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Produced by J.C. Byers and L.M. Shaffer


Edited by
Andrew Lang

Diana Scott Lang


The stories in this Fairy Book come from all quarters of the world. For
example, the adventures of 'Ball-Carrier and the Bad One' are told by
Red Indian grandmothers to Red Indian children who never go to school,
nor see pen and ink. 'The Bunyip' is known to even more uneducated
little ones, running about with no clothes at all in the bush, in
Australia. You may see photographs of these merry little black fellows
before their troubles begin, in 'Northern Races of Central Australia,'
by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. They have no lessons except in tracking
and catching birds, beasts, fishes, lizards, and snakes, all of which
they eat. But when they grow up to be big boys and girls, they are
cruelly cut about with stone knives and frightened with sham bogies all
for their good' their parents say and I think they would rather go to
school, if they had their choice, and take their chance of being birched
and bullied. However, many boys might think it better fun to begin to
learn hunting as soon as they can walk. Other stories, like 'The Sacred
Milk of Koumongoe,' come from the Kaffirs in Africa, whose dear papas
are not so poor as those in Australia, but have plenty of cattle
and milk, and good mealies to eat, and live in houses like very big
bee-hives, and wear clothes of a sort, though not very like our own.
'Pivi and Kabo' is a tale from the brown people in the island of New
Caledonia, where a boy is never allowed to speak to or even look at his
own sisters; nobody knows why, so curious are the manners of this remote
island. The story shows the advantages of good manners and pleasant
behaviour; and the natives do not now cook and eat each other, but live
on fish, vegetables, pork, and chickens, and dwell in houses. 'What the
Rose did to the Cypress,' is a story from Persia, where the people,
of course, are civilised, and much like those of whom you read in 'The
Arabian Nights.' Then there are tales like 'The Fox and the Lapp'
from the very north of Europe, where it is dark for half the year and
day-light for the other half. The Lapps are a people not fond of soap
and water, and very much given to art magic. Then there are tales from
India, told to Major Campbell, who wrote them out, by Hindoos; these
stories are 'Wali Dad the Simple-hearted,' and 'The King who would be
Stronger than Fate,' but was not so clever as his daughter. From Brazil,
in South America, comes 'The Tortoise and the Mischievous Monkey,' with
the adventures of other animals. Other tales are told in various parts
of Europe, and in many languages; but all people, black, white, brown,
red, and yellow, are like each other when they tell stories; for these
are meant for children, who like the same sort of thing, whether they go
to school and wear clothes, or, on the other hand, wear skins of beasts,
or even nothing at all, and live on grubs and lizards and hawks and
crows and serpents, like the little Australian blacks.

The tale of 'What the Rose did to the Cypress,' is translated out of a
Persian manuscript by Mrs. Beveridge. 'Pivi and Kabo' is translated by
the Editor from a French version; 'Asmund and Signy' by Miss Blackley;
the Indian stories by Major Campbell, and all the rest are told by Mrs.
Lang, who does not give them exactly as they are told by all sorts of
outlandish natives, but makes them up in the hope white people will like
them, skipping the pieces which they will not like. That is how this
Fairy Book was made up for your entertainment.


What the Rose did to the Cypress
Ball-Carrier and the Bad One
How Ball-Carrier finished his Task
The Bunyip
Father Grumbler
The Story of the Yara
The Cunning Hare
The Turtle and his Bride
How Geirald the Coward was Punished
How the Little Brother set Free his Big Brothers
The Sacred Milk of Koumongoe
The Wicked Wolverine
The Husband of the Rat's Daughter
The Mermaid and the Boy
Pivi and Kabo
The Elf Maiden
How Some Wild Animals became Tame Ones
Fortune and the Wood-Cutter
The Enchanted Head
The Sister of the Sun
The Prince and the Three Fates
The Fox and the Lapp
Kisa the Cat
The Lion and the Cat
Which was the Foolishest?
Asmund and Signy
Story of the King who would be Stronger then Fate
Story of Wali Dad the Simple-hearted
Tale of a Tortoise and of a Mischievous Monkey
The Knights of the Fish

The Brown Fairy Book

What the Rose did to the Cypress [1]

Once upon a time a great king of the East, named Saman-lalposh, [2] had
three brave and clever sons - Tahmasp, Qamas, and Almas-ruh-baksh. [3]
One day, when the king was sitting in his hall of audience, his eldest
son, Prince Tahmasp, came before him, and after greeting his father with
due respect, said: 'O my royal father! I am tired of the town; if you
will give me leave, I will take my servants to-morrow and will go into
the country and hunt on the hill-skirts; and when I have taken some game
I will come back, at evening-prayer time.' His father consented, and
sent with him some of his own trusted servants, and also hawks, and
falcons, hunting dogs, cheetahs and leopards.

