Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin.

Tales of laughter : a third fairy book online

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Everything went well for a week or more, and then said the
wife : " Listen, husband ; this cottage is too cramped, and the
garden is too small. The flounder might have given us a big-

[103]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

ger house. I want to live in a big stone castle. Go to the
flounder, and tell him to give us a castle."

" Alas, wife ! " said the man ; " the cottage is good enough
for us ; what should we do with a castle ? "

" Never mind," said his wife ; " do thou but go to the floun-
der, and he will manage it."

" Nay, wife," said the man ; " the flounder gave us the cot-
tage. I don't want to go back ; as likely as not he'll be angry."

" Go, all the same," said the woman. " He can do it easily
enough, and willingly into the bargain. Just go ! "

The man's heart was heavy, and he was very unwilling to
go. He said to himself : " It's not right." But at last he went.

He found the sea was no longer green ; it was still calm, but
dark violet and gray. He stood by it and said:

"Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say."

" Now, what do you want ? " said the flounder.

" Alas," said the man, half scared, " my wife wants a big
stone castle."

" Go home again," said the flounder ; " she is standing at
the door of it."

Then the man went away, thinking he would find no house,
but when he got back he found a great stone palace, and his
wife standing at the top of the steps, waiting to go in.

She took him by the hand and said : " Come in with me."

With that they went in and found a great hall paved with
marble slabs, and numbers of servants in attendance, who
opened the great doors for them. The walls were hung with
beautiful tapestries, and the rooms were furnished with golden
chairs and tables, while rich carpets covered the floors, and
crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings. The tables groaned
under every kind of delicate food and the most costly wines.
Outside the house there was a great courtyard, with stabling
for horses, and cows, and many fine carriages. Beyond this

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TALES OF LAUGHTER

there was a great garden filled with the loveliest flowers, and
fine fruit trees. There was also a park, half a mile long, and
in it were stags and hinds, and hares, and everything of the
kind one could wish for.

" Now," said the woman, " is not this worth having? "

" Oh, yes," said the man ; " and so let it remain. We will
live in this beautiful palace and be content."

" We will think about that," said his wife, " and sleep
upon it."

With that they went to bed.

Next morning the wife woke up first ; day was just dawning,
and from her bed she could see the beautiful country around
her. Her husband was still asleep, but she pushed him with
her elbow, and said : " Husband, get up and peep out of the
window. See here, now, could we not be king over all this
land ? Go to the flounder. We will be king."

" Alas, wife," said the man, " what should we be king for ?
I don't want to be king."

" Ah," said his wife, " if thou wilt not be king, I will. Go
to the flounder. I will be king."

" Alas, wife," said the man, " whatever dost thou want to be
king for ? I don't like to tell him."

" Why not? " said the woman. " Go thou must. I will be
king."

So the man went; but he was quite sad because his wife
would be king.

" It is not right," he said ; " it is not right."

When he reached the sea, he found it dark, gray, and rough,
and evil-smelling. He stood there and said:

"Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say."

" Now, what does she want ? " said the flounder.
" Alas," said the man, " she wants to be king now."
" Go back. She is king already," said the flounder.



TALES OF LAUGHTER

So the man went back, and when he reached the palace he
found that it had grown much larger, and a great tower had
been added, with handsome decorations. There was a sentry
at the door, and numbers of soldiers were playing drums and
trumpets. As soon as he got inside the house, he found every-
thing was marble and gold; and the hangings were of velvet,
with great golden tassels. The doors of the saloon were
thrown wide open, and he saw the whole court assembled. His
wife was sitting on a lofty throne of gold and diamonds ; she
wore a golden crown, and carried in one hand a scepter of pure
gold. On each side of her stood her ladies in a long row, each
one a head shorter than the next.

He stood before her, and said : " Alas, wife, art thou now
king?"

" Yes," she said; " now I am king."

He stood looking at her for some time, and then he said:
" Ah, wife, it is a fine thing for thee to be king ; now we will
not wish to be anything more."

" Nay, husband," she answered, quite uneasily, " I find the
time hangs very heavy on my hands. I can't bear it any
longer. Go back to the flounder. King I am, but I must also
be emperor."

