Andrew Lang.

The Crimson Fairy Book online

. (page 2 of 21)
Online LibraryAndrew LangThe Crimson Fairy Book → online text (page 2 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


'Because they always throw out their sweepings in the face of the sun.'

'And why is it that a miller, who has a large mill with all the best
machinery and gets plenty of corn to grind is so poor that he can hardly
live from day to day?'

'Because the miller keeps everything for himself, and does not give to
those who need it.'

The prince wrote down the answers to his questions, took a friendly
leave of Lucky Luck, and set off for home.

When he reached the stream it asked if he brought it any good news.
'When I get across I will tell you,' said he. So the stream parted; he
walked through and on to the highest part of the bank. He stopped and
shouted out:

'Listen, oh stream! Lucky Luck says you will never have any living
creature in your waters until someone is drowned in you.'

The words were hardly out of his mouth when the stream swelled and
overflowed till it reached the rock up which he had climbed, and dashed
so far up it that the spray flew over him. But he clung on tight, and
after failing to reach him three times the stream returned to its proper
course. Then the prince climbed down, dried himself in the sun, and set
out on his march home.

He spent the night once more at the mill and gave the miller his answer,
and by-and-by he told the three sisters not to throw out all their
sweepings in the face of the sun.

The prince had hardly arrived at home when some thieves tried to ford
the stream with a fine horse they had stolen. When they were half-way
across, the stream rose so suddenly that it swept them all away. From
that time it became the best fishing stream in the country-side.

The miller, too, began to give alms and became a very good man, and in
time grew so rich that he hardly knew how much he had.

And the three sisters, now that they no longer insulted the sun, had
each a wooer within a week.

When the prince got home he found that his wife had just got a fine
little boy. He did not lose a moment in pricking the baby's finger till
the blood ran, and he brushed it on the wrists of the stone figure,
which shuddered all over and split with a loud noise in seven parts and
there was the faithful servant alive and well.

When the old king saw this he foamed with rage, stared wildly about,
flung himself on the ground and died.

The servant stayed on with his royal master and served him faithfully
all the rest of his life; and, if neither of them is dead, he is serving
him still.

[From Ungarische Mahrchen.]




The Hairy Man

Somewhere or other, but I don't know where, there lived a king who owned
two remarkably fine fields of rape, but every night two of the rape
heaps were burnt down in one of the fields. The king was extremely angry
at this, and sent out soldiers to catch whoever had set fire to the
ricks; but it was all of no use - not a soul could they see. Then he
offered nine hundred crowns to anyone who caught the evil-doer, and at
the same time ordered that whoever did not keep proper watch over the
fields should be killed; but though there were a great many people, none
seemed able to protect the fields.

The king had already put ninety-nine people to death, when a little
swineherd came to him who had two dogs; one was called 'Psst,' and the
other 'Hush'; and the boy told the king that he would watch over the
ricks.

When it grew dark he climbed up on the top of the fourth rick, from
where he could see the whole field. About eleven o'clock he thought he
saw someone going to a rick and putting a light to it. 'Just you wait,'
thought he, and called out to his dogs: 'Hi! Psst, Hush, catch him!'
But Psst and Hush had not waited for orders, and in five minutes the man
was caught.

Next morning he was brought bound before the king, who was so pleased
with the boy that he gave him a thousand crowns at once. The prisoner
was all covered with hair, almost like an animal; and altogether he was
so curious to look at that the king locked him up in a strong room and
sent out letters of invitation to all the other kings and princes asking
them to come and see this wonder.

That was all very well; but the king had a little boy of ten years old
who went to look at the hairy man also, and the man begged so hard to be
set free that the boy took pity on him. He stole the key of the strong
room from his mother and opened the door. Then he took the key back, but
the hairy man escaped and went off into the world.

Then the kings and princes began to arrive one after another, and all
were most anxious to see the hairy man; but he was gone! The king nearly
burst with rage and with the shame he felt. He questioned his wife
sharply, and told her that if she could not find and bring back the
hairy man he would put her in a hut made of rushes and burn her there.
The queen declared she had had nothing to do with the matter; if her son
had happened to take the key it had not been with her knowledge.

