there was once a gentleman who had fine lands and houses, and he very
much wanted to have a son to be heir to them. So when his wife brought
him a daughter, bonny as bonny could be, he cared nought for her, and
said, "Let me never see her face."
So she grew up a bonny girl,
though her father never set eyes on her till she was fifteen years old
and was ready to be married. But her father said, "Let her marry the
first that comes for her." And when this was known, who should be first
but a nasty rough old man. So she didn't know what to do, and went to
the henwife and asked her advice. The henwife said, "Say you will not
take him unless they give you a coat of silver cloth." Well, they gave
her a coat of silver cloth, but she wouldn't take him for all that, but
went again to the henwife, who said, "Say you will not take him unless
they give you a coat of beaten gold." Well, they gave her a coat of
beaten gold, but still she would not take him, but went to the henwife,
who said, "Say you will not take him unless they give you a coat made
of the feathers of all the birds of the air." So they sent a man with a
great heap of pease; and the man cried to all the birds of the air,
"Each bird take a pea, and put down a feather." So each bird took a pea
and put down one of its feathers: and they took all the feathers and
made a coat of them and gave it to her; but still she would not, but
asked the henwife once again, who said, "Say they must first make you a
coat of catskin." So they made her a coat of catskin; and she put it
on, and tied up her other coats, and ran away into the woods.
she went along and went along and went along, till she came to the end
of the wood, and saw a fine castle. So there she hid her fine dresses,
and went up to the castle gates, and asked for work. The lady of the
castle saw her, and told her, "I'm sorry I have no better place, but if
you like you may be our scullion." So down she went into the kitchen,
and they called her Catskin, because of her dress. But the cook was
very cruel to her and led her a sad life.
Well, it happened soon
after that the young lord of the castle was coming home, and there was
to be a grand ball in honour of the occasion. And when they were
speaking about it among the servants, "Dear me, Mrs. Cook," said
Catskin, "how much I should like to go."
"What! you dirty
impudent slut," said the cook, "you go among all the fine lords and
ladies with your filthy catskin? a fine figure you'd cut!" and with
that she took a basin of water and dashed it into Catskin's face. But
she only briskly shook her ears, and said nothing.
When the day
of the ball arrived, Catskin slipped out of the house and went to the
edge of the forest where she had hidden her dresses. So she bathed
herself in a crystal waterfall, and then put on her coat of silver
cloth, and hastened away to the ball. As soon as she entered all were
overcome by her beauty and grace, while the young lord at once lost his
heart to her. He asked her to be his partner for the first dance, and
he would dance with none other the live-long night.
When it came to parting time, the young lord said, "Pray tell me, fair maid, where you live." But Catskin curtsied and said:
"Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
At the sign of the 'Basin of Water' I dwell."
Then she flew from the castle and donned her catskin robe again, and slipped into the scullery again, unbeknown to the cook.
young lord went the very next day to his mother, the lady of the
castle, and declared he would wed none other but the lady of the silver
dress, and would never rest till he had found her. So another ball was
soon arranged for in hope that the beautiful maid would appear again.
So Catskin said to the cook, "Oh, how I should like to go!" Whereupon
the cook screamed out in a rage, "What, you, you dirty impudent slut!
you would cut a fine figure among all the fine lords and ladies." And
with that she up with a ladle and broke it across Catskin's back. But
she only shook her ears, and ran off to the forest, where she first of
all bathed, and then put on her coat of beaten gold, and off she went
to the ball-room.
As soon as she entered all eyes were upon her;
and the young lord soon recognised her as the lady of the "Basin of
Water," and claimed her hand for the first dance, and did not leave her
till the last. When that came, he again asked her where she lived. But
all that she would say was:
"Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
At the sign of the 'Broken Ladle' I dwell."
with that she curtsied, and flew from the ball, off with her golden
robe, on with her catskin, and into the scullery without the cook's
Next day when the young lord could not find where was
the sign of the "Basin of Water," or of the "Broken Ladle," he begged
his mother to have another grand ball, so that he might meet the
beautiful maid once more.