" Alas, wife," said the man, " why dost thou now want to be
emperor ? "

" Husband," she answered, " go to the flounder. Emperor I
will be."

" Alas, wife," said the man, " emperor he can't make thee,
and I won't ask him. There is only one emperor in the coun-
try ; and emperor the flounder cannot make thee, that he can't."

" What ? " said the woman. " I am king, and thou art but
my husband. To him thou must go, and that right quickly. If
he can make a king, he can also make an emperor. Emperor
I will be, so quickly go."

He had to go, but he was quite frightened. And as he went,
he thought : " This won't end well ; emperor is too shameless.
The flounder will make an end of the whole thing."

With that he came to the sea, but now he found it quite black,

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TALES OF LAUGHTER

and heaving up from below in great waves. It tossed to and
fro, and a sharp wind blew over it, and the man trembled. So
he stood there, and said :

"Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say."

" What does she want now ? " said the flounder.

" Alas, flounder," he said, " my wife wants to be emperor."

" Go back," said the flounder. " She is emperor."

So the man went back, and when he got to the door, he found
that the whole palace was made of polished marble, with ala-
baster figures and golden decorations. Soldiers marched up
and down before the doors, blowing their trumpets and beat-
ing their drums. Inside the palace, counts, barons, and dukes
walked about as attendants, and they opened to him the doors,
which were of pure gold.

He went in, and saw his wife sitting on a huge throne made
of solid gold. It was at least two miles high. She had on her
head a great golden crown, set with diamonds, three yards high.
In one hand she held the scepter, and in the other the ball of
empire. On each side of her stood the gentlemen-at-arms in
two rows, each one a little smaller than the other, from giants
two miles high, down to the tiniest dwarf no bigger than my
little finger. She was surrounded by princes and dukes.

Her husband stood still, and said : " Wife, art thou now em-
peror?"

" Yes," said she ; " now I am emperor."

Then he looked at her for some time, and said : " Alas, wife,
how much better off art thou for being emperor ? "

"Husband," she said, "what art thou standing there for?
Now I am emperor, I mean to be pope! Go back to the
flounder."

"Alas, wife," said the man, "what wilt thou not want?
Pope thou canst not be. There is only one pope in Christen-
dom. That's more than the flounder can do."

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TALES OF LAUGHTER

" Husband," she said, " pope I will be ; so go at once. I must
be pope this very day."

" No, wife," he said, " I dare not tell him. It's no good ; it's
too monstrous altogether. The flounder cannot make thee
pope."

" Husband," said the woman, " don't talk nonsense. If he
can make an emperor, he can make a pope. Go immediately.
I am emperor, and thou art but my husband, and thou must
obey."

So he was frightened, and went ; but he was quite dazed. He
shivered and shook, and his knees trembled.

A great wind arose over the land, the clouds flew across the
sky, and it grew as dark as night; the leaves fell from the
trees, and the water foamed and dashed upon the shore. In the
distance the ships were being tossed to and fro on the waves,
and he heard them firing signals of distress. There was still
a little patch of blue in the sky among the dark clouds, but
toward the south they were red and heavy, as in a bad storm.
In despair, he stood and said :

"Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say."

" Now, what does she want ? " said the flounder.

" Alas," said the man, " she wants to be pope."

" Go back. Pope she is," said the flounder.

So back he went, and he found a great church, surrounded
with palaces. He pressed through the crowd, and inside he
found thousands and thousands of lights, and his wife, en-
tirely clad in gold, was sitting on a still higher throne, with
three golden crowns upon her head, and she was surrounded
with priestly state. On each side of her were two rows of
candles, the biggest as thick as a tower, down to the tiniest little
taper. Kings and emperors were on their knees before her,
kissing her shoe.

" Wife," said the man, looking at her, " art thou now pope? "

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TALES OF LAUGHTER

" Yes," said she ; " now I am pope."

So there he stood gazing at her, and it was like looking at
a shining sun.

" Alas, wife," he said, " art thou better off for being pope? "
At first she sat as stiff as a post, without stirring. Then he
said : " Now, wife, be content with being pope ; higher thou
canst not go."

