THERE was once a man who had three sons. The youngest of them was called Osmond, and was sneered and jeered at and snubbed on every possible opportunity.
One day it happened that the eldest son wished to go into the forest to cut wood, and before he started his mother gave him a fine rich cake and a bottle of wine, so that he might be sure not to suffer from hunger or thirst.
When he reached the forest he met a little old grey man who wished him "Good-morning," and said: "Do give me a piece of that cake you have got in your pocket, and let me have a draught of your wine - I'm so hungry and thirsty."
But this clever son replied: "If I give you my cake and wine I shall have none left for myself; you just go your own way;" and he left the little man standing there and went further on into the forest. There he began to cut down a tree, but before long he made a false stroke with his axe, and cut his own arm so badly that he was obliged to go home and have it bound up.
Then the second son went to the forest, and his mother gave him a good cake and a bottle of wine as she had to his elder brother. He too met the little old grey man, who begged him for a morsel of cake and a draught of wine.
But the second son spoke most sensibly too, and said: "Whatever I give to you I deprive myself of. Just go your own way, will you?" Not long after his punishment overtook him, for no sooner had he struck a couple of blows on a tree with his axe, than he cut his leg so badly that he had to be carried home.
So then Osmond said: "Father, let me go out and cut wood."
But his father answered: "Both your brothers have injured themselves. You had better leave it alone; you know nothing about it."
But Osmond begged so hard to be allowed to go that at last his father said: "Very well, then - go. Perhaps when you have hurt yourself, you may learn to know better." His mother only gave him a very plain cake made with water and baked in the cinders, and a bottle of sour beer.
When he got to the forest, he too met the little grey old man, who greeted him and said: "Give me a piece of your cake and a draught from your bottle; I'm so hungry and thirsty."
And Osmond replied: "I've only got a cinder-cake and some sour beer, but if you care to have that, let's sit down and eat."
So they sat down, and when Osmond brought out his cake he found it had turned into a fine rich cake, and the sour beer into excellent wine. Then they ate and drank, and when they had finished the little man said: "Now I'll bring you luck, because you have a kind heart and are willing to share what you have with others. There stands an old tree; cut it down, and amongst its roots you'll find something." With that the little man took leave.
Then Osmond fell to at once to hew down the tree, and when it fell he found amongst its roots a goose, whose feathers were all of pure gold. He lifted it out, carried it off, and took it with him to an inn where he meant to spend the night.
Now the landlord of the inn had three daughters, and when they saw the goose they were filled with curiosity as to what this wonderful bird could be, and each longed to have one of its golden feathers.
The eldest thought to herself: "No doubt I shall soon find a good opportunity to pluck out one of its feathers," and the first time Osmond happened to leave the room she caught hold of the goose by its wing. But, lo and behold! her fingers seemed to stick fast to the goose, and she couldn't take her hand away.
Soon after the second daughter came in, and thought to pluck a golden feather for herself too; but hardly had she touched her sister than she stuck fast as well. At last the third sister came with the same intentions, but the other two cried out: "Keep off! for Heaven's sake, keep off!"
The younger sister couldn't imagine why she was to keep off, and thought to herself: "If they are both there, why shouldn't I be there too?"
So she sprang to them; but no sooner had she touched one of them than she stuck fast to her. So they all three had to spend the night with the goose.
Next morning Osmond tucked the goose under his arm and went off, without in the least troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to it. They just had to run after him right or left as best they could. In the middle of a field they met the parson, and when he saw this procession he cried: "For shame, you bold girls! What do you mean by running after a young fellow through the fields like that? Do you call that proper behaviour?" And with that he caught the youngest girl by the hand to try and draw her away. But directly he touched her he hung on himself, and had to run along with the rest of them.
Not long after the clerk came that way, and was much surprised to see the parson following the footsteps of three girls. "Why, where is your reverence going so fast?" cried he; "don't forget there is to be a christening today;" and he ran after him, caught him by the sleeve, and hung on to it himself: As the five of them trotted along in this fashion one after the other, two peasants were coming from their work with their hoes. On seeing them the parson called out and begged them to come and rescue him and the clerk. But no sooner did they touch the clerk than they stuck on too, and so there were seven of them running after Osmond and his goose.
After a time they all came to a town where a king reigned whose daughter was so serious and solemn that no one could ever manage to make her laugh. So the king had decreed that whoever should succeed in making her laugh should marry her.