All happened as before. Catskin told
the cook how much she would like to go to the ball, the cook called her
"a dirty slut," and broke the skimmer across her head. But she only
shook her ears, and went off to the forest, where she first bathed in
the crystal spring, and then donned her coat of feathers, and so off to
When she entered every one was surprised at so
beautiful a face and form dressed in so rich and rare a dress; but the
young lord soon recognised his beautiful sweetheart, and would dance
with none but her the whole evening. When the ball came to an end, he
pressed her to tell him where she lived, but all she would answer was:
"Kind sir, if the truth I must tell,
At the sign of the 'Broken Skimmer' I dwell;"
with that she curtsied, and was off to the forest. But this time the
young lord followed her, and watched her change her fine dress of
feathers for her catskin dress, and then he knew her for his own
Next day he went to his mother, the lady of
the castle, and told her that he wished to marry the scullery-maid,
Catskin. "Never," said the lady, and rushed from the room. Well, the
young lord was so grieved at that, that he took to his bed and was very
ill. The doctor tried to cure him, but he would not take any medicine
unless from the hands of Catskin. So the doctor went to the lady of the
castle, and told her her son would die if she did not consent to his
marriage with Catskin. So she had to give way, and summoned Catskin to
her. But she put on her coat of beaten gold, and went to the lady, who
soon was glad to wed her son to so beautiful a maid.
they were married, and after a time a dear little son came to them, and
grew up a bonny lad; and one day, when he was four years old, a beggar
woman came to the door, so Lady Catskin gave some money to the little
lord and told him to go and give it to the beggar woman. So he went and
gave it, but put it into the hand of the woman's child, who leant
forward and kissed the little lord. Now the wicked old cook—why hadn't
she been sent away?—was looking on, so she said, "Only see how beggars'
brats take to one another." This insult went to Catskin's heart, so she
went to her husband, the young lord, and told him all about her father,
and begged he would go and find out what had become of her parents. So
they set out in the lord's grand coach, and travelled through the
forest till they came to Catskin's father's house, and put up at an inn
near, where Catskin stopped, while her husband went to see if her
father would own her.
Now her father had never had any other
child, and his wife had died; so he was all alone in the world and sate
moping and miserable. When the young lord came in he hardly looked up,
till he saw a chair close up to him, and asked him: "Pray, sir, had you
not once a young daughter whom you would never see or own?"
old gentleman said: "It is true; I am a hardened sinner. But I would
give all my worldly goods if I could but see her once before I die."
Then the young lord told him what had happened to Catskin, and took him
to the inn, and brought his father-in-law to his own castle, where they
lived happy ever afterwards.
|All English Fairy Tales
THE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
JACK AND THE BEANSTALK
JACK THE GIANT-KILLER
THE PIED PIPER OF FRANCHVILLE
THE STORY OF THE THREE BEARS
TOM TIT TOT
THE THREE SILLIES
THE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG
HOW JACK WENT TO SEEK HIS FORTUNE
NIX NOUGHT NOTHING
MOUSE AND MOUSER
CAP O' RUSHES
THE MASTER AND HIS PUPIL
TITTY MOUSE ND TATTY MOUSE
JACK AND HIS GOLDEN SNUFF-BOX
THE RED ETTIN
MASTER OF ALL MASTERS.
THE GOLDEN ARM
THE HISTORY OF TOM THUMB
EARL MAR'S DAUGHTER
WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT
THE STRANGE VISITOR
THE LAIDLY WORM OF SPINDLESTON HEUGH
THE CAT AND THE MOUSE.
THE FISH AND THE RING.
THE MAGPIE'S NEST
THE CAULD LAD OF HILTON
THE ASS, THE TABLE, AND THE STICK
THE WELL OF THE WORLD'S END.
THE THREE HEADS OF THE WELL