let him rest quietly in his coffin, but were going to throw him out before
the church door the poor dead man !
" Why will you do that V" asked John ; ' ; that is bad and wicked.
Let him rest, for mercy's sake."
" Nonsense !" replied the bad men ; " he has cheated us. He owed
us money and could not pay it, and now he 's dead into the bargain, and
we shall uofc get a penny ! So we mean to revenge ourselves famously :
he shall lie like a dog outside the church door!"
" I have not more than fifty dollars," cried John, " that is my whole
inheritance ; but I will gladly give it you, if you will honestly promise
me to leave the poor dead man in peace. I shall manage to get on with-
out the money ; 1 have hearty strong limbs, and Heaven will always
" Yes," said these ugly bad men, " if you will pay his debt we will do
nothing to him, you may depend upon that !" And then they took the
money he gave them, laughed aloud at his good nature, and went their
way. But he laid the corpse out again in the coffin, and folded its
hands, took leave of it, and went away contentedly through the great
All around, wherever the moon could shine through between the trees,
he saw the graceful little elves playing merrily. They did not let him
disturb them ; they knew that he was a good innocent man ; and it is
only the bad people who never get to see the elves. Some of them were
not larger than a finger's breadth, and had fastened up their long yellow
hair with golden combs : they were rocking themselves, two and two, on
the great dew-drops that lay on the leaves and on the high grass ; some-
times the drop rolled away, and then they fell down between the long
The Travelling Companion. 49
grass-stalks, and that occasioned much laughter and noise among the
other little creatures. It was charming. They sang, and John recog-
nized quite plainly the pretty songs which he had learned as a little boy.
Great coloured spiders, with silver crowns on their heads, had to spin
long hanging bridges and palaces from hedge to hedge ; and as the tiny
dew-drops fell on these they looked like gleaming glass in the moonlight.
This continued until the sun rose. Then the little elves crept into the
flower-buds, and the wind caught their bridges and palaces, which flew
through the air in the shape of spider's webs.
John had just come out of the wood, when a strong man's voice called
out behind him, " Halloo, comrade ! whither are you journeying ? "
"Into the wide world!" he replied. "I have neither father nor
mother, and am but a poor lad ; but Providence will help me."
" I am goiug out into the wide world, too," said the strange man :
" shall we two keep one another company ?"
" Yes, certainly," said John ; and so they went on together. Soon
they became very fond of each other, for they were both good men. But
John saw that the stranger was much more clever than himself. He
had travelled through almost the whole world, and kue\v how to tell of
almost everything that existed.
The sun already stood high when they seated themselves under a great
tree to eat their breakfast ; and just then an old woman came up. Oh,
she was very old, and walked quite bent, leaning upon a crutch-stick ;
upon her back she carried a bundle of firewood which she had collected
in the forest. Her apron was untied, and John saw that three great
stalks of fern and some willow twigs looked out from within it. When
she was close to them, her foot slipped ; she fell and gave a loud scream,
for she had broken her leg, the poor old woman !
John directly proposed that they should carry the old woman home to
her dwelling ; but the stranger opened his knapsack, took out a little
bos, and said that he had a salve there which would immediately make
her leg whole and strong, so that she could walk home herself, as if she
had never broken her leg at all. But for that he required that she should
give him the three rods which she carried in her apron.
" That would be paying well !" said the old woman, and she nodded
her head in a strange way. She did not like to give away the rods, but
then it was not agreeable to lie there with a broken leg. So she gave
him the wands ; and as soon as he had only rubbed the ointment on her
leg, the old mother arose, and walked much better than before such
was the power of this ointment. But then it was not to be bought at
<: What do you want with the rods ?" John asked his travelling com-
" They are three capital fern brooms," replied he. " I like those verr
much, for I am a whimsical fellow."
And they went on a good way.
" See how the sky is becoming overcast," said John, pointing straight
before them. " Those are terribby thick clouds."
50 Stories for the Household.
" No," replied his travelling companion, " those are not clouds, they
are mountains the great glorious mountains, on which one gets quite
up over the clouds, and into the free air. Believe me, it is delicious !