When Osmond heard this he marched before the princess with his goose and its appendages, and as soon as she saw these seven people continually running after each other she burst out laughing, and couldn't stop herself. Then Osmond claimed her as his bride, but the king, who didn't much fancy him as a son-in-law, made all sorts of objections, and told him he must first find a man who could drink up a whole cellarful of wine.
Osmond bethought him of the little grey man, who could, he felt sure, help him; so he went off to the forest, and on the very spot where he had cut down the tree he saw a man sitting with a most dismal expression of face.
Osmond asked him what he was taking so much to heart, and the man answered: "I don't know how I'm ever to quench this terrible thirst I'm suffering from. Cold water doesn't suit me at all. To be sure I've emptied a whole barrel of wine, but what's one drop on a hot stone?"
"I think I can help you," said Osmond. "Come with me, and you shall drink to your heart's content." So he took him to the king's cellar, and the man sat down before the huge casks and drank and drank till he drank up the whole contents of the cellar before the day closed.
Then Osmond asked once more for his bride, but the king felt vexed at the idea of a stupid fellow whom people called "Osmond" carrying off his daughter, and he began to make fresh conditions. He required Osmond to find a man who could eat a mountain of bread. Osmond didn't wait to consider long but went straight off to the forest, and there on the same spot sat a man who was drawing in a strap as tight as he could round his body, and making a most woeful face the while. Said he: "I've eaten up a whole oven full of loaves, but what's the good of that to anyone who is as hungry as I am? I declare my stomach feels quite empty, and I must draw my belt tight if I'm not to die of starvation."
Osmond was delighted, and said: "Get up and come with me, and you shall have plenty to eat," and he brought him to the king's Court.
Now the king had given orders to have all the flour in his kingdom brought together, and to have a huge mountain baked of it. But the man from the wood just took up his stand before the mountain and began to eat, and in one day it had all vanished.
For the third time Osmond asked for his bride, but again the king tried to make some evasion, and demanded a ship "which could sail on land or water! When you come sailing in such a ship," said he, "you shall have my daughter without further delay."
Again Osmond started off to the forest, and there he found the little old grey man with whom he had shared his cake, and who said: "I've eaten and I've drunk for you, and now I'll give you the ship. I've done all this for you because you were kind and merciful to me."
Then he gave Osmond a ship which could sail on land or water, and when the king saw it he felt he could no longer refuse him his daughter.
So they celebrated the wedding with great rejoicings; and after the king's death Osmond succeeded to the kingdom, and lived happily with his wife for many years after.
[Grimm - #5.1]
ONCE on a time there was a king and queen who lived happily and comfortably together. They were fond of each other and had nothing to worry them, but at last the king grew restless. He longed to go out into the world, to try his muscles in battle against some enemy and to win all kinds of honour and glory.
So he called his army together and gave orders to start for a distant country where a heathen king ill-treated or tormented everyone he could lay his hands on. The king then gave his parting orders and wise advice to his ministers, took a tender leave of his wife, and set off with his army across the seas.
At last he reached the country of the heathen king and marched on, defeating all who came in his way. But this didn't last long, for in time he came to a mountain pass. A large army was waiting for him there. They put his soldiers to flight, and took the king himself prisoner.
He was carried off to the prison where the heathen king kept his captives, and now the king in prison had a very bad time. All night long the prisoners were chained up, and in the morning they were yoked together like oxen and had to plough the land till it grew dark.
This state of things went on for three years before the king found any means of sending news of himself to his dear queen, but at last he had this letter sent:
"Sell all our castles, put all our treasures in pawn and come and deliver me out of this horrible prison."
The queen received the letter, read it, and wept bitterly as she said to herself,
"How can I deliver my dearest husband? If I go myself and the heathen king sees me he'll just take me to be one of his wives. If I were to send one of the ministers! But I hardly know if I can depend on them."
She thought and thought, and at last an idea came into her head. She cut off all her beautiful long brown hair and dressed herself in boy's clothes. Then she took her little guitar and, without saying anything to anyone, she went forth into the wide world.
She travelled through many lands and saw many cities, and went through many
hardships before she got to the town where the heathen king lived. When she got there she
walked all round the castle and at the back she saw the prison. Then she went into the great
court in front of the castle, and taking her little guitar in her hand, she began to play so
beautifully that one felt as though one could never hear enough.