At the place where the prince intended to hunt he saw a most beautiful
deer. He ordered that it should not be killed, but trapped or captured
with a noose. The deer looked about for a place where he might escape
from the ring of the beaters, and spied one unwatched close to the
prince himself. It bounded high and leaped right over his head, got out
of the ring, and tore like the eastern wind into the waste. The prince
put spurs to his horse and pursued it; and was soon lost to the sight of
his followers. Until the world-lighting sun stood above his head in the
zenith he did not take his eyes off the deer; suddenly it disappeared
behind some rising ground, and with all his search he could not find any
further trace of it. He was now drenched in sweat, and he breathed
with pain; and his horse's tongue hung from its mouth with thirst.
He dismounted and toiled on, with bridle on arm, praying and casting
himself on the mercy of heaven. Then his horse fell and surrendered its
life to God. On and on he went across the sandy waste, weeping and with
burning breast, till at length a hill rose into sight. He mustered his
strength and climbed to the top, and there he found a giant tree whose
foot kept firm the wrinkled earth, and whose crest touched the very
heaven. Its branches had put forth a glory of leaves, and there were
grass and a spring underneath it, and flowers of many colours.

Gladdened by this sight, he dragged himself to the water's edge, drank
his fill, and returned thanks for his deliverance from thirst.

He looked about him and, to his amazement, saw close by a royal seat.
While he was pondering what could have brought this into the merciless
desert, a man drew near who was dressed like a faqir, and had bare head
and feet, but walked with the free carriage of a person of rank. His
face was kind, and wise and thoughtful, and he came on and spoke to the

'O good youth! how did you come here? Who are you? Where do you come

The prince told everything just as it had happened to him, and then
respectfully added: 'I have made known my own circumstances to you, and
now I venture to beg you to tell me your own. Who are you? How did you
come to make your dwelling in this wilderness?'

To this the faqir replied: 'O youth! it would be best for you to have
nothing to do with me and to know nothing of my fortunes, for my story
is fit neither for telling nor for hearing.' The prince, however,
pleaded so hard to be told, that at last there was nothing to be done
but to let him hear.

'Learn and know, O young man! that I am King Janangir [4] of Babylon,
and that once I had army and servants, family and treasure; untold
wealth and belongings. The Most High God gave me seven sons who grew up
well versed in all princely arts. My eldest son heard from travellers
that in Turkistan, on the Chinese frontier, there is a king named
Quimus, the son of Timus, and that he has an only child, a daughter
named Mihr-afruz, [5] who, under all the azure heaven, is unrivalled for
beauty. Princes come from all quarters to ask her hand, and on one and
all she imposes a condition. She says to them: "I know a riddle; and
I will marry anyone who answers it, and will bestow on him all my
possessions. But if a suitor cannot answer my question I cut off his
head and hang it on the battlements of the citadel." The riddle she asks
is, "What did the rose do to the cypress?"

'Now, when my son heard this tale, he fell in love with that unseen
girl, and he came to me lamenting and bewailing himself. Nothing that I
could say had the slightest effect on him. I said: "Oh my son! if there
must be fruit of this fancy of yours, I will lead forth a great army
against King Quimus. If he will give you his daughter freely, well
and good; and if not, I will ravage his kingdom and bring her away by
force." This plan did not please him; he said: "It is not right to lay a
kingdom waste and to destroy a palace so that I may attain my desire.
I will go alone; I will answer the riddle, and win her in this way."
At last, out of pity for him, I let him go. He reached the city of King
Quimus. He was asked the riddle and could not give the true answer; and
his head was cut off and hung upon the battlements. Then I mourned him
in black raiment for forty days.

