The good woman was overcome with joy, and brought them their supper at once; but they were too frightened to eat.
As for the Ogre, he set himself to drinking, delighted to have something with which to regale his friends. He drank a dozen cups more than usual, which went to his head, and obliged him to go early to bed.
Now this Ogre had seven daughters, who were still only children. These little Ogresses all had beautiful complexions, for they ate fresh meat like their father. They had little round gray eyes, crooked noses, and great mouths filled with long teeth, very sharp and far apart. They were not yet very wicked, but they promised well, for they already bit little children whenever they got the chance. They had been put to bed early, and were all seven in one bed, each having a golden crown on her head.
There was in the same room anther bed of the same size. Here it was that the Ogre's wife put the seven little boy's, after which she went to bed in her own chamber.
Hop-o'-My-Thumb, who had remarked that the Ogre's daughters had golden crowns on their heads, was afraid that the Ogre might regret not having killed him and his brothers that evening. So he rose about the middle of the night, and, taking his nightcap and those of his brothers, he went very softly and placed them on the heads of the Ogre's seven daughters, after having removed their golden crowns. He then put the crowns on his brothers' heads and on his own, so that the Ogre might mistake them for his daughters, and his daughters for the boys whom he wished to kill.
The plan succeeded as he had expected. The Ogre, having awakened about midnight, was sorry that he had put off till next day what he might have done that evening. He jumped quickly out of bed, and, taking his great knife, "Let us see," said he, "how our little friends are getting on."
He went on tiptoe to the room of his daughters, and approached the bed where the little boys were all asleep, except Hop-o'-My-Thumb, who was terribly frightened when he felt the Ogre's hand touching his head, as he had already touched his brothers'. But when the Ogre felt the golden crowns, he said, "Indeed, I was near making a nice piece of work of it. I see that I drank too much in the evening."
He then went to the bed of his daughters, where he felt the boys'
little nightcaps. "Ah! here they are," said he, "the fine fellows! I must go boldly to work. Saying these words, and without hesitating, he cut the throats of his seven daughters. Very well pleased with his expedition, he went back to bed. As soon as Hop-o'-My-Thumb heard the Ogre snoring, he awakened his brothers, and told them to dress themselves quickly and follow him. They went softly down unto the garden, and leaped over the walls. They hurried away, and ran almost all night, without knowing whither they went.
The Ogre, when he woke up, said to his wife, "Go upstairs and dress those little fellows who were here last night.''
The Ogress was very much astonished at the kindness of her husband, not suspecting for a moment the way in which he meant that she should dress them. Believing that he simply wished her to put on their clothes, she went upstairs, where she was amazed to see her seven daughters with their throats cut. She was so overcome that she immediately fainted.
The Ogre, thinking his wife was too slow, went upstairs to assist her.
He was no less astonished than his wife when the frightful sight met his eyes.
"Ah! what have I done here?" he cried; "but those little wretches shall pay for this, and at once."
He then threw a bucket of water into his wife's face, and, having revived her, said, "Give me quickly my seven-league boots, that I may go after those boys and catch them."
He then started out into the country at once, and, having rushed about in all directions, came at last to the road where the poor children were walking, and then not more than a hundred steps from their father's house. They saw the Ogre striding from mountain to mountain, and crossing rivers as if they were little brooks.
Hop-o'-My-Thumb, who saw a hollow rock near the place where they were, hid himself and his six brothers there, and watched carefully what became of their enemy. The Ogre, who was very tired with his long and fruitless journey, wished to rest himself, and sat down, by chance, on the very rock where the little boys were hidden.
As he was overcome with fatigue, he soon fell asleep, and began to snore so frightfully that the poor children were as much frightened as when he held his knife ready to cut their throats. Hop-o'-My-Thumb was less afraid, and told his brothers to run into the house while the Ogre slept, and not to worry about him. They followed his counsel, and quickly reached the house.
Hop-o'-My-Thumb then approached the Ogre, softly drew off his boots, and put them on himself. The boots were very long and very large; but, as they were fairy boots, they had the gift of becoming larger or smaller, according to the size of the wearer's leg. In fact, they fitted Hop-o'-My-Thumb as if they had been made for him.
He then went straight to the Ogre's house, where he found his wife weeping over her daughters.
"Your husband," said Hop-o'-My-Thumb, "is in great danger, for he has been taken by a band of robbers, who will kill him if he does not give them all his gold and silver. Just when they held their knives to his throat he perceived me, and besought me to come and tell you of the state in which he was, and to direct you to give me all that he has, without retaining anything, since otherwise they would slay him without mercy. As time passed, he wished that I should take his seven-league boots, as you see, in order to make haste, and also that you might not think me an impostor."
The good woman, very much frightened, gave him all she had; for this Ogre was a good husband, although he did eat little children.
Hop-o'-My-Thumb, being then loaded with all the Ogre's treasures, returned to his father's house, where he was welcomed with great joy and where they all lived happily ever after.