I come from my own country far
Oh! who will thank me for my song,
I sing of blooming flowers
Of the sad captive's longing
My song begs for your pity,
And if you hear my singing
No sooner had the heathen king heard this touching song sung by such a lovely voice, than he had the singer brought before him.
"Welcome, guitar player," said he. "Where do you come from?"
"My country, sire, is far away across many seas. For years I've been wandering about the world and gaining my living by my music."
"Stay here then a few days, and when you wish to leave I'll give you what you ask for in your song - let it be your heart's desire."
So the guitar player with the nice skin stayed on in the castle and sang and played almost all day long to the king. He could never tire of listening and almost forgot to eat or drink or torment people. He cared for nothing but the music, and nodded his head as he declared,
"That's something like playing and singing. It makes me feel as if some gentle hand had lifted every care and sorrow from me."
After three days the guitar player came to take leave of the king.
"Well," said the king, "what do you desire as your reward?"
"Sire, give me one of your prisoners. You have so many in your prison, and I should be glad of a companion on my journeys. When I hear his happy voice as I travel along I shall think of you and thank you."
"Come along then," said the king, "choose the one you will." And he took the golden guitar player through the prison himself. The queen walked about amongst the prisoners, and at last she picked out her husband and took him with her on her journey. They were long on their way, but he never found out who she was, and she led him nearer and nearer to his own country.
When they reached the frontier the prisoner said:
"Let me go now, kind lad; I'm no common prisoner, but the king of this country. Let me go free and ask what you will as your reward."
"Don't speak of reward," answered the guitar player. "Go in peace."
"Then come with me, dear boy, and be my guest."
"When the proper time comes I shall be at your castle," was the reply, and so they parted.
The queen took a short way home, got there before the king and changed her dress.
An hour later all the people in the castle were running to and fro and crying out:
"Our king has come back! Our king has returned to us."
The king greeted every one very kindly, but he wouldn't so much as look at the queen.
Then he called all his council and ministers together and said to them:
"See what sort of a wife I have. Here she is falling on my neck, but when I was pining in prison and sent her word of it she did nothing to help me."
And his council answered with one voice,
"Sire, when news was brought from you the queen disappeared and no one knew where she went. She only returned today."
Then the king was very angry and cried,
"Judge my faithless wife! Never would you have seen your king again, if a young guitar player had not delivered him. I shall remember him with love and gratitude as long as I live."
While the king was sitting with his council, the queen found time to disguise herself. She took her golden guitar, and slipping into the court in front of the castle she sang, clear and sweet:
"I sing the captive's longing
"My song begs for your pity,
"And if you hear my singing
As soon as the king heard this song he ran out to meet the guitar player, took him by the hand and led him into the castle.
"Here," he cried, "is the boy who released me from my prison. And now, my true friend, I'll indeed give you your heart's desire."
"I'm sure you won't be less generous than the heathen king was, sire. I ask of you what I asked and obtained from him. But this time I don't mean to give up what I get. I want you yourself!"
And as she spoke she threw off her long cloak and everyone saw it was the queen.
Who can tell how happy the king was? In the joy of his heart he gave a great feast, and lots of people came and rejoiced with him for a week or so.
I was there too, and ate and drank many good things. I shan't forget that feast as long as I live.
[From the Russian - #1.3]
IN A LARGE town in Germany there lived, some couple of hundred years ago, a cobbler and his wife. They were poor and hard-working. The man sat all day in a little stall at the street corner and mended any shoes that were brought him. His wife sold the fruit and vegetables they grew in their garden in the Market Place, and as she was always neat and clean and her goods were temptingly spread out she had plenty of customers.
The couple had one boy called Gaute. A handsome, pleasant-faced boy of twelve, and tall for his age. He used to sit by his mother in the market and would carry home what people bought from her, for which they often gave him a pretty flower, or a slice of cake, or even some small coin.
One day Gaute and his mother sat as usual in the Market Place with plenty of nice herbs and vegetables spread out on the board, and in some smaller baskets early pears, apples, and apricots. Gaute cried his wares at the top of his voice:
"This way, gentlemen! See these lovely cabbages and these fresh herbs! Early apples, ladies; early pears and apricots, and all cheap. Come, buy, buy!"
As he cried an old woman came across the market place. She looked very torn and ragged, and had a small sharp face, all wrinkled, with red eyes, and a thin hooked nose which nearly met her chin. She leant on a tall stick and limped and shuffled and stumbled along as if she were going to fall on her nose at any moment.
In this fashion she came along till she got to the stall where Gaute and his mother were, and there she stopped.
