Polish Fairy Tales and Fairies
|The Frog Princess||1|
|Princess Miranda and Prince Hero||15|
|The Good Ferryman and the Water Nymphs||53|
|The Princess of the Brazen Mountain||69|
|The Bear in the Forest Hut||79|
THE FROG PRINCESS
HERE was once a king, who was very old; but he had three grown-up sons. So he called them to him, and said:
dear sons, I am very old, and the cares of government press heavily
upon me. I must therefore give them over to one of you. But as it is
the law among us, that no unmarried prince may be King, I wish you all
to get married, and whoever chooses the best wife shall be my
So they determined each to go a different way, and settled it
thus. They went to the top of a very high tower, and each one at a
given signal shot an arrow in a different direction to the others.
Wherever their arrows fell they were to go in search of their future
eldest prince's arrow fell on a palace in the city, where lived a
senator, who had a beautiful daughter; so he went there, and married
second prince's arrow struck upon a country-house, where a very pretty
young lady, the daughter of a rich gentleman, was sitting; so he went
there, and proposed to her, and they were married.
the youngest prince's arrow shot through a green wood, and fell into a
lake. He saw his arrow floating among the reeds, and a frog sitting
thereon, looking fixedly at him.
But the marshy ground was so unsafe that he could not venture upon it; so he sat down in despair.
"What is the matter, prince?" asked the frog.
"What is the matter? Why, I cannot reach that arrow on which you are sitting."
"Take me for your wife, and I will give it to you."
"But how can you be my wife, little frog?"
is just what has got to be. You know that you shot your arrow from the
tower, thinking that where it fell, you would find a loving wife; so
you will have her in me."
"You are very wise, I see, little frog. But tell me, how can I marry you, or introduce you to my father? And what will the world say?"
me home with you, and let nobody see me. Tell them that you have
married an Eastern lady, who must not be seen by any man, except her
husband, nor even by another woman."
prince considered a little. The arrow had now floated to the margin of
the lake; he took the arrow from the little frog, put her in his
pocket, carried her home, and then went to bed, sighing very deeply.
Next morning the king was told that all his sons had got married; so he called them all together, and said:
"Well children, are you all pleased with your wives?"
"Very pleased indeed, father and king."
we shall see who has chosen best. Let each of my daughters-in-law weave
me a carpet by to-morrow, and the one whose carpet is the most
beautiful shall be queen."
The elder princes hastened at once to their ladies; but the youngest, when he reached home, was in despair.
"What is the matter, prince?" asked the frog.
is the matter? My father has ordered that each of his daughters-in-law
shall weave him a carpet, and the one whose carpet proves the most
beautiful shall be first in rank. My brothers' wives are most likely
working at their looms already. But you, little frog, although you can
give back an arrow, and talk like a human being, will not be able to weave a carpet, as far as I can see."
"Don't be afraid," she said; "go to sleep, and before you wake the carpet shall be ready."
So he lay down, and went to sleep.
But the little frog stood on her hind-legs in the window and sang:
"Ye breezes that blow, ye winds that sigh,Come hither on airy wing;And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,And various treasures bring.Two fleeces I crave of the finest wool,And of the loveliest flowers a basketful;From the depths of the ocean bring sands of gold,And pearl-drops of lustre manifold;That so I may fashion a carpet bright,Adorned with fair flow'rets and gems of light,And weave it in one short day and night,When my true love's hands must the treasure hold."
There was a gentle murmur of the breezes, and from the
descended seven lovely maidens, who floated into the room, carrying
baskets of various coloured wools, pearls, and flowers. They curtsied
deeply to the little frog, and in a few minutes they wove a wonderfully
beautiful carpet; then they curtsied again, and flew away.
the wives of the other princes bought the most beautifully coloured
wools, and the best designs they could find, and worked hard at their
looms all the next day.
Then all the princes came before the king, and spread out their carpets before him.
The king looked at the first and the second; but when he came to the third, he exclaimed:
"That's the carpet for me! I give the first place to my youngest son's wife; but there must be another trial yet."
he ordered that each of his daughters-in-law should make him a cake
next day; and the husband of the one whose cake proved the best should
be his successor.
The youngest prince came back to his frog wife; he looked very thoughtful, and sighed deeply.
"What is the matter, prince?" she asked.
father demands another proof of skill; and I am not so sure that we
shall succeed so well as before; for how can you bake a cake?"
"Do not be afraid," she said: "Lie down, and sleep; and when you wake you will be in a happier frame of mind."
The prince went to sleep; and the frog sprang up to the window, and sang:
"Ye breezes that blow, ye winds that sigh,Come hither on airy wing;And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,These various gifts to bring.From the sunbeams brightBring me heat and light;And soft waters distilFrom the pure flowing rill.From the flowers of the fieldThe sweet odours they yield.From the wheatfields obtainFive full measures of grain,That so I may bakeIn the night-time a cake,For my true love's sake."
winds began to rise, and the seven beautiful maidens floated down into
the room, carrying baskets, with flour, water, sweetmeats, and all
sorts of dainties. They curtsied to the little frog, and got the cake
ready in a few minutes; curtsied again, and flew away.
next day the three princes brought their cakes to the king. They were
all very good; but when he tasted the one made by his youngest son's
wife, he exclaimed:
is the cake for me! light, floury, white, and delicious! I see, my son,
you have made the best choice; but we must wait a little longer."
two elder sons went away much depressed; but the youngest greatly
elated. When he reached home he took up his little frog, stroked and
kissed her, and said:
me, my love, how it was that you, being only a little frog, could weave
such a beautiful carpet, or make such a delicious cake?"
"Because, my prince, I am not what I seem. I am a princess,
and my mother is the renowned Queen of Light, and a great enchantress.
But she has many enemies, who, as they could not injure her, were
always seeking to destroy me. To conceal me from them she was obliged
to turn me into a frog; and for seven years I have been forced to stay
in the marsh where you found me. But under this frog-skin I am really
more beautiful than you can imagine; yet until my mother has conquered
all her enemies I must wear this disguise; after that takes place you
shall see me as I really am."
they were talking two courtiers entered, with the king's orders to the
young prince, to come to a banquet at the king's palace, and bring his
wife with him, as his brothers were doing by theirs.
He knew not what to do; but the little frog said:
not be afraid, my prince. Go to your father alone; and when he asks for
me, it will begin to rain. You must then say that your wife will follow
you; but she is now bathing in May-dew. When it lightens say that I am
dressing; and when it thunders, that I am coming."
prince, trusting to her word, set out for the palace; and the frog
jumped up to the window, and standing on her hind-legs, began to sing:
"Ye breezes that blow, ye winds that sigh,Come hither on airy wing;And all of you straight to my dwelling hie,These several gifts to bring.My beauty of yore;And my bright youth once more;All my dresses so fair;And my jewels so rare;And let me delightMy dear love by the sight."
the seven beautiful damsels, who were the handmaidens of the
princess—when she lived with her mother—floated on the sunbeams into
the room. They curtsied, walked three times round her, and pronounced
some magical words.
Then the frog-skin fell off her, and she stood among them a miracle of beauty, and the lovely princess she was.
the prince, her husband, had arrived at the royal banquet-hall, which
was already full of guests. The old king welcomed him warmly, and asked
"Where is your wife, my son?"
Then a light rain began to fall, and the prince said:
"She will not be long; she is now bathing herself in May-dew."
Then came a flash of lightning, which illuminated all the palace, and he said:
"She is now adorning herself."
But when it thundered, he ran to the door exclaiming:
"Here she is!"
And the lovely princess came in, seeming to bring the sunshine with her. They all stood amazed at her beauty. The
king could not contain his delight; and she seemed to him all the more
beautiful, because he thought her the very image of his long-deceased
queen. The prince himself was no less astonished and overjoyed to find
such loveliness in her, whom he had only as yet seen in the shape of a
"Tell me, my son," said the king, "why you did not let me know what a fortunate choice you had made?"
The prince told him everything in a whisper; and the king said:
home then, my son, at once, and pick up that frog-skin of hers; throw
it in the fire, and come back here as fast as you can. Then she will
have to remain just as she is now."
The prince did as his father told him, went home, and threw the frog-skin into the fire, where it was at once consumed.
things did not turn out as they expected; for the lovely princess, on
coming home, sought for her frog-skin, and not finding it, began to cry
bitterly. When the prince confessed the truth, she shrieked aloud, and
taking out a green poppy-head, threw it at him. He went to sleep at
once; but she sprang up to the window, sang her songs to the winds;
upon which she was changed into a duck, and flew away.
The prince woke up in the morning, and grieved sadly, when he found his beautiful princess gone.
he got on horseback, and set out to find her, inquiring everywhere for
the kingdom of the Queen of Light—his princess's mother—to whom he
supposed she must have fled.
rode on for a very, very long time, till one day he came into a wide
plain, all covered with poppies in full flower, the odour of which so
overpowered him, that he could scarce keep upright in his saddle. Then
he saw a queer little house, supported on four crooked legs. There was
no door to the house; but knowing what he ought to do, he said:
"Little house, moveOn your crooked legs free;Turn your back to the wood,And your front door to me."
hut with the crooked legs made a creaking noise, and turned round, with
its door towards the prince. He went straight in, and found an old
fury, whose name was Jandza, inside; she was spinning from a distaff, and singing.
 Jandza pronounced Yen-jar.
"How are you, prince?" she said, "what brings you here?"
So the prince told her, and she said:
"You have done wisely to tell me the truth. I know your bride, the beautiful daughter of the Queen of Light; she flies to
my house daily, in the shape of a duck, and this is where she sits.
Hide yourself under the table, and watch your opportunity to lay hold
of her. Hold her fast, whatever shapes she assumes; when she is tired
she will turn into a spindle; you must then break the spindle in two,
and you will find that which you are seeking."
THE LITTLE HOUSE TURNS
the duck flew in, sat down beside the old fury, and began to preen her
feathers with her beak. The prince seized her by the wing. The duck
quacked, fluttered, and struggled to get loose. But seeing this was
useless she changed herself into a pigeon, then into a hawk, and then
into a serpent, which so frightened the prince, that he let her go; on
which she became a duck again, quacked aloud, and flew out of the
The prince saw his mistake, and the old woman cried aloud:
have you done, you careless fellow! you have frightened her away from
me for ever. But as she is your bride, I must find some other way to
help you. Take this ball of thread, throw it before you, and wherever
it goes follow after it; you will then come to my sister's house, and
she will tell you what to do next."
the prince went on day and night, following the ball of thread, till he
came to another queer little house, like the first, to which he said
the same rhyme, and going in, found the second old fury, and told her
"Hide under the bench," she exclaimed; "your bride is just coming in."
duck flew in, as before, and the prince caught her by the wing; she
quacked, and tried to get away. Then she changed herself into a turkey,
then into a dog, then into a cat, then into an eel, so that she slipped
through his hands, and glided out of the window.
prince was in despair; but the old woman gave him another ball of
thread, and he again followed it, determining not to let the princess
escape again so easily. So going on after the thread, as it kept
unwinding, he came to a funny little house, like the two first, and
"Little house, moveOn your crooked legs free;Turn your back to the wood,And your front door to me."
little house turned round, so that he could go in, and he found a third
old fury inside; much older than her sisters, and having white hair. He
told her his story, and begged for help.
did you go against the wishes of your clever and sensible wife?" said
the old woman. "You see she knew better than you what her frog-skin was
good for; but you must needs be in such a hurry to display her beauty,
to gain the world's applause, that you have lost her; and she was
forced to fly away from you."