So they fetched the little prince and asked him all sorts of questions,
and at last he owned that he had let the hairy man out. The king ordered
his servants to take the boy into the forest and to kill him there, and
to bring back part of his liver and lungs.

There was grief all over the palace when the king's command was known,
for he was a great favourite. But there was no help for it, and they
took the boy out into the forest. But the man was sorry for him, and
shot a dog and carried pieces of his lungs and liver to the king, who
was satisfied, and did not trouble himself any more.

The prince wandered about in the forest and lived as best he could for
five years. One day he came upon a poor little cottage in which was an
old man. They began to talk, and the prince told his story and sad fate.
Then they recognised each other, for the old fellow was no other than
the hairy man whom the prince had set free, and who had lived ever since
in the forest.

The prince stayed here for two years; then he wished to go further. The
old man begged him hard to stay, but he would not, so his hairy friend
gave him a golden apple out of which came a horse with a golden mane,
and a golden staff with which to guide the horse. The old man also gave
him a silver apple out of which came the most beautiful hussars and a
silver staff; and a copper apple from which he could draw as many foot
soldiers as ever he wished, and a copper staff. He made the prince swear
solemnly to take the greatest care of these presents, and then he let
him go.

The boy wandered on and on till he came to a large town. Here he took
service in the king's palace, and as no one troubled themselves about
him he lived quietly on.

One day news was brought to the king that he must go out to war. He was
horribly frightened for he had a very small army, but he had to go all
the same.

When they had all left, the prince said to the housekeeper:

'Give me leave to go to the next village - I owe a small bill there, and
I want to go and pay it'; and as there was nothing to be done in the
palace the housekeeper gave him leave.

When he got beyond the town he took out his golden apple, and when the
horse sprang out he swung himself into the saddle. Then he took the
silver and the copper apples, and with all these fine soldiers he joined
the king's army.

The king saw them approach with fear in his heart, for he did not know
if it might not be an enemy; but the prince rode up, and bowed low
before him. 'I bring your Majesty reinforcements,' said he.

The king was delighted, and all dread of his enemy at once disappeared.
The princesses were there too, and they were very friendly with the
prince and begged him to get into their carriage so as to talk to them.
But he declined, and remained on horseback, as he did not know at what
moment the battle might begin; and whilst they were all talking together
the youngest princess, who was also the loveliest, took off her ring,
and her sister tore her handkerchief in two pieces, and they gave these
gifts to the prince.

Suddenly the enemy came in sight. The king asked whether his army or the
prince's should lead the way; but the prince set off first and with his
hussars he fought so bravely that only two of the enemy were left alive,
and these two were only spared to act as messengers.

The king was overjoyed and so were his daughters at this brilliant
victory. As they drove home they begged the prince to join them, but he
would not come, and galloped off with his hussars.

When he got near the town he packed his soldiers and his fine horse all
carefully into the apple again, and then strolled into the town. On his
return to the palace he was well scolded by the housekeeper for staying
away so long.

Well, the whole matter might have ended there; but it so happened that
the younger princess had fallen in love with the prince, as he had with
her. And as he had no jewels with him, he gave her the copper apple and
staff.

One day, as the princesses were talking with their father, the younger
one asked him whether it might not have been their servant who had
helped him so much. The king was quite angry at the idea; but, to
satisfy her, he ordered the servant's room to be searched. And there,
to everyone's surprise, they found the golden ring and the half of the
handkerchief. When these were brought to the king he sent for the prince
at once and asked if it had been he who had come to their rescue.

'Yes, your Majesty, it was I,' answered the prince.

'But where did you get your army?'

'If you wish to see it, I can show it you outside the city walls.'

And so he did; but first he asked for the copper apple from the younger
princess, and when all the soldiers were drawn up there were such
numbers that there was barely room for them.

The king gave him his daughter and kingdom as a reward for his aid, and
when he heard that the prince was himself a king's son his joy knew no
bounds. The prince packed all his soldiers carefully up once more, and
they went back into the town.

