Andrew Lang.

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In the morning the eagle returned and saw traces of a fight below the
tree, and here and there a handful of yellow mane lying about, and here
and there a hard scaly substance; when he saw that he rejoiced greatly,
and hastened to the nest.

'Who has slain the lindworm?' he asked of his children; there were so
many that he did not at first miss the two which the lindworm had eaten.
But the eaglets answered that they could not tell, only that they had
been in danger of their lives, and at the last moment they had been
delivered. Then the sunbeam had struggled through the thick branches and
caught Wildrose's golden hair as she lay curled up in the corner, and
the eagle wondered, as he looked, whether the little girl had brought
him luck, and it was her magic which had killed his enemy.

'Children,' he said, 'I brought her here for your dinner, and you have
not touched her; what is the meaning of this?' But the eaglets did not
answer, and Wildrose opened her eyes, and seemed seven times lovelier
than before.

From that day Wildrose lived like a little princess. The eagle flew
about the wood and collected the softest, greenest moss he could find to
make her a bed, and then he picked with his beak all the brightest and
prettiest flowers in the fields or on the mountains to decorate it. So
cleverly did he manage it that there was not a fairy in the whole of the
forest who would not have been pleased to sleep there, rocked to and fro
by the breeze on the treetops. And when the little ones were able to fly
from their nest he taught them where to look for the fruits and berries
which she loved.

So the time passed by, and with each year Wildrose grew taller and more
beautiful, and she lived happily in her nest and never wanted to go out
of it, only standing at the edge in the sunset, and looking upon the
beautiful world. For company she had all the birds in the forest, who
came and talked to her, and for playthings the strange flowers which
they brought her from far, and the butterflies which danced with her.
And so the days slipped away, and she was fourteen years old.

One morning the emperor's son went out to hunt, and he had not ridden
far, before a deer started from under a grove of trees, and ran
before him. The prince instantly gave chase, and where the stag led he
followed, till at length he found himself in the depths of the forest,
where no man before had trod.

The trees were so thick and the wood so dark, that he paused for a
moment and listened, straining his ears to catch some sound to break
a silence which almost frightened him. But nothing came, not even the
baying of a hound or the note of a horn. He stood still, and wondered if
he should go on, when, on looking up, a stream of light seemed to flow
from the top of a tall tree. In its rays he could see the nest with the
young eaglets, who were watching him over the side. The prince fitted
an arrow into his bow and took his aim, but, before he could let fly,
another ray of light dazzled him; so brilliant was it, that his bow
dropped, and he covered his face with his hands. When at last he
ventured to peep, Wildrose, with her golden hair flowing round her, was
looking at him. This was the first time she had seen a man.

'Tell me how I can reach you?' cried he; but Wildrose smiled and shook
her head, and sat down quietly.

The prince saw that it was no use, and turned and made his way out of
the forest. But he might as well have stayed there, for any good he was
to his father, so full was his heart of longing for Wildrose. Twice
he returned to the forest in the hopes of finding her, but this time
fortune failed him, and he went home as sad as ever.

At length the emperor, who could not think what had caused this change,
sent for his son and asked him what was the matter. Then the prince
confessed that the image of Wildrose filled his soul, and that he would
never be happy without her. At first the emperor felt rather distressed.
He doubted whether a girl from a tree top would make a good empress;
but he loved his son so much that he promised to do all he could to find
her. So the next morning heralds were sent forth throughout the whole
land to inquire if anyone knew where a maiden could be found who lived
in a forest on the top of a tree, and to promise great riches and a
place at court to any person who should find her. But nobody knew. All
the girls in the kingdom had their homes on the ground, and laughed at
the notion of being brought up in a tree. 'A nice kind of empress she
would make,' they said, as the emperor had done, tossing their heads
with disdain; for, having read many books, they guessed what she was
wanted for.

The heralds were almost in despair, when an old woman stepped out of the
crowd and came and spoke to them. She was not only very old, but she was
very ugly, with a hump on her back and a bald head, and when the heralds
saw her they broke into rude laughter. 'I can show you the maiden who
lives in the tree-top,' she said, but they only laughed the more loudly.