To-morrow we shall certainly be far out into the world."
But that was not so near as it looked ; they had to walk for a whole
day before they came to the mountains, where the black woods grew
straight up towards heaven, and there were stones almost 'as big as a
whole town. It might certainly be hard work to get quite across them,
and for that reason John and his comrade went into the inn to rest them-
selves well, and gather strength for the morrow's journey.
Down in the great common room in the inn many guests were assem-
bled, for a man was there exhibiting a puppet-show. He had just put
up his little theatre, and the people were sitting round to see the play.
Quite in front a fat butcher had taken his seat in the very best place ;
his great bulldog, who looked very much inclined to bite, sat at his side,
and made big eyes, as all the rest were doing too.
Now the play began ; and it was a very nice play, with a king and a
queen in it ; they sat upon a beautiful throne, and had gold crowns on
their heads and long trains to their clothes, for their means admitted of
that. The prettiest of wooden dolls with glass eyes and great mous-
taches stood at all the doors, and opened and shut them so that fresh air
might come into the room. It was a very pleasant play, and not at all
mournful. But goodness knows what the big bulldog can have been
thinking of! just as the queen stood up and was walking across the
boards, as the fat butcher did not hold him, he made a spring \ipon the
stage, and seized the queen round her slender waist so that it cracked
again. It was quite terrible !
The poor man who managed the play was very much frightened and
quite sorrowful about his queen, for she was the daintiest little doll he
possessed, and now the ugly bulldog had bitten off her head. But after-
wards, when the people went away, the stranger said that he would put
her to rights again ; and then lie brought out his little box, and rubbed
the doll with the ointment with which he had cured the old woman when
she broke her leg. As soon as the doll had been rubbed, she was whole
again; yes, she could even move all her limbs by herself; it was no
longer necessary to pull her by her string. The doll was like a living
person, only that she could not speak. The man who had the little
puppet-show was very glad, now he had not to hold this doll any more.
She could dance by herself, and none of the others could do that.
When night came on, and all the people in the inn had gone to bed,
there was some one who sighed so fearfully, and went on doing it so long,
that they all got up to see who this could be. The man who had shown
the play went to his little theatre, for it was there that somebody was
sighing. All the wooden dolls lay mixed together, the king and all his
followers ; and it was they who sighed so pitiably, and stared with their
glass eyes ; for they wished to be rubbed a little as the queen had been,
so that they might be able to move by themselves. The queen at once
sank on her knees, and stretched forth her beautiful crown, as if she
The Travelling Companion.
begged, " Take this from me, but rub my husband and my courtiers ! "
Then the poor man, the proprietor of the little theatre and the dolls,
could not refrain from 'Beeping, for he was really sorry for them. He
immediately promised the travelling companion that he would give him
all the money he should receive the next evening for the representation
if the latter would only anoint four or five of his dolls. But the comrade
said he did not require anything at all but the sword the man wore by
his side ; and, on receiving this, he anointed six of the dolls, who imme-
diately began to dance so gracefully that all the girls, the living human
girls, fell a dancing too. The coachman and the cook danced, the waiter
and the chambermaid, and all the strangers, and the fire-shovel and
tongs ; but these latter fell down just as they made their first leaps.
Yes, it was a merry night !
THE BULLDOG ^YOREIE3 THE PUPPET.
Next morning John went away from them all with his travelling com-
panion, up on to the high mountains, and through the great pine woods.
They came so high up that the church steeples under them looked at
last like little blueberries among all the green ; and they could see very
far, many, many miles away, where they had never been. So much
splendour in the lovely world John had never seen at one time before.
And the sun shone warm in the fresh blue air, and among the mountains
he could hear the huntsmen blowing their horns so gaily and sweetly
that tears came into his eyes, and he could not help calling out, " How
kind has Heaven, been to us all, to give us all the splendour that is in
The travelling companion also stood there with folded hands, and
looked over the forest and the towns into the warm sunshine. At the
same time there arose lovely sounds over their heads : they looked up,
and a great white swan was soaring in the air, and singing as they had
52 Stories for the Household.
never heard a bird sing till then. But the song became weaker and
weaker ; he bowed his head and sank quite slowly down at their feet,
where he lay dead, the beautiful bird !