Not long after there was a grand wedding; perhaps they may all be alive
still, but I don't know.




To Your Good Health!

Long, long ago there lived a king who was such a mighty monarch that
whenever he sneezed every one in the whole country had to say 'To your
good health!' Every one said it except the shepherd with the staring
eyes, and he would not say it.

The king heard of this and was very angry, and sent for the shepherd to
appear before him.

The shepherd came and stood before the throne, where the king sat
looking very grand and powerful. But however grand or powerful he might
be the shepherd did not feel a bit afraid of him.

'Say at once, "To my good health!"' cried the king.

'To my good health!' replied the shepherd.

'To mine - to mine, you rascal, you vagabond!' stormed the king.

'To mine, to mine, your Majesty,' was the answer.

'But to mine - to my own,' roared the king, and beat on his breast in a
rage.

'Well, yes; to mine, of course, to my own,' cried the shepherd, and
gently tapped his breast.

The king was beside himself with fury and did not know what to do, when
the Lord Chamberlain interfered:

'Say at once - say this very moment: "To your health, your Majesty"; for
if you don't say it you'll lose your life, whispered he.

'No, I won't say it till I get the princess for my wife,' was the
shepherd's answer. Now the princess was sitting on a little throne
beside the king, her father, and she looked as sweet and lovely as a
little golden dove. When she heard what the shepherd said she could not
help laughing, for there is no denying the fact that this young shepherd
with the staring eyes pleased her very much; indeed he pleased her
better than any king's son she had yet seen.

But the king was not as pleasant as his daughter, and he gave orders to
throw the shepherd into the white bear's pit.

The guards led him away and thrust him into the pit with the white bear,
who had had nothing to eat for two days and was very hungry. The door of
the pit was hardly closed when the bear rushed at the shepherd; but when
it saw his eyes it was so frightened that it was ready to eat itself. It
shrank away into a corner and gazed at him from there, and, in spite of
being so famished, did not dare to touch him, but sucked its own paws
from sheer hunger. The shepherd felt that if he once removed his eyes
off the beast he was a dead man, and in order to keep himself awake he
made songs and sang them, and so the night went by.

Next morning the Lord Chamberlain came to see the shepherd's bones, and
was amazed to find him alive and well. He led him to the king, who fell
into a furious passion, and said: 'Well, you have learned what it is to
be very near death, and now will you say "To my good health"?'

But the shepherd answered: 'I am not afraid of ten deaths! I will only
say it if I may have the princess for my wife.'

'Then go to your death,' cried the king; and ordered him to be thrown
into the den with the wild boars. The wild boars had not been fed for a
week, and when the shepherd was thrust into their don they rushed at him
to tear him to pieces. But the shepherd took a little flute out of the
sleeve of his jacket and began to play a merry tune, on which the wild
boars first of all shrank shyly away, and then got up on their hind legs
and danced gaily. The shepherd would have given anything to be able to
laugh, they looked so funny; but he dared not stop playing, for he knew
well enough that the moment he stopped they would fall upon him and tear
him to pieces. His eyes were of no use to him here, for he could not
have stared ten wild boars in the face at once; so he kept on playing,
and the wild boars danced very slowly, as if in a minuet, then by
degrees he played faster and faster till they could hardly twist and
turn quickly enough, and ended by all falling over each other in a heap,
quite exhausted and out of breath.

Then the shepherd ventured to laugh at last; and he laughed so long
and so loud that when the Lord Chamberlain came early in the morning,
expecting to find only his bones, the tears were still running down his
cheeks from laughter.

As soon as the king was dressed the shepherd was again brought before
him; but he was more angry than ever to think the wild boars had not
torn the man to bits, and he said: 'Well, you have learned what it feels
to be near ten deaths, now say "To my good health!"'

But the shepherd broke in with, 'I do not fear a hundred deaths, and I
will only say it if I may have the princess for my wife.'

'Then go to a hundred deaths!' roared the king, and ordered the shepherd
to be thrown down the deep vault of scythes.

The guards dragged him away to a dark dungeon, in the middle of which
was a deep well with sharp scythes all round it. At the bottom of the
well was a little light by which one could see if anyone was thrown in
whether he had fallen to the bottom.

