The Blue Light

Folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther Type 562

edited and/or translated by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2008


Contents

  1. The Blue Light (Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm).

  2. The Iron Man (Germany, August Ey).

  3. The Three Dogs (Germany, Georg Schambach and Wilhelm Müller).

  4. The Tinderbox (Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen).

  5. Lars, My Lad! (Sweden, G. Djurklo).

  6. Sir Buzz (India, Flora Annie Steel).


Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

The Blue Light

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Once upon a time there was a soldier who had served the king loyally for many long years. When the war was over and the soldier could no longer serve because of the many wounds he had received, the king said to him, "You can go home now. I no longer need you. There will be no more money for you, because wages are only for those who earn them."

Because the soldier did not know how he could earn a living, he sadly walked the whole day long, until he came to a forest in the evening. As darkness fell he saw a light. He approached it and came to a little house, where a witch lived. "Give me a night's shelter and a little to eat and drink," he said to her, "otherwise I will perish."

"Oho!" she answered. "Who gives anything to a runaway soldier? But I will have pity and take you in after all, if you will do what I ask of you."

"What do you want?" asked the soldier.

"For you to dig up my garden tomorrow."

The soldier agreed, and the next day he worked with all his might, but could not finish before evening. "I see," said the witch, "that you can do no more work today. I will take you in for one more night if tomorrow you will cut up and split a stack of wood for me."

The soldier took the entire day to do this, and that evening the witch proposed that he remain a third night. "Tomorrow I have only a small task for you. Behind my house there is a dry well into which my light has fallen. It burns blue and never goes out. I want you to get it for me."

The next day the old woman led him to the well and lowered him down it in a basket. He found the blue light and gave a sign that she should pull him up again. And she did pull him up, but when he was close to the edge, she wanted to take the blue light from him. "No," he said, sensing her evil thoughts, "I shall not give you the light until I am standing on the ground with both feet."

Then the witch became furious, let him fall back into the well, and walked away. The poor soldier fell to the damp floor without being injured. The blue light continued to burn, but how could that help him? He saw that would not be able to escape death. He sadly sat there for a while. Then he happened to reach into his pocket and found his tobacco pipe, which was still half full. "This will be your last pleasure," he thought, pulled it out, lit it with the blue light, and began to smoke.

After the fumes had wafted about the cavern, suddenly there stood before him a little black dwarf, who said, "Master, what do you command?"

"Why should I command you?" replied the bewildered soldier.

"I must do everything that you demand," said the dwarf."

"Good," said the soldier, "then first help me out of this well."

The dwarf took him by the hand and led him through an underground passage, and he did not forget to take the blue light with him. Along the way he showed him the treasures that the witch had collected and hidden there, and the soldier took as much gold as he could carry. When he was above ground, he said to the dwarf, "Now go and bind the old witch and take her to the judge."

Not long afterward she came riding by on a tomcat as fast as the wind and screaming horribly. And not long after that the dwarf was back. "It is all taken care of," he said. "The witch is hanging on the gallows. Master, what do you command now?"

"Nothing at the moment," answered the soldier. "You can go home, but be ready when I call you."

"It is only necessary," said the dwarf, "for you to light your pipe with the blue light, and I will be with you." With that he disappeared before his very eyes.

The soldier returned to the city from which he had come. He moved into the best inn and had beautiful clothes made for himself. Then he told the innkeeper to furnish his room as luxuriously as possible. When it was finished he summoned the black dwarf and said, "I served the king loyally, but he sent me away to starve. For this I now want revenge."

"What am I to do?" asked the little man.

"Late this evening, when the king's daughter is lying in bed, bring her here to me in her sleep. She shall do maid service for me."

The dwarf said, "That is an easy thing for me, but a dangerous thing for you. If you are found out, it will not go well for you."

At the strike of twelve the door opened, and the dwarf carried the king's daughter in.

"Aha, is that you?" cried the soldier. "Get to work now! Go fetch the broom and sweep the room." When she was finished he called her to his chair, stuck his feet out at her, and said, "Pull off my boots," then threw them in her face, and she had to pick them up and clean them and make them shine. She did everything that he ordered her to do, without resisting, silently, and with half-closed eyes. At the first cock's crow, the dwarf carried her to the royal palace and back to her bed.

The next morning, after the king's daughter had gotten up, she went to her father and told him that she had had an amazing dream. "I was carried away through the streets as fast as lightning and taken to a soldier's room. I had to serve as his maid and wait on him and do common work, sweep the room, and clean his boots. It was only a dream, but still I am as tired as if I had really done it all."

"The dream could have been true," said the king. "I will give you some advice. Fill your pocket with peas, then make a small hole in your pocket. If you are carried away again, they will fall out and leave a track on the street."

As the king was thus speaking, the dwarf was invisibly standing nearby and heard everything.

That night when he once again carried the sleeping princess through the streets, a few peas did indeed fall out of her pocket, but they did not leave a track, because the cunning dwarf had already scattered peas in all the streets. And once again the king's daughter had to do maid service until the cock crowed.

The next morning the king sent his people out to look for the track, but it was to no end, for in all the streets there were poor children gathering peas and saying, "Last night it rained peas."

"We must think of something else," said the king. "Leave your shoes on when you go to bed, and before you return from there, hide one of them. I will be sure to find it."

The black dwarf overheard this proposal, and that evening when the soldier again wanted the king's daughter brought to him, the dwarf advised him against this, saying that he had no way to protect him against such trickery. If the shoe were to be found in his room, it would not go well with him.

"Do what I tell you," replied the soldier, and for a third night the king's daughter had to work like a maid. But before she was carried back, she hid a shoe under the bed.

The next morning the king had the entire city searched for the shoe, and it was found in the soldier's room. The soldier himself, following the little man's request, was already outside the city gate, but they soon overtook him and threw him into prison.

In his haste, he had forgotten to take along his most valuable things: the blue light and the gold. He had only one ducat in his pocket. Standing at the window of his prison and weighted down with chains, he saw one of his comrades walking by. He knocked on the glass, and as he walked by, he said, "Be so good and bring me the little bundle that I left at the inn. I'll give you a ducat for it."

The comrade ran forth and brought back the desired things. As soon as the soldier was alone again, he lit his pipe and summoned the black dwarf. "Have no fear," he said to his master. "Just go where they lead you, and let everything happen, but take the blue light with you."

The next day the soldier was tried, and although he had done nothing wrong, the judge still sentenced him to death. As he was being led out, he asked the king for one last wish.

"What sort of a wish?" asked the king.

"That I might smoke one more pipe on the way."

"You can smoke three," answered the king, "but do not think that I will let you live."

Then the soldier pulled out his pipe and lit it with the blue light. As soon as a few rings of smoke had risen, the dwarf was standing there. He had a cudgel in his hand and said, "What does my master command?"

"Strike the false judges and their henchmen to the ground for me. And don't spare the king either, who has treated me so badly."

Then the dwarf took off like lightning, zip-zap, back and forth, and everyone he even touched with his cudgel fell to the ground and did not dare to move. The king became afraid. He begged for mercy, and in order to save his life, he gave to the soldier his kingdom as well as his daughter for a wife.




The Iron Man

Germany

A soldier had long served his king. He had been valiant and brave and hence had received many wounds. When the war was over he had to go back where he came from to see if he could not beg a little bread for himself. Such a cripple could not work, and at that time there were no pensions. He went from village to village and from town to town, barely getting by.

Once he had to pass through a great forest, for at that time there were many large forests. He lost his way and had to eat roots and berries until finally he came to a charcoal burner who took him in and friendlily gave him shelter. The soldier liked it there in the solitude, and he and the charcoal burner became right good friends. He carried wood for the charcoal burner and helped him with everything he had to do. In the twilight of evening they both complained about their sorrows and told one another about their past.