" Two such splendid wings," said the travelling companion, " so white
and large, as those which this bird has, are worth money ; I will take
them with me. Do you see that it was good I got a sabre ?"
And so, with one blow, he cut off both the wings of the dead swan,
for he wanted to keep them.
They now travelled for many, many miles over the mountains, till at
last they saw a great town before them with hundreds of towers, which
glittered like silver in the sun. In the midst of the town was a splen-
did marble palace, roofed with pure red gold. And there the King lived.
John and the travelling companion would not go into the town at
once, but remained in the inn outside the town, that they might dress
themselves ; for they wished to look nice when they came out into the
streets. The host told them that the King was a very good man, who
never did harm to any one ; but his daughter, yes, goodness preserve us !
she was a bad Princess. She possessed beauty enough no one could
be so pretty and so charming as she was but of what use was that?
She was a wicked witch, through whose fault many gallant Princes had
lost their lives. She had given permission to all men to seek her hand.
Any one might come, be he Prince or beggar : it was all the eame to her.
He had only to guess three things she had just thought of, and about
which she questioned him. If he could do that she would marry him,
and he was to be King over the whole country when her father should
die ; but if he could not guess the three things, she caused him to be
hanged or to have his head cut off! Her father, the old King, was very
sorry about it ; but he could not forbid her to be so w irked, because he
had once said that he would have nothing to do with her lovers ; she
might do as she liked. Every time a Prince came, and was to guess to
gain the Princess, he was unable to do it, and was hanged or lost his
head. He had been warned in time, you see, and might have given over
his wooing. The old King was so sorry for all this misery and woe, that
he used to lie on his knees with all his soldiers for a whole day in every
year, praying that the Princess might become good ; but she would not,
by any means. The old women who drank brandy used to colour it
quite black before they drank it, they were in such deep mourning and
they certainly could not do more.
" The ugly Princess ! " said John ; " she ought really to have the rod ;
that would do her good. If I were only the old King she should be
punished ! "
Then they heard the people outside shouting " Hurrah ! " The Prin-
cess came by ; and she was really so beautiful that all the people forgot
/iow wicked she was, and that is why they cried " Hurrah ! " Twelve
beautiful virgins, all in white silk gowns, and each with a golden tulip
in her hand, rode on coal-black steeds at her side. The Princess herself
had a snow-white horse, decked with diamonds and rubies. Her riding-
habit was all of cloth of gold, and the whip she held in her hand looked
The Travelling Companion.
like a sunbeam ; the golden crown on her head was just like little stars
out of the sky, and her mantle was sewn together out of more than a
thousand beautiful butterflies' wings. In spite of this, she herself was
much more lovely than all her clothes.
"When John saw her, his face became as red as a drop of blood, and
he could hardly utter a word. The Princess looked just like the beau-
tiful lady with the golden crown, of whom he had dreamt on the night
when his father died. He found her so enchanting that he could not
help loving her greatly. It could not be true that she was a wicked
witch, who caused people to be hanged or beheaded if they could not
guess the riddles she put to them.
^_'.. .^artnfcy (WTT'Tj^t
JOIIN AND UIS COMPANION SEE THE PEINCESS RIDING 3T.
" Every one has permission to aspire to her hand, even the poorest
beggar. I will really go to the castle, for I cannot help doing it ! "
They all told him not to attempt it, for certainly he would fare as all
the rest had done. His travelling companion too tried to dissuade him ;
but John thought it would end well. He brushed his shoes and his
coat, washed his face and his hands, combed his nice fair hair, and then
went quite alone into the town and to the palace.
" Come in!" said the old King, when John knocked at the door.