THE WAY HOME
The prince hid himself under the bench: the duck flew in and sat at the old woman's feet; on which he caught her by the wings.
struggled hard; but she felt his strength was too great for her to
resist; so she turned herself into a spindle at once. He broke it
across his knee.... And lo! and behold! instead of the two halves of
the spindle he held the hands of his beautiful princess, who looked at
him lovingly with her beautiful eyes, and smiled sweetly.
she promised him that she would always remain as she was then, for
since her mother's enemies were all dead she had nothing to fear.
embraced each other, and went out of the old fury's hut. Then the
princess spoke some magical spells; and in the twinkling of an eye
there appeared a wonderful bridge, reaching from where they stood
hundreds of miles, up to the very gallery of the palace, belonging to
the prince's father. It was all made of crystal, with golden
hand-rails, and diamond bosses upon them.
princess spoke some more magical words, and a golden coach appeared,
drawn by eight horses, and a coachman, and two tall footmen, all in
golden liveries. And there were four outriders on splendid horses,
riding by the side of the coach, and an equerry, riding in front, and
blowing a brazen trumpet. And a long procession of followers, in
splendid dresses, came after them.
the prince and princess got into the golden coach, and drove away, thus
accompanied, along the crystal bridge, till they reached home, when the
old king came out to meet them, and embraced them both tenderly. He
appointed the prince his successor; and such magnificent festivities
were held on the occasion, as never were seen or heard of before.
THROUGH THE TELESCOPE
PRINCESS MIRANDA AND PRINCE HERO
in the wide ocean there was once a green island where lived the most
beautiful princess in the world, named Miranda. She had lived there
ever since her birth, and was queen of the island. Nobody knew who were
her parents, or how she had come there. But she was not alone; for
there were twelve beautiful maidens, who had grown up with her on the
island, and were her ladies-in-waiting.
a few strangers had visited the island, and spoken of the princess's
great beauty; and many more came in time, and became her subjects, and
built a magnificent city, in which she had a splendid palace of white
marble to live in.
And in course of time a great many young princes came to woo
her. But she did not care to marry any of them; and if anyone
persisted, and tried to compel her by force to be his wife, she could
turn him and all his soldiers into ice, by merely fixing her eyes upon
One day the wicked Kosciey, the
king of the Underground realm, came out into the upper world, and began
to gaze all round it with his telescope. Various empires and kingdoms
passed in review before him; and at last he saw the green island, and
the rich city upon it; and the marble palace in this city, and in this
palace the twelve beautiful young ladies-of-honour, and among them he
beheld, lying on a rich couch of swansdown, the Princess Miranda
asleep. She slept like an innocent child, but she was dreaming of a
young knight, wearing a golden helmet, on a gallant steed, and carrying
an invisible mace, that fought of itself; ... and she loved him better
 Kosciey pronounced Kósh-che-eh, literally "Boney."
Kosciey looked at her; he was delighted with her beauty; he struck the earth three times, and stood upon the green island.
Miranda called together her brave army, and led them into the field, to
fight the wicked Kosciey. But he, blowing on them with his poisonous
breath, sent them all fast asleep, and he was just going to lay hands
upon the princess, when she, throwing a glance of scorn at him, changed
him into a lump of ice, and fled to her capital.
did not long remain ice. So soon as the princess was away, he freed
himself from the power of her glance, and regaining his usual form,
followed her to her city. Then he sent all the inhabitants of the
island to sleep, and among them the princess's twelve faithful damsels.
was the only one whom he could not injure; but being afraid of her
glances, he surrounded the castle—which stood upon a high hill—with an
iron rampart, and placed a dragon with twelve heads on guard before the
gate, and waited for the princess to give herself up of her own accord.
days passed by, then weeks, then months, while her kingdom became a
desert; all her people were asleep, and her faithful soldiers also lay
sleeping on the open fields, their steel armour all rusted, and wild
plants were growing over them undisturbed. Her twelve maidens were all
asleep in different rooms of the palace, just where they happened to be
at the time; and she herself, all alone, kept walking sadly to and fro
in a little room up in a tower, where she had taken refuge—wringing her
white hands, weeping, and her bosom heaving with sighs.
her all were silent, as though dead; only every now and then, Kosciey,
not daring to encounter her angry glance, knocked at the door asking
her to surrender, promising to make her queen of his Underground realm.
But it was all of no use; the princess was silent, and only threatened
him with her looks.
grieving in her lonely prison Princess Miranda could not forget the
lover of whom she had been dreaming; she saw him just as he had
appeared to her in her dream.
And she looked up with her blue eyes to heaven, and seeing a cloud floating by, she said:
"O cloud! through the bright sky flying!Stay, and hearken my piteous sighing!In my sorrow I call upon thee;Oh! where is my loved one? say!Oh! where do his footsteps stray?And does he now think of me?"
"I know not," the cloud replied. "Ask the wind."
And she looked out into the wide plain, and seeing how the wind was blowing freely, she said:
"O wind! o'er the wide world flying!Do thou pity my grief and crying!Have pity on me!Oh! where is my loved one? say!Oh! where do his footsteps stray?And does he now think of me?"
"Ask the stars," the wind replied; "they know more than I do."
So she cried to the stars:
"O stars! with your bright beams glowing!Look down on my tears fast flowing!Have pity, have pity on me!Oh! where is my loved one? say!Oh! where do his footsteps stray?And does he now think of me?"
"Ask the moon," said the stars; "who being nearer to the earth, knows more of what happens there than we do."
So she said to the moon:
"Bright moon, as your watch you keep,From the starry skies, o'er this land of sleep,Look down now, and pity me!Oh! where is my loved one? say!Where? where do his footsteps stray?And does he now think of me?"
know nothing about your loved one, princess," replied the moon; "but
here comes the sun, who will surely be able to tell you."
And the sun rose up in the dawn, and at noontide stood just over the princess's tower, and she said:
"Thou soul of the world! bright sun!Look on me, in this prison undone!Have pity on me!Oh! where is my loved one? say!Through what lands do his footsteps stray?And does he now think of me?"
Miranda," said the sun; "dry your tears, comfort your heart; your lover
is hastening to you, from the bottom of the deep sea, from under the
coral reefs; he has won the enchanted ring; when he puts it on his
finger, his army will increase by thousands, regiment after regiment,
with horse and foot; the drums are beating, the sabres gleaming, the
colours flying, the cannon roaring, they are bearing
down on the empire of Kosciey. But he cannot conquer him by force of
mortal weapons. I will teach him a surer way; and there is good hope
that he will be able to deliver you from Kosciey, and save your
country. I will hasten to your prince. Farewell."
sun stood over a wide country, beyond the deep seas, beyond high
mountains, where Prince Hero in a golden helmet, on a gallant horse,
was drawing up his army, and preparing to march against Kosciey, the
besieger of the fair princess. He had seen her three times in a dream,
and had heard much about her, for her beauty was famous throughout the
your army," said the sun. "No army can conquer Kosciey, no bullet can
reach him; you can only free Princess Miranda by killing him, and how
you are to do it, you must learn from the old woman Jandza; I can only
tell you where you will find the horse, that must carry you to her. Go
hence towards the East; you will come to a green meadow, in which there
are three oak trees; and among them you will find hidden in the ground
an iron door, with a brazen padlock; behind this door you will find a
battle charger, and a mace; the rest you will learn afterwards; ...
Hero was most surprised; but he took off his enchanted ring and threw
it into the sea; with it all his great army vanished directly into
mist, leaving no trace behind. He turned to the East and travelled onwards.
three days he came to the green meadow, where he found the three oak
trees, and the iron door, as he had been told. It opened upon a narrow,
crooked stairway, going downwards, leading into a deep dungeon, where
he found another iron door, closed by a heavy iron padlock. Behind this
he heard a horse neighing, so loudly that it made the door fall to the
ground, and at the same moment eleven other doors flew open and there
came out a war-horse, which had been shut up there for ages by a wizard.
prince whistled to the horse; the horse tugged at his fastenings, and
broke twelve chains by which he had been fettered. He had eyes like
stars, flaming nostrils, and a mane like a thunder-cloud; ... he was a
horse of horses, the wonder of the world.
Hero!" said the horse, "I have long waited for such a rider as you, and
I am ready to serve you for ever. Mount on my back, take that mace in
your hand, which you see hanging to the saddle; you need not fight with
it yourself, for it will strike wherever you command it, and beat a
whole army. I know the way everywhere; tell me where you want to go,
and you will presently be there."
The prince told him everything; took the self-fighting mace in his hand, and sprang on his back.
horse reared, snorted, spurned the ground, and they flew over mountains
and forests, higher than the flying clouds, over rapid rivers, and deep
seas; but when they flew along the ground the charger's light feet
never trampled down a blade of grass, nor raised an atom of dust on the
Before sunset Prince Hero had reached the primeval forest in which the old woman Jandza lived.
was amazed at the size and age of the mighty oaks, pine trees and firs,
where there reigned a perpetual twilight. And there was absolute
silence—not a leaf or a blade of grass stirring; and no living thing,
not so much as a bird, or the hum of an insect; only amidst this
grave-like stillness the sound of his horse's hoofs.
The prince stopped before a little house, supported on crooked legs, and said:
"Little house, moveOn your crooked legs free:Turn your back to the wood,And your front to me."
The house turned round, with the door towards him; the prince went in, and the old woman Jandza asked him:
"How did you get here, Prince Hero, where no living soul has penetrated till now?"
"Don't ask me; but welcome your guest politely."
So the old woman gave the prince food and drink, made up a soft bed for him, to rest on after his journey, and left him for the night.
Next morning he told her all, and what he had come for.
have undertaken a great and splendid task, prince; so I will tell you
how to kill Kosciey. In the Ocean-Sea, on the island of Everlasting
Life, there is an old oak tree; under this tree is buried a coffer
bound with iron; in this coffer is a hare; under the hare sits a grey
duck; this duck carries within her an egg; and in this egg is enclosed
the life of Kosciey. When you break the egg he will die at once. Now
good-bye, prince; and good luck go with you; your horse will show you
The prince got on horseback, and they soon left the forest behind them, and came to the shore of the ocean.
On the beach was a fisherman's net, and in the net was a great fish, who when he saw the prince, cried out piteously:
"Prince Hero! take me out of the net, and throw me back into the sea; I will repay you!"
The prince took the fish out of the net, and threw it into the sea; it splashed in the water, and vanished.
prince looked over the sea, and saw the island in the grey distance,
far, far away; but how was he to get there? He leaned upon his mace,
deep in thought.
"What are you thinking of, prince?" asked the horse.
"I am thinking how I am to get to the island, when I cannot swim over that breadth of sea."
"Sit on my back, prince, and hold fast."
the prince sat firm on the horse's back, and held fast by the thick
mane; a wind arose, and the sea was somewhat rough; but rider and horse
pushed on, through the billows, and at last came to shore on the island
of Everlasting Life.
prince took off his horse's bridle, and let him loose to feed in a
meadow of luxuriant grass, and walked on quickly to a high hill, where
grew the old oak tree. Taking it in both hands he tugged at it; the oak
resisted all his efforts; he tugged again, the oak began to creak, and
moved a little; he mustered all his strength, and tugged again. The oak
fell with a crash to the ground, with its roots uppermost, and there,
where they had stood firmly fixed so many hundred years, was a deep
down he saw the iron-bound coffer; he fetched it up, broke open the
lock with a stone, raised the lid, picked up the hare lying in it by
its ears; but at that moment the duck, which had been sitting under the
hare, took the alarm, and flew off straight to sea.
