to the confines of Elf-Land, where she shall pass a few hours with you, and then ride him back again till his very heart breaks with toil, and his very life leaves him. Let her thus enjoy her queenship."
And this horrible fate was to cling to me. until I should either have these murders brought home to me, and be condemned to death, or should meet with a gallant man, like this herdsman, who should have nerve and courage to follow me down into Elf-Land, and be able to prove afterwards that he had been there with me, and seen the customs of my people.
And now I must confess that all the former herdsmen were slain by me, but no penalty shall touch me for their murders, as I committed them against my will.
And as for you, O courageous man, who have dared, the first of human beings, to explore the realms of Elf-Land, and have freed me from the yoke of this awful curse, I will reward you in times to come, but not now.
A deep longing for my home and my loved ones impels me hence. Farewell!
With these words Hildur vanished from the sight of the astonished people, and was never seen again. But our friend the herdsman, leaving the service of the farmer, built a farm for himself, and prospered, and became one of the chief men in the country, and always ascribed, with grateful thanks, his prosperity to Hildur, Queen of the Elves.
O I forbid you, maidens a',
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.
There's nane that gaes by Carterhaugh
But they leave him a wad,
Either their rings, or green mantles,
Or else their maidenhead.
Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has braided her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she's awa' to Carterhaugh,
As fast as she can hie.
When she came to Carterhaugh
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.
She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, 'Lady, thou's pu nae mae.
'Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
And why breaks thou the wand?
Or why comes thou to Carterhaugh
Withoutten my command?'
'Carterhaugh, it is my ain,
My daddie gave it me;
I'll come and gang by Carterhaugh,
And ask nae leave at thee.'
* * * * *
Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has snooded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she is to her father's ha,
As fast as she can hie.
Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the ba,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
Ance the flower amang them a'.
Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
As green as onie grass.
Out then spak an auld grey knight,
Lay oer the castle wa,
And says, 'Alas, fair Janet, for thee
But we'll be blamed a'.'
'Haud your tongue, ye auld-fac'd knight,
Some ill death may ye die!
Father my bairn on whom I will,
I'll father nane on thee.'
Out then spak her father dear,
And he spak meek and mild;
'And ever alas, sweet Janet,' he says.
'I think thou gaes wi child.'
'If that I gae wi' child, father,
Mysel maun bear the blame;
There's neer a laird about your ha
Shall get the bairn's name.
'If my love were an earthly knight,
As he's an elfin grey,
I wad na gie my ain true-love
For nae lord that ye hae.
'The steed that my true-love rides on
Is lighter than the wind;
Wi siller he is shod before
Wi burning gowd behind.'
Janet has kilted her green kirtle
A little aboon her knee,
And she has snooded her yellow hair
A little aboon her bree,
And she's awa' to Carterhaugh,
As fast as she can hie.
When she cam to Carterhaugh,
Tam Lin was at the well,
And there she fand his steed standing,
But away was himsel.
She had na pu'd a double rose,
A rose but only twa,
Till up then started young Tam Lin,
Says, 'Lady, thou pu's nae mae.
'Why pu's thou the rose, Janet,
Amang the groves sae green,
And a' to kill the bonie babe
That we gat us between?'
'O tell me, tell me, Tam Lin,' she says,
'For's sake that died on tree,
If eer ye was in holy chapel,
Or christendom did see?'
'Roxbrugh he was my grandfather,
Took me with him to bide,
And ance it fell upon a day
That wae did me betide.
'And ance it fell upon a day,
A cauld day and a snell,
When we were frae the hunting come,
That frae my horse I fell;
The Queen o Fairies she caught me,
In yon green hill to dwell.
'And pleasant is the fairy land,
But, an eerie tale to tell,
Ay at the end of seven years
We pay a tiend to hell;
I am sae fair and fu' o flesh
I'm feared it be mysel.
'But the night is Halloween, lady,
The morn is Hallowday;
Then win me, win me, an ye will,
For weel I wat ye may.