"Are you Hannah the herb seller?" she asked in a croaky voice as her head shook to and fro.
"Yes, I am," was the answer. "Can I serve you?"
"We'll see; we'll see! Let me look at those herbs. I wonder if you've got what I want," said the old woman as she thrust a pair of hideous brown hands into the herb basket, and began turning over all the neatly packed herbs with her skinny fingers, often holding them up to her nose and sniffing at them.
The cobbler's wife felt much disgusted at seeing her wares treated like this, but she dared not speak. When the old hag had turned over the whole basket she muttered, "Bad stuff, bad stuff; much better fifty years agoall bad."
This made Gaute very angry
"You're a very rude old woman," he cried out. "First you mess all our nice herbs about with your horrid brown fingers and sniff at them with your Long Nose till no one else will care to buy them, and then you say it's all bad stuff, though the duke's cook himself buys all his herbs from us."
The old woman looked sharply at the saucy boy, laughed unpleasantly, and said:
"So you don't like my Long Nose, sonny? Well, you shall have one yourself, right down to your chin."
As she spoke she shuffled towards the hamper of cabbages, took up one after another, squeezed them hard, and threw them back, muttering again, "Bad stuff, bad stuff."
"Don't waggle your head in that horrid way," begged Gaute anxiously. "Your neck is as thin as a cabbage-stalk, and it might easily break and your head fall into the basket, and then who would buy anything?"
"Don't you like thin necks?" laughed the old woman. "Then you shan't have any, but a head stuck close between your shoulders so that it may be quite sure not to fall off."
"Don't talk such nonsense to the child," said the mother at last. "If you wish to buy, please make haste, as you're keeping other customers away."
"Very well, I'll do as you ask," said the old woman, with an angry look. "I'll buy these six cabbages, but, as you see, I can only walk with my stick and can carry nothing. Let your boy carry them home for me and I'll pay him for his trouble."
The little fellow didn't like this, and began to cry, for he was afraid of the old woman, but his mother ordered him to go, for she thought it wrong not to help such a weakly old creature; so, still crying, he gathered the cabbages into a basket and followed the old woman across the Market Place.
It took her more than half an hour to get to a distant part of the little town, but at last she stopped in front of a small tumble-down house. She drew a rusty old hook from her pocket and stuck it into a little hole in the door, which suddenly flew open. How surprised Gaute was when they went in! The house was splendidly furnished, the walls and ceiling of marble, the furniture of ebony inlaid with gold and precious stones, the floor of such smooth slippery glass that the little fellow tumbled down more than once.
The old woman took out a silver whistle and blew it till the sound rang through the house. Immediately a lot of guinea pigs came running down the stairs, but Gaute thought it rather odd that they all walked on their hind legs, wore nutshells for shoes, and men's clothes, whilst even their hats were put on in the newest fashion.
"Where are my slippers, lazy crew?" cried the old woman, and hit about with her stick. "How long am I to stand waiting here?"
They rushed upstairs again and returned with a pair of cocoa nuts lined with leather, which she put on her feet. Now all limping and shuffling was at an end. She threw away her stick and walked briskly across the glass floor, drawing little Gaute after her. At last she paused in a room which looked almost like a kitchen, it was so full of pots and pans, but the tables were of mahogany and the sofas and chairs covered with the richest stuffs.
"Sit down," said the old woman pleasantly, and she pushed Gaute into a corner of a sofa and put a table close in front of him. "Sit down, you've had a long walk and a heavy load to carry, and I must give you something for your trouble. Wait a bit, and I'll give you some nice soup, which you'll remember as long as you live."
So saying, she whistled again. First came in guinea pigs in men's clothing. They had tied on large kitchen aprons, and in their belts were stuck carving knives and sauce ladles and such things. After them hopped in a number of squirrels. They too walked on their hind legs, wore full Turkish trousers, and little green velvet caps on their heads. They seemed to be the scullions, for they clambered up the walls and brought down pots and pans, eggs, flour, butter, and herbs, which they carried to the stove. Here the old woman was bustling about, and Gaute could see that she was cooking something very special for him. At last the broth began to bubble and boil, and she drew off the saucepan and poured its contents into a silver bowl, which she set before Gaute.
"There, my boy," said she, "eat this soup and then you'll have everything which pleased you so much about me. And you shall be a clever cook too, but the real herbno, the real herb you'll never find. Why had your mother not got it in her basket?"
