L. (Laura) Valentine.

The old old fairy tales online

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Ella Sterling Mighels





Author of " Sea Fights and Land Battles," " The Knight's

Ransom," etc.



IT or



-, s




? HDB tales contained in this volume have been the de-
ligh of many generations of children, and can, in fact,
cla^ a a very distant origin, though they were retold in
their present form as late as the age of Louis XIV.
They are generally supposed to have come from the East,
for le are to be found in varied forms in all the coun-
trie^ of Europe that sent forth Crusaders.

The earliest collection of these stories in prose was
made by Straparola, a native of Garavaggio, in the Mi-
lanese, and published by him at Venice in his "Notti
Piacevoli," in 1550. They were translated into French
in 1560, and from them the well-known "Contes des
Fees" were principally taken.

As children always like stories to be retold in the same
words as far as possible, these tales have not been rewrit-
ten (except in two cases); the original translations in
their quaint simplicity have been collected, and merely
corrected so far as to meet the modern ideas of the kind
of tale to be given to children; the old ones being occa-
sionally a little coarse.



Goody Two Shoes I

Patty and her Pitcher 15

Blanche and Rosalind ,... 29

Fairer than a Fairy 84

The Three Soldiers and the Dwarf 57

The Giant with the Golden Hair 64

Blue Beard 70

Diamonds jmd Toads. 77

Fortunio 81

Prince Fatal and Prince Fortune 114

The Beneficent Frog 124

The Story of Prince Sincere 148

Princess Rosetta 171

Babiola.. .... .. 188

The Story of Prince Tito 195

The Three Bears 216

The Good Little Mouse 225

Septimus 241

Prince Desire and Princess Mignonetta 276

Princess Minikin 284

Prince Cherry 819

The Princess Maia... , 833



Iff the latter part of the reign of Queen Bess there was
an honest, industrious countryman named Meanwell, liv-
ing upon a small farm which he held under Sir Peter
Gripe, a very hard, covetous landlord, who was per-
suaded by one of his richer tenants, Hugh Graspall, as
greedy as himself, to take away the lands held by Mean-
well and other poor tenants, and let him have them to
increase his own large farm.

When Meanwell was thus cruelly turned out of his
little farm, which had enabled him to support a wife and
two young children, called Tommy and Margery, he tried
in vain to find another cottage with land. Care and mis-
fortune soon shortened his days; and his wife, not long
after, followed him to the grave. On her deathbed she
did not repine at her losses and sufferings, but humbly
prayed that Heaven would watch over and protect her
helpless orphans when she should be taken from them.
At her death these poor children were left in a sad
plight; and as there were but few people in the village of
Mouldwell, where they lived, able to befriend them, they
could get no regular meals, and had to make all sorts of
shifts to keep themselves from starving. At times, in-
deed, they were obliged to put up with the wild fruits
and berries that they picked from the hedges. They
were also without proper clothes to keep them warm;
and as for shoes, they had not even two pairs between
them. Tommy, who had to go about more than his sis-
ter, had a pair to himself; but little Margery for a long
time wore but one shoe.

These two children in all their trials never ceased to
love each other dearly, nor did they forget the good les-
sons which their kind mother had taught them. And


W-eTl did th&y deserve her anxious love, and the earnest
prayers she had offered up to Heaven for their welfare.
They never murmured, nor ever thought of taking any-
thing from their neighbors, however hungry they might
be, but were always looking out for some sort of work,
although but little of that did they get. But this hard
lot really befell them for their good; for without it how

could their excellent qualities have been so well brought
out, and their praiseworthy conduct have become the talk
of the village?

