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[Illustration: _The Dwarfs' Capers._]

[Illustration: Title Page]

Merry Tales.

_London: Bosworth and Harrison, 215, Regent Street._


The Birth of Owlglass, and how he was thrice baptized 1

How all the People of the Village, both Men and Women, made
complaints of young Owlglass; and how, whilst on horseback
with his Father, without his knowledge, he made game of
them all 5

How Owlglass crept into a Beehive; and how, when two Thieves
came in the night to steal it, he managed to set them
quarrelling, so that they came to blows and left the Hive
behind them 10

How Owlglass ate a roasted Fowl off the spit, and did only
half Work 15

How Owlglass was forbidden the Duchy of Luneburgh, and bought
himself Land of his own 19

Of the manner in which Owlglass paints a Picture for the
Count of Hessen, and how he persuades him that those of
base birth could not see the Painting 23

How, at Erfurt, Owlglass taught a Donkey to read 29

How Owlglass brought it about that the Watch of Nurenberg
fell into the Water 33

How Owlglass appears as Dentist and Doctor 37

How Owlglass sells his Horse to a Jew, and on what Terms 41

How Owlglass sells an Old Hat for more than its Weight in
Gold 45

How Owlglass, by means of a false Confession, cheated the
Priest of Riesenburgh out of his Horse; and how he steals
another Priest's Snuff-box 48

How a Bootmaker of Brunswick larded Owlglass's Boots; and how
he was paid for doing so 56

How Owlglass hires himself to a Tailor; and how well he
executes his Master's Orders 60

How Owlglass caused Three Tailors to fall from their
Work-board, and persuaded the People that the Wind had
blown them down 63

How Owlglass tells a Truth to a Smith, to his Wife, his
Assistant, and his Maidservant, for which he gets his Horse
shod 66

How Owlglass hired himself to a Merchant as Cook and Coachman 70

How Owlglass cheated a Horse-dealer at Wismar, and afterwards
cheated the Public 78

How Owlglass sowed Rogues 82

How Owlglass hired himself to a Barber, and entered his House
through the Window 85

How Owlglass frightened an Innkeeper at Eisleben with a dead
Wolf 90

The Grateful Animals 95

Tim Jarvis 106

The Shoemaker and the Dwarfs 115

The Countryman and the Jew 121

My Watch 130

Fittletetot 140

The wee Bannock 148

Jock and his Mother 154

The Irish Highwayman 161

Fiddling Jackey 169

Teeny-Tiny 199

The Cannibal Cow 203

The Three Men of Gotham on Nottingham Bridge 224

The Man of Gotham and his Cheeses 231

Twelve Men of Gotham go out Fishing together 236

The Cobbler's Wager 243

The Miller and his Donkey 256

Dr. Dobbs, and his Horse Nobbs 263

The Brownie 268



_The Birth of Owlglass, and how he was thrice baptized._

In the Duchy of Brunswick is a forest called Seib, and in this lies the
village of Kneitlingen, where the good child Owlglass was born.

The life of this child does not confirm the old saying, "like father
like son," for his father, by name Elaus Owlglass, was a quiet
respectable man, and his mother, Anna, was the very model of a woman,
for she was meek and a woman of few words. No particular circumstance
attending the birth of our hero is handed down to us, and it therefore
was, probably, not very different to other births; but it is recorded
that he enjoyed the benefit of three distinct Baptisms.

There does not seem to have been any Church in the village where he
was born, for when the time came for him to be christened he was sent
by his parents to the village of Amptlen, where he received the name
of Tyll Owlglass. The place is still remembered as the scene of this
ceremony; but also because close by there stood once a castle of the
same name, destroyed, as a nest of robbers, by the good people of
Magdeburgh, with the help of their neighbours.

At the time we are speaking of it was the custom of the land that the
godfathers and godmothers, together with the nurse and child, should
adjourn, immediately after the christening, to an alehouse, there to
enjoy themselves; and that part of the ceremony was not forgotten or
neglected on this occasion. Now it was a long way from the Church to
the ale-house, and the day was very hot, so that the party indulged
rather freely in the refreshing beverage, delaying their homeward
journey as long as possible.

