"Oh! My Lord Bruin, I've been out fishing and caught them," said the Fox.
So the Bear had a mind to learn to fish too, and bade the Fox tell him how he was to set about it.
"Oh! It's an easy craft for you", answered the Fox, "and soon learned.
You've only got to go upon the ice, and cut a hole and stick your tail down into it; and so you must go on holding it there as long as you can. You're not to mind if your tail smarts a little; that's when the fish bite. The longer you hold it there the more fish you'll get; and then all at once out with it, with a cross pull sideways, and with a strong pull too."
Yes; the Bear did as the Fox had said, and held his tail a long, long the down in the hole, till it was fast frozen in. Then he pulled it out with a cross pull, and it snapped short off. That's why Bruin goes about with a stumpy tail this very day.
BOOTS WHO MADE THE PRINCESS SAY "THAT'S A STORY"
By Sir George Webbe Dasent
ONCE upon a time there was a King who had a daughter, and she was such a dreadful storyteller that the like of her was not to be found far or near. So the King gave out, that if anyone could tell such a string of lies as would get her to say, "That's a story," he should have her to wife, and half the kingdom besides. Well, many came, as you may fancy, to try their luck, for everyone would have been very glad to have the Princess, to say nothing of the kingdom; but they all cut a sorry figure, for the Princess was so given to storytelling, that all their lies went in at one ear and out of the other. Among the rest came three brothers to try their luck, and the two elder went first, but they fared no better than those that had gone before them. Last of all, the third, Boots, set off and found the Princess in the farmyard.
"Good morning," he said, "and thank you for nothing." "Good morning,"
said she, "and the same to you." Then she went on-
"You haven't such a fine farmyard as ours, I'll be bound; for when two shepherds stand, one at each end of it, and blow their ram's horns, the one can't hear the other."
"Haven't we though!" answered Boots; "ours is far bigger; for when a calf starts to cross a field, it is a full-grown cow when it reaches the other end."
"I dare say," said the Princess. "Well, but you haven't such a big ox, after all, as ours yonder; for when two men sit, one on each horn, they can't touch each other with a tweny-foot rule."
"Stuff!" said Boots; "is that all? Why, we have an ox who is so big, that when two men sit, one on each horn, and each blows his great mountain-trumpet, they can't hear one another."
"I dare say," said the Princess; "but you haven't so much milk as we, I'll be bound; for we milk our cows into great pails, and carry them indoors, and empty them into great tubs, and so we make great, great cheeses."
"Oh! you do, do you?" said Boots. "Well, we milk ours into great tubs, and then we put them in carts and drive them indoors, and then we turn them out into great brewing vats, and so we make cheeses as big as a great house. We had, too, a dun mare to tread the cheese well together when it was making; but once she tumbled down into the cheese, and we lost her; and after we had eaten at this cheese seven years, we came upon a great dun mare, alive and kicking. Well, once after that I was going to drive this mare to the mill, and her backbone snapped in two; but I wasn't put out, not I; for I took a spruce sapling, and put it into her for a backbone, and she had no other backbone all the while we had her. But the sapling grew up into such a tall tree, that I climbed right up to the sky by it, and when I got there I saw a lady sitting and spinning the foam of the sea into pigs'-bristle ropes; but just then the spruce-fir broke short off, and I couldn't get down again; so the lady let me down by one of the ropes, and down I slipped straight into a fox's hole, and who should sit there but my mother and your father cobbling shoes; and just as I stepped in, my mother gave your father such a box on the ear that it made his whiskers curl."
"That's a story!" said the Princess, "my father never did any such thing in all his born days!"
So Boots got the Princess to wife, and half the kingdom besides.
THE WITCH IN THE STONE BOAT
Retold by Andrew Lang
THERE was once a king and queen, and they had a son called Sigurd, who was very strong and active and good-looking. When the king came to be bowed down with the weight of years he spoke to his son, and said that now it was time for him to look out for a fitting match for himself, for he did not know how long he might last now, and he would like to see him married before he died.