'Get away, old witch!' they cried, 'you will bring us bad luck'; but the
old woman stood firm, and declared that she alone knew where to find the
maiden.

'Go with her,' said the eldest of the heralds at last. 'The emperor's
orders are clear, that whoever knew anything of the maiden was to come
at once to court. Put her in the coach and take her with us.'

So in this fashion the old woman was brought to court.

'You have declared that you can bring hither the maiden from the wood?'
said the emperor, who was seated on his throne.

'Yes, your Majesty, and I will keep my word,' said she.

'Then bring her at once,' said the emperor.

'Give me first a kettle and a tripod,' asked the old w omen, and the
emperor ordered them to be brought instantly. The old woman picked them
up, and tucking them under her arm went on her way, keeping at a little
distance behind the royal huntsmen, who in their turn followed the
prince.

Oh, what a noise that old woman made as she walked along! She chattered
to herself so fast and clattered her kettle so loudly that you would
have thought that a whole campful of gipsies must be coming round the
next corner. But when they reached the forest, she bade them all wait
outside, and entered the dark wood by herself.

She stopped underneath the tree where the maiden dwelt and, gathering
some dry sticks, kindled a fire. Next, she placed the tripod over it,
and the kettle on top. But something was the matter with the kettle. As
fast as the old woman put it where it was to stand, that kettle was sure
to roll off, falling to the ground with a crash.

It really seemed bewitched, and no one knows what might have happened
if Wildrose, who had been all the time peeping out of her nest, had not
lost patience at the old woman's stupidity, and cried out: 'The tripod
won't stand on that hill, you must move it!'

'But where am I to move it to, my child?' asked the old woman, looking
up to the nest, and at the same moment trying to steady the kettle with
one hand and the tripod with the other.

'Didn't I tell you that it was no good doing that,' said Wildrose, more
impatiently than before. 'Make a fire near a tree and hang the kettle
from one of the branches.'

The old woman took the kettle and hung it on a little twig, which broke
at once, and the kettle fell to the ground.

'If you would only show me how to do it, perhaps I should understand,'
said she.

Quick as thought, the maiden slid down the smooth trunk of the tree, and
stood beside the stupid old woman, to teach her how things ought to be
done. But in an instant the old woman had caught up the girl and swung
her over her shoulders, and was running as fast as she could go to the
edge of the forest, where she had left the prince. When he saw them
coming he rushed eagerly to meet them, and he took the maiden in his
arms and kissed her tenderly before them all. Then a golden dress was
put on her, and pearls were twined in her hair, and she took her seat in
the emperor's carriage which was drawn by six of the whitest horses in
the world, and they carried her, without stopping to draw breath, to the
gates of the palace. And in three days the wedding was celebrated, and
the wedding feast was held, and everyone who saw the bride declared that
if anybody wanted a perfect wife they must go to seek her on top of a
tree.

[ Adapted from file Roumanian.]




Tiidu The Piper

Once upon a time there lived a poor man who had more children than
bread to feed them with. However, they were strong and willing, and soon
learned to make themselves of use to their father and mother, and when
they were old enough they went out to service, and everyone was very
glad to get them for servants, for they worked hard and were always
cheerful. Out of all the ten or eleven, there was only one who gave his
parents any trouble, and this was a big lazy boy whose name was Tiidu.
Neither scoldings nor beatings nor kind words had any effect on him, and
the older he grew the idler he got. He spent his winters crouching close
to a warm stove, and his summers asleep under a shady tree; and if he
was not doing either of these things he was playing tunes on his flute.

One day he was sitting under a bush playing so sweetly that you might
easily have mistaken the notes for those of a bird, when an old man
passed by. 'What trade do you wish to follow, my son?' he asked in a
friendly voice, stopping as he did so in front of the youth.

'If I were only a rich man, and had no need to work,' replied the boy,
'I should not follow any. I could not bear to be anybody's servant, as
all my brothers and sisters are.'