At length, however, they had to get on their way; and the nurse, whose
head was rather giddy and legs not over-steady, had very unpleasant
visions of a narrow footpath with ground sloping down into a muddy
ditch, and she had serious forebodings of how that part of the journey
would be accomplished. The nearer she drew to the dreaded spot the more
her nervousness increased, and young Tyll, whether that she clutched
him more firmly to her, or whether he too had forebodings of danger,
began to kick and struggle in her arms, so that her stopping on the
brink of danger, to gather steadiness and courage, was of no manner of
use, for just as one foot rested on a loose stone a violent plunge of
the child threw her fairly off her legs, and threw himself over her
head into the ditch below. But weeds are not easily extirpated; so no
harm happened to the child excepting that he was covered with mud and
slime. Then he was taken home and washed.

[Illustration: _Owlglass's Second Baptism._]

Thus Owlglass was, on one and the same day, thrice baptized. First, in
all proper order and due form, then in the muddy ditch, and lastly,
in warm water to cleanse him from the dirt. This was symbolic of the
many mishaps of his future life, for evil is sure to fall back upon its


_How all the People of the Village, both Men and Women, made
complaints of young Owlglass; and how, whilst on horseback with
his Father, without his knowledge, he made game of them all._

Our young acquaintance, Tyll, began at an early age to show signs of
a decidedly marked character. He was full of life and spirits, as the
other children of the village found out to their cost, for no sooner
could he crawl amongst them than he played all manner of tricks. In
truth he was more like a monkey than the child of respectable Christian
parents, and when he had reached the age of four years he became daily
more mischievous. He played his companions as many tricks daily as he
was inches high, and, as "ill weeds grow apace," he soon became almost
unbearable; but yet they could not do without him, so quick was his
invention at all games, which, however, he so contrived that they were
sure to end in a quarrel, taking care to get out of it himself before
the blows came; and he would afterwards mock and laugh at those who
had got hurt. He was even more dangerous away than with them, for he
was then most certainly planning mischief. He would find out holes in
the ground, which he carefully covered with sticks and grass, and then
foremost in the race to a mark he had set up a little beyond the hole,
he would stop short, in time to watch the others tumble one over the
other into the trap he had set them.

Neither were the girls spared. Unknown to them he would fasten their
petticoats together with thorns, as they sat on the ground, and then
frighten them, so as to make them jump up suddenly, when he did not
fail to point out the rents in their dresses, and laugh at them for the
scolding and beating they would get at home. A hundred different tricks
he played them, so that every day some were sure to be sent home crying
and complaining.

True, he got many a thrashing from boys bigger and stronger than
himself; but so sure was he to repay them tenfold, in one way or
another, that both big and small were afraid of him. Nor were the
parents spared when he could safely do mischief to man or woman, so
that constant complaints were made to his father, to whom, however, he
knew how to defend and excuse himself so artfully that the good simple
man thought his dear child shamefully ill-used.

[Illustration: _Young Owlglass mocking the Villagers._]

Tired, at length, of these daily complaints, his father determined to
take him out with him when he knew the street would be full, in order
to show the people how well and soberly his boy could behave; so,
taking him behind him on his horse, having first impressed upon him
that he must be very good, they started off together. Now what did this
obedient child do? He put his finger up to his nose, and by various
other insulting gestures mocked the people as they passed, till there
was a general outcry against the mischievous little imp. His father
was sorely puzzled; and Tyll, pretending to cry, said to him, "You
hear, dear Father, what the people say. You know that I am sitting here
quietly, without saying a single word, and yet all complain of me." His
father hereupon places his dear child before him. Young hopeful, now
seated before his father, could do nothing but make faces and put out
his tongue at the people, who again were loud in their complaints. The
poor man, who could see no fault in his darling, said, "Do not fret,
my own dear Boy. We will go and live somewhere else, and get away from
these evil-minded people." He did, indeed, move to a distance, and
not many years after died, leaving wife and child in great poverty.
Now young Tyll, though sixteen years old, had learnt no business, nor
anything useful or good, but with years had increased in all malice and



_How Owlglass crept into a Beehive; and how, when two Thieves came
in the night to steal it, he managed to set them quarrelling, so
that they came to blows and left the Hive behind them._

We pass over a few years of Owlglass's life during which he continued
to thrive in body, but we are sorry to say gave no signs of moral
improvement. However, in the adventure we are about to relate, he was
not so much to blame, the sufferers being scarcely better than himself,
and in no way deserving of our sympathy.