When the shepherd was dragged to the dungeons he begged the guards to
leave him alone a little while that he might look down into the pit of
scythes; perhaps he might after all make up his mind to say 'To your
good health' to the king. So the guards left him alone and he stuck up
his long stick near the well, hung his cloak round the stick and put his
hat on the top. He also hung his knapsack up inside the cloak so that it
might seem to have some body within it. When this was done he called out
to the guards and said that he had considered the matter but after all
he could not make up his mind to say what the king wished. The guards
came in, threw the hat and cloak, knapsack and stick all down the well
together, watched to see how they put out the light at the bottom and
came away, thinking that now there really was an end of the shepherd.
But he had hidden in a dark corner and was laughing to himself all the
time.

Quite early next morning came the Lord Chamberlain, carrying a lamp and
he nearly fell backwards with surprise when he saw the shepherd alive
and well. He brought him to the king, whose fury was greater than ever,
but who cried:

'Well, now you have been near a hundred deaths; will you say: "To your
good health"?'

But the shepherd only gave the same answer:

'I won't say it till the princess is my wife.'

'Perhaps after all you may do it for less,' said the king, who saw that
there was no chance of making away with the shepherd; and he ordered the
state coach to be got ready, then he made the shepherd get in with him
and sit beside him, and ordered the coachman to drive to the silver
wood. When they reached it he said: 'Do you see this silver wood? Well,
if you will say, "To your good health," I will give it to you.'

The shepherd turned hot and cold by turns, but he still persisted:

'I will not say it till the princess is my wife.'

The king was much vexed; he drove further on till they came to a
splendid castle, all of gold, and then he said:

'Do you see this golden castle? Well, I will give you that too, the
silver wood and the golden castle, if only you will say that one thing
to me: "To your good health."'

The shepherd gaped and wondered and was quite dazzled, but he still
said:

'No; I will not say it till I have the princess for my wife.'

This time the king was overwhelmed with grief, and gave orders to drive
on to the diamond pond, and there he tried once more.

'Do you see this diamond pond? I will give you that too, the silver
wood and the golden castle and the diamond pond. You shall have them
all - all - if you will but say: "To your good health!"'

The shepherd had to shut his staring eyes tight not to be dazzled with
the brilliant pond, but still he said:

'No, no; I will not say it till I have the princess for my wife.'

Then the king saw that all his efforts were useless, and that he might
as well give in, so he said:

'Well, well, it's all the same to me - I will give you my daughter to
wife; but, then, you really and truly must say to me: "To your good
health."'

'Of course I'll say it; why should I not say it? It stands to reason
that I shall say it then.'

At this the king was more delighted than anyone could have believed.
He made it known all through the country that there were to be great
rejoicings, as the princess was going to be married. And everyone
rejoiced to think that the princess, who had refused so many royal
suitors, should have ended by falling in love with the staring-eyed
shepherd.

There was such a wedding as had never been seen. Everyone ate and drank
and danced. Even the sick were feasted, and quite tiny new-born children
had presents given them.

But the greatest merry-making was in the king's palace; there the best
bands played and the best food was cooked; a crowd of people sat down to
table, and all was fun and merry-making.

And when the groomsman, according to custom, brought in the great boar's
head on a big dish and placed it before the king so that he might carve
it and give everyone a share, the savoury smell was so strong that the
king began to sneeze with all his might.

'To your very good health,' cried the shepherd before anyone else, and
the king was so delighted that he did not regret having given him his
daughter.

In time, when the old king died, the shepherd succeeded him. He made a
very good king and never expected his people to wish him well against
their wills; but, all the same, everyone did wish him well, for they all
loved him.

[From Russische Mahrchen.]




The Story of the Seven Simons

Far, far away, beyond all sorts of countries, seas and rivers, there
stood a splendid city where lived King Archidej, who was as good as he
was rich and handsome. His great army was made up of men ready to obey
his slightest wish; he owned forty times forty cities, and in each city
he had ten palaces with silver doors, golden roofs, and crystal windows.
His council consisted of the twelve wisest men in the country, whose
long beards flowed down over their breasts, each of whom was as learned
as a whole college. This council always told the king the exact truth.