The prince fired a shot after her; the bullet hit the duck; she gave one loud quack, and fell; but in that same instant the
egg fell from her—down to the bottom of the sea. The prince gave a cry
of despair; but just then a great fish came swimming, dived down to the
depths of the sea, and coming to the shore, with the egg in its jaws,
left it on the sand.
THE DRAGON WHO KEPT WATCH
fish swam away; but the prince, taking up the egg, mounted his horse
once more; and they swam till they reached Princess Miranda's island,
where they saw a great iron wall stretching all round her white marble
was only one entrance through this iron wall to the palace, and before
this lay the monstrous dragon with the twelve heads, six of which kept
guard alternately; when the one half slept the other six remained
awake. If anyone were to approach the gate he could not escape the
horrid jaws. Nobody could hurt the dragon; for he could only suffer
death by his own act.
prince stood on the hill before that gate, and commanded his
self-fighting mace, which also had the faculty of becoming invisible,
to go and clear his entrance to the palace.
invisible, self-fighting mace fell upon the dragon and began to thunder
on all his heads with such force, that all his eyes became bloodshot,
and he began to hiss fiercely; he shook his twelve heads, and stretched
wide his twelve horrid jaws; he spread out his forest of claws; but
this helped him not at all, the mace kept on smiting him, moving about
that not a single head escaped, but could only hiss, groan, and shriek
wildly! Now it had given a thousand blows, the blood gushed from a
thousand wounds, and there was no help for the dragon; he raged,
writhed about, and shrieked in despair; finally, as blow followed blow,
and he could not see who gave them, he gnashed his teeth, belched forth
flame, and at length turned his claws upon himself, plunging them deep
into his own flesh, struggled, writhed, twisted himself round, and in
and out; his blood flowed freely from his wounds ... and now it was all
over with the dragon.
prince, seeing this, went into the courtyard of the palace, put his
horse into the stable, and went up by a winding stair, towards the
tower, whence the Princess Miranda, having seen him, addressed him:
Prince Hero! I saw how you disposed of the dragon; but do be careful,
for my enemy, Kosciey, is in this palace; he is most powerful, both
through his own strength, and through his sorceries; and if he kills
you I can live no longer.
"Princess Miranda, do not trouble about me. I have the life of Kosciey in this egg." Then he called out:
"Invisible self-fighting mace, go into the palace and beat Kosciey."
The mace bestirred itself quickly, battered in the iron doors, and set upon Kosciey; it smote him on the neck, till he crouched all together, the sparks flew from his eyes, and there was a noise of so many mills in his ears.
he had been an ordinary mortal it would have been all over with him at
once; as it was, he was horribly tormented, and puzzled—feeling all
these blows, and never seeing whence they came. He sprang about, raved,
and raged, till the whole island resounded with his roaring.
last he looked through the window, and behold there he saw Prince Hero.
"Ah! that is all your doing!" he exclaimed; and sprang out into the
courtyard, to rush straight at him, and beat him to a jelly! But the
prince held the egg in one hand ready; and he squeezed it so hard, that
the shell cracked and the yolk and the white were all spilled together
... and Kosciey fell lifeless!
with the death of the enchanter all his charms were dissolved at once;
all the people in the island who were asleep woke up, and began to
stir. The soldiers woke from sleep, and the drums began to beat; they
formed their ranks, massed themselves in order, and began to march
towards the palace.
in the palace there was great joy; for Princess Miranda came towards
the prince, gave him her white hand, and thanked him warmly. They went
to the throne-room, and following the princess's example, her twelve
waiting-maids paired off with twelve young officers of the army, and the couples grouped themselves round the throne, on which the prince and princess were sitting.
then a priest, arrayed in all his vestments, came in at the open door,
and the prince and princess exchanged rings, and were married.
all the other couples were married at the same time, and after the
wedding there was a feast, dancing, and music, which it is a pleasure
to think of. Everywhere there was rejoicing.
THE CHILDREN TRANSFORMED
once a king, who had lost his wife. They had a family of
thirteen—twelve gallant sons, and one daughter, who was exquisitely
twelve years after his wife's death the king grieved very much; he used
to go daily to her tomb, and there weep, and pray, and give away alms
to the poor. He thought never to marry again; for he had promised his
dying wife never to give her children a stepmother.
day, when visiting his dead wife's grave as usual, he saw beside him a
maiden so entrancingly fair, that he fell in love with her, and soon
made her his second queen. But before long he found out that he had
made a great mistake. Though she was so beautiful she turned out to be
a wicked sorceress,
and not only made the king himself unhappy, but proved most unkind to
his children, whom she wished out of the way, so that her own little
son might inherit the kingdom.
day, when the king was far away, at war against his enemies, the queen
went into her stepchildren's apartments, and pronounced some magical
words—on which every one of the twelve princes flew away in the shape
of an eagle, and the princess was changed into a dove.
queen looked out of the window, to see in what direction they would
fly, when she saw right under the window an old man, with a beard as
white as snow.
"What are you here for, old man?" she asked.
"To be witness of your deed," he answered.
"Then you saw it?"
"I saw it."
"Then be what I command!"
whispered some magical words. The old man disappeared in a blaze of
sunshine; and the queen, as she stood there, dumb with terror, was
changed into a basilisk.
basilisk ran off in fright; trying to hide herself underground. But her
glance was so deadly, that it killed every one she looked at; so that
all the people in the palace were soon dead, including her own son,
whom she slew by merely looking at him. And this once populous and happy
royal residence quickly became an uninhabited ruin, which no one dared
approach, for fear of the basilisk lurking in its underground vaults.
THE OLD MAN BLESSES THE PRINCESS
the princess, who had been changed into a dove, flew after her brothers
the eagles, but not being able to overtake them, she rested under a
wayside cross, and began cooing mournfully.
"What are you grieving for, pretty dove?" asked an old man, with a snow-white beard, who just then came by.
am grieving for my poor dear father, who is fighting in the wars far
away; for my loved brothers, who have flown away from me into the
clouds. I am grieving also for myself. Not long ago I was a happy
princess; and now I must wander over the world as a dove, to hide from
the birds of prey—and be parted for ever from my dear father and
may grieve and weep, little dove; but do not lose hope," said the old
man. "Sorrow is only for a time, and all will come right in the end."
saying he stroked the little dove, and she at once regained her natural
shape. She kissed the old man's hand in her gratitude, saying:
"How can I ever thank you enough! But since you are so kind, will you not tell me how to rescue my brothers?"
The old man gave her an ever-growing loaf, and said:
loaf is enough to sustain, not only you, but a thousand people for a
thousand years, without ever diminishing. Go towards the sunset, and
weep your tears into this little bottle. And when it is full...."
And the old man told her what else to do, blessed her, and disappeared.
princess travelled on towards the sunset; and in about a year she
reached the boundary of the next world, and stood before an iron door,
where Death was keeping guard with his scythe.
"Stop, princess!" he said; "You can proceed no further, for you are not yet parted by death from your own world."
"But what am I to do?" she asked. "Must I go back without my poor brothers?"
brothers," said Death, "fly here every day in the guise of eagles. They
want to reach the other side of this door, which leads into the other
world; for they hate the one they live in; nevertheless they, and you
also, must remain there, until your time be come. Therefore every day I
must compel them to go back, which they can do, because they are
eagles. But how are you going to get back yourself?—look there!"
The princess looked around her, and wept bitterly. For though she had not perceived this before, nor seen how she got
there, she saw now that she was in a deep abyss, shut in on all sides
by such high precipices, that she wondered how her brothers, even with
eagle wings, could fly to the top.
remembering what the mysterious old man had said she took courage, and
began to pray and weep, till she had filled the little bottle with her
tears. Soon she heard the sound of wings over her head, and saw twelve
eagles dashed themselves against the iron portal, beating their wings
upon it, and imploring Death to open it to them. But Death only
threatened them with his scythe, saying:
"Hence! ye enchanted princes! you must fulfil your penance on earth, till I come for you myself."
eagles were about to turn and fly, when all at once they perceived
their sister. They came round her, and caressed her hands lovingly with
at once began to sprinkle them with her tears from the lachrymatory;
and in one moment the twelve eagles were changed back into the twelve
princes, and joyfully embraced their sister.
princess then fed them all round from her ever-growing loaf; but when
their hunger was appeased they began to be troubled as to how they were
to ascend from the abyss, since they had no longer eagles' wings to fly
But the princess knelt down and prayed:
"Bird of heavenly pity here,By each labour, prayer and tear,Come in thine unvanquished power,Come and aid us in this hour!"
all at once there shot down from heaven to the depth of the abyss a ray
of sunshine, on which descended a gigantic bird, with rainbow wings, a
bright sparkling crest, and peacock's eyes all over his body, a golden
tail, and silvery breast.
"What are your commands, princess?" asked the bird.
"Carry us from this threshold of eternity to our own world."
will, but you must know, princess, that before I can reach the top of
this precipice with you on my back, three days and nights must pass;
and I must have food on the way, or my strength will fail me, and I
shall fall down with you to the bottom, and we shall all perish."
"I have an ever-growing loaf, which will suffice both for you and ourselves," replied the princess.
"Then climb upon my back, and whenever I look round, give me some bread to eat."
bird was so large that all the princes, and the princess in the midst
of them, could easily find place on his back, and he began to fly
He flew higher and higher, and whenever he looked round at her, she gave him bits of the loaf, and he flew on, and upwards.
they went on steadily for two nights and days; but upon the third day,
when they were hoping in a short time to view the summit of the
precipice, and to land upon the borders of this world, the bird looked
round as usual for a piece of the loaf.
princess was just going to break off some to give him, when a sudden
violent gust of wind from the bottom of the abyss snatched the loaf
from her hand, and sent it whistling downwards.
Not having received his usual meal the bird became sensibly weaker, and looked round once more.
princess trembled with fear; she had nothing more to give him, and she
felt that he was becoming exhausted. In utter desperation she cut off a
piece of her flesh, and gave it to him.
eaten this the bird recovered strength, and flew upwards faster than
before; but after an hour or two he looked round once more.
she cut off another piece of her flesh; the bird seized it greedily,
and flew on so fast that in a few minutes he reached the ground at the
top of the precipice. When they alighted, and he asked her:
"Princess, what were those two delicious morsels you gave me last? I never ate anything so good before."
were part of my flesh, I had nothing else for you," replied the
princess in a faint voice, for she was swooning away with pain and loss
bird breathed upon her wounds; and the flesh at once healed over, and
grew again as before. Then he flew up again to heaven, and was lost in
princess and her brothers resumed their journey, this time towards the
sunrise, and at last arrived in their own country, where they met their
father, returning from the wars.
king was coming back victorious over his enemies, and on his way home
had first heard of the sudden disappearance of his children and of the
queen, and how his palace was tenanted only by a basilisk with a
was therefore most surprised and overjoyed to meet his dear children
once more, and on the way his daughter told him all that had come to
they got back to the palace the king sent one of his nobles with a
looking-glass down into the underground vaults. The basilisk saw
herself reflected in this mirror, and her own glance slew her
gathered up the remains of the basilisk, and burnt them in a great fire
in the courtyard, afterwards scattering the ashes to the four winds.