Sigurd was not averse to this and asked his father where he thought it best to look for a wife. The king answered that in a certain country there was a king who had a beautiful daughter, and he thought it would be most desirable if Sigurd could get her. So the two parted, and Sigurd prepared for the journey and went to where his father had directed him.
He came to the king and asked his daughters hand, which was readily granted him, but only on the condition that he should remain there as long as he could, for the king himself was not strong and not very able to govern his kingdom. Sigurd accepted this condition, but added that he would have to get leave to go home again to his own country when he heard news of his father's death. After that Sigurd married the princess and helped his father-in-law to govern the kingdom. He and the princess loved each other dearly, and after a year a son came to them, who was two years old when word came to Sigurd that his father was dead. Sigurd now prepared to return home with his wife and child and went on board ship to go by sea.
They had sailed for several days, when the breeze suddenly fell and there came a dead calm at a time when they needed only one day's voyage to reach home. Sigurd and his queen were one day on deck when most of the others on the ship had fallen asleep. There they sat and talked for a while, and had their little son along with them. After a time Sigurd became so heavy with sleep that he could no longer keep awake, so he went below and lay down, leaving the queen alone on the deck playing with her son.
A good while after Sigurd had gone below the queen saw something black on the sea which seemed to be coming nearer. As it approached she could make out that it was a boat and could see the figure of some one sitting in it and rowing it. At last the boat came alongside the ship, and now the queen saw that it was a stone boat, out of which there came on board the ship a fearfully ugly witch. The queen was more frightened than words can describe, and could neither speak a word nor move from the place so as to awaken the king or the sailors. The witch came right up to the queen, took the child from her, and laid it on the deck; then she took the queen and stripped her of all her fine clothes, which she proceeded to put on herself and looked then like a human being. Last of all she took the queen, put her into the boat and said:
"This spell I lay upon you, that you slacken not your course until you come to my brother in the under world."
The queen sat stunned and motionless, but the boat at once shot away from the ship with her, and before long she was out of sight.
When the boat could no longer be seen the child began to cry, and though the witch tried to quiet it she could not manage it; so, with the child on her arm, she went below to where the king was sleeping, and awakened him, scolding him for leaving them alone on deck while he and all the crew were asleep. It was great carelessness of him, she said, to leave no one to watch the ship with her.
Sigurd was greatly surprised to hear his queen scold him so much, for she had never said an angry word to him before; but he thought it was quite excusable in this case, and tried to quiet the child along with her but it was no use. Then he went and wakened the sailors and bade them hoist the sails, for a breeze had sprung up and was blowing straight toward the harbor.
They soon reached the land which Sigurd was to rule over, and found all the people sorrowful for the old king's death, but they became glad when they got Sigurd back to the court, and made him king over them.
The king's son, however, hardly ever stopped crying from the time he had been taken from his mother on the deck of the ship, although he had always been such a good child before, so that at last the king had to get a nurse for him-one of the maids of the court. As soon as the child got into her charge he stopped crying and behaved as well as before.
After the sea voyage it seemed to the king that the queen had altered very much in many ways, and not for the better. He thought her much more haughty and stubborn and difficult to deal with than she used to be. Before long others began to notice this as well as the king. In the court there were two young fellows, one of eighteen years old, the other of nineteen, who were very fond of playing chess and often sat long inside playing at it. Their room was next the queen's, and often during the day they heard the queen talking.
One day they paid more attention than usual when they heard her talk, and put their ears close to a crack in the wall between the rooms, and heard the queen say quite plainly: 'When I yawn a little, then I am a nice little maiden: when I yawn halfway, then I am half a troll; and when I yawn fully then I am a troll altogether."