Now the king had everything to make him happy, but he did not enjoy
anything because he could not find a bride to his mind.

One day, as he sat in his palace looking out to sea, a great ship sailed
into the harbour and several merchants came on shore. Said the king to
himself: 'These people have travelled far and beheld many lands. I will
ask them if they have seen any princess who is as clever and as handsome
as I am.'

So he ordered the merchants to be brought before him, and when they came
he said: 'You have travelled much and visited many wonders. I wish to
ask you a question, and I beg you to answer truthfully.

'Have you anywhere seen or heard of the daughter of an emperor, king,
or a prince, who is as clever and as handsome as I am, and who would be
worthy to be my wife and the queen of my country?'

The merchants considered for some time. At last the eldest of them said:
'I have heard that across many seas, in the Island of Busan, there is a
mighty king, whose daughter, the Princess Helena, is so lovely that she
can certainly not be plainer than your Majesty, and so clever that the
wisest greybeard cannot guess her riddles.'

'Is the island far off, and which is the way to it?'

'It is not near,' was the answer. 'The journey would take ten years, and
we do not know the way. And even if we did, what use would that be? The
princess is no bride for you.'

'How dare you say so?' cried the king angrily.

'Your Majesty must pardon us; but just think for a moment. Should you
send an envoy to the island he will take ten years to get there and ten
more to return - twenty years in all. Will not the princess have grown
old in that time and have lost all her beauty?'

The king reflected gravely. Then he thanked the merchants, gave them
leave to trade in his country without paying any duties, and dismissed
them.

After they were gone the king remained deep in thought. He felt puzzled
and anxious; so he decided to ride into the country to distract his
mind, and sent for his huntsmen and falconers. The huntsmen blew their
horns, the falconers took their hawks on their wrists, and off they all
set out across country till they came to a green hedge. On the other
side of the hedge stretched a great field of maize as far as the eye
could reach, and the yellow ears swayed to and fro in the gentle breeze
like a rippling sea of gold.

The king drew rein and admired the field. 'Upon my word,' said he,
'whoever dug and planted it must be good workmen. If all the fields in
my kingdom were as well cared for as this, there would be more bread
than my people could eat.' And he wished to know to whom the field
belonged.

Off rushed all his followers at once to do his bidding, and found a
nice, tidy farmhouse, in front of which sat seven peasants, lunching
on rye bread and drinking water. They wore red shirts bound with gold
braid, and were so much alike that one could hardly tell one from
another.

The messengers asked: 'Who owns this field of golden maize?' And the
seven brothers answered: 'The field is ours.'

'And who are you?'

'We are King Archidej's labourers.'

These answers were repeated to the king, who ordered the brothers to
be brought before him at once. On being asked who they were, the eldest
said, bowing low:

'We, King Archidej, are your labourers, children of one father and
mother, and we all have the same name, for each of us is called Simon.
Our father taught us to be true to our king, and to till the ground,
and to be kind to our neighbours. He also taught each of us a different
trade which he thought might be useful to us, and he bade us not neglect
our mother earth, which would be sure amply to repay our labour.'

The king was pleased with the honest peasant, and said: 'You have done
well, good people, in planting your field, and now you have a golden
harvest. But I should like each of you to tell me what special trades
your father taught you.'

'My trade, O king!' said the first Simon, 'is not an easy one. If you
will give me some workmen and materials I will build you a great white
pillar that shall reach far above the clouds.'

'Very good,' replied the king. 'And you, Simon the second, what is your
trade?'

'Mine, your Majesty, needs no great cleverness. When my brother has
built the pillar I can mount it, and from the top, far above the clouds,
I can see what is happening: in every country under the sun.'

'Good,' said the king; 'and Simon the third?'

'My work is very simple, sire. You have many ships built by learned men,
with all sorts of new and clever improvements. If you wish it I will


2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryAndrew LangThe Crimson Fairy Book → online text (page 2 of 21)