When this was done the king, his sons, and his daughter, returned to
live in their former home and were all as happy as could be ever after.
TO TRICK THE BASILISK
THE BRIDE CARRIED OFF BY THE WHIRLWIND
far-off country, beyond the sea and the mountains, there lived a king
and queen, with a beautiful daughter, who was called Princess Ladna.
great many princes came to woo her; but she liked only one of them,
called Prince Dobrotek; so they confessed their love for one another to
the king, who gave his consent, and the wedding-day was fixed.
among the princess's rejected suitors there was one, who though he had
changed himself into the shape of a prince, in order to come to court
and make love to her, really was an ugly dwarf, only seven inches high,
but with a beard more than seven feet long, and a great hump on his
back. He was so offended with the princess for refusing him, that he
determined to carry her off; so he watched his opportunity.
the young couple, with all their followers and their guests, were
leaving the palace to go to church, a violent wind began to blow, a
regular whirlwind, raising a column of sand, and lifting the princess
off her feet. She was carried up over the clouds, to the top of some
inaccessible mountains, and dropped down into a magnificent palace,
with a golden roof, and a high wall all round.
a while the princess woke up from the fainting-fit into which she had
fallen. She looked round the splendid apartment in which she was, and
came to the conclusion that some young and handsome prince must have
carried her off.
the room there was a table ready spread; all the plates and dishes, as
well as the knives, forks, and spoons, were of silver and gold; and the
dinner itself was so good, that in spite of her grief and terror, she
could not refrain from tasting it; and she had no sooner tasted, than
she ate, till her appetite was appeased.
the doors opened, and there came in a company of negroes, bearing a
great chair, in which sat the ugly dwarf, with the long beard and the
dwarf now began to pay his court to the princess, and explain how he
had carried her off in the guise of the whirlwind, because he loved her
so much. But she would not listen to him, and gave him a sounding slap
with her open hand right in his face, so that sparks danced before his eyes.
Of course he was in a great passion; but for love of her he managed to
keep his temper, and turned round to leave the room. But in his haste
he caught his feet in his long beard, and was thrown down on the
threshold, and in his fall he dropped his cap, which he was holding in
negroes helped him again into the chair, and carried him out; but the
princess jumped up, locked the door, and took up the cap that was lying
on the ground. She put it on; and went to the glass to see how she
looked in it. But what was her surprise to find that she could not see
herself, till she took it off! So she came to the wise conclusion that
this was an invisible cap; at which she was highly delighted; she put
on the cap again, and began to walk about the room.
door opened once more with a loud noise, and the dwarf came in with his
long beard thrown back and twisted all round his hump, to be out of the
way. But not seeing either his cap, or the princess, he guessed what
had happened; so full of wild despair he began to rush madly about the
room, knocking himself against the tables and chairs, while the
princess made her escape through the door, and ran out into the garden.
garden was very extensive, and full of beautiful fruit-trees; so she
lived upon these fruits, and drank the water of a spring in the garden
for some time. She used to make fun of the dwarf's impotent rage.
Sometimes when he rushed wildly
about the garden, she would tease him by taking off the invisible cap,
so that he saw her before him, in all her beauty; but when he made a
rush after her she would put it on again, and become invisible to him;
she would then throw cherry-stones at him, come close to him, and laugh
loudly: and then run away again.
day, when she was playing about in this manner, her cap got caught in
the boughs of a tree, and fell upon a gooseberry bush. The dwarf saw
it, and seized hold of the princess with one hand, and of the cap with
the other. But just then—from the summit of the mountain, above the
garden itself, was heard the sound of a trumpet-challenge, three times
this the dwarf trembled with rage; but first breathing upon the
princess, he put her to sleep with his breath, then placed his
invisible cap on her head. Having done this he seized his two-edged
sword, and flew up into the clouds, so as to strike the knight who had
challenged him from above, and destroy him at one stroke.
But where did this knight come from?
Princess Ladna had been carried off on her wedding-day by the
whirlwind, there was the greatest consternation among all the
bystanders. Her distracted father and her bridegroom rushed about in
all directions, and sent courtiers everywhere in search of her; but the
princess had been neither seen nor heard of, nor was any trace left of
king (very unnecessarily) told Prince Dobrotek that if he did not get
back his daughter, the princess, he would not only put him to death,
but would reduce his whole country to ashes. He also told all the
princes there that whoever should bring back his daughter should have
her to wife, and receive half of his kingdom into the bargain.
When they heard this they all got to horse, and galloped in various directions; among them Prince Dobrotek.
went on for three days, never stopping for food or rest; but on the
fourth day, at dusk, he felt overcome by sleep; so he let his horse go
free in a meadow, and himself lay down on the grass. Then all at once
he heard a piercing shriek, and straight before him beheld a hare, and
an owl perched upon it—its claws digging into the poor creature's side.
prince caught up the first thing that lay near him, and aimed at the
screech-owl, so truly that he killed it on the spot, and the hare ran
up to him, like a tame creature, licked his hands, and ran away.
Then the prince saw that the thing he had thrown at the owl was a human skull. And it spoke to him, in these words:
Dobrotek, I thank you for what you have done for me. When I was alive I
committed suicide, and was therefore condemned to lie unburied at this
cross-way, till I should be the means of saving life. I have lain here for
seven hundred and seventy-seven years; and Heaven knows how much longer
I should have had to remain, if you had not chanced to throw me at the
screech-owl, and so saved the life of the poor hare. Now bury me, so
that I may lie peacefully in the ground at this same place, and I will
tell you how to summon the Grey Seer-horse, with the golden mane, who
will always help you in case of need. Go out into a plain, and without
looking behind you, call out:
"Grey Seer-horse, with golden mane!Like a bird—and not like steed,On the blast—and not the mead,Fly thou hither unto me!"
having spoken, the head was silent; but a blue light shot up from it
towards the sky; it was the soul of the deceased, which having now
expiated its sin by its long imprisonment in the skull, had attained
The prince then dug a grave, and buried the skull. He then called out:
"Grey Seer-horse, with golden mane!Like a bird—and not like steed,On the blast—and not the mead,Do thou hither fly to me!"
wind rose, the lightning flashed, the thunder roared, and the wonderful
horse with the golden mane appeared. He flew as fast as the storm-wind,
flames shot from his nostrils, sparks from his eyes, and clouds of smoke from his mouth. He stood still, and said in human tones:
THE HORSE APPEARS IN THE STORM
"What are your commands, Prince Dobrotek?"
"I am in trouble; I wish you to help me."
And he told him all that had occurred.
"Creep in at my left ear," said the horse, "and creep out again at the right."
the prince crept in at the horse's left ear, and came out again at the
right one, all clad in golden armour. He also found himself
miraculously increased in strength, so that when he stamped on the
ground it trembled; and when he shouted a storm arose, which shook the
leaves from the trees.
Then he asked the horse:
"What is to be done next?"
betrothed, Princess Ladna," said the horse, "was carried off by the
seven-inch-high dwarf, with the seven-foot-long beard; he is a powerful
magician; he dwells beyond the seven seas, among inaccessible
mountains. He can only be conquered by the All-Cutting Sword, which
sword is jealously guarded by his own brother, the Giant-Head, with
basilisk eye. To this Giant-Head we must therefore go."
Dobrotek mounted on horseback, and they flew like an arrow, over lands
and seas, high mountains and wide oceans. They stopped at length upon a
wide plain strewn with bones, before a moving mountain. And the horse said:
moving mountain, which you see before you, is the giant's head with the
basilisk eyes; and the bones strewn so thickly hereabouts prove how
deadly his looks are—so be careful. He is now asleep from the heat of
the sun; but only two steps before him lies the sword, with which alone
you can conquer your enemy. Lie down along my back, so that his glance
cannot reach you through my neck and mane; but when you get near to it,
lay hold of the sword; when you have it you will not only be safe from
his basilisk glances, but you will even have the giant's head at your
the horse drew near lightly, and the prince bent down, and secured the
wonderful sword; but he shouted so loud that the Giant-Head woke up,
sniffed hard, and looked about with his bloodshot eyes; and seeing the
wonderful sword in the prince's hand, he called out:
"Sir knight! are you weary of the world, that you court speedy death?"
need not boast like that, you empty head!" replied Prince Dobrotek.
"Your looks cannot hurt me now; and you shall die by this All-Cutting
Sword! But I would first know who, and what you are."
"Then I confess, prince," replied the head; "that I am in your power; but be merciful to me, for I am worthy of
pity. I am a knight of the race of giants, and were it not for the envy
of my brother, I should still have been happy. He was the black sheep
of our family, and was born an ugly dwarf, with a long beard; and my
handsome giant-like proportions caused him to hate me bitterly. His
only good point is his great strength, and it all resides in his long
beard, and so long as it is not cut he cannot be conquered, and this
can only be done by that sword, which you now hold.
"One day, being bent upon my destruction, he said to me:
do not refuse to help me. I have read in my books of magic that beyond
the mountains, on a plain lies buried a certain sword, whereby a
knight, seeking for his betrothed, shall compass the destruction of us
both; let us therefore go and dig it up, so that we shall escape the
this I agreed. I took a hundred-year-old pine—torn up from its roots—on
one arm, and carried my brother on my other. We set out; he showed me
the spot, and I dug up the sword, on this same plain. Then we began to
quarrel about who should possess it. After a long dispute he said:
were best decide it by lot, brother. Let each of us lay his ear to the
ground, and whoever first hears the sound of the evening bell shall
have the sword.'
he laid his ear to the ground, and I mine. I listened; but heard
nothing; and he meantime, having got hold of the sword, crept up to me,
and cut my head from my shoulders.
headless trunk, left unburied, rotted away, and the grass grew over it;
but my head, endowed with supernatural life by the malicious dwarf, my
brother, was left here, with charge to guard this sword, and kill every
one who came near with my deadly glance. After many centuries you have
won it; so I implore you to cut off his seven-foot beard, and make him
into mince-meat; and avenge me."
shall be avenged," said the prince; "and at once. Grey Seer-Horse,
carry me to the kingdom of the dwarf magician, with the seven-foot-long
they set off at once, flying with lightning speed through the air, over
the seas and over the forests. In an hour or two they halted on the
summit of a high mountain, and the horse said:
mountains are the kingdom of the dwarf magician, who carried off your
betrothed, and they are both now in the garden; challenge him to fight."
Dobrotek sounded a challenge three times, and the dwarf, as we have
seen, flew up into the air, so as to swoop down upon his antagonist,
unperceived of him.
All at once the prince heard a murmuring sound above him, and he saw when he looked up, the dwarf soaring above
him, like an eagle in the clouds—for he had the magic power of
increasing his size and strength—with his sword drawn, ready to fall
The prince sprang aside, and the dwarf came down, with such an impetus, that his head and neck were rammed into the ground.
prince dismounted, seized the dwarf by the beard, wound it about his
left hand, and began to sever it with the All-Cutting Sword.
dwarf saw that he had to do with no feather-bed knight; so he tugged
with all his strength, and flew up again into the clouds; but the
prince, holding fast with his left hand to the beard, kept on severing
it with his sword, so that he had nearly cut half of it through; and
the dwarf became weaker and weaker the more hair he lost, so he began
to cry for mercy.