One day the charcoal burner said, "Listen, friend, you are daring and brave. You can bring good fortune to both of us if you will only follow my advice. Not far from here there is a deep shaft where enormous treasures are buried. Are you willing to let me lower you down on a rope? Just bring me a bundle of candles; you can keep everything else that you bring up. You'll see that we shall have enough."

The soldier immediately agreed. The following morning the charcoal burner took a long rope, and they both went to the shaft. One, two, three, the soldier had the rope around his body, and the charcoal burner lowered him into the hole. Down at the bottom the soldier undid the rope, struck a light, and found a tunnel, which he followed until he came to an iron door that was closed with many bars. He opened it and entered a large hall that was entirely illuminated by a silver chandelier. It was as bright as day. In the middle a large iron man was seated on a throne with three chests standing nearby. However, they were locked shut. Above the door was hanging the bundle of candles.

First of all the soldier reached for the candles; the man saw this, but did not move. Then the soldier went to one of the chests, which earlier had not been open, and behold, it was filled with shiny silver coins. He quickly filled his pockets. Then the second chest sprang open, and the most beautiful and largest gold pieces shone forth. He threw the silver coins back into their chest and filled his pockets with gold. He was scarcely finished when the third chest opened itself, in which the most valuable precious stones and pearls were glistening. He set the gold aside and filled his pockets with pearls and diamonds. The man did not move. The soldier left, and the iron man did not move.

At the shaft the soldier tied the rope around his body again, then tugged, and he was pulled up. Above he gave the charcoal burner the candles and showed him his treasures. Both were delighted, and they retired.

The next morning the charcoal burner was dead. What was the soldier to do? He took his treasures, including the candles, and with his staff in hand went forth into the wide world. He soon came out of the forest, then made his way to a large city where for a long time he lived gloriously and happily, thinking that his riches would have no end. But they did come to an end, and he did not have even enough money to buy oil for his lamp. Then he thought of the candles that he had brought from the shaft. He took one of them, lit it, and in that instant the iron man stood before him, asking him what he should do.

The soldier now knew how things stood, and he told him to bring him a sack full of gold. In an instant he had the gold, the candle went out, and the man had disappeared. Now he had whatever he needed, and when anything was gone the iron man had to come and bring something new.

From there the soldier traveled to the city where the king lived, whom he had served. Here he heard that the king's daughter was wonderfully beautiful, but that no one was allowed to see her. Having nothing better to do, and already leading an elegant life, the idea came to him that he wanted to see the princess. Therefore one evening at ten o'clock he lit his candle. The iron man entered his door and asked what he wished.

"Bring the king's daughter from the castle here to me."

The mighty servant disappeared, and a short time later was back with the princess. Now the soldier made the daughter pay for what her father had done to him. She had to wait on him, clean his boots, sweep the floors, etc. In short, she had to do the duties of an ordinary maid.

The next morning before daybreak the iron man carried her back to her bedroom in the castle. When she awoke she went to her father and told him that she did not know if it had actually happened, or if she had only dreamed that she had been taken to a soldier's room and been forced to serve him.

Looking at his daughter, the king saw a black spot on her face. Then he perceived that it could have been so, and said that this evening she should put a piece of chalk in her pocket, and that she should draw a line and a cross on the front door of the house where she was taken, so that they would be able to find the house again. This she did. However, the iron man noticed, and drew a line and a cross on every front door in the city. The next morning she again told her father what had happened to her. The king ordered his people to find the house where a line and a cross had been drawn. They returned without success, because this sign was on every house.

The king became angry and ordered his soldiers to encircle the entire castle so that not even a mouse could enter or leave. And he posted a strong guard before his daughter's bedroom door. But nonetheless that evening she was taken away again, for no one could see the iron man. The next morning she again told of her experience, and that she had received a rough slap from the soldier that evening. The finger marks could still be seen on her cheek.

This was too much for the king, and he quietly said into his daughter's ear, making three crosses at the same time, that this evening she should put on his gold ring and put it under the soldier's bed. This she did.

"Oh," she said the next morning. "Last night he soldier beat me terribly because I refused to serve him properly."

Then the king ordered that every house in the city be searched for the soldier and the hidden ring. When they found the ring under a bed they were to bring the man who owned the bed to him. Before long the ring was found in the soldier's room, for he had not noticed that the princess had hidden it.

Our soldier was condemned to the gallows, and his execution day was set. He had three days to prepare for his death. During this time he had the opportunity to send a messenger to his home for the candles. The messenger brought them, and now the iron man had to come and rescue the soldier.

The iron man said, "Wait until you are standing on the board beneath the gallows. Then you can have one last wish that will have to be granted to you. You have your candle; light it and I'll be there. I will do what I have to do. No one I touch will ever again have a headache."

And that is what happened. The soldier was happy and cheerful, which caused the prison guard to wonder more than a little. He ate and drank and slept so peacefully, as though he did not know that he was about to die. When he was finally standing on the board, and the hangman was about to tie the latest fashion in neckties on him, the soldier said, "Wait, it's not yet time for that. I still have a request that you will surely grant me."

"Yes," said the king, who had also come with his daughter, so that she could see what would happen to the scoundrel who had so abused her. "Yes, the request shall be granted to you, if it is not an unreasonable one."

"I only want to light my candle and see it burning one more time."

"That can happen," said the king.

So the candle was lit, and immediately the iron man was there with a thick cudgel. He first struck the hangman dead and then the people standing nearby, mowing them down viciously. The king took fright as the iron man moved closer and closer with his cudgel. He called out to the soldier, asking him to order the iron man to stop, and promising that soldier that he could have the princess as a wife.

With that the soldier blew out the candle, and the iron man disappeared. The soldier received his wife, and now had the unlimited respect of everyone, even his father-in-law. And if the king ever resisted, the soldier had only to say, "So, should the iron man come?" Then everything happened that the soldier wanted.

He later became king, and in times of war or great need he now and then called on the iron man, who always helped him. However, when the solder died, the candles disappeared as well.




The Three Dogs

Germany, Georg Schambach and Wilhelm Müller

A soldier, returning home following a long war, had run out of money, so that he had nothing left. He met an old woman, whom he asked for a small gift. The woman was willing, and gave him her old apron. She told him to walk up a brook with it until he came to a willow tree. He should then climb this tree and let himself down inside it. Taking leave of her he asked her if he could do something for her on the way.

"Oh yes," she answered. "Bring me the tinderbox which is there. I forgot it."

The soldier went to the tree and climbed down inside it. Below there stood a large chest, and sitting on it was a dog who had eyes in his head that were as large as saucers. A second chest was also there, and on it sat a dog with eyes as large as plates, and a third chest was there with eyes as large as serving platters.

With no further ado the soldier set all three dogs onto the old apron and opened the chests. In the first one was copper money, in the second one silver money, and in the third one minted gold. From this chest he took as much as he could carry, not forgetting to pick up the tinderbox as well. Then he climbed out of the hollow tree and went on his way.

Not long afterward he again met the old woman, who asked him for the tinderbox, but he did not want to give it to her. They began quarreling over it, and the soldier struck the old woman dead.

He now had money enough and was able to live well, but he spent so much that it soon came to an end. With time his many friends abandoned him, until at last he was living desolate and alone.

One day he wanted to light a pipe, and for this he used the tinderbox, which he had long forgotten. He suddenly discovered what the tinderbox was good for. The three dogs immediately appeared and asked him what he wished. He told them to bring him some money. Less than a half hour later the dogs returned with a large sum of money.

Now he was once again wealthy, and thought he would like to marry the princess, who lived in the city. But he did not know where to begin, because he was not at all handsome. Then he called his dogs and asked them if they knew how to make it happen.