He went one day, with his mother, to a feast in a neighbouring village,
where, having eaten and drunk as much as he could bear for the time,
he looked about him for a convenient place to sleep. He found some
beehives, four of which were empty, and creeping into one of these he
thought he would have an hour's quiet rest, but slept from mid-day to
mid-night, so that his mother thought he had gone back home. Now in
that night two thieves came to steal one of the beehives, and having
heard that the heaviest was always the best, they tried the weight of
each; and finding that one the heaviest in which Owlglass was, they
settled between them that that was the one they would take, and walked
off with it. The night was as dark as pitch, so that there was no
seeing at all; but Owlglass was awake, and had heard them consulting
with each other. The motion was not unpleasant as they carried him
along; but yet he thought he could do better than sleep, and after
short consideration he stretched out one hand, and with his finger
first slightly touched the neck of the man before him, then he touched
his nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead. At each touch of the finger the
thief thought one of the bees had settled on him, till he fancied his
face covered with them, and dreaded every moment to feel their sting.
He dared not speak nor move a muscle of his face, but trembled with
fear till the perspiration streamed down him. At length, however,
scarcely moving his jaws, he ventured to mutter to his companion, "I
say, Jack," he said, "have you anything on your face?" "Yes," growled
his companion, who was not in the best of humours, for he began to find
the hive heavy, "I have a nose on my face, and pray what have you to
say against it?" "It is not that I mean," said the first speaker; "but
have you ever heard that bees swarm in the dark, for I am covered with
them?" "You are a fool," was Jack's only reply. After a minute Owlglass
again put out his hand; and this time gave the front man a sharp tug by
the hair, who, thinking his companion had done it, began to complain
and swear. The other cried, "How is it possible I could pull your hair?
Do I not want both my hands to carry this abominable hive? You must be
mad or drunk; but let us have no more of your nonsense, or it will be
the worse for you."

Owlglass laughed in his sleeve, enjoying this fine sport; and, after
they had gone on a little further, he caught hold of the fellow's
hair at the back, giving his head such a pull forward that he scraped
his nose against the hive. The fellow's rage now knew no bounds. "You
scoundrel," he cried, "first you say I pull your hair and now you
pull mine; but wait, you shall catch it." Whereupon he let go of the
hive, and the other doing the like, they fell upon each other, and
a furious fight began. At length they both came to the ground, and,
rolling one over the other down a steep bank, they became separated,
and in the great darkness neither knew where to find the other nor the

[Illustration: _Owlglass in the Beehive._]

Owlglass, seeing it was still dark, went to sleep again in the hive;
and the next morning, not knowing where he was, went on his way whither
chance might lead him.



_How Owlglass ate a roasted Fowl off the spit, and did only half

The first village Owlglass came to he went straight to the Priest's
house. Here he was hired, the Priest telling him that he should live as
well as he and his cook, and do only half the work.

Owlglass agreed, promising himself to the very letter to act up to what
had been said. The cook, who had but one eye, put two chickens to the
fire to roast, bidding him turn the spit. This he readily did, thinking
all the while of the Priest's words, that he should live as well as he
and his cook; and, when the chickens were well roasted, took one of
them off the spit, and ate it then and there.

When dinner-time had come the cook went to the fire to baste the
chickens, and seeing only one, said to Owlglass, "What has become of
the other fowl?" To this he answered, "Open your other eye, my good
Woman, and you will see the two." She flew into a passion at having her
defect of the loss of one eye thus thrown in her teeth, and straightway
went to her master, to whom she complained of the insult offered to
her, and how that his new servant understood cooking so well that
two chickens dwindled down into one. The Priest thereupon went into
the kitchen, and said, "Why is it, Owlglass, that you have mocked my
servant? I see that there is only one fowl on the spit, whereas there
were two; what has become of the other?" Owlglass answered, "Open
both your eyes, and you will see that the other fowl is on the spit.
I only said the same to your cook, when she grew angry." The Priest
laughed, and said, "My cook cannot open both eyes since she has only
one." Owlglass replied, "That you say, I do not say so." The Priest
continued, "With all this, there is but one fowl." Owlglass said, "The
other I have eaten, for you said I should live as well as you and your
cook, and therefore one chicken was for me, and the other for you two.
I should have been grieved that what you said were not true, and thus
I took my share beforehand." "Well, well, my good Fellow," his master
said, "it matters little about the eaten fowl, only you do in future
what my cook tells you." Owlglass said, "Yes, my dear Master, as you
told me so will I do." Now, at the hiring, the Priest had said Owlglass
should do half the work which the cook would tell him, so that he only
did the half of what she told him to do.