Heaven, indeed, had heard their dying mother's
prayers, and had watched over and protected them
through all their troubles. Relief was at hand, and
better things were in store for them. It happened that
Mr. Gpodall, the worthy clergyman of th^ parish, heard
of their sad wandering sort of life for tney were with-

' * ; * '

. -

~ . ,

. . . : .


out a home, and had generally to sleep in some barn or
outhouse and so he sent for the two children, and
kindly offered to shelter them until they could get regu-
lar work to do. Immediately after this unlooked-for
blessing had fallen upon them, a gentleman of rank and
wealth came from London on a visit at the parsonage;
and no sooner did he hear the story qf the orphans than
his heart warmed toward them, and he resolved to be

their friend. The very first thing he did was to order a
pair of shoes to be made for Margery, and he also placed
money in her hand to buy good and suitable clothes
with. But he did much more than this for Tommy.
Not only did he get clothes for him, but he offered to.
take him to London if he would consent to go, promis-
ing to put him in a way to do well by going abroad,
after he had acquired sufficient knowledge to fit him for
such a step.

When the time arrived for her brother to start off with
his generous friend, Margery was in great trouble, and
her eyes filling with tears, they embraced each other over
and over again; but Tommy, in order to comfort his
weeping sister, promised he would not fail to come over


to Mouldwell to see her, when he should return from
foreign countries.

After he was gone Margery began to recover her usual
cheerfulness. She knew it was of no use to keep on cry-
ing; but what helped greatly to put her into good spirits
was the pleasure she took in her new shoes. As soon as
the old shoemaker brought them she put them on, and
ran at once to the clergyman's wife, crying out with glee,
as she pointed to them:

"Two shoes, ma'am! See, two shoes!"

These words, "two shoes!" she kept on repeating to
everybody she met, and by this means came to be called
for a long while after by the name of GOODY TWO-SHOES.

Now Margery was a thoughtful little girl; and after she
had lived at the parsonage some time, she noticed more
and more how good and wise the clergyman was, and she
could only suppose that this was owing to his great
learning. The poor girl then felt ashamed of her own
ignorance, and was most anxious to learn how to read
and write, although at that time in distant country
places very little instruction was given to poor children.
Mr. Goodall, however, when he found how desirous she
was to improve herself in every way kindly taught her
what she most wished to know. As he was a clever man,
he took care that she should not learn by rote; so, as she
advanced, he made her think well over each lesson, and
though this made her progress a little slower, she became
in good time a better scholar than any of the children
who went to the village school. As soon as she found
that this was the case she began to reflect that it was
her duty to devote some of her spare time, with Mr.
Goodall's permission, to the instruction of such poor
children as could not go to school. After much think-
ing and contriving, she hit upon a simple but clever plan
to get these ignorant children to attend to her teaching.
She knew that the different letters of the alphabet were
sufficient to spell every word only that those used as
capital letters were larger than the others. Now as very
few books were then printed, and they were scarcely ever
to be seen in the hands of poor people, she thought she
could get over the difficulty by cutting, with a good
knife, out of several pieces of wood, six sets of capital
letters like these:



And ten sets of these common letters:


When, after much pains and trouble, she had finished
all these wooden letters, she managed with some diffi-
culty to borrow an old spelling-book, and, with the help
of this, she made her playmates set up the words she
wished them to spell. Her usual way with them when
she could get several of them together about her was
this: Suppose the word to be spelled was "Pudding"
(she always chose words at first that sounded pleasantly
to her little pupils' ears), one of the children, who were
placed in a circle round her, brought the capital letter
"P" from the large set; the next picked up "u" from
the small set; the next two a "d" each; the next "i,"
and so on, until the whole word was spelled. Margery,
in her simplicity, fancied that the first steps in knowl-
edge ought to be as much like play as possible; and the
result proved how right she was, for her little companions
were always eager for this "game," as they called it, and
were very sorry if they were thrown out by picking up a
wrong letter, and had to play no more that morning.
Before long not only her poor pupils, but their ignorant
parents too, were very thankful for the trouble she took
in teaching her playfellow.s; and as it often happened
they could not be spared to be with her of a morning,
she' would then go found to their different cottages to
teach them, carrying her wooden letters in a basket.

On one of these occasions the worthy clergyman asked
a friend of his, a substantial yeoman named Rowland, to
accompany Margery in her rounds, that he might judge
as an eye-witness of the results of her teaching. This
good man was much pleased with all he saw and heard;
and, as he gave his opinion in writing to Mr. Goodall, we
cannot do better than make use of his own words.