"We can do that," replied the dogs, and ran away.

That evening all three went to the castle and brought the princess on their backs to the soldier. Afterward they took her back to the castle in the same way.

The next morning the princess told about this, as though it had been a dream. However, the king was concerned and posted guards outside her bedroom door. When the dogs returned the next night the guards were asleep, so the dogs took the princess with them again. However, one soldier saw them, followed them, and drew a mark on the house that they ran into. But the dogs observed this, and they drew marks on all the houses, so that no one could know where the princess had been. On the third evening the dogs fetched the princess again. This time the soldier scattered peas in front of the house, but the dogs gathered up all the peas.

On the fourth day the soldier himself went to the king and asked for his daughter's hand in marriage, but the king had him thrown into prison. Now he was lost, for he did not have his tinderbox with him, and was not able to call the dogs. He thought long and hard how he might escape, but nothing came to him. Then a boy walked beneath his window, and the soldier asked him to do him a favor, the last one, because in only a few days he was to die. The boy was willing.

He asked him to fetch the tinderbox that was in his room, and described exactly where it was. The boy soon returned with the tinderbox, and the soldier pulled it up to his barred window with a string.

"Now everything is all right," he thought. Later when he was standing at the place of execution he asked permission to smoke one last time, and this was granted him. He had scarcely struck a light when the three dogs arrived. He said to them, "Attack!" and they tore apart the judges and the king. Then the soldier married the princess. He lived very happily with her, and if they have not died then they are still alive.




The Tinderbox

Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen

A soldier came marching along the high road. One, two! One, two! He had his knapsack on his back and his sword at his side, for he had been to the wars and he was on his way home now. He met an old witch on the road, she was so ugly, her lower lip hung right down on to her chin.

She said, "Good evening, soldier! What a nice sword you've got, and such a big knapsack; you are a real soldier! You shall have as much money as ever you like!"

"Thank you kindly, you old witch!" said the soldier.

"Do you see that big tree!" said the witch, pointing to a tree close by. "It is hollow inside! Climb up to the top and you will see a hole into which you can let yourself down, right down under the tree! I will tie a rope round your waist so that I can haul you up again when you call!"

"What am I to do down under the tree?" asked the soldier.

"Fetch money!" said the witch. "You must know that when you get down to the bottom of the tree you will find yourself in a wide passage; it's quite light there, for there are over a hundred blazing lamps. You will see three doors which you can open, for the keys are there. If you go into the first room you will see a big box in the middle of the floor. A dog is sitting on the top of it, and he has eyes as big as saucers, but you needn't mind that. I will give you my blue checked apron, which you can spread out on the floor; then go quickly forward, take up the dog and put him on my apron, open the box and take out as much money as ever you like. It is all copper, but if you like silver better, go into the next room. There you will find a dog with eyes as big as millstones; but never mind that, put him on my apron and take the money. If you prefer gold you can have it too, and as much as you can carry, if you go into the third room. But the dog sitting on that box has eyes each as big as the Round Tower. He is a dog, indeed, as you may imagine! But don't let it trouble you; you only have to put him on to my apron and then he won't hurt you, and you can take as much gold out of the box as you like!"

"That's not so bad!" said the soldier. "But what am I to give you, old witch? For you'll want something, I'll be bound."

"No," said the witch, "not a single penny do I want; I only want you to bring me an old tinderbox that my grandmother forgot the last time she was down there!"

"Well! tie the rope round my waist!" said the soldier.

"Here it is," said the witch, "and here is my blue-checked apron."

Then the soldier climbed up the tree, let himself slide down the hollow trunk, and found himself, as the witch had said, in the wide passage where the many hundred lamps were burning. Now he opened the first door. Ugh! There sat the dog with eyes as big as saucers staring at him.

"You are a nice fellow!" said the soldier, as he put him on to the witch's apron, and took out as many pennies as he could cram into his pockets. Then he shut the box, and put the dog on the top of it again, and went into the next room. Hallo! there sat the dog with eyes as big as millstones.

"You shouldn't stare at me so hard; you might get a pain in your eyes!" Then he put the dog on the apron, but when he saw all the silver in the box he threw away all the coppers and stuffed his pockets and his knapsack with silver. Then he went on into the third room. Oh! how horrible! that dog really had two eyes as big as the Round Tower, and they rolled round and round like wheels.

"Good evening!" said the soldier, saluting, for he had never seen such a dog in his life; but after looking at him for a bit he thought, "That will do," and then he lifted him down on to the apron and opened the chest. Preserve us! What a lot of gold! He could buy the whole of Copenhagen with it, and all the sugar pigs from the cake-women, all the tin soldiers, whips and rocking-horses in the world! That was money indeed! Now the soldier threw away all the silver he had filled his pockets and his knapsack with, and put gold in its place. Yes, he crammed all his pockets, his knapsack, his cap and his boots so full that he could hardly walk! Now, he really had got a lot of money. He put the dog back on to the box, shut the door, and shouted up through the tree, " Haul me up, you old witch!"

"Have you got the tinderbox?"

"Oh! to be sure!" said the soldier. "I had quite forgotten it." And he went, back to fetch it.

The witch hauled him up, and there he was standing on the high road again with his pockets, boots, knapsack and cap full of gold.

"What do you want the tinderbox for?" asked the soldier.

"That's no business of yours," said the witch. "You've got the money; give me the tinderbox!"

"Rubbish!" said the soldier. "Tell me directly what you want with it, or I will draw my sword and cut off your head."

"I won't!" said the witch.

Then the soldier cut off her head; there she lay! But he tied all the money up in her apron, slung it on his back like a pack, put the tinderbox in his pocket, and marched off to the town.

It was a beautiful town, and he went straight to the finest hotel, ordered the grandest rooms and all the food he liked best, because he was a rich man now that he had so much money. Certainly the servant who had to clean his boots thought they were very funny old things for such a rich gentleman, but he had not had time yet to buy any new ones; the next day he bought new boots and fine clothes. The soldier now became a fine gentleman, and the people told him all about the grand things in the town, and about their king, and what a lovely princess his daughter was.

"Where is she to be seen?" asked the soldier.

"You can't see her at all! " they all said. "She lives in a great copper castle surrounded with walls and towers. Nobody but the king dare go in and out, for it has been prophesied that she will marry a common soldier, and the king doesn't like that!"

"I should like to see her well enough!" thought the soldier. But there was no way of getting leave for that.

He now led a very merry life; went to theaters, drove about in the King's Park, and gave away a lot of money to poor people, which was very nice of him; for he remembered how disagreeable it used to be not to have a penny in his jpocket. Now he was rich, wore fine cloth, and had a great many friends, who all said what a nice fellow he was -- a thorough gentleman -- and he liked to be told that.

But as he went on spending money every day and his store was never renewed, he at last found himself with only two pence left. Then he was obliged to move out of his fine rooms. He had to take a tiny little attic up under the roof, clean his own boots, and mend them himself with a darning needle. None of his friends went to see him, because there were far too many stairs.

One dark evening when he had not even enough money to buy a candle with, he suddenly remembered that there was a little bit in the old tinderbox he had brought out of the hollow tree, when the witch helped him down. He got out the tinderbox with the candle end in it and struck fire, but as the sparks flew out from the flint the door burst open and the dog with eyes as big as saucers, which he had seen down under the tree, stood before him and said, " What does my lord command?"

"By heaven!" said the soldier, "this is a nice kind of tinderbox, if I can get whatever I want like this! Get me some money," he said to the dog, and away it went.

It was back in a twinkling with a big bag full of pennies in its mouth. Now the soldier saw what a treasure he had in the tinderbox. If he struck once, the dog which sat on the box of copper came; if he struck twice, the dog on the silver box came, and if he struck three times, the one from the box of gold.