[Illustration: _Owlglass eats the Priest's Fowl._]

When told to fetch a pail full of water, he brought it only half full,
and when he was to put two logs of wood on the fire, he only put one
on. The cook saw well enough that all this was done to vex her, and
said to her master that if he kept such a perverse fellow in his house
she would leave it. Owlglass defended himself, saying, it was quite
natural that having only one eye she should see the work only half
done. At this the Priest laughed; but to appease his cook was obliged
to dismiss his man, promising, however, that he would be a friend to



_How Owlglass was forbidden the Duchy of Luneburgh, and bought
himself Land of his own._

Owlglass had played so many pranks in the Duchy of Luneburgh that he
was forbidden the land, the Duke giving orders that if found there he
should be hanged. Nevertheless, he continued to pass through the Duchy
whenever his road led that way; but one day, as he was riding along
devoid of care, he saw the Duke himself coming with several followers.
Then he said to himself, "If I fly I shall be pursued and cut down,
and, if I remain as I am, the Duke will come up in great anger and have
me hanged on the nearest tree;" and most provokingly one stood close
by. There was not much time for consideration, and none to be lost,
so, jumping off his horse, he killed the animal, and, ripping it open,
took his stand in its inside. Now when the Duke came up to him he was
astonished at his impudence, and still more so at his extraordinary
position. "Did I not promise you," he said, "that, if found in my
territory, you should be surely hanged? What have you to say for
yourself?" Owlglass answered, "I put my trust in your Grace's goodness,
and that you will not carry your threat into execution, seeing that
I have not done anything to deserve hanging." "Well," said the Duke,
"let me hear what you have to say in your defence, or rather, tell me
why you are standing inside your horse?" Owlglass answered, "I sorely
feared your Grace's displeasure, and thought I had better be found in
my own property, where I ought to be safe." The Duke laughed, and said,
"As long as you remain where you are you shall be safe," and then rode

Owlglass made the best of his way over the frontier; but it was not
long before he had occasion again to be in the Duchy of Luneburgh, and
hearing that the Duke was coming to the neighbourhood where he was, he
straightway got a cart and horse, and going up to a peasant, whom he
saw digging in a field, he asked whose land it was. The peasant said it
was his own, for he had lately inherited it. Hereupon Owlglass asked
for how much he would sell him his cart full of earth. They agreed for
a shilling; and Owlglass paying the money, filled his cart with earth,
in which he buried himself up to his arm-pits, and drove leisurely on
his way.

[Illustration: _Owlglass Rides on his own Land._]

It was not long before he met the Duke, who, seeing him sitting thus
in the cart, stopped, and, with difficulty restraining his laughter,
said, "Owlglass, have I not forbidden you my land on pain of death?"
To this Owlglass answered, "I am not in your Grace's land, but sitting
in my own, which I purchased from a peasant whose inheritance it was."
The Duke replied, "Though sitting in your own land, your cart and horse
are on mine; but this once more I will let you go in safety; beware,
however, that you do not come again, for then nothing shall save you."
Owlglass then immediately sprang upon his horse and rode off, leaving
the cart behind.


_Of the Manner in which Owlglass paints a Picture for the Count of
Hessen, and how he persuades him that those of base birth could
not see the Painting._

After Owlglass had wandered all over Saxony, and was so well known
that his trickery and scheming were no longer of any avail, he went
to Hessen to the Count's court. The Count asked him what he could do,
to which he answered, "Noble Sir, I am a painter such as is not to be
found far and wide, for my work far surpasses all other." The Count
then said, "Let me see some of your work." Whereupon Owlglass produced
some curiously painted cloth which he had bought in Flanders. The Count
was well pleased, and said, "What must I pay you to paint the walls
of the grand saloon, representing the origin of the Counts of Hessen,
and how they have held on in friendship and enmity with the kings of
Hungary, and other princes up to the present time?"

Owlglass said for that he must have two hundred pounds; which the Count
agreed to pay if he did the work well. Owlglass stipulated for one
hundred pounds to be paid in advance, that he might buy colours and
hire assistants, and also that no one but his assistants should enter
the saloon during the progress of the work, so that he might not be
hindered. All being agreed to, he hired three assistants, with whom he
settled that they were not to do any work; but he nevertheless paid
them their wages, and they employed themselves mostly playing at cards
and dice. A month passed by, and then the Count desired to know what
progress had been made with the work, and also to be allowed to enter
the saloon. Owlglass now said, "Noble Sir, there is one thing I must
tell you, namely, that the base born cannot see my work."

[Illustration: _Owlglass shows his Picture to the Count._]

The Count was rejoiced on hearing this, thinking how he could prove the
birth of all by whom he was surrounded, for he was mightily proud. They
then entered the saloon; and Owlglass partly drawing back a cloth,

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