The Little Bull-Calf
of years ago, when almost all this part of the country was wilderness,
there was a little boy, who lived in a poor bit of property and his
father gave him a little bull-calf, and with it he gave him everything
he wanted for it.
But soon after his father died, and his mother
got married again to a man that turned out to be a very vicious
step-father, who couldn't abide the little boy. So at last the
step-father said: "If you bring that bull-calf into this house, I'll
kill it." What a villain he was, wasn't he?
Now this little boy
used to go out and feed his bull-calf every day with barley bread, and
when he did so this time, an old man came up to him—we can guess who
that was, eh?—and said to him: "You and your bull-calf had better go
away and seek your fortune."
So he went on and he went on and he
went on, as far as I could tell you till to-morrow night, and he went
up to a farmhouse and begged a crust of bread, and when he got back he
broke it in two and gave half of it to the bull-calf. And he went to
another house and begged a bit of cheese crud, and when he went back he
wanted to give half of it to the bull-calf. "No," says the bull-calf,
"I'm going across the field, into the wild-wood wilderness country,
where there'll be tigers, leopards, wolves, monkeys, and a fiery
dragon, and I'll kill them all except the fiery dragon, and he'll kill
The little boy did cry, and said: "Oh, no, my little bull-calf; I hope he won't kill you."
he will," said the little bull-calf, "so you climb up that tree, so
that no one can come nigh you but the monkeys, and if they come the
cheese crud will save you. And when I'm killed, the dragon will go away
for a bit, then you must come down the tree and skin me, and take out
my bladder and blow it out, and it will kill everything you hit with
it. So when the fiery dragon comes back, you hit it with my bladder and
cut its tongue out."
(We know there were fiery dragons in those
days, like George and his dragon in the legend; but, there! it's not
the same world nowadays. The world is turned topsy-turvy since then,
like as if you'd turn it over with a spade!)
Of course, he did
all the little bull-calf told him. He climbed up the tree, and the
monkeys climbed up the tree after him. But he held the cheese crud in
his hand, and said: "I'll squeeze your heart like the flint-stone." So
the monkey cocked his eye as much as to say: "If you can squeeze a
flint-stone to make the juice come out of it, you can squeeze me." But
he didn't say anything, for a monkey's cunning, but down he went. And
all the while the little bull-calf was fighting all the wild beasts on
the ground, and the little lad was clapping his hands up the tree, and
calling out: "Go in, my little bull-calf! Well fought, little
bull-calf!" And he mastered everything except the fiery dragon, but the
fiery dragon killed the little bull-calf.
But the lad waited and
waited till he saw the dragon go away, then he came down and skinned
the little bull-calf, and took out its bladder and went after the
dragon. And as he went on, what should he see but a king's daughter,
staked down by the hair of her head, for she had been put there for the
dragon to destroy her.
So he went up and untied her hair, but
she said: "My time has come for the dragon to destroy me; go away, you
can do no good." But he said: "No! I can master it, and I won't go";
and for all her begging and praying he would stop.
And soon he
heard it coming, roaring and raging from afar off, and at last it came
near, spitting fire, and with a tongue like a great spear, and you
could hear it roaring for miles, and it was making for the place where
the king's daughter was staked down. But when it came up to them, the
lad just hit it on the head with the bladder and the dragon fell down
dead, but before it died, it bit off the little boy's forefinger.
THE LITTLE BULL-CALF
the lad cut out the dragon's tongue and said to the king's daughter:
"I've done all I can, I must leave you." And sorry she was he had to
go, and before he went she tied a diamond ring in his hair, and said
good-bye to him.
By-and-by, who should come along but the old
king, lamenting and weeping, expecting to see nothing of his daughter
but the prints of the place where she had been. But he was surprised to
find her there alive and safe, and he said: "How came you to be saved?"
So she told him how she had been saved, and he took her home to his
Well, he put it into all the papers to find out
who saved his daughter, and who had the dragon's tongue and the
princess's diamond ring, and was without his forefinger. Whoever could
show these signs should marry his daughter and have his kingdom after
his death. Well, any number of gentlemen came from all parts of
England, with forefingers cut off, and with diamond rings and all kinds
of tongues, wild beasts' tongues and foreign tongues. But they couldn't
show any dragons' tongues, so they were turned away.
At last the
little boy turned up, looking very ragged and desolated like, and the
king's daughter cast her eye on him, till her father grew very angry
and ordered them to turn the little beggar boy away. "Father," says
she; "I know something of that boy."
Well, still the fine
gentlemen came, bringing up their dragons' tongues that weren't
dragons' tongues, and at last the little boy came up, dressed a little
better. So the old king says: "I see you've got an eye on that boy. If
it has to be him it must be him." But all the others were fit to kill
him, and cried out: "Pooh, pooh, turn that boy out, it can't be him."
But the king said: "Now, my boy, let's see what you have to show."
Well, he showed the diamond ring with her name on it, and the fiery
dragon's tongue. How the others were thunderstruck when he showed his
proofs! But the king told him: "You shall have my daughter and my
So he married the princess, and afterwards got the
king's estate. Then his step-father came and wanted to own him, but the
young king didn't know such a man.
|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