He now moved down to the grand rooms and got his fine clothes again, and then all his friends knew him once more and liked him as much as ever.

Then he suddenly began to think: After all it's a curious thing that no man can get a sight of the princess! Everyone says she is so beautiful! But what is the good of that, when she always has to be shut up in that big copper palace with all the towers. Can I not somehow manage to see her? Where is my tinderbox? Then he struck the flint, and, whisk, came the dog with eyes as big as saucers.

"It certainly is the middle of the night," said the soldier, "but I am very anxious to see the princess, if only for a single moment."

The dog was out of the door in an instant, and before the soldier had time to think about it, he was back again with the princess. There she was fast asleep on the dog's back, and she was so lovely that anybody could see that she must be a real princess! The soldier could not help it, but he was obliged to kiss her, for he was a true soldier.

Then the dog ran back again with the princess, but in the morning when the king and queen were having breakfast, the princess said that she had had such a wonderful dream about a dog and a soldier. She had ridden on the dog's back, and the soldier had kissed her.

"That's a pretty tale," said the queen. After this an old lady-in-waiting had to sit by her bed at night to see if this was really a dream, or what it could be.

The soldier longed so intensely to see the princess again that at night the dog came to fetch her. He took her up and ran off with her as fast as he could, but the old lady-in-waiting put on her galoshes and ran just as fast behind them; when she saw that they disappeared into a large house, she thought, "Now I know where it is," and made a big cross with chalk on the gate.

Then she went home and lay down, and presently the dog came back, too, with the princess. When he saw that there was a cross on the gate, he took a bit of chalk, too, and made crosses on all the gates in the town. Now this was very clever of him, for the lady-in-waiting could not possibly find the gate when there were crosses on all the gates. Early next morning the king, the queen, the lady-in-waiting, and all the court officials went to see where the princess had been.

"There it is," said the king, when he saw the first door with the cross on it.

"No, my dear husband, it is there," said the queen, who saw another door with a cross on it.

"But there is one, and there is another!" they all cried out.

They soon saw that it was hopeless to try and find it.

Now the queen was a very clever woman; she knew more than how to drive in a chariot. She took her big gold scissors and cut up a large piece of silk into small pieces, and made a pretty little bag, which she filled with fine grains of buckwheat. She then tied it onto the back of the princess, and when that was done she cut a little hole in the bag, so that the grains could drop out all the way wherever the princess went.

At night the dog came again, took the princess on his back, and ran off with her to the soldier, who was so fond of her that he longed to be a prince, so that he might have her for his wife.

The dog never noticed how the grain dropped out all along the road from the palace to the soldier's window, where he ran up the wall with the princess.

In the morning the king and the queen easily saw where their daughter had been, and they seized the soldier and threw him into the dungeons.

There he lay! Oh, how dark and tiresome it was, and then one day they said to him, "Tomorrow you are to be hanged." It was not amusing to be told that, especially as he had left his tinderbox behind him at the hotel.

In the morning he could see through the bars in the little window that the people were hurrying out of the town to see him hanged. He heard the drums and saw the soldiers marching along. All the world was going; among them was a shoemaker's boy in his leather apron and slippers. He was in such a hurry that he lost one of his slippers, and it fell close under the soldier's window where he was peeping out through the bars.

"I say, you boy! Don't be in such a hurry," said the soldier to him. "Nothing will happen till I get there! But if you will run to the house were I used to live, and fetch me my tinderbox, you shall have a penny! You must put your best foot foremost!"

The boy was only too glad to have the penny, and tore off to get the tinderbox, gave it to the soldier, and -- yes, now we shall hear.

Outside the town a high scaffold had been raised, and the soldiers were drawn up round about it, as well as crowds of the townspeople. The king and the queen sat upon a beautiful throne exactly opposite the judge and all the councillors.

The soldier mounted the ladder, but when they were about to put the rope round his neck, he said that before undergoing his punishment a criminal was always allowd the gratification of a harmless wish, and he wanted very much to smoke a pipe, as it would be his last pipe in this world.

The king would not deny him this, so the soldier took out his tinderbox and struck fire, once, twice, three times, and there were all the dogs. The one with eyes like saucers, the one with eyes like millstones, and the one whose eyes were as big as the Round Tower.

"Help me! Save me from being hanged!" cried the soldier.

And then the dogs rushed at the soldiers and the councillors; they took one by the legs, and another by the nose, and threw them up many fathoms into the air; and when they fell down, they were broken all to pieces.

"I won't!" cried the king, but the biggest dog took both him and the queen and threw them after all the others. Then the soldiers became alarmed, and the people shouted, "Oh! good soldier, you shall be our king and marry the beautiful princess!"

Then they conducted the soldier to the king's chariot, and all three dogs danced along in front of him and shouted, "Hurrah!" The boys all put their fingers in their mouths and whistled, and the soldiers presented arms. The princess came out of the copper palace and became queen, which pleased her very much. The wedding took place in a week, and the dogs all had seats at the table, where they sat staring with all their eyes.




Lars, My Lad!

Sweden, G. Djurklo

There was once a prince or a duke, or something of that sort, but at any rate he belonged to a very grand family, and he would not stop at home. So he traveled all over the world, and wherever he went he was well liked, and was received in the best and gayest families, for he had no end of money. He made friends and acquaintances, as you may imagine, wherever he went, for he who has a well-filled trough is sure to fall in with pigs who want to have their fill. But he went on spending his money until he came to want, and at last his purse became so empty that he had not even a farthing left. And now there was an end to all his friends as well, for they behaved like the pigs; when the trough was empty and he had no more to give them, they began to grunt and grin, and then they ran away in all directions. There he stood alone with a long face. Everybody had been so willing to help him to get rid of his money, but nobody would help him in return; and so there was nothing for it but to trudge home and beg for crusts on the way.

So late one evening he came to a great forest. He did not know where he should find a shelter for the night, but he went on looking and searching till he caught sight of an old tumble-down hut, which stood in the middle of some bushes. It was not exactly good enough for such a fine cavalier, but when you cannot get what you want you must take what you can get. And, since there was no help for it, he went into the hut.

Not a living soul was to be seen; there was not even a stool to sit upon, but alongside the wall stood a big chest. What could there be inside that chest? If only there were some bits of moldy bread in it! How nice they would taste! For, you must know, he had not had a single bit of food the whole day, and he was so hungry and his stomach so empty that it groaned with pain. He lifted the lid. but inside the chest there was another chest, and inside that chest there was another; and so it went on, each one smaller than the other, until they became quite tiny boxes. The more there were the harder he worked away, for there must be something very fine inside, he thought, since it was so well hidden.

At last he came to a tiny, little box, and in this box lay a bit of paper -- and that was all he got for his trouble! It was very annoying, of course, but then he discovered there was something written on the paper, and when he looked at it he was just able to spell it out, although at first it looked somewhat difficult.

"Lars, my lad!"

As he pronounced these words something answered right in his ear, "What are master's orders?"

He looked round, but he saw nobody. This was very funny, he thought, and so he read out the words once more, "Lars, my lad!"

And the answer came as before, "What are master's orders?"

But he did not see anybody this time either.

"If there is anybody about who hears what I say, then be kind enough to bring me something to eat," he said. And the next moment there stood a table laid out with all the best things one could think of. He set to work to eat and drink, and had a proper fill. He had never enjoyed himself so much in all his life, he thought.

When he had eaten all he could get down, he began to feel sleepy, and so he took out the paper again, "Lars, my lad!"

"What are master's orders?"