THERE was once upon a time an old Queen whose husband had been dead for many years, and she had a beautiful daughter. When the princess grew up she was betrothed to a prince who lived at a great distance. When the time came for her to be married, and she had to ,journey forth into the distant kingdom, the aged Queen packed up for her many costly vessels of silver and gold, and trinkets also of gold and silver; and cups and jewels, in short, everything which appertained to a royal dowry, for she loved her child with all her heart. She likewise sent her maid in waiting, who was to ride with her, and hand her over to the bridegroom, and each had a horse for the journey, but the horse of the King's daughter was called Falada, and could speak. So when the hour of parting had come, the aged mother went into her bedroom, took a small knife and cut her finger with it until it bled, then she held a white handkerchief to it into which she left three drops of blood fall, gave it to her daughter and said: "Dear child, preserve this carefully, it will be of service to you on your way."
So they took a sorrowful leave of each other: the princess put the piece of cloth in her bosom, mounted her horse, and then went away to her bridegroom. After she had ridden for a while she felt a burning thirst and said to her waiting-maid: "Dismount, and take my cup which thou hast brought with thee for me, and get me some water from the stream, for I should like to drink." "If you are thirsty," said the waiting-maid, "get off your horse yourself, and lie down and drink out of the water; I don't choose to be your servant." So in her great thirst the princess alighted, bent down over the water in the stream and drank, and was not allowed to drink out of the golden cup. Then she said, "Ah, Heaven!" and the three drops of blood answered:
"If thy mother knew this, her heart would break."
But the King's daughter was humble, said nothing, and mounted her horse again. She rode some miles further, but the day was warm, the sun scorched her, and she was thirsty once more, and when they came to a stream of water, she again cried to her waiting-maid: "Dismount, and give me some water in my golden cup," for she had long ago forgotten the girl's ill words. But the waiting-maid said still more haughtily: "If you wish to drink, drink as you can, I don't choose to be your maid." Then in her great thirst the King's daughter alighted, bent over the flowing stream, wept and said: "Ah, heaven!" and the drops of blood again replied: "If thy mother knew this, her heart would break."
And as she was thus drinking and leaning right over the stream, the handkerchief with the three drops of blood fell out of her bosom, and floated away with the water without her observing it, so great was her trouble.
The waiting-maid, however, had seen it, and she rejoiced to think that she had now power over the bride, for since the princess had lost the drops of blood, she had become weak and powerless. So now when she wanted to mount her horse again, the one that was called Falada, the waiting-maid said: "Falada is more suitable for me, and my nag will do for thee," and the princess had to be content with that. Then the waiting-maid, with many hard words, bade the princess exchange her royal apparel for her own shabby clothes; and at length she was compelled to swear by the clear sky above her, that she would not say one word of this to any one at the royal court, and if she had not taken this oath she would have been killed on the spot. But Falada saw all this, and observed it well.
The waiting-maid now mounted Falada, and the true bride the bad horse, and thus they traveled onward, until at length they entered the royal palace. There were great rejoicings over her arrival, and the prince sprang forward to meet her, lifted the waiting-maid from her horse, and thought she was his consort. She was conducted upstairs, but the real princess was left standing below. Then the old King looked out of the window and saw her standing in the courtyard, and how dainty and delicate and beautiful she was, and instantly went to the royal apartment, and asked the bride about the girl she had with her who was standing down below in the courtyard, and who she was. "I picked her up on my way for a companion; give the girl something to work at, that she may not stand idle." But the old King had no work for her, and knew of none, so he said: "I have a little boy who tends the geese, she may help him." The boy was called Conrad, and the true bride had to help him to tend the geese.
Soon afterward the false bride said to the young King: "Dearest husband, I beg you to do me a favor." He answered: "I will do so most willingly." "Then send for the knacker, and have the head of the horse on which I rode here cut off, for it vexed me on the way." In reality she was afraid that the horse might tell how she had behaved to the King's daughter. Then she succeeded in making the King promise that it should be done, and the faithful Falada was to die; this came to the ears of the real princess, and she secretly promised to pay the knacker a piece of gold if he would perform a small service for her. There was a great dark-looking gateway in the town, through which morning and evening she had to pass with the geese: would he be so good as to nail up Falada's head on it, so that she might see him again, more than once. The knacker's man promised to do that, and cut off the head, and nailed it fast beneath the dark gateway.
Early in the morning, when she and Conrad drove out their flock beneath this gateway, she said in passing:
"Alas, Falada, hanging there
Then the head answered:
"Alas, young Queen, how ill you fare!
If this your tender mother knew,
Her heart would surely break in two."
Then they went still further out of the town, and drove their geese into the country. And when they had come to the meadow, she sat down and unbound her hair which was like pure gold, and Conrad saw it and delighted in its brightness, and wanted to pluck out a few hairs. Then she said:
"Blow, blow, thou gentle wind, I say,
Blow Conrad's little hat away,
And make him chase it here and there,
Until I have braided all my hair,
And bound it up again.
And there came such a violent wind that it blew Conrad's hat far away across country, and he was forced to run after it. When he came back she had finished combing her hair and was putting it up again, and he could not get any of it. Then Conrad was angry, and would not speak to her, and thus they watered the geese until the evening, and then they went home.
Next day when they were driving the geese out through the dark gateway, the maiden said:
"Alas, Falada, hanging there