After this another and another of my sons were seized by the same
desire, and in the end all my seven sons went, and all were killed. In
grief for their death I have abandoned my throne, and I abide here in
this desert, withholding my hand from all State business and wearing
myself away in sorrow.'

Prince Tahmasp listened to this tale, and then the arrow of love for
that unseen girl struck his heart also. Just at this moment of his
ill-fate his people came up, and gathered round him like moths round a
light. They brought him a horse, fleet as the breeze of the dawn; he set
his willing foot in the stirrup of safety and rode off. As the days
went by the thorn of love rankled in his heart, and he became the very
example of lovers, and grew faint and feeble. At last his confidants
searched his heart and lifted the veil from the face of his love, and
then set the matter before his father, King Saman-lal-posh. 'Your son,
Prince Tahmasp, loves distractedly the Princess Mihr-afruz, daughter of
King Quimus, son of Timus.' Then they told the king all about her and
her doings. A mist of sadness clouded the king's mind, and he said to
his son: 'If this thing is so, I will in the first place send a courier
with friendly letters to King Quimus, and will ask the hand of his
daughter for you. I will send an abundance of gifts, and a string of
camels laden with flashing stones and rubies of Badakhsham In this way
I will bring her and her suite, and I will give her to you to be your
solace. But if King Quimus is unwilling to give her to you, I will pour
a whirlwind of soldiers upon him, and I will bring to you, in this way,
that most consequential of girls.' But the prince said that this plan
would not be right, and that he would go himself, and would answer the
riddle. Then the king's wise men said: 'This is a very weighty matter;
it would be best to allow the prince to set out accompanied by some
persons in whom you have confidence. Maybe he will repent and come
back.' So King Saman ordered all preparations for the journey to be
made, and then Prince Tahmasp took his leave and set out, accompanied
by some of the courtiers, and taking with him a string of two-humped and
raven-eyed camels laden with jewels, and gold, and costly stuffs.

By stage after stage, and after many days' journeying, he arrived at the
city of King Quimus. What did he see? A towering citadel whose foot kept
firm the wrinkled earth, and whose battlements touched the blue heaven.
He saw hanging from its battlements many heads, but it had not the least
effect upon him that these were heads of men of rank; he listened to no
advice about laying aside his fancy, but rode up to the gate and on into
the heart of the city. The place was so splendid that the eyes of the
ages have never seen its like, and there, in an open square, he found
a tent of crimson satin set up, and beneath it two jewelled drums with
jewelled sticks. These drums were put there so that the suitors of the
princess might announce their arrival by beating on them, after which
some one would come and take them to the king's presence. The sight of
the drums stirred the fire of Prince Tahmasp's love. He dismounted,
and moved towards them; but his companions hurried after and begged him
first to let them go and announce him to the king, and said that then,
when they had put their possessions in a place of security, they
would enter into the all important matter of the princess. The prince,
however, replied that he was there for one thing only; that his first
duty was to beat the drums and announce himself as a suitor, when he
would be taken, as such, to the king, who would then give him proper
lodgment. So he struck upon the drums, and at once summoned an officer
who took him to King Quimus.

When the king saw how very young the prince looked, and that he was
still drinking of the fountain of wonder, he said: 'O youth! leave aside
this fancy which my daughter has conceived in the pride of her beauty.
No one can answer er her riddle, and she has done to death many men who
had had no pleasure in life nor tasted its charms. God forbid that your
spring also should be ravaged by the autumn winds of martyrdom.' All his
urgency, however, had no effect in making the prince withdraw. At length
it was settled between them that three days should be given to pleasant
hospitality and that then should follow what had to be said and done.
Then the prince went to his own quarters and was treated as became his

King Quimus now sent for his daughter and for her mother, Gulrukh, [6]
and talked to them. He said to Mibrafruz: 'Listen to me, you cruel
flirt! Why do you persist in this folly? Now there has come to ask your
hand a prince of the east, so handsome that the very sun grows modest
before the splendour of his face; he is rich, and he has brought gold
and jewels, all for you, if you will marry him. A better husband you
will not find.'