John opened it, and the old King came towards him in a dressing-
gown and embroidered slippers ; he had the crown on his head, and the
54 Stories for the Household.
sceptre in one hand arid the orb in the other. " AYait a little ! " said
he, and put the orb under his arm, so that he could reach out his hand
to John. But as soon as he learned that his visitor was a suitor, he
began to weep so violently that both the sceptre aud the orb fell to the
ground, and he was obliged to wipe his eyes with his dressiug-gown. Poor
old King !
".Give it up ! " said he. " You will fare badly, as all the others have
done. "Well, you shall see ! "
Then he led him out into the Princess's pleasure garden. There was
a terrible sight ! In every tree there hung three or four Kings' sons who
had wooed the Princess, but had not been able to gutjs the riddles she
proposed to them. Each time that the breeze blew all the skeletons
rattled, so that the little birds were frightened, and never dared to come
into the garden. All the flowers were tied up to human bones, and in
the flower-pots skulls stood and grinned. That was certainly a strange
garden for a Princess.
" Here you see it," said the old King. " It will chance to you as it
has chanced to all these whom you see here ; therefore you had better
give it up. You will really make me unhappy, for 1 take these things
very much to heart."
John kissed the good old King's hand, and said it would go well, for
that he was quite enchanted with the beautiful Princess.
Then the Princess herself came riding into the courtyard, with all
her ladies ; and they went out to her and wished her good morning.
She was beautiful to look at, and she gave John her hand. And lie
cared much more for her then than before she could certainly not be a
wicked witch, as the people asserted. Then they betook themselves to
the hall, and the little pages waited upon tlu-m with preserves and
gingerbread nuts. But the old King was quite sorrowful ; he could not
eat anything at all. Besides, gingerbread nuts were too hard for him.
It was settled that John should come to the palace again the next
morning; then the judges and the whole council would be assembled,
and would hear how he succeeded with his answers. If it went well,
he should come twice more ; but no one had yet come who had suc-
ceeded in guessing right the first time ; and if he did not manage better
than they he must die.
John was not at all anxious as to how he should fare. On the con-
trary, he was merry, thought only of the beautiful Princess, and felt
quite certain that he should be helped; but how he did not know, and
preferred not to think of it. He danced along on the road returniug
to the inn, where his travelling companion was waiting for him.
John could not leave off telling how polite the Princess had been to
him, and how beautiful she was. He declared he already longed for
the next day, when he was to go into the palace and try his luck in,
But the travelling companion shook his head and was quite down-
cast. " 1 am so fond of you ! " said he. " AYe might have been together
a long time yet, and now I am to lose you already ! You poor dear
The Travelling Companion. 55
John ! I should like to cry, but I will not disturb your merriment on
the last evening, perhaps, we shall ever spend together. We will be
merry, very merry ! To-morrow, when you are gone, I can weep un-
All the people in the town had heard directly that a new suitor for
the Princess had arrived ; and there was great sorrow on that account.
The theatre remained closed ; the women who sold cakes tied bits of
crape round their sugar men, and the King and the priests were on
their knees in the churches. There was great lamentation ; for John
would not, they all thought, fare better than the other suitors had fared.
Towards evening the travelling companion mixed a great bowl of
punch, and said to John, " Now we will be very merry, and drink to
the health of the Princess." But when John had drunk two glasses,
he became so sleepy that he found it impossible to keep his eyes open,
and he sank into a deep sleep. The travelling companion lifted him very
gently from his chair, and laid him in the bed ; and when it grew to be
dark night, he took the two great wings which he had cut off 1 the s\van,
and bound them to his own shoulders. Then he put in his pocket the
longest of the rods he had received from, the old woman who had fallen
and broken her leg ; and he opened the window and flew away over the
town, straight towards the palace, where he seated himself in a corner
under the window which looked into the bed-room of the Princess.
All was quiet in the "whole town. Now the clock struck a quarter to
twelve, the window was opened, and the Princess came out in a long
white cloak, and with black wings, and flew away across the town to a
great mountain. But the travelling companion made himself invisible,
so that she could not see him at all, and flew behind her, and whipped
the Princess with his rod, so that the blood almost came wherever he
struck. Oh, that was a voyage through the air ! The wind caught her
cloak, so that it spread out on all sides like a great sail, and the moon
shone through it.