As she said this she yawned tremendously, and in a moment had put on the appearance of a fearfully ugly troll. Then there came up through the floor of the room a three-headed giant with a trough full of meat, who saluted her as his sister and set down the trough before her. She began to eat out of it and never stopped till she had finished it. The young fellows saw all this going on, but did not hear the two of them say anything to each other. They were astonished, though, at how greedily the queen devoured the meat and how much she ate of it, and were no longer surprised that she took so little when she sat at table with the king. As soon as she had finished it the giant disappeared with the trough by the same way as he had come, and the queen returned to her human shape.
Now we must go back to the king's son after he had been put in charge of the nurse. One evening. after she had lit a candle and was holding the child, several planks sprang up in the floor of the room, and out at the opening came a beautiful woman dressed in white, with an iron belt round her waist, to which was fastened an iron chain that went down into the ground. The woman came up to the nurse, took the child from her, and pressed it to her breast; then she gave it back to the nurse and returned by the same way as she had come, and the floor closed over her again. Although the woman had not spoken a single word to her, the nurse was very much frightened, but told no one about it.
Next evening the same thing happened again, just as before, but as the woman was going away she said in a sad tone, "Two are gone and one only is left," and then disappeared as before. The nurse was still more frightened when she heard the woman say this, and thought that perhaps some danger was hanging over the child, though she had no ill opinion of the unknown woman, who, indeed, had behaved toward the child as if it were her own. The most mysterious thing was the woman saying "and only one is left"; but the nurse guessed that this must mean that only one day was left, since she had come for two days already.
At last the nurse made up her mind to go to the king. She told him the whole story and asked him to be present in person the next day about the time when the woman usually came. The king promised to do so, and came to the nurse's room a little before the time and sat down on a chair with his drawn sword in his hand. Soon after the planks in the floor sprang up as before, and the woman came up, dressed in white, with the iron belt and chain. The king saw at once that it was his own queen, and immediately hewed asunder the iron chain that was fastened to the belt. This was followed by such noises and crashings down in the earth that all the king's palace shook, so that no one expected anything else than to see every bit of it shaken to pieces. At last the noises and shaking stopped, and they began to come to themselves again.
The king and queen embraced each other, and she told him the whole story-how the witch came to the ship when they were all asleep and sent her off in the boat. After she had gone so far that she could not see the ship, she sailed on through darkness until she landed beside a three-headed giant. The giant wished her to marry him, but she refused; whereupon he shut her up by herself and told her she would never get free until she consented. After a time she began to plan how to get her freedom, and at last told him that she would consent if he would allow her to visit her son on earth three days on end. This he agreed to, but put on her this iron belt and chain, the other end of which he fastened around his, own waist, and the great noises that were heard when the king cut the chain must have been caused by the giant's falling down the underground passage when the chain gave way so suddenly. The giant's dwelling, indeed, was right under the palace, and the terrible shakings must have been caused by him in his death throes.
The king now understood how the queen he had had for some time past had been so ill-tempered. He at once had a sack drawn over her head and made her be stoned to death, and after that torn in pieces by untamed horses. The two young fellows also told now what they had heard and seen in the queen's room, for before this they had been afraid to say anything about it, on account of the Queen's power.
The real queen was now restored to all her dignity and was beloved by all. The nurse was married to a nobleman and the king and queen gave her splendid presents.
By Paul Sebillot
As often happens in this world, there was once a young man who spent all his time in traveling. One day, as he was walking along, he picked up a snuffbox. He opened it, and the snuffbox said to him in the Spanish language: "What do you want?" He was very much frightened, but, luckily, instead of throwing the box away he only shut it tight and put it in his pocket. Then he went on, away, away, away, and as he went he said to himself, "if it says to me again, 'What do you want?' I shall know better what to say this time." So he took out the snuffbox and opened it, and again it asked: "What do you want?" "My hat full of gold," answered the youth, and immediately it was full.