But all the arguments of father and mother were wasted, for her only
answer was: 'O my father! I have sworn to myself that I will not marry,
even if a thousand years go by, unless someone answers my riddle, and
that I will give myself to that man only who does answer it.'

The three days passed; then the riddle was asked: 'What did the rose do
to the cypress?' The prince had an eloquent tongue, which could split a
hair, and without hesitation he replied to her with a verse: 'Only the
Omnipotent has knowledge of secrets; if any man says, "I know" do not
believe him.'

Then a servant fetched in the polluted, blue-eyed headsman, who asked:
'Whose sun of life has come near its setting?' took the prince by the
arm, placed him upon the cloth of execution, and then, all merciless
and stony hearted, cut his head from his body and hung it on the

The news of the death of Prince Tahmasp plunged his father into despair
and stupefaction. He mourned for him in black raiment for forty days;
and then, a few days later, his second son, Prince Qamas, extracted from
him leave to go too; and he, also, was put to death. One son only now
remained, the brave, eloquent, happy-natured Prince Almas-ruh-bakhsh.
One day, when his father sat brooding over his lost children, Almas came
before him and said: 'O father mine! the daughter of King Quimus has
done my two brothers to death; I wish to avenge them upon her.' These
words brought his father to tears. 'O light of your father!' he cried,
'I have no one left but you, and now you ask me to let you go to your

'Dear father!' pleaded the prince, 'until I have lowered the pride of
that beauty, and have set her here before you, I cannot settle down or
indeed sit down off my feet.'

In the end he, too, got leave to go; but he went a without a following
and alone. Like his brothers, he made the long journey to the city of
Quimus the son of Timus; like them he saw the citadel, but he saw there
the heads of Tahmasp and Qamas. He went about in the city, saw the tent
and the drums, and then went out again to a village not far off. Here he
found out a very old man who had a wife 120 years old, or rather more.
Their lives were coming to their end, but they had never beheld face of
child of their own. They were glad when the prince came to their house,
and they dealt with him as with a son. He put all his belongings into
their charge, and fastened his horse in their out-house. Then he asked
them not to speak of him to anyone, and to keep his affairs secret. He
exchanged his royal dress for another, and next morning, just as the sun
looked forth from its eastern oratory, he went again into the city.
He turned over in his mind without ceasing how he was to find out the
meaning of the riddle, and to give them a right answer, and who could
help him, and how to avenge his brothers. He wandered about the city,
but heard nothing of service, for there was no one in all that land who
understood the riddle of Princess Mihr-afruz.

One day he thought he would go to her own palace and see if he could
learn anything there, so he went out to her garden-house. It was a very
splendid place, with a wonderful gateway, and walls like Alexander's
ramparts. Many gate-keepers were on guard, and there was no chance of
passing them. His heart was full of bitterness, but he said to himself:
'All will be well! it is here I shall get what I want.' He went round
outside the garden wall hoping to find a gap, and he made supplication
in the Court of Supplications and prayed, 'O Holder of the hand of the
helpless! show me my way.'

While he prayed he bethought himself that he could get into the garden
with a stream of inflowing water. He looked carefully round, fearing to
be seen, stripped, slid into the stream and was carried within the great
walls. There he hid himself till his loin cloth was dry. The garden was
a very Eden, with running water amongst its lawns, with flowers and the
lament of doves and the jug-jug of nightingales. It was a place to steal
the senses from the brain, and he wandered about and saw the house, but
there seemed to be no one there. In the forecourt was a royal seat of
polished jasper, and in the middle of the platform was a basin of purest
water that flashed like a mirror. He pleased himself with these sights
for a while, and then went back to the garden and hid himself from the
gardeners and passed the night. Next morning he put on the appearance
of a madman and wandered about till he came to a lawn where several
pert-faced girls were amusing themselves. On a throne, jewelled and
overspread with silken stuffs, sat a girl the splendour of whose beauty
lighted up the place, and whose ambergris and attar perfumed the whole
air. 'That must be Mihrafruz,' he thought, 'she is indeed lovely.' Just
then one of the attendants came to the water's edge to fill a cup, and
though the prince was in hiding, his face was reflected in the water.
When she saw this image she was frightened, and let her cup fall into
the stream, and thought, 'Is it an angel, or a peri, or a man?' Fear and
trembling took hold of her, and she screamed as women scream. Then some
of the other girls came and took her to the princess who asked: 'What is
the matter, pretty one?'