The old man laughed as he heard this answer, and said: 'But I do not
exactly see where your riches are to come from if you do not work for
them. Sleeping cats catch no mice. He who wishes to become rich must
use either his hands or his head, and be ready to toil night and day, or
else - '

But here the youth broke in rudely:

'Be silent, old man! I have been told all that a hundred times over;
and it runs off me like water off a duck's back. No one will ever make a
worker out of me.'

'You have one gift,' replied the old man, taking no notice of this
speech, 'and if you would only go about and play the pipes, you would
easily earn, not only your daily bread, but a little money into the
bargain. Listen to me; get yourself a set of pipes, and learn to play on
them as well as you do on your flute, and wherever there are men to hear
you, I promise you will never lack money.'

'But where am I to get the pipes from?' asked the youth.

'Blow on your flute for a few days,' replied the old man, 'and you will
soon be able to buy your pipes. By-and-by I will come back again and see
if you have taken my advice, and whether you are likely to grow rich.'
And so saying he went his way.

Tiidu stayed where he was a little longer, thinking of all the old man
had told him, and the more he thought the surer he felt that the old
man was right. He determined to try whether his plan would really bring
luck; but as he did not like being laughed at he resolved not to tell
anyone a word about it. So next morning he left home - and never came
back! His parents did not take his loss much to heart, but were rather
glad that their useless son had for once shown a little spirit, and they
hoped that time and hardship might cure Tiidu of his idle folly.

For some weeks Tiidu wandered from one village to another, and proved
for himself the truth of the old man's promise. The people he met were
all friendly and kind, and enjoyed his flute-playing, giving him his
food in return, and even a few pence. These pence the youth hoarded
carefully till he had collected enough to buy a beautiful pair of pipes.
Then he felt himself indeed on the high road to riches. Nowhere could
pipes be found as fine as his, or played in so masterly a manner.
Tiidu's pipes set everybody's legs dancing. Wherever there was a
marriage, a christening, or a feast of any kind, Tiidu must be there, or
the evening would be a failure. In a few years he had become so noted a
piper that people would travel far and wide to hear him.

One day he was invited to a christening where many rich men from the
neighbouring town were present, and all agreed that never in all their
lives had they heard such playing as his. They crowded round him, and
praised him, and pressed him to come to their homes, declaring that it
was a shame not to give their friends the chance of hearing such music.
Of course all this delighted Tiidu, who accepted gladly, and left their
houses laden with money and presents of every kind; one great lord
clothed him in a magnificent dress, a second hung a chain of pearls
round his neck, while a third handed him a set of new pipes encrusted
in silver. As for the ladies, the girls twisted silken scarves round his
plumed hat, and their mothers knitted him gloves of all colours, to keep
out the cold. Any other man in Tiidu's place would have been contented
and happy in this life; but his craving for riches gave him no rest,
and only goaded him day by day to fresh exertions, so that even his own
mother would not have known him for the lazy boy who was always lying
asleep in one place or the other.

Now Tiidu saw quite clearly that he could only hope to become rich by
means of his pipes, and set about thinking if there was nothing he could
do to make the money flow in faster. At length he remembered having
heard some stories of a kingdom in the Kungla country, where musicians
of all sorts were welcomed and highly paid; but where it was, or how
it was reached, he could not recollect, however hard he thought. In
despair, he wandered along the coast, hoping to see some ship or sailing
boat that would take him where he wished to go, and at length he reached
the town of Narva, where several merchantmen were lying at anchor. To
his great joy, he found that one of them was sailing for Kungla in a few
days, and he hastily went on board, and asked for the captain. But the
cost of the passage was more than the prudent Tiidu cared to pay, and
though he played his best on his pipes, the captain refused to lower his
price, and Tiidu was just thinking of returning on shore when his usual
luck flew to his aid. A young sailor, who had heard him play, came
secretly to him, and offered to hide him on board, in the absence of the
captain. So the next night, as soon as it was dark, Tiidu stepped softly
on deck, and was hidden by his friend down in the hold in a corner
between two casks. Unseen by the rest of the crew the sailor managed to
bring him food and drink, and when they were well out of sight of land
he proceeded to carry out a plan he had invented to deliver Tiidu
from his cramped quarters. At midnight, while he was keeping watch and
everyone else was sleeping, the man bade his friend Tiidu follow him on
deck, where he tied a rope round Tiidu's body, fastening the other end
carefully to one of the ship's ropes. 'Now,' he said, 'I will throw you
into the sea, and you must shout for help; and when you see the sailors
coming untie the rope from your waist, and tell them that you have swum
after the ship all the way from shore.'