'Just at the mirk and midnight hour
The fairy folk will ride,
And they that wad their true love win,
At Miles Cross they maun bide.'
'But how shall I thee ken, Tam Lin,
Or how my true-love know,
Amang sae mony unco knights
The like I never saw?'
'O first let pass the black, lady,
And syne let pass the brown,
But quickly run to the milk-white steed,
Pu ye his rider down.
'For I'll ride on the milk-white steed,
And ay nearest the town;
Because I was an earthly knight
They gie me that renown.
'My right hand will be gloyd, lady,
My left hand will be bare,
Cockt up shall my bonnet be,
And kaimd down shall my hair;
And thae's the takens I gie thee,
Nae doubt I will be there.
'They'll turn me in your arms, lady,
Into an esk and adder;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I am your bairn's father.
'They'll turn me to a bear sae grim,
And then a lion bold;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
As ye shall love your child.
'Again they'll turn me in your arms
To a red het gaud of airn;
But hold me fast, and fear me not,
I'll do to you nae harm.
'And last they'll turn me in your arms
Into the burning gleed;
Then throw me into well water,
O throw me in wi speed.
'And then I'll be your ain true-love,
I'll turn a naked knight;
Then cover me wi your green mantle,
And cover me out o sight.'
Gloomy, gloomy was the night,
And eerie was the way,
As fair Jenny in her green mantle
To Miles Cross she did gae.
About the middle o' the night
She heard the bridles ring;
This lady was as glad at that
As any earthly thing.
First she let the black pass by,
And syne she let the brown;
But quickly she ran to the milk-white steed,
And pu'd the rider down,
Sae weel she minded whae he did say,
And young Tam Lin did win;
Syne coverd him wi her green mantle,
As blythe's a bird in spring.
Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
Out of a bush o broom:
'Them that has gotten young Tam Lin
Has gotten a stately groom.'
Out then spak the Queen o Fairies,
And an angry woman was she;
'Shame betide her ill-far'd face,
And an ill death may she die,
For she's taen awa the bonniest knight
In a' my companie.
'But had I kend, Tam Lin,' she says,
'What now this night I see,
I wad hae taen out thy twa grey e'en,
And put in twa een o tree.'
Once upon a time there was a king who was a widower. He had twelve daughters: each was fairer than the others. Every night these princesses went where nobody knew. It was only for twenty-four hours, and they always wore out a new pair of shoes. Now the king had no shoes ready for them, and he wanted to know where they went at night and what they did. So he made a feast ready, and he summoned all the kings and korolévichi, all the boyárs, and the merchants and the simple folk, to it, and he asked them, "Can any of you guess this riddle? Whoever guesses it I will give him my beloved daughter as a wife and a half of my kingdom as a dowry."
No one was able to find out where the princesses went at night. Only one poor nobleman cried out, "Your kingly majesty, I will find out!"
"Very well; go and find out."
So then the poor nobleman began pondering and saying to himself, "What have I done? I have undertaken to find out, and I don't know myself. If I don't find out now, possibly the king will put me under arrest."
So he went out of the palace beyond the city, and went on and on, and at last he met an old woman on the road who asked him, "What are you thinking of, doughty youth?"
And he answered, "How should I, Babushka, not become thoughtful? I have undertaken to discover for the king where his daughters go by night."
"Oh, this is a difficult task, but it can be done. Here, I will give you the cap of invisibility; with that you cannot be seen. Now, remember, when you go to sleep the princesses will pour a sleeping draught out for you. You turn to the wall and pour it into the bed and do not drink it."
So the poor nobleman thanked the old woman and returned to the palace. Nighttime approached and they gave him a room next to that in which the princesses slept. So he lay on the bed and began to keep watch. Then one of the princesses brought sleeping drugs in wine and asked him to drink her health. He could not refuse, and so he took the goblet, turned to the wall, and poured it into the bed. At midnight the princesses went to look whether he was asleep or not. Then the poor nobleman pretended to be as sound asleep as a log, and himself kept a keen look out for every noise.