" I will think about that," said the woman, and with that
they both went to bed. Still she was not content, and could not
sleep for her inordinate desires. The man slept well and
soundly, for he had walked about a great deal in the day ; but
his wife could think of nothing but what further grandeur she
could demand. When the dawn reddened the sky, she raised
herself up in bed and looked out of the window, and when she
saw the sun rise she said:

" Ha! can I not cause the sun and the moon to rise? Hus-
band ! " she cried, digging her elbow into his side, " wake up
and go to the flounder. I will be lord of the universe."

Her husband, who was still more than half asleep, was so
shocked that he fell out of bed. He thought he must have
heard wrong. He rubbed his eyes and said :

" Alas, wife, what didst thou say ? "

" Husband," she said, " if I cannot be lord of the universe,
and cause the sun and moon to set and rise, I shall not be able
to bear it. I shall never have another happy moment."

She looked at him so wildly that it caused a shudder to run
through him.

" Alas, wife," he said, falling on his knees before her, " the
flounder can't do that. Emperor and pope he can make, but
that is indeed beyond him. I pray thee, control thyself and
remain pope."

Then she flew into a terrible rage. Her hair stood on end ;
she panted for breath, and screamed :

" I won't bear it any longer; wilt thou go? "

Then he pulled on his trousers and tore away like a mad-
man. Such a storm was raging that he could hardly keep
his feet; houses and trees quivered and swayed, mountains

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TALES OF LAUGHTER

trembled, and the rocks rolled into the sea. The sky was
pitchy black; it thundered and lightened, and the sea ran in
black waves, mountains high, crested with white foam. He
shrieked out, but could hardly make himself heard:

"Flounder, flounder in the sea,
Prythee, hearken unto me:
My wife, Ilsebil, will have her own way
Whatever I wish, whatever I say."

" Now, what does she want ? " asked the flounder.
" Alas," he said, " she wants to be Lord of the Universe."
" Now she must go back to her old hovel," said the flounder ;
" and there you will find her."

And there they are to this very day!



[no]



The Nose-tree

y^VID you ever hear the story of the three poor soldiers
i J who, after having fought hard in the wars, set out on
^ ^ their road home, begging their way as they went?

They had journeyed on a long time, sick at heart with their
bad luck at thus being turned loose on the world in their old
days, when one evening they reached a deep, gloomy wood,
through which lay their road. Night came fast upon them, and
they found that they must, however unwillingly, sleep in this
wood ; so, to make all safe as they could, it was agreed that two
should lie down and sleep, while a third sat up and watched,
lest wild beasts should break in and tear them to pieces. When
he was tired he was to wake one of the others, and sleep in his
turn ; and so on with the third, so as to share the work fairly
among them.

The two who were to rest first soon lay down and fell fast
asleep ; and the other made himself a good fire under the trees,
and sat down by its side to keep watch. He had not sat long
before, all of a sudden, up came a little dwarf in a red jacket.
"Who is there?" said he. "A friend," said the soldier.
" What sort of a friend? " " An old, broken soldier," said the
other, " with his two comrades, who have nothing left to live
on ; come, sit down and warm yourself." "Well, my worthy fel-
low," said the little man, " I will do what I can for you ; take
this and show it to your comrades in the morning." So he
took out an old cloak and gave it to the soldier, telling him
that whenever he put it over his shoulders anything that he
wished for would be done for him. Then the little man made
him a bow and walked away.

The second soldier's turn to watch soon came, and the first
laid him down to sleep; but the second man had not sat by

[in]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

himself long before up came the dwarf in the red jacket again.
The soldier treated him in as friendly a way as his comrade
had done, and the little man gave him a purse, which he told
him would be always full of gold, let him draw as much as he
would out of it.

Then the third soldier's turn to watch came; and he also
had little Red-jacket for his guest, who gave him a wonderful
horn, that drew crowds around it whenever it was played, and
made every one forget his business to come and dance to its
beautiful music.