At first Tiidu did not much like this scheme, for the sea ran high,
but he was a good swimmer, and the sailor assured him that there was no
danger. As soon as he was in the water, his friend hastened to rouse
his mates, declaring that he was sure that there was a man in the sea,
following the ship. They all came on deck, and what was their surprise
when they recognised the person who had bargained about a passage the
previous day with the captain.

'Are you a ghost, or a dying man?' they asked him trembling, as they
stooped over the side of the ship.

'I shall soon indeed be a dead man if you do not help me,' answered
Tiidu, 'for my strength is going fast.'

Then the captain seized a rope and flung it out to him, and Tiidu held
it between his teeth, while, unseen by the sailors; he loosed the one
tied round his waist.

'Where have you come from?' said the captain, when Tiidu was brought up
on board the ship.

'I have followed you from the harbour,' answered he, 'and have been
often in sore dread lest my strength should fail me. I hoped that by
swimming after the ship I might at last reach Kungla, as I had no money
to pay my passage.' The captain's heart melted at these words, and he
said kindly: 'You may be thankful that you were not drowned. I will land
you at Kungla free of payment, as you are so anxious to get there. So he
gave him dry clothes to wear, and a berth to sleep in, and Tiidu and his
friend secretly made merry over their cunning trick.

For the rest of the voyage the ship's crew treated Tiidu as something
higher than themselves, seeing that in all their lives they had never
met with any man that could swim for as many hours as he had done. This
pleased Tiidu very much, though he knew that he had really done nothing
to deserve it, and in return he delighted them by tunes on his pipes.
When, after some days, they cast anchor at Kungla, the story of his
wonderful swim brought him many friends, for everybody wished to hear
him tell the tale himself. This might have been all very well, had not
Tiidu lived in dread that some day he would be asked to give proof of
his marvellous swimming powers, and then everything would be found out.
Meanwhile he was dazzled with the splendour around him, and more than
ever he longed for part of the riches, about which the owners seemed to
care so little.

He wandered through the streets for many days, seeking some one who
wanted a servant; but though more than one person would have been glad
to engage him, they seemed to Tiidu not the sort of people to help him
to get rich quickly. At last, when he had almost made up his mind that
he must accept the next place offered him, he happened to knock at the
door of a rich merchant who was in need of a scullion, and gladly agreed
to do the cook's bidding, and it was in this merchant's house that he
first learned how great were the riches of the land of Kungla. All the
vessels which in other countries are made of iron, copper, brass, or
tin, in Kungla were made of silver, or even of gold. The food was cooked
in silver saucepans, the bread baked in a silver oven, while the dishes
and their covers were all of gold. Even the very pigs' troughs were of
silver too. But the sight of these things only made Tiidu more covetous
than before. 'What is the use of all this wealth that I have constantly
before my eyes,' thought he, 'if none of it is mine? I shall never grow
rich by what I earn as a scullion, even though I am paid as much in a
month as I should get elsewhere in a year.'

By this time he had been in his place for two years, and had put by
quite a large sum of money. His passion of saving had increased to such
a pitch that it was only by his master's orders that he ever bought any
new clothes, 'For,' said the merchant, 'I will not have dirty people in
my house.' So with a heavy heart Tiidu spent some of his next month's
wages on a cheap coat.

One day the merchant held a great feast in honour of the christening of
his youngest child, and he gave each of his servants a handsome garment
for the occasion. The following Sunday, Tiidu, who liked fine clothes
when he did not have to pay for them, put on his new coat, and went for
a walk to some beautiful pleasure gardens, which were always full of
people on a sunny day. He sat down under a shady tree, and watched the
passers-by, but after a little he began to feel rather lonely, for he
knew nobody and nobody knew him. Suddenly his eyes fell on the figure of
an old man, which seemed familiar to him, though he could not tell when
or where he had seen it. He watched the figure for some time, till at
length the old man left the crowded paths, and threw himself on the soft
grass under a lime tree, which stood at some distance from where Tiidu
was sitting. Then the young man walked slowly past, in order that he
might look at him more closely, and as he did so the old man smiled, and
held out his hand.