"After setting out, Margery and I, we first came to
Jerry Hodge's; and no sooner had we tapped at the door
than the cottager's wife came out, and when she saw
Margery, said, 'Oh, if it isn't little Goody Two-Shoes;
and I am right glad to see thee, that I be! Pray come
in, and this good gentleman too, that ye may both see


how well our Billy has learned his lessons.' The poor
little fellow, I found, could not speak plain; but he had
learned all his letters, and was quite able to pick them
out and put them together in short words when asked
to do so.

"The next place we visited was Widow Giles', who, to
protect herself at night, kept a fierce-looking dog, and
the moment Margery opened the gate he began barking
at a great rate. This called out his mistress, who
scolded him sharply for daring to bark at Goody Two-
Shoes. After quieting the noisy cur she asked us in,
and seemed very proud to show how clever her littk '
Sally was in learning her lessons; indeed, T found the
child was very ready at spelling, and she pronounced the
words clearly and correctly also.

"We then called at Toby Cook's cottage. Here a
number of children were met together to play, who all
came round Margery very fondly, and begged her to 'set
the game' for them. She then took out her wooden let-
ters from her basket, an^d asked the girl who was next to
her what she was to have for dinner. 'Apple pie,' she
.answered, and went to look for a capital 'A;' the next
,two produced a 'p' each, and so they went on until they
had spelled 'Apple pie' complete. Other words were
given by the children, chiefly the names of things they
liked and were used to, such as bread, milk, beef, etc.,
which were for the most part spelled carefully, very few
mistakes having been made, until the game was finished.
After this, she set them the following lesson to get by

' He that will thrive Tell me with whom you go,

Must rise by five.' ' And I'll tell what you do/

'He that has thriven 'A friend in need

May lie till seven/ Is a friend indeed/

' Truth may be blamed, Love your friends who are true,

But cannot be shamed/ And your friends will love you/

"Margery next took me to see Kitty Sullen. This
little girl used to be very self-willed and vain, because
she could dress more finely than the poor cottagers'
children. I was glad to see, however, that she paid at-


tention to Margery's good advice; and I hear it generally
reported that Madge has done wonders by setting her an
example of humility and kindness, and that she has
much softened her stubborn heart.

"On our way homeward we saw a well-dressed gentle-
man sitting under a couple of great trees, at the corner
of the rookery. He had a sort of crutch by him, and
seemed to be ailing. But perhaps this was partly put on,
that he might try Margery's wit; for as soon as he saw
us he called out to her to come near him, and then said,

more in jest than in pain/'Bray little maid, can you tell
me what I must do to get well?' 'Yes, good sir,' she
replied readily: 'go to bed when the rooks do, and get
up with them at morn; earn, as they do, what you eat;
and then you will get health and keep it.' The gentle-
man seemed quite taken with the good sense of her
reply, and with her modest look, too, and begged her to
accept a small silver coin as a token of his regard for her

_ One day, as Margery was coming home from the next
village, she met with some wicked, idle boys, who had
tied a young raven to a staff and were just about to


make a victim of the poor thing by throwing stones at
it. She offered at once to buy the raven for a penny,
and this they agreed to. She then brought him home to
the parsonage, and gave him the name of Ralph, and a
fine bird he was. Madge soon taught him to speak sev-
eral words, and also to pick up letters and even to spell a
word or two.

Some years before Margaret began to teach the poor
cottagers' children Sir Walter Welldon, a wealthy knight
living in the neighborhood, had set up an elderly widow
lady, who had seen better days, in a small school in the
village of MouldweJl, that she might teach the children
of those who could afford to pay something toward it.
This, gentlewoman, whose name was Gray, was at length
taken seriously ill, and was no longer able to attend to
her duties. When Sir Walter heard of this he sent for
Mr. Goodall and asked him to look out for some one who
would be able and willing to take Mrs. Gray's place as
mistress of the school.

