a great Palace by the sea there once dwelt a very rich old lord, who
had neither wife nor children living, only one little granddaughter,
whose face he had never seen in all her life. He hated her bitterly,
because at her birth his favourite daughter died; and when the old
nurse brought him the baby, he swore, that it might live or die as it
liked, but he would never look on its face as long as it lived.
he turned his back, and sat by his window looking out over the sea, and
weeping great tears for his lost daughter, till his white hair and
beard grew down over his shoulders and twined round his chair and crept
into the chinks of the floor, and his tears, dropping on to the
window-ledge, wore a channel through the stone, and ran away in a
little river to the great sea. And, meanwhile, his granddaughter grew
up with no one to care for her, or clothe her; only the old nurse, when
no one was by, would sometimes give her a dish of scraps from the
kitchen, or a torn petticoat from the rag-bag; while the other servants
of the Palace would drive her from the house with blows and mocking
words, calling her "Tattercoats," and pointing at her bare feet and
shoulders, till she ran away crying, to hide among the bushes.
so she grew up, with little to eat or wear, spending her days in the
fields and lanes, with only the gooseherd for a companion, who would
play to her so merrily on his little pipe, when she was hungry, or
cold, or tired, that she forgot all her troubles, and fell to dancing,
with his flock of noisy geese for partners.
But, one day, people
told each other that the King was travelling through the land, and in
the town near by was to give a great ball, to all the lords and ladies
of the country, when the Prince, his only son, was to choose a wife.
of the royal invitations was brought to the Palace by the sea, and the
servants carried it up to the old lord who still sat by his window,
wrapped in his long white hair and weeping into the little river that
was fed by his tears.
But when he heard the King's command, he
dried his eyes and bade them bring shears to cut him loose, for his
hair had bound him a fast prisoner and he could not move. And then he
sent them for rich clothes, and jewels, which he put on; and he ordered
them to saddle the white horse, with gold and silk, that he might ride
to meet the King.
Meanwhile Tattercoats had heard of the great
doings in the town, and she sat by the kitchen-door weeping because she
could not go to see them. And when the old nurse heard her crying she
went to the Lord of the Palace, and begged him to take his
granddaughter with him to the King's ball.
But he only frowned
and told her to be silent, while the servants laughed and said:
"Tattercoats is happy in her rags, playing with the gooseherd, let her
be—it is all she is fit for."
A second, and then a third time,
the old nurse begged him to let the girl go with him, but she was
answered only by black looks and fierce words, till she was driven from
the room by the jeering servants, with blows and mocking words.
over her ill-success, the old nurse went to look for Tattercoats; but
the girl had been turned from the door by the cook, and had run away to
tell her friend the gooseherd, how unhappy she was because she could
not go to the King's ball.
But when the gooseherd had listened
to her story, he bade her cheer up, and proposed that they should go
together into the town to see the King, and all the fine things; and
when she looked sorrowfully down at her rags and bare feet, he played a
note or two upon his pipe, so gay and merry, that she forgot all about
her tears and her troubles, and before she well knew, the herdboy had
taken her by the hand, and she, and he, and the geese before them, were
dancing down the road towards the town.
Before they had gone
very far, a handsome young man, splendidly dressed, rode up and stopped
to ask the way to the castle where the King was staying; and when he
found that they too were going thither, he got off his horse and walked
beside them along the road.
The herdboy pulled out his pipe and
played a low sweet tune, and the stranger looked again and again at
Tattercoats' lovely face till he fell deeply in love with her, and
begged her to marry him.
But she only laughed, and shook her golden head.
would be finely put to shame if you had a goosegirl for your wife!"
said she; "go and ask one of the great ladies you will see to-night at
the King's ball, and do not flout poor Tattercoats."
more she refused him the sweeter the pipe played, and the deeper the
young man fell in love; till at last he begged her, as a proof of his
sincerity, to come that night at twelve to the King's ball, just as she
was, with the herdboy and his geese, and in her torn petticoat and bare
feet, and he would dance with her before the King and the lords and
ladies, and present her to them all, as his dear and honoured bride.
when night came, and the hall in the castle was full of light and
music, and the lords and ladies were dancing before the King, just as
the clock struck twelve, Tattercoats and the herdboy, followed by his
flock of noisy geese, entered at the great doors, and walked straight
up the ball-room, while on either side the ladies whispered, the lords
laughed, and the King seated at the far end stared in amazement.
as they came in front of the throne, Tattercoats' lover rose from
beside the King, and came to meet her. Taking her by the hand, he
kissed her thrice before them all, and turned to the King.
he said, for it was the Prince himself, "I have made my choice, and
here is my bride, the loveliest girl in all the land, and the sweetest
Before he had finished speaking, the herdboy put his
pipe to his lips and played a few low notes that sounded like a bird
singing far off in the woods; and as he played, Tattercoats' rags were
changed to shining robes sewn with glittering jewels, a golden crown
lay upon her golden hair, and the flock of geese behind her, became a
crowd of dainty pages, bearing her long train.
And as the King
rose to greet her as his daughter, the trumpets sounded loudly in
honour of the new Princess, and the people outside in the street said
to each other:
"Ah! now the Prince has chosen for his wife the loveliest girl in all the land!"
the gooseherd was never seen again, and no one knew what became of him;
while the old lord went home once more to his Palace by the sea, for he
could not stay at Court, when he had sworn never to look on his
So there he still sits by his window, if
you could only see him, as you some day may, weeping more bitterly than
ever, as he looks out over the sea.
|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