In the morning each told his story, and showed the gift he
had got from the elf: and as they all liked one another very
much, and were old friends, they agreed to travel together to
see the world, and, for a while, only to make use of the won-
derful purse. And thus they spent their time very joyously, till
at last they began to be tired of this roving life, and thought
they should like to have a home of their own. So the first sol-
dier put his old cloak on and wished for a fine castle. In
a moment it stood before their eyes: fine gardens and green
lawns spread around it, and flocks of sheep and goats; herds
of oxen were grazing about ; and out of the gate came a grand
coach with three dapple-gray horses, to meet them and bring
them home.

All this was very well for a time, but they found it would
not do to stay at home always ; so they got together all their
rich clothes, and jewels, and money, and ordered their coach
with three dapple-gray horses, and set out on a journey
to see a neighboring king. Now this king had an only daugh-
ter, and as he saw the three soldiers traveling in such grand
style, he took them for king's sons, and so gave them a kind
welcome. One day, as the second soldier was walking with
the princess, she saw that he had the wonderful purse in his
hand. Then she asked him what it was, and he was foolish
enough to tell her though, indeed, it did not much signify
what he said, for she was a fairy, and knew all the wonderful
things that the three soldiers had brought. Now this princess
was very cunning and artful ; so she set to work and made

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TALES OF LAUGHTER

a purse, so like the soldier's that no one would know the one
from the other ; and then she asked him to come and see her,
and made him drink some wine that she had got ready for
him, and which soon made him fall fast asleep. Then she felt
in his pocket, and took away the wonderful purse, and left
the one she had made in its place.

The next morning the soldiers set out home ; and soon after
they reached their castle, happening to want some money, they
went to their purse for it, and found something indeed in it;
but to their great sorrow, when they had emptied it, none
came in the place of what they took. Then the cheat was soon
found out; for the second soldier knew where he had been,
and how he had told the story to the princess, and he guessed
that she had played him a trick. " Alas ! " cried he, " poor
wretches that we are, what shall we do? " " Oh! " said the
first soldier, " let no gray hairs grow for this mishap ; I will
soon get the purse back." So he threw his cloak across his
shoulders and wished himself in the princess's chamber.

There he found her sitting alone, telling up her gold, that
fell around her in a shower from the wonderful purse.

But the soldier stood looking at her too long; for she
turned around, and the moment she saw him she started up
and cried out with all her force, " Thieves ! thieves ! " so that
the whole court came running in and tried to seize on him.
The poor soldier now began to be dreadfully frightened in his
turn, and thought it was high time to make the best of his
way off; so, without thinking of the ready way of traveling
that his cloak gave him, he ran to the window, opened it, and
jumped out ; and unluckily, in his haste, his cloak caught and
was left hanging, to the great joy of the princess, who knew
its worth.

The poor soldier made the best of his way home to his
comrades on foot, and in a very downcast mood ; but the third
soldier told him to keep up his heart, and took his horn and
blew a merry tune. At the first blast a countless host of
foot-and-horse came rushing to their aid, and they set out to
make war against their enemy. The king's palace was at once



TALES OF LAUGHTER

besieged, and he was told that he must give up the purse and
cloak, or that not one stone should be left upon another. So
the king went into his daughter's chamber and talked with
her ; but she said, " Let me try first if I cannot beat them one
way or another." So she thought of a cunning scheme to
over-reach them ; and dressing herself out as a poor girl, with
a basket on her arm, she set out by night with her maid, and
went into the enemy's camp, as if she wanted to sell trinkets.

In the morning she began to ramble about, singing ballads
so beautifully that all the tents were left empty, and the sol-
diers ran round in crowds, and thought of nothing but hear-
ing her sing. Among the rest came the soldier to whom the
horn belonged, and as soon as she saw him she winked to her
maid, who slipped slyly through the crowd, and went into his
tent where it hung and stole it away. This done, they both
got safely back to the palace, the besieging army went away,
the three wonderful gifts were all left in the hands of the
princess, and the three soldiers were as penniless and forlorn
as when little Red-jacket found them in the wood.

Poor fellows ! they began to think what was now to be done.
" Comrades," at last said the second soldier, who had had the
purse, " we had better part ; we cannot live together, let each
seek his bread as well as he can." So he turned to the right,
and the other two went to the left, for they said they would
rather travel together. The second soldier strayed on till he
came to a wood (which happened to be the same wood where
they had met with so much good luck before), and he walked
on a long time till evening began to fall, when he sat down
tired beneath a tree and soon fell asleep.