"Drop down to the ground, off which you took me," said the prince.
dwarf dropped down slowly, but the prince cut off the remainder of his
beard and threw him—when thus deprived of his charms and his strength
alike—on to the ground, wreathed the severed beard round his own
helmet, and entered the palace.
invisible servants of the dwarf, seeing their master's beard, wreathed
about the prince's helmet, threw open all the doors to him at once.
went through all the rooms; but not finding his princess anywhere, went
into the garden, traversing all the paths and lawns, and calling her
name. He could find her nowhere.
thus running from one place to another he chanced to touch the
invisible cap; he caught hold of it, and pulled it away from where it
was, on the head of the princess, and saw her at once in all her
loveliness, but fast asleep.
with joy, he called her by her name; but she had been cast into such a
deep sleep by the dwarf's poisonous breath, that he could not rouse her.
took her up in his arms, put the invisible cap into his pocket, also
picking up the wicked dwarf, whom he carried along with him. He then
mounted his horse, flew like an arrow, and in a few minutes stood
before the Giant-Head, with the basilisk eyes.
threw the dwarf into its open jaws, where he was ground at once into
powder; the prince then cut up the monstrous head into small pieces,
and scattered them all over the plain.
having got rid of both the dwarf and the giant, the prince rode on with
the sleeping princess, upon the Golden-Mane horse, and at sunset they
came to the same cross-roads, where he had first summoned him.
"Here, prince, we must part," said the Golden-Mane; "but here in the meadow is your own horse, and it is not far to your own home, so creep into my right ear, and come out at my left."
THE DWARF DEFEATED
prince did as he was told, and came out as he was before. His own horse
recognized him, and came running with a joyful neigh to meet his master.
prince was tired out with the long journey, so, having laid down his
betrothed wife, still sleeping, on the soft grass, and covered her up
from the cold, he laid down himself and went to sleep.
that very night, one of Princess Ladna's rejected suitors, riding that
way, saw by the light of the moon those two asleep, and he recognized
in them the princess, and the prince, his fortunate rival. So first
stabbing the latter through with his sabre, he carried off the
princess, and bore her on horseback before him to her father.
king welcomed him rapturously, as his daughter's deliverer. But when he
found, to his dismay, that he could not awake her, with all his
caresses, he asked the supposed rescuer what this meant.
do not know, Sir King," replied the knight. "After I had overtaken and
slain the great enchanter, who was carrying off the princess, I found
her as she is now, sound asleep."
Dobrotek meanwhile, mortally wounded, had just strength enough left to
summon the Wonderful Grey Horse, who came instantly; and seeing what
was the matter, flew off
to the top of the mountain of Everlasting Life. On its summit were
three springs—the Water of Loosening, the Water of Healing, and the
Water of Life. He sprinkled the dead prince with all three; Prince
Dobrotek opened his eyes, and exclaimed:
"Oh! how well I have slept!"
were sleeping the sleep of death," returned the Golden-Mane; "one of
your rivals killed you sleeping, and carried off your princess home to
her father, pretending to be her deliverer, in the hope of gaining her
hand. But do not be afraid; she is still asleep, and only you can
awaken her, by touching her forehead with the beard of the dwarf, which
you have with you. Go then to her; I must be elsewhere."
Golden-Mane vanished, and the prince, calling his own horse, and taking
with him his invisible cap, betook himself to the court of his loved
when he drew near he found that the city was all surrounded by enemies,
who had already mastered the outer defences, and were threatening the
town itself; and half of its defenders being slain, the rest were
thinking of surrender.
Prince Dobrotek put on his invisible cap, and drawing his All-Cutting Sword, fell upon the enemy.
fell to right and left as the sword smote them on each side, till one
half of them were slain, and the rest ran away into the forest.
by anyone the prince entered the city, and arrived at the royal palace,
where the king, surrounded by his knights, was hearing the account of
this sudden attack, whereby his foes had been discomfited; but by whom
no one could inform him.
Then Prince Dobrotek took off his invisible cap, and appearing suddenly in the midst of the assembly, said:
and father! it was I who beat your enemies. But where is my betrothed,
Princess Ladna, whom I rescued from the wizard dwarf, with the
seven-foot beard? whom one of your knights treacherously stole from me?
Let me see her, that I may waken her from her magic sleep."
the traitor knight heard this he took to his heels; Prince Dobrotek
touched the sleeping princess's forehead with the beard, she woke up
directly, gazed at him fondly with her lovely eyes, but could not at
first understand where she was, or what had happened to her.
king caught her in his arms, pressed her to his heart, and that very
evening he married her to Prince Dobrotek. He gave them half his
kingdom, and there was a splendid wedding, such as had never been seen
or heard of before.
THE GOOD FERRYMAN CAPTURES THE MERMAID
THE GOOD FERRYMAN AND THE WATER NYMPHS
once an old man, very poor, with three sons. They lived chiefly by
ferrying people over a river; but he had had nothing but ill-luck all
his life. And to crown all, on the night he died, there was a great
storm, and in it the crazy old ferry-boat, on which his sons depended
for a living, was sunk.
As they were lamenting both their father and their poverty, an old man came by, and learning the reason of their sorrow said:
"Never mind; all will come right in time. Look! there is your boat as good as new."
And there was a fine new ferry-boat on the water, in place of the old one, and a number of people waiting to be ferried over.
The three brothers arranged to take turns with the boat, and divide the fares they took.
They were however very different in disposition. The two elder brothers were greedy and avaricious, and would never take anyone over the river, without being handsomely paid for it.
the youngest brother took over poor people, who had no money, for
nothing; and moreover frequently relieved their wants out of his own
day, at sunset, when the eldest brother was at the ferry the same old
man, who had visited them on the night their father died, came, and
asked for a passage.
"I have nothing to pay you with, but this empty purse," he said.
"Go and get something to put in it then first," replied the ferry-man; "and be off with you now!"
day it was the second brother's turn; and the same old man came, and
offered his empty purse as his fare. But he met with a like reply.
third day it was the youngest brother's turn; and when the old man
arrived, and asked to be ferried over for charity, he answered:
"Yes, get in, old man."
"And what is the fare?" asked the old man.
"That depends upon whether you can pay or not," was the reply; "but if you cannot, it is all the same to me."
"A good deed is never without its reward," said the old man: "but in the meantime take this empty purse; though it is very worn, and looks worth nothing. But if you shake it, and say:
'For his sake who gave it, this purse I hold,I wish may always be full of gold;'
it will always afford you as much gold as you wish for."
THE PURSE THAT WAS EVER FULL
youngest brother came home, and his brothers, who were sitting over a
good supper, laughed at him, because he had taken only a few copper
coins that day, and they told him he should have no supper. But when he
began to shake his purse and scatter gold coins all about, they jumped
up from the table, and began picking them up eagerly.
as it was share and share alike, they all grew rich very quickly. The
youngest brother made good use of his riches, for he gave away money
freely to the poor. But the greedy elder brothers envied him the
possession of the wonderful purse, and contrived to steal it from him.
Then they left their old home; and the one bought a ship, laded it with
all sorts of merchandize, for a trading voyage. But the ship ran upon a
rock, and every one on board was drowned. The second brother was no
more fortunate, for as he was travelling through a forest, with an
enormous treasure of precious stones, in which he had laid out his
wealth, to sell at a profit, he was waylaid by robbers, who murdered
him, and shared the spoil among them.
youngest brother, who remained at home, having lost his purse, became
as poor as before. But he still did as formerly, took pay from
passengers who could afford it, ferried over poor folks for nothing,
and helped those who were poorer than himself so far as he could.
day the same old man with the long white beard came by; the ferry-man
welcomed him as an old friend, and while rowing him over the river,
told him all that had happened since he last saw him.
brothers did very wrong, and they have paid for it," said the old man;
"but you were in fault yourself. Still, I will give you one more
chance. Take this hook and line; and whatever you catch, mind you hold
fast, and not let it escape you; or you will bitterly repent it."
old man then disappeared, and the ferry-man looked in wonder at his new
fishing-tackle—a diamond hook, a silver line, and a golden rod.
at once the hook sprang of itself into the water; the line lengthened
out along the river current, and there came a strong pull upon it. The
fisherman drew it in, and beheld a most lovely creature, upwards from
the waist a woman, but with a fish's tail.
ferry-man, let me go," she said; "take your hook out of my hair! The
sun is setting, and after sunset I can no longer be a water-nymph
But without answering, the ferry-man only held her fast, and covered her over with his coat, to prevent her escaping. Then the sun set, and she lost her fish-tail.
"Now," she said: "I am yours; so let us go to the nearest church and get married."
was already dressed as a bride, with a myrtle garland on her head, in a
white dress, with a rainbow-coloured girdle, and rich jewels in her
hair and on her neck. And she held in her hand the wonderful purse,
that was always full of gold.
found the priest and all ready at the church; were married in a few
minutes; and then came home to their wedding-feast, to which all the
neighbours were invited. They were royally entertained, and when they
were about to leave the bride shook the wonderful purse, and sent a
shower of gold pieces flying among the guests; so they all went home
very well pleased.
good ferry-man and his marvellous wife lived most happily together;
they never wanted for anything, and gave freely to all who came. He
continued to ply his ferry-boat; but he now took all passengers over
for nothing, and gave them each a piece of gold into the bargain.
there was a king over that country, who a year ago had just succeeded
to his elder brother. He had heard of the ferry-man, who was so
marvellously rich, and wishing to ascertain the truth of the story he
had heard, came on purpose to see for himself. But when he saw the
ferry-man's beautiful young wife, he resolved to have her for himself, and determined to get rid of her husband somehow.
that time there was an eclipse of the sun; and the king sent for the
ferry-man, and told him he must find out the cause of this eclipse, or
be put to death.
He came home in great distress to his wife; but she replied:
"Never mind, my dear. I will tell you what to do, and how to gratify the king's curiosity."
she gave him a wonderful ball of thread, which he was to throw before
him, and follow the thread as it kept unwinding—towards the East.
went on a long way, over high mountains, deep rivers, and wide regions.
At last he came to a ruined city, where a number of corpses were lying
about unburied, tainting the air with pestilence.
good man was sorry to see this, and took the pains to summon men from
the neighbouring cities, and get the bodies properly buried. He then
resumed his journey.
came at last to the ends of the earth. Here he found a magnificent
golden palace, with an amber roof, and diamond doors and windows.
ball of thread went straight into the palace, and the ferry-man found
himself in a vast apartment, where sat a very dignified old lady,
spinning from a golden distaff.
"Wretched man! what are you here for?" she exclaimed, when she saw him. "My son will come back presently and burn you up."
He explained to her how he had been forced to come, out of sheer necessity.
I must help you," replied the old lady, who was no less than the Mother
of the Sun, "because you did Sol that good turn some days ago, in
burying the inhabitants of that town, when they were killed by a
dragon. He journeys every day across the wide arch of heaven, in a
diamond car, drawn by twelve grey horses, with golden manes, giving
heat and light to the whole world. He will soon be back here, to rest
for the night.... But ... here he comes; hide yourself, and take care
to observe what follows."