"Well, you have given me food and drink, and now you must get me a bed to sleep in as well. But I want a really fine bed," he said, for you must know he was a little more bold now that his hunger was stayed. Well, there it stood, a bed so fine and dainty that even the king himself might covet it. Now this was all very well in its way, but when once you are well off you wish for still more, and he had no sooner got into bed than he began to think that the room was altogether too wretched for such a grand bed. So he took out the paper again: "Lars, my lad!"

"What are master's orders?"

"Since you are able to get me such food and such a bed here in the midst of the wild forest, I suppose you can manage to get me a better room, for you see I am accustomed to sleep in a palace, with golden mirrors and draped walls and ornaments and comforts of all kinds," he said.

Well, he had no sooner spoken the words than he found himself lying in the grandest chamber anybody had ever seen. Now he was comfortable, he thought, and felt quite satisfied as he turned his face to the wall and closed his eyes. But that was not all the grandeur; for when he woke up in the morning and looked round, he saw it was a big palace he had been sleeping in. One room led into the other, and wherever he went the place was full of all sorts of finery and luxuries, both on the walls and on the ceilings, and they glittered so much when the sun shone on them that he had to shade his eyes with his hand, so strong was the glare of gold and silver wherever he turned. He then happened to look out of the window. Good gracious! How grand it was! There was something else than pine forests and juniper bushes to look at, for there was the finest garden anyone could wish for, with splendid trees and roses of all kinds. But he could not see a single human being, or even a cat; and that, you know, was rather lonely, for otherwise he had everything so grand and had been set up as his own master again.

So he took out the bit of paper: "Lars, my lad!"

"What are master's orders?"

"Well, now you have given me food and bed and a palace to live in, I intend to remain here, for I like the place," he said, "yet I don't like to live quite by myself. I must have both lads and lasses whom I may order about to wait on me," he said.

And there they were. There came servants and stewards and scullery maids and chambermaids of all sorts, and some came bowing and some curtseying. So now the duke thought he was really satisfied. But now it happened that there was a large palace on the other side of the forest, and there the king lived who owned the forest, and the great, big fields around it. As he was walking up and down in his room he happened to look out through the window and saw the new palace, where the golden weathercocks were swinging to and fro on the roof in the sunlight, dazzling his eyes.

"This is very strange," he thought; and so he called his courtiers. They came rushing in, and began bowing and scraping. "Do you see the palace over there?" said the king.

They opened their eyes and began to stare. Yes, of course, they saw it.

"Who is it that has dared to build such a palace on my grounds?" said the king.

They bowed, and they scraped with their feet, but they did not know anything about it. The king then called his generals and captains. They came, stood at attention and presented arms. "Be gone, soldiers and troopers," said the king, "and pull down the palace over there, and hang him who has built it; and don't lose any time about it!"

Well, they set off in great haste to arm themselves, and away they went. The drummers beat the skins of their drums, and the trumpeters blew their trumpets, and the other musicians played and blew as best they could, so that the duke heard them long before he could see them.

But he had heard this kind of noise before, and knew what it meant, so he took out his scrap of paper: "Lars, my lad!"

"What are master's orders?"

"There are soldiers coming here," he said, "and now you must provide me with soldiers and horses, that I may have double as many as those over in the wood, and with sabers and pistols, and guns and cannons with all that belongs to them; but be quick about it."

And no time was lost; for when the duke looked out, he saw an immense number of soldiers, who were drawn up around the palace. When the king's men arrived, they came to a sudden halt and dared not advance. But the duke was not afraid; he went straight up to the colonel of the king's soldiers and asked him what he wanted. The colonel told him his errand.

"It's of no use," said the duke. "You see how many men I have; and if the king will listen to me, we shall become good friends, and I will help him against his enemies, and in such a way that it will be heard of far and wide," he said.

The colonel was of the same opinion, and the duke then invited him and all his soldiers inside the palace, and the men had more than one glass to drink and plenty of everything to eat as well. But while they were eating and drinking they began talking; and the duke then got to hear that the king had a daughter who was his only child, and was so wonderfully fair and beautiful that no one had ever seen her like before. And the more the king's soldiers ate and drank the more they thought she would suit the duke for a wife. And they went on talking so long that the duke at last began to be of the same opinion.

"The worst of it," said the soldiers, "is that she is just as proud as she is beautiful, and will never look at a man."

But the duke laughed at this. "If that's all," said the duke, "there's sure to be a remedy for that complaint."

When the soldiers had eaten and drunk as much as they could find room for, they shouted "Hurrah!" so that it echoed among the hills, and then they set out homeward. But, as you may imagine, they did not walk exactly in parade order, for they were rather unsteady about the knees, and many of them did not carry their guns in regulation manner. The duke asked them to greet the king from him. He would call on him the following day, he said. When the duke was alone again, he began to think of the princess, and to wonder if she were as beautiful and fair as they had made her out to be. He would like to make sure of it; and as so many strange things had happened that day it might not be impossible to find that out as well, he thought.

"Lars, my lad!"

"What are master's orders?"

"Well, now you must bring me the king's daughter as soon as she has gone to sleep," he said; "but she must not be awakened either on the way here or back. Do you hear that?" he said.

And before long the princess was lying on the bed. She slept so soundly and looked so wonderfully beautiful as she lay there. Yes, she was as sweet as sugar, I can tell you. The duke walked round about her, but she was just as beautiful from whatever point of view he looked at her. The more he looked the more he liked her.

"Lars, my lad!"

"What are master's orders?"

"You must now carry the princess home," he said, "for now I know how she looks and tomorrow I will ask for her hand," he said.

Next morning the king looked out of the window. "I suppose I shall not be troubled with the sight of that palace anymore," he thought. But, zounds! There it stood just as on the day before, and the sun shone so brightly on the roof, and the weathercocks dazzled his eyes. He now became furious, and called all his men. They came quicker than usual. The courtiers bowed and scraped, and the soldiers stood at attention and presented arms. "Do you see the palace there?" screamed the king. They stretched their necks, and stared and gaped. Yes, of course, that they did. "Have I not ordered you to pull down the palace and hang the builder?" he said.

Yes, they could not deny that; but then the colonel himself stepped forward and reported what had happened and how many soldiers the duke had, and how wonderfully grand the palace was. And next he told him what the duke had said, and how he had asked him to give his greetings to the king, and all that sort of thing. The king felt quite confused, and had to put his crown on the table and scratch his head. He could not understand all this, although he was a king; for he could take his oath it had all been built in a single night; and if the duke were not the evil one himself, he must in any case have done it by magic.

While he sat pondering, the princess came into the room. "Good morning to you, father!" she said. "Just fancy, I had such a strange and beautiful dream last night!" she said.

"What did you dream then, my girl?" said the king.

"I dreamed I was in the new palace over yonder, and that I saw a duke there, so fine and handsome that I could never have imagined the like; and now I want to get married, father," she said.

"Do you want to get married? -- you, who never cared to look at a man! That's very strange!" said the king.

"That may be." Said the princess; "but it's different now, and I want to get married, and it's the duke I want," she said.

The king was quite beside himself, so frightened did he become of the duke. But all of a sudden he heard a terrible noise of drums and trumpets and instruments of all kinds; and then came a message that the duke had just arrived with a large company, all of whom were so grandly dressed that gold and silver glistened in every fold. The king put on his crown and his coronation robes, and then went out on the steps to receive them. And the princess was not slow to follow him. The duke bowed most graciously, and the king of course did likewise, and when they had talked awhile about their affairs and their grandeur they became the best of friends. A great banquet was then prepared, and the duke was placed next to the princess at the table. What they talked about is not easy to tell, but the duke spoke so well for himself that the princess could not very well say "No" to anything he said, and then he went up to the king and asked for her hand. The king could not exactly say "No" either, for he could very well see that the duke was a person with whom it was best to be on friendly terms; but give his sanction there and then, he could not very well do that either. He wanted to see the duke's palace first, and find out about the state of affairs over there, as you may understand.