"Now, sisters, our watchman has gone to sleep. It is time we set out on our promenade. It is time."
So they all put on their best clothes, and the elder sister went to her bedside, moved the bed, and an entrance into the subterranean realm instantly opened up beneath, leading to the home of the Accursèd Tsar. They all went down a flight of stairs, and the poor nobleman quietly got off his bed, put on the cap of invisibility, and followed them. He, without noticing, touched the youngest princess's dress.
She was frightened and said to her sisters, "O my sisters, somebody has stepped on my dress. This is a foretokening of woe."
"Nonsense; it does not mean anything of the sort!"
So they all went down the flight of steps into a grove, and in that grove there were golden flowers. Then the poor nobleman broke off and plucked a single sprig, and the entire grove rustled.
"Oh, sisters," said the youngest sister, "some unfortunate thing is injuring us. Did you hear how the grove rustled?"
"Do not fear; this is the music in the Accursèd Tsar's realm."
So they went into the tsar's palace. He, with his lackeys, met them; music sounded; and they began dancing. And they danced until their shoes were worn thin. Then the Tsar bade wine to be served to his guests. The poor nobleman took a single goblet from under his nose, poured out the wine, and put the cup into his pocket.
At last the rout was over, and the princesses bade farewell to their cavaliers, promised to come another night, turned back home, undressed and lay down to sleep.
Then the king summoned the poor nobleman, and asked him, "Did you keep watch on my daughters?"
"Yes, I did, your majesty."
"Where did they go?"
"Into the subterranean realm, to the Accursèd Tsar, where they danced all night long."
So the king summoned his daughters, and began cross examining them. "Where do you go at night?"
So the princesses tried a feint: "We have not been anywhere."
"Were you not with the Accursèd Tsar? There is this poor nobleman who can turn evidence on you. He is able to convict you."
"What do you mean, bátyushka? He can convict us when all night he slept the sleep of the dead?"
Then the poor nobleman brought the golden flower out of his pocket, and the goblet, and said, "There is the testimony."
What could they do? The princesses had to acknowledge their guilt, and the king bade the entrance to the subterranean realm be slated up. And he married the poor nobleman to the youngest daughter, and they lived happily ever after.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Once upon a time there was a king who had twelve daughters, each one more beautiful than the others. Their beds were all together in one room, and when they went to bed, their doors were all locked and barred, but the next morning their shoes were always danced to pieces, and no one knew where they had been or how it had happened. Then the king proclaimed that whoever could discover where they went dancing each night could chose one of them for his wife and become king after his death. However, anyone who attempted this, but failed to make the discovery after three days and nights, would forfeit his life.
A prince soon presented himself. He was well received, and escorted to the anteroom to the twelve daughters' bedroom. He was given a bed there, and told to watch where they went and danced. So they would not be able to do anything in secret, or go out to some other place, the door to their room was left open. But the prince fell asleep, and when he awoke the next morning, the twelve had been dancing, for their shoes all had holes in their soles. The same thing happened the second and the third evening, and his head was chopped off. Many others came to try this risky venture, but they too all lost their lives.
Now it happened that a poor soldier, who because of his wounds could no longer serve in the army, was making his way to the city where the king lived. He met an old woman who asked him where he was going. "I'm not sure myself," he said. "But I would like to become king and discover where the princesses are dancing their shoes to pieces."
"Oh," said the old woman, "that isn't so difficult. Just do not drink the wine that one of them will bring you in the evening." Then she gave him a cloak and said, "Put this on, and you will be invisible, and you can follow the twelve."
Having receiving this good advice, the soldier became serious, took heart, went to the king, and announced himself as a suitor. He, like the others, was well received, and was given royal clothes to wear. That evening at bedtime he was escorted to the anteroom. Just as he was going to bed, the oldest princess brought him a goblet of wine, but he secretly poured it out. He lay down, and after a little while began to snore as if he were in the deepest sleep. The twelve princesses heard him and laughed. The oldest one said, "He could have spared his life as well!"