" How it hails ! how it hails ! " said the Princess at every blow she
got from the rod ; and it served her right. At last she arrived at the
mountain, and knocked there. There was a rolling like thunder, and
the mountain opened, and the Princess went in. The travelling com-
panion followed her. for no one could see him he was invisible. They
went through a great long passage, where the walls shone in quite a
peculiar way : there were more than a thousand glowing spiders running
up and down the walls and gleaming like fire. Then they came into a
great hall built of silver and gold ; flowers as big as sunflowers, red and
blue, shone on the walls ; but no one could pluck these flowers, for the
stems were ugly poisonous snakes, and the flowers were streams of fire
pouring out of their mouths. The whole ceiling was covered with
shining glowworms and sky-blue bats, flapping their thin wings. It
looked quite terrific ! In the middle of the floor was a throne, carried
by four skeleton horses, with harness of fiery red spiders ; the throne
itself was of milk-white glass, and the cushions were little black mice,
biting each other's tails. Above it was a canopy of pink spider's web,
56 Stories for the Household.
trimmed with the prettiest little green flies, which gleamed like jewels.
On the throne sat an old magician, with a crown on hia ugly head and
a sceptre in his hand. He kissed the Princess on the forehead, made
her sit down beside him on the costly throne, and then the music began.
Great black grasshoppers played on jews'-harps, and the owl beat her
wings upon her body, because she hadn't a drum. That was a strange
concert ! Little black goblins with a Jack-o'-lantern light on their caps
danced about in the hall. But no one could see the travelling com-
panion : he had placed himself just behind the throne, and heard and
saw everything. The courtiers, who now came in, were very grand and
noble ; but he who could see it all knew very well what it all meant.
They were nothing more than broomsticks with heads of cabbages on
them, which the magician had animated by his power, and to whom he
had given embroidered clothes. But that did not matter, for, you see,
they were only wanted for show.
After there had been a little dancing, the Princess told the magician
that she had a new suitor, and therefore she inquired of him what she
should think of to ask the suitor when he should come to-morrow to
"Listen !" said the magician, " I will tell you that : you must choose
something very easy, for then he Avon't think of it. Think of one of
your shoes. That he will not guess. Let him have his head cut off:
but don't forget, when you come to me to-morrow night, to bring me
his eyes, for 1 '11 eat them."
The Princess courtesied very low, and said she would not forget the
eyes. The magician opened the mountain, and she flew home again;
but the travelling companion followed her, and beat her again so hard
with the rod that she sighed quite deeply about the heavy hail-storm,
and hurried as much aa she could to get back into the bed-room through
the open window. The travelling companion, for his part, flew back to
the inn, where John was still asleep, took off his wings, and then lay
down upon the bed, for he might well be tired.
It was quite early in the morning when John awoke. The travelling
companion also got up, and said he had had a wonderful dream in the
night, about the Princess and her shoe ; and he therefore begged John
to ask if the Princess had not thought about her shoe. For it was this
he had heard from the magician in the mountain.
" I may just as well ask about that as about anything else," said John.
" Perhaps it is quite right, what you have dreamed. But I will bid you
farewell ; for, if I guess wrong, I shall never see you more."
Then they embraced each other, and John went into the town and to
the palace. The entire hall was filled with people: the judges sat in
their arm-chairs and had eider-down pillows behind their heads, for they
had a great deal to think about. The old King stood up, and wiped his
eyes with a white pocket handkerchief. Isow the Princess came in.
She was much more beautiful than yesterday, and bowed to all in a very
affable manner ; but to John she gave her hand, and said, "Good morn-
ing to you."
The Travelling Companion. 57
Now John was to guess -frliat she bad thought of. Oh, how lovingly
she looked at him ! But as soon as she heard the single word " shoe "
pronounced, she became as white as chalk in the face, and trembled all
over. But that availed her nothing, for John had guessed right !
Wonderful ! How glad the old King was ! He threw a somersault
beautiful to behold. And all the people clapped their hands in honour of
him and of John, who had guessed right the first time !