So it was arranged that he should visit the duke and take the princess with him to see his palace; and with this they parted company. When the duke returned home, Lars became busier than ever, for there was so much to attend to. But he set to work and strove hard; and when the king and his daughter arrived everything was so magnificent and splendid that no words can describe it. They went through all the rooms and looked about, and they found everything as it should be, and even still more splendid, thought the king, and so he was quite pleased. The wedding then took place, and that in grand style; and on the duke's arrival home with his bride he, too, gave a great feast, and then there was an end to the festivities.

Some time passed by, and one evening the duke heard these words: "Are you satisfied now?"

It was Lars, as you may guess, but the duke could not see him. "Well, I ought to be," said the duke. "You have provided me with everything I have," he said.

"Yes, but what have I got in return?" asked Lars.

"Nothing," said the duke; "but, bless me, what could I have given you, who are not of flesh and blood, and whom I cannot see either?" he said. "But if there is anything I can do for you, tell me what it is, and I shall do it."

"Well, I should like to ask you for that little scrap of paper which you found in the chest," said Lars. "Nothing else?" said the duke. "If such a trifle can help you, I can easily do without it, for now I begin to know the words by heart," he said.

Lars thanked the duke, and asked him to put the paper on the chair in front of the bed when he retired to rest, and he would be sure to fetch it during the night. The duke did as he was told; and so he and the princess lay down and went to sleep. But early in the morning the duke awoke and felt so cold that his teeth chattered, and when he had got his eyes quite open he found that he was quite naked and had not even as much as a thread on his back; and instead of the grand bed and the beautiful bedroom, and the magnificent palace, he lay on the big chest in the old tumble-down hut.

He began to shout, "Lars, my lad!"

But he got no answer. He shouted once more, "Lars, my lad!"

But he got no answer this time either. So he shouted all he could, "Lars, my lad!"

But it was all in vain. Now he began to understand how matters stood. When Lars had got the scrap of paper he was freed from service at the same time, and now he had taken everything with him. But there was no help for it. There stood the duke in the old hut quite naked; and as for the princess she was not much better off, although she had her clothes on, for she had got them from her father, so Lars had no power over them. The duke had now to tell the princess everything, and ask her to leave him. He would have to manage as best he could, he said. But she would not hear of it. She well remembered what the parson had said when he married them, and she would never, never leave him, she said.

In the meantime the king in his palace had also awakened, and when he looked out of the window he did not see any sign whatever of the other palace where his daughter and son-in-law lived. He became uneasy, as you may imagine, and called his courtiers. They came in, and began to bow and scrape.

"Do you see the palace over yonder behind the forest?" he asked. They stretched their necks and stared with all their might. No, they did not see it.

"Where had it gone to, then?" asked the king. Well, really they did not know. It was not long before the king set out with all his court through the forest; and when he arrived at the place where the palace with the beautiful gardens should have been, he could not see anything but heather and juniper bushes and firs. But then he discovered the old tumble-down hut, which stood there among the bushes. He entered the hut and -- mercy on us! -- what a sight met his eyes! There stood his son-in-law, quite naked, and his daughter, who had not very many clothes on either, and who was crying and moaning.

"Dear, dear! what does all this mean?" said the king; but he did not get any answer, for the duke would rather have died than tell him. The king did his utmost to get him to speak; but in spite of all the king's promises and threats the duke remained obstinate and would not utter a word.

The king then became angry; and no wonder, for now he could see that this grand duke was not what he pretended to be, and so he ordered the duke to be hanged, and that without any loss of time. The princess begged and prayed for mercy; but neither prayers nor tears were of any help now; for an impostor he was, and as an impostor he should die, said the king. And so it had to be. They erected a gallows, and placed the rope round the duke's neck. But while they were getting the gallows ready, the princess got hold of the hangman, and gave both him and his assistant some money, that they should so manage the hanging of the duke that he should not lose his life, and in the night they were to cut him down, so that he and the princess might then flee the country. And that's how the matter was arranged.

In the meantime they had strung up the duke, and the king and his court and all the people went their way. The duke was now in great straits. He had, however, plenty of time to reflect how foolish he had been in not saving some of the crumbs when he was living in plenty, and how unpardonably stupid he had been in letting Lars have the scrap of paper. This vexed him more than all. If only he had it again, he thought, they should see he had been gaining some sense in return for all he had lost. But it is of little use snarling if you haven't got any teeth.

"Ah, well, well!" he sighed, and so he dangled his legs, which was really all he could do. The day passed slowly and tediously for him, and he was not at all displeased when he saw the sun setting behind the forest. But just before it disappeared he heard a fearful shouting, and when he looked down the hill, he saw seven cartloads of worn-out shoes, and on the top of the hindmost cart he saw a little old man in gray clothes and with a red pointed cap on his head. His face was like that of the worst scarecrow, and the rest of him was not very handsome either.

He drove straight up to the gallows, and when he arrived right under it he stopped and looked up at the duke, and then burst out laughing, the ugly old fellow! "How stupid you were!" he said; "but what should the fool do with his stupidity if he did not make use of it?" And then he laughed again. "Yes, there you are hanging now, and here am I carting away all the shoes I have worn out for your whims. I wonder if you can read what is written on this bit of paper, and if you recognize it?" he said with an ugly laugh, holding up the paper before the duke's eyes.

But all who hang are not dead, and this time it was Lars who was befooled. The duke made a clutch, and snatched the paper from him.

"Lars, my lad!"

"What are master's orders?"

"Well, you must cut me down from the gallows and put the palace and all the rest in its place again, exactly as it was before, and when the night has set in you must bring back the princess."

All went merrily as in a dance, and before long everything was in its place, just as it was when Lars took himself off. When the king awoke the next morning he looked out of the window, as was his custom, and there stood the palace again, with the weathercocks glittering so beautifully in the sunshine. He called his courtiers, and they came and began to bow and scrape. They stretched their necks as far as they could, and stared and gaped.

"Do you see the palace over there?" said the king. Yes, of course, they did. The king then sent for the princess, but she was not to be found. He then went out to see if his son-in-law was still hanging on the gallows, but neither son-in-law nor gallows was to be seen. He had to lift off his crown and scratch his head. But that did not improve matters; he could not make head or tail of either one thing or the other. He set off at once with all his court through the forest, and when he came to the place where the palace should stand, there it stood sure enough. The gardens and the roses were exactly as they used to be, and the duke's people were to be seen everywhere among the trees. His son-in-law and his daughter received him on the steps, dressed in their finest clothes.

"Well, I never saw the like of this," said the king to himself; he could scarcely believe his own eyes, so wonderful did it all seem to him.

"God's peace be with you, father, and welcome here!" said the duke.

The king stood staring at him. "Are you my son-in-law?" he asked.

"Well, I suppose I am," said the duke. "Who else should I be?"

"Did I not order you to be hanged yesterday like any common thief?" said the king.

"I think you must have been bewitched on the way," said the duke, with a laugh. "Do you think I am the man to let myself be hanged? Or is there anyone here who dares to believe it?" he said, and looked so fiercely at the courtiers that they felt as if they were being pierced through and through. They bowed and scraped and cringed before him. Who could believe such a thing? Was it at all likely?

"Well, if there is anyone who dares to say the king could have wished me such evil, let him speak out," said the duke, and fixed his eyes upon them still more fiercely than before. They went on bowing and scraping and cringing. How could anyone dare say such a thing? No, they had more sense than that, they should hope. The king did not know what to believe, for when he looked at the duke he thought he never could have wished him such evil; but still he was not quite convinced.