Our young man was enchanted. Henceforth he should never be in need of anything. So on he traveled, away, away, away, through thick forests, till at last he came to a beautiful castle. In the castle there lived a king. The young man walked round and round the castle, not caring who saw him, till the king noticed him and asked what he was doing there. "I was just looking at your castle." "You would like to have one like it, wouldn't you?" The young man did not reply, but when it grew dark he took out his snuffbox and opened the lid." What do you want?" "Build me a castle with laths of gold and tiles of diamond and the furniture all of silver and gold." He had scarcely finished speaking when there stood in front of him, exactly opposite the king's palace, a castle built precisely as he had ordered. When the king awoke he was struck dumb at the sight of the magnificent house shining in the rays of the sun. The servants could not do their work for stopping to stare at it. Then the king dressed himself and went to see the young man. And he told him plainly that he was a very powerful prince, and that he hoped that they might all live together in one house or the other, and that the king would give him his daughter to wife. So it all turned out just as the king wished. The young man married the princess and they lived happily in the palace of gold.
But the king's wife was jealous both of the young man and of her own daughter. The princess had told her mother about the snuffbox, which gave them everything they wanted, and the queen bribed a servant to steal the snuffbox. They noticed carefully where it was put away every night, and one evening, when the whole world was asleep, the woman stole it and brought it to her old mistress. Oh, how happy the queen was! She opened the lid and the snuffbox said to her: "What do you want?" And she answered at once: "I want you to take me and my husband and my servants and this beautiful house and set us down on the other side of the Red Sea, but my daughter and her husband are to stay behind."
When the young couple woke up they found themselves back in the old castle, without their snuffbox. They hunted for it high and low, but quite vainly. The young man felt that no time was to be lost, and he mounted his horse and filled his pockets with as much gold as he could carry. On he went, away, away, away, but he sought the snuffbox in vain all up and down the neighboring countries, and very soon he came to the end of all his money. But still he went on, as fast as the strength of his horse would let him, begging his way.
Some one told him that he ought to consult the moon, for the moon traveled far and might be able to tell him something. So he went away, away, away, and ended, somehow or other, by reaching the land of the moon. There he found a little old woman who said to him: "What are you doing here? My son eats all living things he sees, and if you are wise you will go away without coming any farther." But the young man told her all his sad tale, and how he possessed a wonderful snuffbox, and how it had been stolen from him, and how he had nothing left now that he was parted from his wife and was in need of everything. And he said that perhaps her son, who traveled so far, might have seen a palace with laths of gold and tiles of diamond and furnished all in silver and gold. As he spoke these last words the moon came in and said he smelled mortal flesh and blood. But his mother told him that it was an unhappy man who had lost everything and had come all this way to consult him, and bade the young man not to be afraid, but to come forward and show himself. So he went boldly up to the moon, and asked if by any accident he had seen a palace with the laths of gold and the tiles of diamond and all the furniture of silver and gold. Once this house belonged to him, but now it was stolen. And the moon said no, but that the sun traveled farther than he did, and that the young man had better go and ask him.
So the young man departed and went away, away, away, as well as his horse would take him, begging his living as he rode along, and somehow or other at last he got to the land of the sun. There he found a little old woman, who asked him: "What are you doing here? Go away.
Have you not heard that my son feeds upon Christians?" But he said no and that he would not go, for he was so miserable that it was all one to him whether he died or not; that he had lost everything, and especially a splendid palace like none other in the whole world, for it had laths of gold and tiles of diamond and all the furniture was of silver and gold; and that he had sought it far and long, and in all the earth there was no man more unhappy. So the old woman's heart melted and she agreed to hide him.
When the sun arrived he declared that he smelled Christian flesh and he meant to have it for his dinner. But his mother told him such a pitiful story of the miserable wretch who had lost everything and had come from far to ask his help that at last he promised to see him.
So the young man came out from his hiding-place and begged the sun to tell him if in the course of his travels he had not seen somewhere a palace that had not its like in the whole world, for its laths were of gold and its tiles of diamond and all the furniture in silver and gold.