So saying she changed her visitor into a lady-bird, and let him fly to the window.
the neighing of the wonderful horses and the rattling of chariot wheels
were heard, and the bright Sun himself presently came in, and
stretching himself upon a coral bed, remarked to his mother:
"I smell a human being here!"
"What nonsense you talk!" replied his mother. "How could any human being come here? You know it is impossible."
The Sun, as if he did not quite believe her, began to peer anxiously about the room.
"Don't be so restless," said the old lady; "but tell me why you suffered eclipse a month or two ago."
could I help it?" answered the Sun; "When the dragon from the deep
abyss attacked me, and I had to fight him? Perhaps I should have been
fighting with the monster till now, if a wonderful mermaid had not come
to help me. When she began to sing, and looked at the dragon with her
beautiful eyes, all his rage softened at once; he was absorbed in
gazing upon her beauty, and I meanwhile burnt him to ashes, and threw
them into the sea."
Sun then went to sleep, and his mother again touched the ferry-man with
her spindle; he then returned to his natural shape, and slipped out of
the palace. Following the ball of thread he reached home at last, and
next day went to the king, and told him all.
the king was so enchanted at the description of the beautiful
sea-maiden, that he ordered the ferry-man to go and bring her to him,
on pain of death.
went home very sad to his wife, but she told him she would manage this
also. So saying she gave him another ball of thread, to show him which
way to go, and she also gave him a carriage-load of costly lady's
apparel and jewels, and ornaments—told him what he was to do, and they
took leave of one another.
On the way the ferry-man met a youth, riding on a fine grey horse, who asked:
"What have you got there, man?"
"A woman's wearing apparel, most costly and beautiful"—he had several dresses, not simply one.
say, give me some of those as a present for my intended, whom I am
going to see. I can be of use to you, for I am the Storm-wind. I will
come, whenever you call upon me thus:
'Storm-wind! Storm-wind! come with speed!Help me in my sudden need!'"
The ferry-man gave him some of the most beautiful things he had, and the Storm-wind passed.
A little further on he met an old man, grey-haired, but strong and vigorous-looking, who also said:
"What have you got there?"
"Women's garments costly and beautiful."
am going to my daughter's wedding; she is to marry the Storm-wind; give
me something as a wedding present for her, and I will be of use to you.
I am the Frost; if you need me call upon me thus:
'Frost, I call thee; come with speed;Help me in my sudden need!'"
The ferry-man let him take all he wanted and went on.
And now he came to the sea-coast; here the ball of thread stopped, and would go no further.
The ferry-man waded up to his waist into the sea, and set up
two high poles, with cross-bars between them, upon which he hung
dresses of various colours, scarves, and ribbons, gold chains, and
diamond earrings and pins, shoes, and looking-glasses, and then hid
himself, with his wonderful hook and line ready.
soon as the morning rose from the sea, there appeared far away on the
smooth waters a silvery boat, in which stood a beautiful maiden, with a
golden oar in one hand, while with the other she gathered together her
long golden hair, all the while singing so beautifully to the rising
sun, that, if the ferry-man had not quickly stopped his ears, he would
have fallen into a delicious reverie, and then asleep.
sailed along a long time in her silver boat, and round her leaped and
played golden fishes with rainbow wings and diamond eyes. But all at
once she perceived the rich clothes and ornaments, hung up on the
poles, and as she came nearer, the ferry-man called out:
"Storm-wind! Storm-wind! come with speed!Help me in my sudden need!"
"What do you want?" asked the Storm-wind.
The ferry-man without answering him, called out:
"Frost, I call thee; come with speed,Help me in my sudden need!"
"What do you want?" asked the Frost.
"I want to capture the sea-maiden."
Then the wind blew and blew, so that the silver boat was capsized, and the frost breathed on the sea till it was frozen over.
THE MEETING OF THE SISTERS
the ferryman rushed up to the sea-maiden, entangling his hook in her
golden hair; lifted her on his horse, and rode off as swift as the wind
after his wonderful ball of thread.
kept weeping and lamenting all the way; but as soon as they reached the
ferry-man's home, and saw his wife, all her sorrow changed into joy;
she laughed with delight, and threw herself into her arms.
And then it turned out that the two were sisters.
morning the ferry-man went to court with both his wife and
sister-in-law, and the king was so delighted with the beauty of the
latter, that he at once offered to marry her. But she could give him no
answer until he had the Self-playing Guitar.
So the king ordered the ferry-man to procure him this wonderful guitar, or be put to death.
wife told him what to do, and gave him a handkerchief of hers,
embroidered with gold, telling him to use this in case of need.
Following the ball of thread he came at last to a great lake, in the midst of which was a green island.
began to wonder how he was to get there, when he saw a boat
approaching, in which was an old man, with a long white beard, and he
recognized him with delight, as his former benefactor.
"How are you, ferry-man?" he asked. "Where are you going?"
"I am going wherever the ball of thread leads me, for I must fetch the Self-playing Guitar."
guitar," said the old man, "belongs to Goldmore, the lord of that
island. It is a difficult matter to have to do with him; but perhaps
you may succeed. You have often ferried me over the water; I will ferry
The old man pushed off, and they reached the island.
arriving the ball of thread went straight into a palace, where Goldmore
came out to meet the traveller, and asked him where he was going and
what he wanted.
"I am come for the Self-playing Guitar."
will only let you have it on condition that you do not go to sleep for
three days and nights. And if you do, you will not only lose all chance
of the Self-playing Guitar; but you must die."
What could the poor man do, but agree to this?
Goldmore conducted him to a great room, and locked him in. The floor
was strewn with sleepy-grass, so he fell asleep directly.
Next morning in came Goldmore, and on waking him up said:
"So you went to sleep! Very well, you shall die!"
he touched a spring in the floor, and the unhappy ferry-man fell down
into an apartment beneath, where the walls were of looking-glass, and
there were great heaps of gold and precious stones lying about.
For three days and nights he lay there; he was fearfully hungry. And then it dawned upon him that he was to be starved to death!
called out, and entreated in vain; nobody answered, and though he had
piles of gold and jewels about him, they could not purchase him a
morsel of food.
sought in vain for any means of exit. There was a window, of clearest
crystal, but it was barred by a heavy iron grating. But the window
looked into a garden whence he could hear nightingales singing, doves
cooing, and the murmur of a brook. But inside he saw only heaps of
useless gold and jewels, and his own face, worn and haggard, reflected
a thousand times.
could now only pray for a speedy death, and took out a little iron
cross, which he had kept by him since his boyhood. But in doing so he
also drew out the gold-embroidered handkerchief, given him by his wife,
and which he had quite forgotten till now.
had been looking on, as he often did, from an opening in the ceiling to
enjoy the sight of his prisoner's sufferings. All at once he recognized
the handkerchief, as belonging to his own sister, the ferry-man's wife.
at once changed his treatment of his brother-in-law, as he had
discovered him to be; took him out of prison, led him to his own
apartments, gave him food and drink, and the Self-playing Guitar into
Coming home, the ferry-man met his wife half-way.
ball of thread came home alone," she explained; "so I judged that some
misfortune had befallen you, and I was coming to help you."
He told her all his adventures, and they returned home together.
king was all eagerness to see and hear the Self-playing Guitar; so he
ordered the ferry-man, his wife, and her sister to come with it to the
palace at once.
the property of this Self-playing Guitar was such that wherever its
music was heard, the sick became well, those who were sad merry, ugly
folks became handsome, sorceries were dissolved, and those who had been
murdered rose from the dead, and slew their murderers.
when the king, having been told the charm to set the guitar playing,
said the words, all the court began to be merry, and dance—except the
king himself!... For all at once the door opened, the music ceased, and
the figure of the late king stood up in his shroud, and said:
"I was the rightful possessor of the throne! and you, wicked brother, who caused me to be murdered, shall now reap your reward!"
So saying he breathed upon him, and the king fell dead—on which the phantom vanished.
But as soon as they recovered from their fright, all the nobility who were present acclaimed the ferry-man as their king.
next day, after the burial of the late king, the beautiful sea-maiden,
the beloved of the Sun, went back to the sea, to float about in her
silvery canoe, in the company of the rainbow fishes, and to rejoice in
the good ferry-man and his wife lived happily ever after, as king and
queen. And they gave a grand ball to the nobility and to the people....
The Self-playing Guitar furnished the music, the wonderful purse
scattered gold all the time, and the king entertained all the guests
THE FIGHT FOR THE MAGIC BOOTS
THE PRINCESS OF THE BRAZEN MOUNTAIN
a young prince, who was not only most handsome and well-grown, but also
most kind-hearted and good. Now sooner or later kindness always meets
its reward, though it may not seem so at first.
summer's evening the prince was walking on the banks of a lake, when he
looked up, and saw to his great surprise, in the air, against the rosy
clouds of the sunset, three beautiful beings with wings—not angels, nor
birds—but three beautiful damsels.
having alighted on the ground they dropped their wings and their
garments, and left them lying on the shore and leaped into the cool
water, and began splashing and playing about in it, like so many
As soon as the prince saw this he came out from his hiding-place in the bushes, picked up one pair of wings and hid himself again.
When they had been long enough in the water, the beautiful damsels came again to land, and dressed themselves quickly.
Two of them soon had on both their white dresses and their wings; but the youngest could not find hers.
held a short consultation, and the result was, that the two elder flew
away in the shape of birds, as fast as they could, to fetch another
pair of wings for their younger sister.
They soon vanished in the blue sky; but she remained alone, wringing her hands, and crying.
"What are you crying for, you lovely maiden?" asked the prince, emerging from the bushes.
I am so unhappy!" she replied. "I am a princess of the Brazen Mountain;
my sisters and I came here to bathe in the lake; and somebody has
stolen my wings; so I must wait here, until they bring me another pair."
"I am a prince," he replied; "this is my father's kingdom; be my wife, and I will give you back your wings."
"Very well," she said; "I consent, only you must give me back my wings at once."
"Let us first go to church, and get married," he answered, and taking the lovely princess by the hand, he brought her to his father and mother, and asked their permission to marry her.
THE PRINCE STEALS THE WINGS
king and queen were delighted with their beautiful daughter-in-law,
gave them their blessing, and all was got ready for the wedding.
And directly they came back from church the prince, overcome with joy, kissed his bride, and gave her back her wings.
She took them joyfully, fastened them to her shoulders; then flew out of the window, and vanished.
the wedding-guests were in consternation; the king looked very serious;
the queen wept bitterly; but the prince so grieved after his bride,
that, having obtained his parents' consent, he went out into the wide
world to search for that Brazen Mountain, where he hoped to find her.
travelled for a long time, inquiring about it of every one he met; but
nobody had ever heard of such a mountain; and he began to give up all
hope of ever finding it.
one evening he saw a twinkling light before him, which he followed, in
the hope of coming to some habitation. It led him on a long way, across
level plains, through deep defiles, and at length some way into a dark
forest. But at last he came to whence the light proceeded—from a
He went in; but found the hermit lying dead, with six wax candles burning around him. He had evidently been dead for some time. Yet there seemed to be nobody near him, nor any inhabitants at all in this desolate region.
prince's first thought was how to get him buried, and with proper
rites, when there was no priest—nor indeed any people at all—to be
found in the neighbourhood.
While he was thinking over this, something fell from a peg in the wall, close beside him; it was a leather whip.
The prince took it up, and read on the handle these words:
"The Magic Whip."