"Did I not come here yesterday, and was not the whole palace gone, and was there not an old hut in its place? And did not I go into that hut, and did not you stand stark naked right before my eyes?" he asked.

"I wonder the king can talk so," said the duke. "I think the trolls must have bewitched your eyes in the forest and made you quite crazy; or what do you think?" he said, and turned round to the courtiers. They bowed and bowed till their backs were bent double, and agreed with everything he said, there could be no mistake about that. The king rubbed his eyes, and looked round about him.

"I suppose it is as you say, then," he said to the duke, "and it is well I have got back my proper sight and have come to my senses again. For it would have been a sin and a shame if I had let you be hanged," he said; and so he was happy again, and nobody thought any more about the matter.

"Once bitten, twice shy," as the proverb says; and the duke now took upon himself to manage and look after most of his affairs, so that it was seldom Lars had to wear out his shoes. The king soon gave the duke half the kingdom into the bargain; so he had now plenty to do, and people said they would have to search a long time to find his equal in wise and just ruling.

Then one day Lars came to the duke, looking very little better than the first time he had seen him; but he was, of course, more humble, and did not dare giggle and make grimaces. "You do not want my help any longer, now," he said; "for although I did wear out my shoes at first, I am now unable to wear out a single pair, and my feet will soon be covered all over with moss. So I thought I might now get my leave of absence," he said.

The duke quite agreed with him. "I have tried to spare you, and I almost think I could do without you," he said. "But the palace and all the rest I do not want to lose, for such a clever builder as you I shall never get again; nor do I ever want to adorn the gallows again, as you can well understand; so I cannot give you back the paper on any account," he said.

"Well, as long as you have got it, I need not fear," said Lars; "but if anybody else should get hold of it there will be nothing but running and trudging about again, and that's what I want to avoid; for when one has been tramping about for a thousand years, as I have done, one begins to get tired of it," he said.

But they went on talking, and at last they agreed that the duke should put the paper in the box, and then bury it seven ells under the ground, under a stone fixed in the earth. They then gave mutual thanks for the time they had spent in each other's company, and so they parted. The duke carried out his part of the agreement, for he was not likely to want to change it. He lived happy and contented with the princess, and they had both sons and daughters. When the king died, he got the whole of the kingdom, and you may guess he was none the worse off for that; and there no doubt he still lives and reigns, if he is not dead. But as for the box with the scrap of paper in it, there are many who are still running about looking for it.




Sir Buzz

India

Once upon a time a soldier died, leaving a widow and one son. They were dreadfully poor, and at last matters became so bad that they had nothing left in the house to eat.

"Mother," said the son, "give me four shillings, and I will go seek my fortune in the wide world."

"Alas!" answered the mother, "and where am I, who haven't a farthing wherewith to buy bread, to find four shillings?"

"There is that old coat of my father's," returned the lad. "Look in the pocket -- perchance there is something there."

So she looked, and behold! there were six shillings hidden away at the very bottom of the pocket! "More than I bargained for," quoth the lad, laughing. "See, mother, these two shillings are for you. You can live on that till I return; the rest will pay my way until I find my fortune."

So he set off to find his fortune, and on the way lie saw a tigress, licking her paw, and moaning mournfully. He was just about to run away from the terrible creature, when she called to him faintly, saying, "Good lad, if you will take out this thorn for me, I shall be forever grateful."

"Not I!" answered the lad. "Why, if I begin to pull it out, and it pains you, you will kill me with a pat of your paw."

"No, no!" cried the tigress, "I will turn my face to this tree, and when the pain comes I will pat it."

To this the soldier's son agreed; so he pulled out the thorn, and when the pain came the tigress gave the tree such a blow that the trunk split all to pieces. Then she turned towards the soldier's son, and said gratefully, "Take this box as a reward, my son, but do not open it until you have traveled nine miles."

So the soldier's son thanked the tigress, and set off with the box to find his fortune. Now when he had gone five miles, he felt certain that the box weighed more than it had at first, and every step he took it seemed to grow heavier and heavier. He tried to struggle on -- though it was all he could do to carry the box -- until he had gone about eight miles and a quarter, when his patience gave way.

"I believe that tigress was a witch, and is playing off her tricks upon me," he cried, "but I will stand this nonsense no longer. Lie there, you wretched old box! Heaven knows what is in you, and I don't care."

So saying, he flung the box down on the ground. It burst open with the shock, and out stepped a little old man. He was only one span high, but his beard was a span and a quarter long, and trailed upon the ground. The little manikin immediately began to stamp about and scold the lad roundly for letting the box down so violently.

"Upon my word!" quoth the soldier's son, scarcely able to restrain a smile at the ridiculous little figure, " but you are weighty for your size, old gentleman! And what may your name be?"

"Sir Buzz!" snapped the one-span manikin, still stamping about in a great rage.

"Upon my word!" quoth the soldier's son once more, "if you are all the box contained, I am glad I didn't trouble to carry it farther."

"That's not polite," snarled the manikin. "Perhaps if you had carried it the full nine miles you might have found something better; but that's neither here nor there. I'm good enough for you, at any rate, and will serve you faithfully according to my mistress's orders."

"Serve me! Then I wish to goodness you'd serve me with some dinner, for I am mighty hungry! Here are four shillings to pay for it."

No sooner had the soldier's son said this and given the money, than with a whiz! boom! bing! like a big bee, Sir Buzz flew through the air to a confectioner's shop in the nearest town. There he stood, the one-span manikin, with the span and a quarter beard trailing on the ground, just by the big preserving pan, and cried in ever so loud a voice, "Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!"

The confectioner looked round the shop, and out of the door, and down the street, but could see no one, for tiny Sir Buzz was quite hidden by the preserving pan. Then the manikin called out louder still, " Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets! " And when the confectioner looked in vain for his customer, Sir Buzz grew angry, and ran and pinched him on the legs, and kicked him on the foot, saying, " Impudent knave! do you mean to say you can't see me? Why, I was standing by the preserving pan all the time!"

The confectioner apologized humbly, and hurried away to bring out his best sweets for his irritable little customer. Then Sir Buzz chose about a hundredweight of them, and said, "Quick, tie them up in something and give them into my hand; I'll carry them home."

"They will be a good weight, sir," smiled the confectioner.

"What business is that of yours, I should like to know?" snapped Sir Buzz. "Just you do as you're told, and here is your money." So saying he jingled the four shillings in his pocket.

"As you please, sir," replied the man cheerfully, as he tied up the sweets into a huge bundle and placed it on the little manikin's outstretched hand, fully expecting him to sink under the weight; when lo! with a boom! bing! he whizzed off with the money still in his pocket.

He alighted at a corn-chandler's shop, and, standing behind a basket of flour, called out at the top of his voice, "Ho! ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!"

And when the corn-chandler looked round the shop, and out of the window, and down the street, without seeing anybody, the one-span manikin, with his beard trailing on the ground, cried again louder than before, "Ho! ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!"

Then on receiving no answer, he flew into a violent rage, and ran and bit the unfortunate corn-chandler on the leg, pinched him, and kicked him, saying, "Impudent varlet! Don't pretend you couldn't see me! Why, I was standing close beside you behind that basket!"

So the corn-chandler apologized humbly for his mistake, and asked Sir Buzz how much flour he wanted.

"Two hundredweight," replied the manikin. "Two hundredweight, neither more nor less. Tie it up in a bundle, and I'll take it with me."

"Your honor has a cart or beast of burden with you, doubtless?" said the chandler, "for two hundredweight is a heavy load."