Morning dawned, and he was greatly delighted, on opening
his eyes, to see that the tree was laden with the most beauti-
ful apples. He was hungry enough, so he soon plucked and
ate first one, then a second, then a third apple. A strange
feeling came over his nose; when he put the apple to his
mouth something was in the way. He felt it it was his nose,
that grew and grew till it hung down to his breast. It did not
stop there still it grew and grew. " Heavens ! " thought he,



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" when will it have done growing? " And well might he ask,
for by this time it reached the ground as he sat on the grass
and thus it kept creeping on till he could not bear its weight
or raise himself up; and it seemed as if it would never end,
for already it stretched its enormous length all through the
wood, over hill and dale.

Meantime his comrades were journeying on, till on a sud-
den one of them stumbled against something. " What can
that be ? " said the other. They looked, and could think of
nothing that it was like but a nose. " We will follow it and
find its owner, however," said they. So they traced it up, till
at last they found their poor comrade, lying stretched along
under the apple-tree.

What was to be done? They tried to carry him, but in
vain. They caught an ass that was passing, and raised him
upon its back; but it was soon tired of carrying such a load.
So they sat down in despair, when before long up came their
old acquaintance, the dwarf with the red jacket. " Why, how
now, friend, " said he, laughing : " well, I must find a cure for
you, I see." So he told them to gather a pear from another
tree that grew close by, and the nose would come right again.
No time was lost ; and the nose, to the poor soldier's joy, was
soon brought to its proper size.

" I will do something more for you, still," said the dwarf :
" take some of those pears and apples with you ; whoever eats
one of the apples will have his nose grow like yours just now ;
but if you give him a pear, all will come right again. Go to
the princess, and get her to eat some of your apples ; her nose
will grow twenty times as long as yours did : then look sharp,
and you will get what you want from her."

The friends thanked the dwarf very heartily for all his
kindness; and it was agreed that the poor soldier, who had
already tried the power of the apple, should follow out the sug-
gestion. So he dressed himself up as a gardener's boy, and went
to the king's palace, and said he had apples to sell, so fine and
so beautiful as were never seen there before. Every one that
saw them was delighted, and wanted to taste ; but he said they



TALES OF LAUGHTER

were for the princess only ; and she soon sent her maid to buy
his stock. They were so ripe and rosy that she soon began
eating ; and had not eaten above a dozen before she too began
to wonder what ailed her nose, for it grew and grew down to
the ground, out at the window, and over the garden, and
away, nobody knows where.

Then the king made known to all his kingdom that whoever
would heal her of this dreadful disease should be richly re-
warded. Many tried, but the princess got no relief. And
now the old soldier dressed himself up very sprucely as a
doctor, and said he would cure her. So he chopped up some
of the apple, and, to punish her a little more, gave her a dose,
saying he would call to-morrow and see her again. The mor-
row came, and, of course, instead of being better, the nose
had been growing on all night as before ; and the poor prin-
cess was in a dreadful fright. So the doctor then chopped up
a very little of the pear and gave her, and said he was sure
that would do good, and he would call again the next day.
Next day came, and the nose was, to be sure, a little smaller,
but yet it was bigger than when the doctor first began to med-
dle with it.

Then he thought to himself, " I must frighten this cun-
ning princess a little more before I shall get what I want
from her " ; so he gave her another dose of the apple, and said
he would call on the morrow. The morrow came, and the
nose was ten times as bad as before. " My good lady," said
the doctor, " something works against my medicine, and is too
strong for it ; but I know by the force of my art what it is ;
you have stolen goods about you, I am sure; and if you do
not give them back, I can do nothing for you." But the prin-
cess denied very stoutly that she had anything of the kind.
" Very well," said the doctor, " you may do as you please,
but I am sure I am right, and you will die if you do not own
it." Then he went to the king, and told him how the matter
stood. " Daughter," said he, " send back the cloak, -the purse,
and the horn, that you stole from the right owners."



Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginTales of laughter : a third fairy book → online text (page 8 of 31)