As he knew its virtue, he called out:
"Ho! Magical Whip!To right and left skip!And do what I will!"
The whip jumped from his hand, became invisible, and flew away.
a short time there was the hum of a multitude through the forest; and
the head-forester entered, breathless, followed by a crowd of
under-keepers, and many more people with them.
Some set about making a coffin, others began digging a grave, and the head-keeper rode off to fetch a priest.
as soon as it was dawn mass was said; the bells began ringing from
several far-distant churches; and at sunrise the corpse was decently
buried. When the funeral was over all the people dispersed to their
homes, and the Magical Whip returned of itself to the prince's hand.
stuck it into his girdle, and went on, till after an hour or two he
came to a clearing in the forest, where twelve men were fighting
desperately among themselves.
"Stop, you fellows!" exclaimed the prince. "Who are you? and what are you fighting about?"
are robbers," they replied, "and we are fighting for these boots, which
were the property of our deceased leader. Whoever has them can go seven
leagues at one step; and he who gets them will be our leader. As you
are a stranger we will abide by your decision, as to whom this pair of
boots shall belong, and give you a heap of gold into the bargain for
The prince drew on the boots, took the Magical Whip from his girdle, and said:
"Ho! Magical Whip!To right and left skip!And do what I will!"
whip jumped from his hand, became invisible, and well thrashed the
robbers. In the midst of the confusion the prince made his escape, and
having the boots on he went seven miles at every step, and was soon far
enough away from the robbers' den.
as he was no nearer to finding out where the Brazen Mountain was, he
had no need to go quite so fast; so he took off the seven-league boots,
put them under his arm, and the Magic Whip in his girdle, and went at
his ordinary pace, till he came to a narrow path between some rocks, where again he came upon twelve men fighting.
explained that they were fighting for an invisible cap, which had
belonged to their late leader; and asked him, as a stranger, to decide
who should have it.
he set the Magical Whip, as before, to work; and there was a nice
confusion among these robbers, for not seeing where the blows came from
they fell upon one another; and at last, frightened out of their
senses, they took flight, and scattered in all directions. The prince,
having put on the invisible cap, was able to walk among them, and talk
to them; and they all heard, though they could not see him.
now began to consider whether he could not use all these treasures to
help him to find the Brazen Mountain. So he drew on the seven-league
boots, settled the invisible cap on his forehead, and taking the
Magical Whip from his girdle, said:
"Oh! thou wondrous Magic Whip!Lead me on; I'll follow thee!Onward to the Brazen MountainLead me, where I fain would be!"
whip sprang from his hand. It did not become invisible this time, but
glided rapidly a little above the ground, like a boat over a calm sea.
Though it flew like a bird, the prince was quite able to keep pace with
it, because he
had on the seven-league boots. He was scarcely aware of the fact, when
in less than a quarter of an hour they came to a standstill—at the
first the prince was overjoyed at having reached the goal of his
wishes; but when he looked more closely at its smooth perpendicular
sides, hard as adamant—its summit lost in the clouds—he was in despair;
for how was he ever to get to the top of it?
he thought there must be some way up after all; so taking off his boots
and cap, he set off to walk round the base of the mountain.
half an hour he came to a mill, with twelve millstones. The miller was
an old wizard, with a long beard down to the ground. He stood beside a
stove—whereupon a kettle was boiling—stirring the contents with a long
iron spoon, and piling wood on the fire.
The prince looked into the kettle.
"Good morning to you, gaffer. What are you doing there?"
"That's my own business," replied the miller gruffly.
"What mill is this?" the prince next asked.
"That's no business of yours," replied the miller.
prince was not going to be satisfied with this; so he gave his usual
orders to the Magical Whip, which forthwith became invisible, and began
to lash the miller soundly. He tried to run away; but it was no use;
till the prince took pity on him, and called the whip back again. He put it up, and then said:
"Whose mill is this?"
belongs to the three princesses of the Brazen Mountain," replied the
miller. "They let down a rope here every day, and draw up all the flour
they want by the rope."
As he said this a thick silken rope came down, with a loop at the end, which struck the threshold of the mill.
prince made ready; and when the usual sack of wheat flour was bound
fast in the loop, he climbed upon it, having first put on his invisible
cap, and was thus drawn up to the top of the Brazen Mountain.
The three princesses, having drawn up their supply of flour, put it into their storehouse, and went back to their dwelling.
palace was most beautiful, all silver without, and all gold within. All
the windows were of crystal; the chairs and tables were made of
diamonds, and the floors of looking-glass. The ceilings were like the
sky, with mimic stars and moon shining therein; and in the principal
saloon there was a sun, with rays all round; beautiful birds were
singing, monkeys were telling fairy tales; and in their midst amongst
all this sat three most beautiful princesses.
two eldest were weaving golden threads in their looms; but the
youngest, the prince's wife, sat silently apart from her sisters,
listening to the murmur of a fountain, her head leaning on her hand, in deep thought. And as she sat there two pearly tears coursed down her lovely face.
THE TRUANT WIFE IS CAPTURED
"What are you thinking of, sister?" asked the two elder princesses.
am thinking of the prince, my husband. I love to think of him, and I am
so sorry for him, poor fellow! To think I left him for no fault at all;
and when we loved one another so dearly! Oh! sisters! I shall have to
leave you, and go back to him; only I fear he will never forgive me,
however I entreat him, for having behaved so unkindly to him."
forgive you, I forgive you everything, darling!" exclaimed the prince
throwing off the invisible cap, and embracing her rapturously.
Then she gave him wings like her own, and they flew away together. In an hour or two they arrived in his father's kingdom.
The king and queen welcomed them joyfully, and all was greatest joy and happiness henceforward.
THE MOUSE SAVES THE GOOD LITTLE GIRL
THE BEAR IN THE FOREST HUT.
once an old man, who was a widower, and he had married an old woman,
who was a widow. Both had had children by their first marriage; and now
the old man had a daughter of his own still living, and the old woman
also had a daughter.
old man was an honest, hard-working, and good-natured old fellow, but
too much under his wife's thumb. This was very unfortunate, because she
was wicked, cunning, and sly, and a bad old witch.
Her daughter was only too like her in disposition; but she was her mother's darling.
But the old man's daughter was a very good sweet girl; nevertheless her stepmother hated her; she was always tormenting her, and wishing her dead.
One day she had beaten her very cruelly, and pushed her out of doors; then she said to the old man:
wretched daughter is always giving me trouble; she is such an
ill-tempered, spoilt hussy, that I cannot do anything with her. So if
you wish for peace in the house, you must put her into your waggon,
drive her away into the forest, and come back without her."
old man was very sorry to have to do this; for he loved his own little
daughter most dearly. But he was so afraid of his wife that he dared
not refuse; so he put the poor girl into his waggon, drove a long way
into the forest, took her out, and left her there alone.
wandered about a long time, gathering wild strawberries, to eat with a
little piece of bread, which her father had given her. Towards evening
she came to the door of a hut in the forest, and knocked at the door.
Nobody answered her knock. So she lifted the latch, went in, and looked round—there was nobody there.
there was a table in one corner, and benches all round the walls, and
an oven by the door. And near the table, close to the window, was a
spinning-wheel, and a quantity of flax.
The girl sat down to the spinning-wheel, and opened the window, looked out, and listened; but nobody came.
THE GOOD LITTLE GIRL IS SENT AWAY
But as it grew dusk she heard a rustle not far off, and from somewhere not far from the hut, a voice was heard, singing:
"Wanderer, outcast, forsaken!Whom the night has overtaken;If no crime your conscience stain,In this hut to-night remain."
When the voice ceased, she answered:
"I am outcast and forsaken;Yet unstained by crime am I:Be you rich, or be you poor;For this night here let me lie!"
Once more there was a rustle in the branches; the door opened, and there came into the room—a bear!
The girl started up, very frightened; but the bear only said:
"Good evening, pretty maiden!"
"Good evening to you, whoever you are," she replied, somewhat reassured.
"How did you come here?" he asked. "Was it of your own free will, or by compulsion?"
The maiden told him all, weeping; but the bear sat down beside her, and stroking her face with his paw, replied:
not cry, pretty one; you shall be happy yet. But in the meantime you
must do just what I tell you. Do you see that flax? You must spin it
into thread; of that
thread you must weave cloth, and of that cloth you must make me a
shirt. I shall come here to-morrow at this same time, and if the shirt
is ready I will reward you. Good-bye!"
So saying the bear made her a parting bow, and went out. At first the girl began to cry, and said to herself:
can I do this in only twenty-four hours—spin all that flax, weave it
into cloth, and make a shirt out of it? Well! I must set to work! and
do what I can.... He will at least see that my will was good, though I
was unable to perform the task."
saying, she dried her tears, ate some of her bread and strawberries,
sat down to the spinning-wheel, and began to spin by the light of the
The time went by quickly, as she worked, and it was daylight before she knew.
And there was no more flax left; she had spun out the last distaff-full.
She was astonished to see how fast the work had gone, and began to wonder how she was to weave the thread without any loom.
Thinking, she fell asleep.
When she woke the sun was already high in the heavens. There was breakfast ready on the table, and a loom under the window.
She ran down to the neighbouring brook, washed her face and hands, came back, said grace, and ate her breakfast; then she sat down to the loom.
The shuttle flew so fast that the cloth was all ready by noon.
She took it out into a meadow, sprinkled it from the brook, spread it out in the sun, and in one hour the cloth was bleached.
She came back with it to the hut, cut out the shirt, and began to stitch at it diligently.
The twilight was falling, and she was just putting in the last stitch, when the door opened, and the bear came in, and asked:
"Is the shirt ready?"
She gave it to him.
you, my good girl; now I must reward you. You told me you had a bad
stepmother; if you like, I will send my bears to tear her and her
daughter in pieces."
"Oh! don't do that! I don't want to be revenged; let them live!"
it be so then! Meanwhile make yourself useful in the kitchen; get me
some porridge for supper. You will find everything you want in the
cupboard in the wall; but I will go and fetch my bedding, for I shall
spend to-night at home."
The bear left the room, and the maiden made up the fire in the oven, and began to get the porridge ready.
Just then she heard a sound under the bench, and there ran out a poor, lean little mouse, which stood up on its hind-legs, and said in human tones:
"Mistress! help me lest I dieA poor weak, little mouse am I!I am hungry, give me food;And to you will I be good."
The girl was sorry for the mouse, and threw it a spoonful of porridge.
The mouse ate it, thanked her, and ran away to its hole.
bear soon came in, with a load of wood and stones; these he laid upon
the stove, and having eaten a basin of porridge, he climbed upon the
stove, and said:
girl, is a bunch of keys on a steel ring. Put out the fire; but you
must walk about the room all night, and keep on jingling these keys,
till I get up; and if I find you alive in the morning you shall be
The bear began snoring directly, and the old man's daughter kept walking about the hut, jingling the keys.
Soon the mouse ran out of its hole, and said:
me the keys, mistress, I will jingle them for you; but you must hide
yourself behind the stove, for the stones will soon be flying about."
So the mouse began to run up and down by the wall, under the bench. The maiden hid behind the oven, and about midnight the bear woke up, and threw out a stone into the middle of the room.
But the mouse kept running about, and jingling the keys. And the bear asked:
"Are you alive?"
"I am," replied the girl, from behind the oven.