"What's that to you? " shrieked Sir Buzz, stamping his foot, " isn't it enough if I pay for it? " And then he jingled the money in his pocket again. So the corn-chandler tied up the flour in a bundle, and placed it in the manikin's outstretched hand, fully expecting it would crush him, when, with a whiz! Sir Buzz flew off, with the shillings still in his pocket. Boom! bing! boom!

The soldier's son was just wondering what had become of his one-span servant, when, with a whir! the little fellow alighted beside him, and wiping his face with his handkerchief, as if he were dreadfully hot and tired, said thoughtfully, "Now I do hope I've brought enough, but you men have such terrible appetites!"

"More than enough, I should say," laughed the lad, looking at the huge bundles.

Then Sir Buzz cooked the girdle-cakes, and the soldier's son ate three of them and a handful of sweets; but the one-span manikin gobbled up all the rest, saying at each mouthful, "You men have such terrible appetites -- such terrible appetites!"

After that, the soldier's son and his servant Sir Buzz traveled ever so far, until they came to the king's city. Now the king had a daughter called Princess Blossom, who was so lovely, and tender, and slim, and fair, that she only weighed five flowers. Every morning she was weighed in golden scales, and the scale always turned when the fifth flower was put in, neither less nor more.

Now it so happened that the soldier's son by chance caught a glimpse of the lovely, tender, slim, and fair Princess Blossom, and, of course, he fell desperately in love with her. He would neither sleep nor eat his dinner, and did nothing all day long but say to his faithful manikin, "Oh, dearest Sir Buzz! oh, kind Sir Buzz! -- carry me to the Princess Blossom, that I may see and speak to her."

"Carry you!" snapped the little fellow scornfully. "That's a likely story! Why, you're ten times as big as I am. You should carry me!"

Nevertheless, when the soldier's son begged and prayed, growing pale and pining away with thinking of the Princess Blossom, Sir Buzz, who had a kind heart, was moved, and bade the lad sit on his hand. Then with a tremendous boom! bing! boom! they whizzed away and were in the palace in a second. Being nighttime, the Princess was asleep; nevertheless the booming wakened her and she was quite frightened to see a handsome young man kneeling beside her. She began of course to scream, but stopped at once when the soldier's son with the greatest politeness, and in the most elegant of language, begged her not to be alarmed. And after that they talked together about everything delightful, while Sir Buzz stood at the door and did sentry; but he stood a brick up on end first, so that he might not seem to pry upon the young people.

Now when the dawn was just breaking, the soldier's son and Princess Blossom, wearied of talking, fell asleep; whereupon Sir Buzz, being a faithful servant, said to himself, "Now what is to be done? If my master remains here asleep, someone will discover him, and he will be killed as sure as my name is Buzz; but if I wake him, ten to one he will refuse to go."

So without more ado he put his hand under the bed, and bing! boom! carried it into a large garden outside the town. There he set it down in the shade of the biggest tree, and pulling up the next biggest one by the roots, threw it over his shoulder, and marched up and down keeping guard.

Before long the whole town was in a commotion, because the Princess Blossom had been carried off, and all the world and his wife turned out to look for her. By and by the one-eyed chief constable came to the garden gate.

"What do you want here?" cried valiant Sir Buzz, making passes at him with the tree.

The chief constable with his one eye could see nothing save the branches, but he replied sturdily, "I want the Princess Blossom!"

"I'll blossom you! Get out of my garden, will you?" shrieked the one-span manikin, with his one and quarter span beard trailing on the ground; and with that he belabored the constable's pony so hard with the tree that it bolted away, nearly throwing its rider.

The poor man went straight to the king, saying, " Your majesty! I am convinced your majesty's daughter, the Princess Blossom, is in your majesty's garden, just outside the town, as there is a tree there which fights terribly."

Upon this the king summoned all his horses and men, and going to the garden tried to get in; but Sir Buzz behind the tree routed them all, for half were killed, and the rest ran away. The noise of the battle, however, awoke the young couple, and as they were now convinced they could no longer exist apart, they determined to fly together. So when the fight was over, the soldier's son, the Princess Blossom, and Sir Buzz set out to see the world.

Now the soldier's son was so enchanted with his good luck in winning the princess, that he said to Sir Buzz, " My fortune is made already; so I shan't want you anymore, and you can go back to your mistress."

"Pooh!" said Sir Buzz. "Young people always think so; however, have it your own way, only take this hair out of my beard, and if you should get into trouble, just burn it in the fire. I'll come to your aid."

So Sir Buzz boomed off, and the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom lived and traveled together very happily, until at last they lost their way in a forest, and wandered about for some time without any food. When they were nearly starving, a Brahman found them, and hearing their story said, "Alas! you poor children! Come home with me, and I will give you something to eat."

Now had he said, "I will eat you," it would have been much nearer the mark, for he was no Brahman, but a dreadful vampire, who loved to devour handsome young men and slender girls. But, knowing nothing of all this, the couple went home with him quite cheerfully. He was most polite, and when they arrived at his house, said, "Please get ready whatever you want to eat, for I have no cook. Here are my keys; open all my cupboards save the one with the golden key. Meanwhile I will go and gather firewood."

Then the Princess Blossom began to prepare the food, while the soldier's son opened all the cupboards. In them he saw lovely jewels, and dresses, and cups and platters, such bags of gold and silver, that his curiosity got the better of his discretion, and, regardless of the Brahman's warning, he said, "I will see what wonderful thing is hidden in the cupboard with the golden key." So he opened it, and lo! it was full of human skulls, picked quite clean, and beautifully polished. At this dreadful sight the soldier's son flew back to the Princess Blossom, and said, "We are lost! we are lost! This is no Brahman, but a horrid vampire!"

At that moment they heard him at the door, and the princess, who was very brave and kept her wits about her, had barely time to thrust the magic hair into the fire, before the vampire, with sharp teeth and fierce eyes, appeared. But at the selfsame moment a boom! boom! binging noise was heard in the air, coming nearer and nearer. Whereupon the vampire, who knew very well who his enemy was, changed into a heavy rain pouring down in torrents, hoping thus to drown Sir Buzz, but he changed into the storm wind beating back the rain. Then the vampire changed to a dove, but Sir Buzz, pursuing it as a hawk, pressed it so hard that it had barely time to change into a rose, and drop into King Indra's lap as he sat in his celestial court listening to the singing of some dancing girls.

Then Sir Buzz, quick as thought, changed into an old musician, and standing beside the bard who was thrumming the guitar, said, "Brother, you are tired; let me play."

And he played so wonderfully, and sang with such piercing sweetness, that King Indra said, "What shall I give you as a reward? Name what you please, and it shall be yours."

Then Sir Buzz said, " I only ask the rose that is in your Majesty's lap."

"I had rather you asked more, or less," replied king Indra. "It is but a rose, yet it fell from heaven; nevertheless it is yours."

So saying, he threw the rose towards the musician, and lo! the petals fell in a shower on the ground. Sir Buzz went down on his knees and instantly gathered them up; but one petal escaping, changed into a mouse. Whereupon Sir Buzz, with the speed of lightning, turned into a cat, which caught and gobbled up the mouse.

Now all this time the Princess Blossom and the soldier's son, shivering and shaking, were awaiting the issue of the combat in the vampire's hut; when suddenly, with a bing! boom! Sir Buzz arrived victorious, shook his head, and said, "You two had better go home, for you are not fit to take care of yourselves."

Then he gathered together all the jewels and gold in one hand, placed the Princess and the soldier's son in the other, and whizzed away home, to where the poor mother -- who all this time had been living on the two shillings -- was delighted to see them. Then with a louder boom! bing! boom! than usual, Sir Buzz, without even waiting for thanks, whizzed out of sight, and was never seen or heard of again.

But the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom lived happily ever after.




Revised August 12, 2008.