Then they got up, opened their wardrobes, chests, and closets, took out their best clothes, and made themselves beautiful in front of their mirrors, all the time jumping about in anticipation of the dance. However, the youngest one said, "I'm not sure. You are all very happy, but I'm afraid that something bad is going to happen!"
"You snow goose," said the oldest one. "You are always afraid! Have you forgotten how many princes have been here for nothing. I wouldn't even have had to give this soldier a sleeping potion. He would never have woken up."
When they were ready, they first approached the soldier, but he did not move at all, and as soon as they thought it was safe, the oldest one went to her bed and knocked on it. It immediately sank beneath the floor, revealing a trapdoor. The soldier saw how they all climbed down, one after the other, the oldest one leading the way. He jumped up, put on the cloak, and followed immediately after the youngest one. Halfway down the stairs he stepped on her dress. Frightened, she called out, "It's not right! Something is holding my dress."
"Don't be so simple," said the oldest one. "You just caught yourself on a hook."
They continued until they came to a magnificent walkway between rows of trees. Their leaves were all made of silver, and they shone and glistened. The soldier broke off a twig in order to prove where he had been, and a loud cracking sound came from the tree. The youngest one called out again, "It's not right. Didn't you hear that sound? That has never happened before."
The oldest one said, "That is just a joyful salute that they are firing because soon we will have disenchanted our princes." Then they came to a walkway where the tress were all made of gold, and finally to a third one, where they were made of clear diamonds. He broke a twig from each of these. The cracking sound frightened the youngest one each time, but the oldest one insisted that it was only the sounds of joyful salutes. They continued on until they came to a large body of water. Twelve boats were there, and in each boat there was a handsome prince waiting for them. Each prince took a princess into his boat. The soldier sat next to the youngest princess, and her prince said, "I am as strong as ever, but the boat seems to be much heavier. I am rowing as hard as I can."
"It must be the warm weather," said the youngest princess. "It's too hot for me as well."
On the other side of the water there was a beautiful, brightly illuminated castle. Joyful music, kettle drums, and trumpets sounded forth. They rowed over and went inside. Each prince danced with his princess. The invisible soldier danced along as well, and when a princess held up a goblet of wine, he drank it empty as she lifted it to her mouth. This always frightened the youngest one, but the oldest one silenced her every time. They danced there until three o'clock the next morning when their shoes were danced to pieces and they had to stop. The princes rowed them back across the water. This time the soldier took a seat next to the oldest princess in the lead boat. They took leave from their princes on the bank and promised to come back the next night.
When they were on the steps the soldier ran ahead and got into bed. When the twelve tired princesses came in slowly, he was again snoring loudly. "He will be no risk to us," they said. Then they took off their beautiful clothes and put them away, placed their worn out shoes under their beds, and went to bed.
The next morning the soldier said nothing, for he wanted to see the amazing thing once again. He went along the second and third nights, and everything happened as before. Each time they danced until their shoes were in pieces. The third time he also took along a goblet as a piece of evidence.
The hour came when he was to give his answer, and he brought the three twigs and the goblet before the king. The twelve princesses stood behind the door and listened to what he had to say. The king asked, "Where did my daughters dance their shoes to pieces?"
He answered, "in an underground castle with twelve princes." Then he told the whole story and brought forth the pieces of evidence. When they saw that they had been betrayed, and that their denials did no good, they admitted everything. Then the king asked him which one he wanted for a wife.
He answered, "I myself am no longer young, so give me the oldest one."
Their wedding was held the same day, and the kingdom was promised to him following the king's death. But the princes had as many days added to their curse as they had spent nights dancing with the twelve princesses.
Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Die zertanzten Schuhe," Kinder- und Haus-Marchen, vol. 2 (Berlin: Realschulbuchhandlung, 1815), no. 47, pp. 239-45.