'O princess! I went for water, and I saw an image, and I was afraid.'
So another girl went to the water and saw the same thing, and came back
with the same story. The princess wished to see for herself; she rose
and paced to the spot with the march of a prancing peacock. When she
saw the image she said to her nurse: 'Find out who is reflected in
the water, and where he lives.' Her words reached the prince's ear, he
lifted up his head; she saw him and beheld beauty such as she had never
seen before. She lost a hundred hearts to him, and signed to her nurse
to bring him to her presence. The prince let himself be persuaded to go
with the nurse, but when the princess questioned him as to who he was
and how he had got into her garden, he behaved like a man out of his
mind - sometimes smiling, sometimes crying, and saying: 'I am hungry,'Or
words misplaced and random, civil mixed with the rude.

'What a pity!' said the princess, 'he is mad!' As she liked him she
said: 'He is my madman; let no one hurt him.' She took him to her house
and told him not to go away, for that she would provide for all his
wants. The prince thought, 'It would be excellent if here, in her very
house, I could get the answer to her riddle; but I must be silent, on
pain of death.'

Now in the princess's household there was a girl called Dil-aram [7];
she it was who had first seen the image of the prince. She came to love
him very much, and she spent day and night thinking how she could make
her affection known to him. One day she escaped from the princess's
notice and went to the prince, and laid her head on his feet and said:
'Heaven has bestowed on you beauty and charm. Tell me your secret; who
are you, and how did you come here? I love you very much, and if you
would like to leave this place I will go with you. I have wealth equal
to the treasure of the miserly Qarun.' But the prince only made answer
like a man distraught, and told her nothing. He said to himself, 'God
forbid that the veil should be taken in vain from my secret; that
would indeed disgrace me.' So, with streaming eyes and burning breast,
Dil-aram arose and went to her house and lamented and fretted.

Now whenever the princess commanded the prince's attendance, Dil-aram,
of all the girls, paid him attention and waited on him best. The
princess noticed this, and said: 'O Dil-aram! you must take my madman
into your charge and give him whatever he wants.' This was the very
thing Dilaram had prayed for. A little later she took the prince
into a private place and she made him take an oath of secrecy, and she
herself took one and swore, 'By Heaven! I will not tell your secret.
Tell me all about yourself so that I may help you to get what you want.'
The prince now recognised in her words the perfume of true love, and he
made compact with her. 'O lovely girl! I want to know what the rose
did to the cypress. Your mistress cuts off men's heads because of this
riddle; what is at the bottom of it, and why does she do it?' Then
Dil-aram answered: 'If you will promise to marry me and to keep me
always amongst those you favour, I will tell you all I know, and I will
keep watch about the riddle.'

'O lovely girl,' rejoined he, 'if I accomplish my purpose, so that I
need no longer strive for it, I will keep my compact with you. When I
have this woman in my power and have avenged my brothers, I will make
you my solace.'

'O wealth of my life and source of my joy!' responded Dil-aram, 'I do
not know what the rose did to the cypress; but so much I know that the
person who told Mihr-afruz about it is a negro whom she hides under her
throne. He fled here from Waq of the Caucasus - it is there you must make
inquiry; there is no other way of getting at the truth.'On hearing these
words, the prince said to his heart, 'O my heart! your task will yet
wear away much of your life.'

He fell into long and far thought, and Dil-aram looked at him and said:
'O my life and my soul! do not be sad. If you would like this woman
killed, I will put poison into her cup so that she will never lift her
head from her drugged sleep again.'

'O Dil-aram! such a vengeance is not manly. I shall not rest till I have
gone to Waq of the Caucasus and have cleared up the matter.' Then
they repeated the agreement about their marriage, and bade one another

The prince now went back to the village, and told the old man that he
was setting out on a long journey, and begged him not to be anxious, and
to keep safe the goods which had been entrusted to him.

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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe Brown Fairy Book → online text (page 1 of 21)