'What have you done with your pipes?' asked he; and then in a moment
Tiidu knew him. Taking his arm he drew him into a quiet place and told
him all that had happened since they had last met. The old man shook his
head as he listened, and when Tiidu had finished his tale, he said: 'A
fool you are, and a fool you will always be! Was there ever such a piece
of folly as to exchange your pipes for a scullion's ladle? You could
have made as much by the pipes in a day as your wages would have come
to in half a year. Go home and fetch your pipes, and play them here, and
you will soon see if I have spoken the truth.'

Tiidu did not like this advice - he was afraid that the people would
laugh at him; and, besides, it was long since he had touched his
pipes - but the old man persisted, and at last Tiidu did as he was told.

'Sit down on the bank by me,' said the old man, when he came back, 'and
begin to play, and in a little while the people will flock round you.'
Tiidu obeyed, at first without much heart; but somehow the tone of the
pipes was sweeter than he had remembered, and as he played, the crowd
ceased to walk and chatter, and stood still and silent round him. When
he had played for some time he took off his hat and passed it round, and
dollars, and small silver coins, and even gold pieces, came tumbling
in. Tiidu played a couple more tunes by way of thanks, then turned to
go home, hearing on all sides murmurs of 'What a wonderful piper! Come
back, we pray you, next Sunday to give us another treat.'

'What did I tell you?' said the old man, as they passed through the
garden gate. 'Was it not pleasanter to play for a couple of hours on
the pipes than to be stirring sauces all day long? For the second time
I have shown you the path to follow; try to learn wisdom, and take the
bull by the horns, lest your luck should slip from you! I can be your
guide no longer, therefore listen to what I say, and obey me. Go every
Sunday afternoon to those gardens; and sit under the lime tree and play
to the people, and bring a felt hat with a deep crown, and lay it on the
ground at your feet, so that everyone can throw some money into it.
If you are invited to play at a feast, accept willingly, but beware of
asking a fixed price; say you will take whatever they may feel inclined
to give. You will get far more money in the end. Perhaps, some day,
our paths may cross, and then I shall see how far you have followed my
advice. Till then, farewell'; and the old man went his way.

As before, his words came true, though Tiidu could not at once do
his bidding, as he had first to fulfil his appointed time of service.
Meanwhile he ordered some fine clothes, in which he played every Sunday
in the gardens, and when he counted his gains in the evening they were
always more than on the Sunday before. At length he was free to do as
he liked, and he had more invitations to play than he could manage to
accept, and at night, when the citizens used to go and drink in the inn,
the landlord always begged Tiidu to come and play to them. Thus he grew
so rich that very soon he had his silver pipes covered with gold, so
that they glistened in the light of the sun or the fire. In all Kungla
there was no prouder man than Tiidu.

In a few years he had saved such a large sum of money that he was
considered a rich man even in Kungla, where everybody was rich. And then
he had leisure to remember that he had once had a home, and a family,
and that he should like to see them both again, and show them how well
he could play. This time he would not need to hide in the ship's hold,
but could hire the best cabin if he wished to, or even have a vessel
all to himself. So he packed all his treasures in large chests, and sent
them on board the first ship that was sailing to his native land, and
followed them with a light heart. The wind at starting was fair, but it
soon freshened, and in the night rose to a gale. For two days they ran
before it, and hoped that by keeping well out to sea they might be able
to weather the storm, when, suddenly, the ship struck on a rock, and
began to fill. Orders were given to lower the boats, and Tiidu with
three sailors got into one of them, but before they could push away from
the ship a huge wave overturned it, and all four were flung into the
water. Luckily for Tiidu an oar was floating near him, and with its help
he was able to keep on the surface of the water; and when the sun rose,
and the mist cleared away, he saw that he was not far from shore. By


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Online LibraryAndrew LangThe Crimson Fairy Book → online text (page 6 of 21)