The worthy clergyman could not think of one so well
qualified for the task as Margery Meanwell, who, though
but young, was grave beyond her years, and was growing
tip to be a comely maiden; and when he told his mind to
the knight, Margery was chosen by the latter at once as
the successor of poor Mrs. Gray. Sir Walter continued
to be very good to the sick widow until she died, which
happened shortly afterward. He likewise built a larger
schoolhouse for Margery's use. This she needed, for she
would have all her old pupils without payment about her
that liked to come to the school, as well as the regular
scholars belonging to it.

From this time no one called her "Goody Two-Sh' '
but generally Mrs. Margery, and she was more and
liked and respected by her neighbors.

Soon after Mrs. Margery had become mistress of
school she was lucky enough to save a dove from the
hands of some cruel boys, who were tormenting the poor
creature, and she called him Tom, in remembrance of
her brother now far away, and from whom she had heard
no tidings ever since he left her. But in those bygone
days writing letters was not much practiced, and there
was no such thing as a post office to be seen anywhere.
Tom learned to pick up a few letters, but he was not so


clever as her old favorite Ealph, and of course could not
be taught to utter a single word.

About this time a lamb had lost its dam, and its owner
was about to have it killed. When Mrs. Margery heard
of this she bought the gentle creature of him and
brought it home, thinking to please and benefit her
pupils by putting such an example before them of going-
early to bed. Some neighbors, finding how fond of such
pets Mrs. Margery was, presented her with a nice playful
little dog called Jumper, and also with a skylark. Now,
Master Ealph was a shrewd bird, and a bit of a wag too;
and when Will the lamb and Carol the lark made their
appearance, the knowing fellow picked out the following
verse, to the great amusement of everybody:

"Early to bed, and early to rise,
Is the way to be healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Mrs. Margery was ever on the lookout to be useful to
her neighbors. Knowing more than they did, she was
often able to give them good advice, and to save them
from losses which they were about to incur through their
ignorance. Many of these good folks depended much on
their hay. Now, a traveler coming from London had
presented Mrs. Margery with a new kind of instrument,
a rough-looking barometer, very inferior to those now
used, by the help of which she could often guess cor-
rectly how the weather would be a day or two before-
hand. She made herself so useful, indeed, that they all
came to her for advice, and profited by it in often get-
ting in their hay without damage, while much of that in
the neighboring villages was spoiled. This caused a
great talk about the country; and so provoked were the
people of the distant villages at the better luck of the
Mouldwell folks that they accused Mrs. Margery of be-
ing a witch, and sent old Nicky Noodle, a numskull and
a gossiping busybody, to go and tax her with it, and to
scrape together whatever evidence he could against her.
When this wiseacre saw her at her school door, with her
raven on one shoulder and the dove on the other, the lark
on her hand, and the lamb and little dog by her side, the
sight took his breath away for a time, and he scampered
oif crying out, "A witch! a witch! a witch!"



She laughed at the simpleton's folly, and called him
jocosely a ' 'conjuror" for his pains; but poor Mrs.
Margery did not know how much folly and wickedness
there was in the world, and she was greatly surprised to
find that the half-witted Nicky Noodle had got a warrant
against her,

At the meeting of the justices, before whom she was
summoned to appear, many of her neighbors were pres-

ent, ready to speak up for her character, if needful.
But it turned out that the charge made against her was
nothing more than Nicky's idle tale that she was a witch.
Nowadays, it seems strange that such a thing could be;
but in England, at that period, so fondly styled by some
"the good old times," many silly and wicked things were
constantly being done, especially by the rich and power-
ful, against the poor such things as would not now be
borne. Among such old blind follies was a common
belief in witchcraft, the practice of which was severely
punishable by law; and many a poor harmless old
woman, against whom her ignorant neighbors had a spite,
has been tortured even to death, on the stupid charge of
being a witch.