There was once a young man who had wandered out into the world to seek his fortune. As he went his way he met an old man who asked him for alms. The lad told him that he had no money; but that he would gladly share with him what food he had, and this the old man gratefully accepted. They seated themselves beneath a tree, and the young man divided the food into two equal parts.
When they had eaten he rose to go on his way; but the old man said: "You shared what you had with me, and in return I will give you this stick and this ball, for they will make your fortune. If you raise the stick in the air in front of you, you will become invisible; and if you strike the ball with the stick, it will roll in front of you, and show you the road you should take."
The young man thanked him for his gifts, cast the ball to the ground and struck it with the stick. The ball rolled swiftly in advance of him, and kept on rolling, until they came to a large city. Here he saw that the chopped-off heads of human beings had been planted all around the city walls. He asked the first person whom he met why this was, and learned that the whole country grieved because of the princess, who wore out twelve pair of golden shoes every night without anyone knowing how she did so.
The old king was weary of it, and had vowed whoever could solve the mystery should receive the princess and half the kingdom beside; but whoever tried and could not solve it would have to lose his life. Now many princes and great lords had come and made the attempt, because the princess was surpassingly lovely; but all of them had had to yield their lives, and the old king was in deep sorrow because of it.
When the young man heard of this he had a great mind to undertake the adventure. He at once went to the castle and said he would make the attempt the following night. When the old king saw him, he felt sorry for him, and he advised him to give up the undertaking, since he was certain to have no better luck than his predecessors. But he held to his resolve, and the king said that he should sleep for three nights in the princess' room, and see whether he could discover anything; and if he had not discovered anything by the third day, he would have to take his way to the scaffold.
The young man was satisfied to have it so, and in the evening he was led into the princess's room, where a bed had been prepared for him. He leaned his stick against the bed, hung his knapsack on it, and lay down resolved not to close an eye the whole night. He stayed awake for a long time and did not notice anything; but suddenly he fell asleep, and when he woke up it was bright daylight. Then he was very angry with himself, and resolved firmly that he would keep a better watch the following night. But the next night passed just as the first had, and now the young man had but a single night left.
When he lay down the third night, he pretended to fall asleep at once; and before long he heard a voice asking the princess whether he were sleeping. The princess answered, ''Yes," and thereupon a maiden clad in white came to his bed and said: ''I will test him, at any rate, to see whether he is really asleep," and she took a golden needle and thrust it into his heel.
But he did not move, and she went away and left the needle behind her. Then he saw her, together with the princess, move aside the latter's bed, so that a flight of stairs came to view, and they went down the flight of stairs. He rose quickly, took the needle and put it in his knapsack on his back, and held his stick before him so that he was invisible.
Then he followed them down the stairs, and they went on until they reached a forest that was all of silver -- trees, flowers and grass. When they came to the end of the silver forest, he broke a branch from a tree, and put it in his knapsack. The princess heard the trees rustle and turned around; but she could see no one.
"Oh, that is only the wind!" said the maiden with her.
Then they came to another forest, where all was of gold -- trees, flowers and grass; and when they reached the end of the golden forest, he broke a branch and put it in his knapsack. The princess turned around, and said it seemed as though some one were behind them; but the girl replied again that it was only the wind.
Then they came to a forest whose trees, flowers and grass were all of diamond, and when they reached the end of the diamond forest, he broke a branch from a tree and put it in his knapsack.
Finally they reached a lake, and there lay a little boat, and the princess and the girl got in. But as they were about to push off, he leaped into the boat, and it rocked so strongly that the princess grew afraid, and cried out that now surely some one was behind them. But the girl replied it was only the wind. They crossed to the opposite shore, and there lay a great castle.
An ugly troll came up, received the princess, led her in and asked her why she was so late. Then she told him she had suffered a great fright, and that someone had followed them, though she had seen no one. Then they seated themselves at the table, and the young man stood behind the princess's chair. When she had eaten he took away her golden plate, her golden knife and her golden fork, and put them all in his knapsack.
