Princess of Canterbury
lived formerly in the County of Cumberland a nobleman who had three
sons, two of whom were comely and clever youths, but the other a
natural fool, named Jack, who was generally engaged with the sheep: he
was dressed in a parti-coloured coat, and a steeple-crowned hat with a
tassel, as became his condition. Now the King of Canterbury had a
beautiful daughter, who was distinguished by her great ingenuity and
wit, and he issued a decree that whoever should answer three questions
put to him by the princess should have her in marriage, and be heir to
the crown at his decease. Shortly after this decree was published, news
of it reached the ears of the nobleman's sons, and the two clever ones
determined to have a trial, but they were sadly at a loss to prevent
their idiot brother from going with them. They could not, by any means,
get rid of him, and were compelled at length to let Jack accompany
them. They had not gone far, before Jack shrieked with laughter,
saying, "I've found an egg." "Put it in your pocket," said the
brothers. A little while afterwards, he burst out into another fit of
laughter on finding a crooked hazel stick, which he also put in his
pocket; and a third time he again laughed extravagantly because he
found a nut. That also was put with his other treasures.
they arrived at the palace, they were immediately admitted on
mentioning the nature of their business, and were ushered into a room
where the princess and her suite were sitting. Jack, who never stood on
ceremony, bawled out, "What a troop of fair ladies we've got here!"
"Yes," said the princess, "we are fair ladies, for we carry fire in our bosoms."
"Do you?" said Jack, "then roast me an egg," pulling out the egg from his pocket.
"How will you get it out again?" said the princess.
"With a crooked stick," replied Jack, producing the hazel.
"Where did that come from?" said the princess.
a nut," answered Jack, pulling out the nut from his pocket. "I've
answered the three questions, and now I'll have the lady." "No, no,"
said the king, "not so fast. You have still an ordeal to go through.
You must come here in a week's time and watch for one whole night with
the princess, my daughter. If you can manage to keep awake the whole
night long you shall marry her next day."
"But if I can't?" said Jack.
"Then off goes your head," said the king. "But you need not try unless you like."
Jack went back home for a week, and thought over whether he should try
and win the princess. At last he made up his mind. "Well," said Jack,
"I'll try my vorton; zo now vor the king's daughter, or a headless
And taking his bottle and bag, he trudged to the
court. In his way thither, he was obliged to cross a river, and pulling
off his shoes and stockings, while he was passing over he observed
several pretty fish bobbing against his feet; so he caught some and put
them into his pocket. When he reached the palace he knocked at the gate
loudly with his crook, and having mentioned the object of his visit, he
was immediately conducted to the hall where the king's daughter sat
ready prepared to see her lovers. He was placed in a luxurious chair,
and rich wines and spices were set before him, and all sorts of
delicate meats. Jack, unused to such fare, ate and drank plentifully,
so that he was nearly dozing before midnight.
"Oh, shepherd," said the lady, "I have caught you napping!"
"Noa, sweet ally, I was busy a-feeshing."
"A fishing," said the princess in the utmost astonishment: "Nay, shepherd, there is no fish-pond in the hall."
"No matter vor that, I have been fishing in my pocket, and have just caught one."
"Oh me!" said she, "let me see it."
shepherd slyly drew the fish out of his pocket and pretending to have
caught it, showed it her, and she declared it was the finest she ever
About half an hour afterwards, she said, "Shepherd, do you think you could get me one more?"
replied, "Mayhap I may, when I have baited my hook;" and after a little
while he brought out another, which was finer than the first, and the
princess was so delighted that she gave him leave to go to sleep, and
promised to excuse him to her father.
In the morning the
princess told the king, to his great astonishment, that Jack must not
be beheaded, for he had been fishing in the hall all night; but when he
heard how Jack had caught such beautiful fish out of his pocket, he
asked him to catch one in his own.
Jack readily undertook the
task, and bidding the king lie down, he pretended to fish in his
pocket, having another fish concealed ready in his hand, and giving him
a sly prick with a needle, he held up the fish, and showed it to the
His majesty did not much relish the operation, but he
assented to the marvel of it, and the princess and Jack were united the
same day, and lived for many years in happiness and prosperity.
|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