It happened that among the justices who met to hear


this charge against Mrs. Margery, there was but one silly
enough to think there was any ground for it. His name
was Shallow, and it was he who had granted the warrant.
But she soon silenced him when he kept repeating that
she must be a witch to foretell the weather, besides
harboring many strange creatures about her. After
pointing to the friends who had come to speak for her
character and her truth, she said very calmly, looking at
this weak man full in the face:

"1 never supposed that any one here could be so weak
as to believe that there was any such thing as a witch.
But if I am a witch, here is my charm," she added, lay-
ing her weather-glass upon the table; "this it is alone
that has helped me to know the state of the weather.
And as for my animal companions, your worship even
might profit as I have done by their good example. My
tender dove," she continued" "is a pattern of true love;
my watchful raven of forethought; my joyous lark of
thankfulness; my gentle lamb of innocence; and my
trusty dog of sagacity. If it be witchcraft to have such
teachers to remind me of my duties, then, indeed, am I
a witch, please your worship at your service."

Fortunately her patron, Sir Walter Welldon, one of
the justices present, was well acquainted with the use of
the new instrument. When he had explained its nature
to his foolish brother justice he turned the whole
charge into ridicule, and finished by giving Mrs. Margery
such a high character for knowledge, prudence, and
charity that the bench of justices not only released her
at once from the trumpery charge, but gave her their
public thanks for the good services she had done in their

One of these gentlemen, Sir Edward Lovell, an inti-
mate friend of Sir Walter's, conceived, indeed, so high
an opinion of her virtues and abilities that, having been
lately left a widower, he offered her very liberal terms if
she would consent to come to his house, take the man-
agement of it, and educate his daughter also. She re-
spectfully declined this handsome offer, for she thought
it was her duty to continue teaching the children of the
poor, who but for her, she feared, would remain in igno-

Several months after this Sir Edward fell ill and was


for some time in a state of danger. He then repeated
his request that Mrs. Margery would come to take charge
of his house, now that he was quite unable to manage it,
and look after his dear children. The thoughtful young
woman then took counsel with her kind old friend the

clergyman, and by his advice she agreed to undertake
the proposed employment until Sir Edward's restoration
to health. She completely won that gentleman's respect
and admiration by her skill and tenderness in nursing
him during the remainder of his illness, and by the great
care she took of his children. All the members of his
household loved her for her goodness.
By the time that Sir Edward fully regained his health


he had become more and more attached to Mrs. Margery.
He thought she could hardly be matched for propriety
of conduct;, for good sense, and for sweetness of temper;
and with all this he fancied, too, that she had not her
equal anywhere for good looks. It was not, then, to be
wondered at that when she talked of going back to her
school he should feel dull and melancholy, nor that,
after due reflection, he should offer her his hand in mar-
riage. We know already how modest and free from
vanity and false pride Mrs. Margery was. This proposal,
therefore, took her quite by surprise, and so undeserving
did she think herself of the honor intended her that at
first she was inclined not to accept it, but this her rich
suitor would not hear of; and as her true friends, Sir
Walter and Mr. Goodall, tried hard to persuade her to
accept Sir Edward's hand, telling her she would then be
enabled to do many more good works than she had ever
done before, she at last yielded. She had not at all ob-
jected because she did not like Sir Edward, for she really
loved and admired him as he deserved, but only because
she feared it was not her duty to leave her old humble
friends to be a fine lady.

All things having been settled, and the day fixed, the
great folks and others in the neighborhood came in
crowds to see the wedding; for glad they were that one
who had, ever since she was a child, been so deserving,
was to be thus rewarded. Just as the bride and bride-
groom were about to enter the church, their friends as-
sembled outside were busily engaged in watching the
progress of a horseman handsomely dressed and mounted,
and as gay in appearance as a courtier, who was gallop-
ing up a distant slope leading to the church, as eagerly
as if he wanted to get there before the marriage should
take place. When all was in readiness for the holy cer-
emony to commence, and the clergyman just going to
open his book, a strange gentleman, richly dressed, no
other, indeed, than the horseman who had been before
noticed by the crowd, rushed into the church, calling out
that they should stop the marriage. All were astonished
at this interruption, particularly the couple about to be
united, each of whom the stranger immediately ad-
dressed apart. During this parley the bystanders were
more aiid more surprised, especially when they saw Sir

Online LibraryL. (Laura) ValentineThe old old fairy tales → online text (page 1 of 29)