The troll and the princess could not imagine what had become of them; but the troll wasted no more thought on them, for now he wanted to dance. So they began to dance, and the princess danced twelve times with the troll, and each time she danced with him she completely wore out a pair of golden shoes. But when she had danced the last dance and thrown the shoes in the corner, the young man picked them up, and put them in his knapsack. When the dancing was over the troll led her back to the boat, and the young man crossed with them, and was the first to jump ashore and run home swiftly, so that he got there before they did, and could lie down in bed and pretend to be asleep when the princess arrived.
In the morning the old king came, and asked whether he had discovered anything; but he said he had fallen asleep, as he had the two nights preceding, and had not noticed anything. This made the old king very sad; but the princess was all the happier, and wished to see him beheaded herself. So the young man was led to the scaffold, and the king and the princess and the whole court went along.
And as he stood on the scaffold, he begged permission of the king to tell him a wonderful dream he had dreamt during the night just passed, and the king granted his request. So he told how he had dreamed that a girl clad in white had come to the princess and asked her whether he was asleep; and in order to make certain, the girl in white had thrust a golden needle into his heel.
"And I think this is the very needle," he said and drew it forth from his knapsack.
"And then I dreamed that they pushed the princess's bed aside, and went down a flight of steps, hidden beneath the bed, and I went after them; and then I dreamed that we came to a forest where the trees, flowers and grass were all of silver, and I broke a branch from one of the trees. Here it is. Then we came to a forest where the trees, flowers and grass were of gold, and I broke a branch from one of those trees. Here it is. Then I dreamed we came to a forest where the trees, flowers and grass were of diamond, and I broke a branch from one of those trees. Here it is. Then I dreamed that we went on and came to a lake, where lay a boat, and the princess and the girl got into the boat. But when I leaped in the princess was frightened, and said that there was some one behind her, though she could not see me. We crossed the lake to a great castle, and there an ugly troll received the princess and led her into the castle, and sat down to dine with, her; and I dreamed that I stood behind her chair, and that after she had eaten, I took her plate, her knife and her fork and put them in my knapsack. Here they are. And then I dreamed that the troll asked the princess to dance with him, and that she danced twelve times, and each time she danced she wore out a pair of golden shoes. But when she had danced the last dance, and flung the shoes aside, I picked them up, put them in my knapsack, and here they are. Then I dreamed the princess came home again; but I reached the castle before she did, and lay down in bed before she arrived."
When the old king had heard all this his happiness was beyond bounds; but the princess was half dead with fright, and could not imagine how it had all happened. The king now wished the young man to marry the princess; but he decided to pay the troll a visit first, and asked the princess to lend him her golden thimble.
She gave it to him, and the young man descended the stairs, passed through the silver forest, the golden forest and the diamond forest by the lake, and rowed across to the troll's castle. When he found the troll he thrust him through the heart with the golden needle that he had drawn from his heel, and held the princess's thimble beneath it. Three drops of blood fell into it, and the troll died.
Then he rowed back, and when he came to the diamond forest, he let one drop of blood fall to the ground, and at once all the trees, flowers and grasses turned into as many men, women and children, who were so happy to be released from their enchantment they begged him to be their king, for they were a whole nation. They followed him to the golden forest, and there he let another drop of blood fall to the ground; and there, too, all the trees, flowers and grasses turned into human beings, enough to people a kingdom. They went with him to the silver forest, and here he let the third drop of blood fall to the ground and all the trees, flowers and grasses likewise became human beings, praised him as their deliverer, and wished to make him their king.
They went with him to the old king and told him of their deliverance, and he and the princess were also happy, now that she, too, had been released from her enchantment. Then the wedding was celebrated with great splendor, and he became king over all three kingdoms.
Where was it? Where was it not? Once upon a time there was a poor man who had a very pious son who was a shepherd. One day he was grazing his sheep in a very mountainous area when, like someone whose heart was about to break because of a great wish, he uttered a deep sigh toward heaven. Hearing a quiet sound he looked around and saw Saint Peter as a gray old man walking toward him.