The bear began to throw stones and billets of wood, thick and fast from the stove, and every time he did so, he asked:
"Are you alive?"
"I am," replied the girl's voice from behind the oven; and the mouse still ran up and down, jingling the keys.
the dawn the cocks began to crow, but the bear did not wake. The mouse
gave up the keys, and ran back to its hole; but the old man's daughter
began to walk about the room, and jingled the keys.
At sunrise the bear came off the stove, and said:
daughter of the old man! you are blest of heaven! For here was I, a
powerful monarch, changed by enchantment into a bear, until some living
soul should spend two nights in this hut. And now I shall soon become a
man again, and return to my kingdom, taking you for my wife. But before
this comes to pass, do you look into my right ear."
old man's daughter threw back her hair, and looked into the right ear
of the bear. And she saw a beautiful country, with millions of people,
with high mountains, deep rivers, impenetrable forests, and pastures covered with flocks, well-to-do villages, and rich cities.
"What seest thou?" asked the bear.
"I see a lovely country."
"That is my kingdom. Look into my left ear."
looked, and could not enough admire what she saw—a magnificent palace,
with many carriages and horses in the courtyard, and in the carriages
rich robes, jewels, and all kinds of rarities.
"What do you see?" asked the bear.
She described it all.
"Which of those carriages do you prefer?"
"The one with four horses," she replied.
"That is yours then," answered the bear, as he opened the window.
was a sound of wheels in the forest, and a golden carriage presently
drew up before the cottage drawn by four splendid horses, although
there was no driver.
bear adorned his beloved with a gown of cloth-of-gold, with diamond
ear-rings, a necklace set with various precious stones, and diamond
here a little while; your father will come for you presently; and in a
few days, when the power of the enchantment is over, and I am a king
again, I will come for you, and you shall be my queen."
So saying the bear disappeared into the forest, and the old man's daughter looked out of the window to watch for her father's coming.
old man, having left his daughter in the wood, came home very sad; but
on the third day he harnessed his waggon again, and drove into the
forest, to see if she were alive or dead; and if she were dead at least
to bury her.
evening the old woman and her own daughter looked out of the window,
and a dog, the favourite of the old man's daughter, suddenly rushed to
the door, and began to bark:
"Bow! wow! wow! the old man's here!Bringing home his daughter dear,Decked with gold and diamonds' sheen,Gifts to please a royal queen."
The old woman gave the dog an angry kick. "You lie, you big ugly dog! Bark like this!
"Bow! wow! wow! the old man's come!His daughter's bones he's bringing home!"
saying she opened the door; the dog leaped forth; and she went with her
daughter into the courtyard. They stood as if transfixed!
in drove the carriage with four galloping horses, the old man sitting
on the box, cracking his whip, and his daughter sat inside, dressed in
cloth of gold, and adorned with jewels.
The old woman pretended she was overjoyed to see her, welcomed her with many kisses, and was anxious to know where she got all these rich and beautiful things.
The girl told her that they were all given to her by the bear in the forest hut.
Next day the old woman baked some delicious cakes, and gave them to her own daughter, saying to the old man:
your wretched, worthless daughter has had such good luck, I am sure my
sweet, pretty darling will get a deal more from the bear, if he can
only see her. So you must drive her out in the waggon, leave her in the
forest, and come back without her."
she gave the old man a good push, to hasten his departure, shut the
door of the cottage in his face, and looked out of the window to see
what would happen.
old man went to the stable, got out the waggon, put the horse to,
helped his stepdaughter in, and drove away with her into the forest.
There he left her, turned his horse's head, and drove quickly home.
old woman's daughter was not long in finding out the hut in the forest.
Confident in the power of her charms she went straight into the little
room. There was nobody within; but there was the same table in one
corner, the benches round the walls, the oven by the door, and the
spinning-wheel, under the window, with a great bundle of flax.
She sat down on one of the benches, undid her bundle, and began eating the cakes with great relish, looking from the window all the time.
It soon began to get dark, a strong wind began to blow, and a voice was heard singing outside:
"Wanderer! outcast, forsaken!Whom the night has overtaken;If no crime your conscience stain,Here this night you may remain."
When the voice ceased she answered:
"I am outcast and forsaken;Yet unstained by crime am I:Be you rich, or be you poor,For this night here let me lie."
Then the door opened, and the bear walked in.
The girl stood up, gave him a winning smile, and waited for him to bow first.
The bear looked at her narrowly, made a bow, and said:
maiden ... but I have not much time to stay here. I must go back to the
forest; but between now and to-morrow evening you must make me a shirt,
out of this flax; so you must set at once about spinning, weaving,
bleaching, washing, and then about sewing it. Good-bye!"
So saying the bear turned, and went out.
not what I came here for," said the girl, so soon as his back was
turned, "to do your spinning, weaving, and sewing! You may do without a
shirt for me!"
So saying, she made herself comfortable on one of the benches, and went to sleep.
Next day, at evening twilight, the bear came back, and asked:
"Is the shirt ready?"
She made no answer.
"What's this? the distaff has not been touched."
Silence as before.
me ready my supper at once. You will find water in that pail, and the
groats in that cupboard. I must go and fetch my bedding, for to-night I
will sleep at home."
bear went out, and the old woman's daughter lit the fire in the stove,
and began to prepare the porridge. Then the little mouse came out,
stood on its hind-legs, and said:
"Mistress! help me, or I die!A poor, weak little mouse am I!I am hungry, give me food;And to you will I be good."
the unkind girl only caught up the spoon with which she was stirring
the porridge, and flung it at the poor mouse, which ran away in a
bear soon came back with a huge load of stones and wood; instead of a
mattress he arranged a layer of stones on the top of the stove, and
covered this with the wood, in place of a sheet. He ate up the
porridge, and said:
"Here! take these keys; walk all night about the hut, and keep on jingling them. And if, when I get up to-morrow, I find you still alive, you shall be happy."
The bear was snoring at once, and the old woman's daughter walked up and down drowsily, jingling the keys.
about midnight the bear woke up, and flung a stone towards the quarter
whence he heard the jingling. It hit the old woman's daughter.
She gave one shriek, fell, and expired instantly.
morning the bear descended from the top of the oven, looked once at the
dead girl, opened the cottage door, stood upon the threshold, and
stamped upon it three times with all his force. It thundered and
lightened; and in one moment the bear became a handsome young king,
with a golden sceptre in his hand, and a diamond crown on his head.
now there drew up before the cottage a carriage, bright as sunshine,
with six horses. The coachman cracked his whip, till the leaves fell
from the trees, and the king got into the carriage, and drove away from
the forest to his own capital city.
old man having left his stepdaughter in the forest came home rejoicing
in his daughter's joy. She was expecting the king every day. In the
meantime he busied himself with looking after the four splendid horses,
cleaning the golden carriage, and airing the costly horse-clothes.
On the third day after his return the old woman came down upon him and said:
and fetch my darling; she is no doubt all dressed in gold by this time,
or married to a king; so I shall be a queen's mother."
The old man, obedient as ever, harnessed the waggon, and drove off.
When evening came the old woman gazed from the window; when the dog began to bark:
"Bow! wow! wow! the old man's come!Your daughter's bones he's bringing home!"
"You lie!" exclaimed the old woman; "bark like this:
'Bow! wow! wow! the old man's here!Driving home your daughter dear,Decked in gold and diamonds' sheen,Gifts to please a royal queen.'"
saying she ran out of the house to meet the old man, coming back in the
waggon; but she stood as if thunderstruck, sobbed, and wept, and was
hardly able to articulate:
"Where is my sweetest daughter?"
The old man scratched his head, and replied:
has met with a great misfortune; this is all I have found of her—a few
bare bones, and blood-stained garments; in the wood, in the old hut ...
she has been devoured by wolves."
The old woman, wild with grief and despair, gathered up her
daughter's bones, went to some neighbouring cross-ways, and when a
number of people had gathered together, she buried them there with
weeping and lamentation; then she fell face downward on the grave—and
was turned to stone.
THE REWARD OF THE GOOD LITTLE GIRL
a royal carriage drew up in the courtyard of the old man's cottage,
bright as the sun, with four splendid horses, and the coachman cracked
his whip—till the cottage fell to pieces with the sound.
king took both the old man and his daughter into the carriage, and they
drove away to his capital, where the marriage soon took place.
old man lived happily in his declining years, as the father-in-law of a
king, and with his sweet daughter, who had once been so miserable, a
THE FROG PRINCESS
is certainly a "Nature story." The princess and her attendants are
clearly personification of the elemental forces. The classical scholar
cannot fail to be struck by the likeness of her metamorphoses to the
story of Peleus and Thetis. Indeed the "Protean myth" so repeatedly
occurs in these primitive Slavonic stories that it is impossible not to
suspect a common origin.
PRINCESS MIRANDA AND PRINCE HERO
old woman "Jandza"—which word Polish dictionary-makers translate by
"fury"—appears very often both in Polish and Russian fairy tales, as a
witch of witches. She is sometimes "Jaga"; and seems pretty malevolent,
though capable of serving those who know how to manage her.
story—probably a symbolic one—of the Spring and Winter, or the triumph
of Light over Darkness, might be read at the present moment into an
allegory of Poland, overrun, her people oppressed, starved, and all but
extirpated by the malignant spirit of German militarism. Princess
Miranda, herself unsleeping, awake, and watching, while all is
desolation and despair around her, might be taken for the Spirit of Poland herself, undying, but waiting for deliverance. But where is the Prince Hero, who shall deliver her?
Princess Miranda—her name is cud-dziewica, i.e. "Wonder Maiden"—but is not "admired Miranda" the most obvious rendering?
name of the heroine "Ladna" signifies "pretty" or "beautiful" in
Polish. It is not the word originally used; but being nearly
equivalent, and of similar meaning, appears preferable.
prince's name "Dobrotek," signifies "good," or "benefactor." Being easy
of pronunciation, but not easily Englished into a proper name, it
seemed best to retain it.
whole story has a very Eastern cast. The mention of the "Seven seas,"
and the high mountains beyond them, suggest Persian or Indian
influence. The ugly dwarf, with the long beard and diminutive stature,
seems a malignant "Jinn," and to have his counterpart in a well-known
legend of the Arabian Nights. But this is not the only Polish tale that
gives this impression; more than one appears directly taken from these
P. 50. "The Water of Loosening." Loosening is not perhaps an exact rendering, which is rather "unstiffening," or destroying the rigor mortis, as a preparative to healing a mortal wound, and breaking the sleep of death. These three waters always appear in stories, where this incident is used.
THE PRINCESS OF THE BRAZEN MOUNTAIN
story is rather freely translated, and much shortened from the
original. There is much pious reflection, too long for insertion. The
conversation between the prince and the sorcerer-miller is somewhat
changed as much of it seemed rather irrelevant to the chief interest of
the story, and lacking in pithiness.
story of a supernatural maiden, compelled by the theft of her wings to
remain temporarily as a mortal with a mortal husband, has its
counterpart in many lands. The oldest perhaps is a Persian story,
related in Keightly's "Fairy Mythology," of a Peri, who being thus
entrapped, lives several years as an ordinary woman; but accidently
finding her wings again, puts them on, and deserts her mortal husband
and children, remarking as she does so: "I loved you well enough, while
we remained together; but I love my former husband better"—and so
vanishes away to Peristan.
The parallel legend of "Little Sealskin" will readily occur to memory.