"Why are you sighing so, my son?" he asked, "and what is your wish?"
"My only wish," he answered respectfully, "is a bag that can never be filled and a pelt that would make me invisible when I wrap myself in it."
Peter granted these wishes, and then disappeared.
The boy left his shepherd's things lying there and made his way to the capital city. Here he hoped to find his luck, for a king lived here who had twelve daughters, eleven of whom wore out at least six pairs of shoes every night. This angered their father because it was costing him a good part of his income, and furthermore some people were thinking ill of his daughters. But in spite of all his cunning he could not discover how they were doing this. Finally the king promised his youngest daughter to the man who could bring the mystery to the light of day.
This promise lured a great many suitors to the capital city, but they were all ridiculed by the girls, and they had to withdraw in shame. The shepherd boy, trusting in his pelt, presented himself as well, and the girls, as usual, measured him with spiteful looks.
Night came, and the boy, wrapped in his pelt, lay down before their bedroom door, then quickly slipped inside when they went to bed. At midnight a spirit entered and awoke each girl. There was a flurry of activity: they got dressed, made themselves beautiful, then stuffed a travel bag full of shoes. However, the youngest one did not see what was happening. Therefore the invisible shepherd boy, without being noticed, awoke her as well, which frightened the other sisters. However, because it had already happened, they thought it would be best to tempt her to join them. After some hesitation the girl agreed to do so.
When everyone was ready the spirit placed a basin on the table. Each sister rubbed some of its contents onto her shoulders, and wings immediately grew from them. The shepherd boy did the same thing, and when they all flew out the window, he flew after them.
After flying a few hours they came to a great copper forest and to a well with a copper railing on which were twelve copper cups. Here they refreshed themselves and drank. The youngest one, who was taking this journey for the first time, looked about fearfully. The boy drank as well, and as they were setting forth again, he put into his bag a cup and some leaves that he pulled from a tree,. The tree rustled noisily, sounding through the entire forest. The littlest girl noticed this and warned her sisters that someone was following them, but thinking they were safe, they only laughed at her.
They flew onward, and before long they came to a silver forest and to a well with a silver railing. They drank here as before, and the boy again put a cup and a silver twig into his bag. At the sound of the twig being broken from the tree the smallest sister again warned her sisters, but to no avail.
Leaving this forest they arrived at a golden forest, and a well with a golden railing and golden cups. They also stopped here, and the boy put a golden cup and a golden twig into his bag. Hearing the cracking sound, the smallest sister alerted the others, but again they did nothing.
After leaving this forest they came to a huge mountain cliff, whose moss-covered summit reached steeply toward heaven. They stopped here, and the spirit struck the cliff with a golden wand, upon which it opened up, and they all went through the opening, the boy as well.
They entered a marvelous room which opened into a hall that was decorated with fairy-like splendor. Twelve handsome fairy-youths approached them. Ever more servants appeared and busied themselves making all necessary preparations for a magnificent ball. Magical music sounded forth. The doors opened onto a huge dance hall, and everything was happy and gay.
As morning approached they returned home just as they had come (and the shepherd boy was with them). They lay down on their beds as though nothing had happened, which their worn-out shoes disproved, then got up at the normal time.
The king was waiting impatiently for any news that the shepherd boy might bring, and in only a few minutes he told him everything that had happened. The girls were summoned, and they denied everything. However, the cups and the twigs testified against them, and the littlest sister spoke against them as well, which was why the shepherd boy had awakened her.
The king now fulfilled his promise, but the eleven girls were burned to death as sorceresses.
Source: G. Stier, "Der unsichtbare Schäferjunge," Ungarische Sagen und Märchen: Aus der Erdélyischen Sammlung übersetzt (Berlin: Ferd. Dümmler's Buchhandlung, 1850), no. 7, pp. 51-56.