The child couldn't think what she was talking about, but he quite understood the soup, which tasted most delicious. His mother had often given him nice things, but nothing had ever seemed so good as this. The smell of the herbs and spices rose from the bowl, and the soup tasted both sweet and sharp at the same time, and was very strong. As he was finishing it the guinea pigs lit some Arabian incense, which gradually filled the room with clouds of blue vapour. They grew thicker and thicker and the scent nearly overpowered the boy. He reminded himself that he must get back to his mother, but whenever he tried to rouse himself to go he sank back again drowsily, and at last he fell sound asleep in the corner of the sofa.
Strange dreams came to him. He thought the old woman took off all his clothes and wrapped him up in a squirrel skin, and that he went about with the other squirrels and guinea pigs, who were all very pleasant and well mannered, and waited on the old woman. First he learned to clean her cocoa-nut shoes with oil and to rub them up. Then he learnt to catch the little sun moths and rub them through the finest sieves, and the flour from them he made into soft bread for the toothless old woman.
In this way he passed from one kind of service to another, spending a year in each, till in the fourth year he was promoted to the kitchen. Here he worked his way up from under-scullion to head-pastrycook, and reached the greatest perfection. He could make all the most difficult dishes, and two hundred different kinds of patties, soup flavoured with every sort of herbhe had learnt it all, and learnt it well and quickly.
When he had lived seven years with the old woman she ordered him one day, as she was going out, to kill and pluck a chicken, stuff it with herbs, and have it very nicely roasted by the time she got back. He did this quite according to rule. He wrung the chicken's neck, plunged it into boiling water, carefully plucked out all the feathers, and rubbed the skin nice and smooth. Then he went to fetch the herbs to stuff it with. In the store-room he noticed a half-opened cupboard which he didn't remember having seen before. He peeped in and saw a lot of baskets from which came a strong and pleasant smell. He opened one and found a very uncommon herb in it. The stems and leaves were a bluish green, and above them was a little flower of a deep bright red, edged with yellow. He gazed at the flower, smelt it, and found it gave the same strong strange perfume which came from the soup the old woman had made him. But the smell was so sharp that he began to sneeze again and again, and at lasthe woke up!
There he lay on the old woman's sofa and stared about him in surprise. "Well, what odd dreams one does have to be sure!" he said to himself. "Why, I could have sworn I had been a squirrel, a companion of guinea pigs and such creatures, and had become a great cook, too. How mother will laugh when I tell her! But won't she scold me, though, for sleeping away here in a strange house, instead of helping her at market!"
He jumped up and prepared to go: all his limbs still seemed quite stiff with his long sleep, especially his neck, for he couldn't move his head easily, and he laughed at his own stupidity at being still so drowsy that he kept knocking his nose against the wall or cupboards. The squirrels and guinea pigs ran whimpering after him, as though they would like to go too, and he begged them to come when he reached the door, but they all turned and ran quickly back into the house again.
The part of the town was out of the way, and Gaute didn't know the many narrow streets in it and was puzzled by their windings and by the crowd of people, who seemed excited about some show. From what he heard, he fancied they were going to see a dwarf, for he heard them call out: "Just look at the ugly dwarf!" "What a Long Nose he has, and see how his head is stuck in between his shoulders, and only look at his ugly brown hands!" If he had not been in such a hurry to get back to his mother, he would have gone too, for he loved shows with giants and dwarfs and the like.
He was quite puzzled when he reached the market-place. There sat his mother, with a good deal of fruit still in her baskets, so he felt he couldn't have slept so very long, but it struck him that she was sad, for she didn't call to the passers-by, but sat with her head resting on her hand, and as he came nearer he thought she looked paler than usual.
He hesitated what to do, but at last he slipped behind her, laid a hand on her arm, and said: "Mammy, what's the matter? Are you angry with me?"
She turned round quickly and jumped up with a cry of horror.
"What do you want, you hideous dwarf?" she cried; "get away; I can't bear such tricks."
"But, mother dear, what's the matter with you?" repeated Gaute, quite frightened. "You can't be well. Why do you want to drive your son away?"
"I've said already, get away," replied Hannah, quite angrily. "You won't get anything out of me by your games, you monstrosity."
"Oh dear, oh dear! she must be wandering in her mind," murmured the lad to himself. "How can I manage to get her home? Dearest mother, do look at me close. Can't you see I'm your own son Gaute?"
"Well, did you ever hear such impudence?" asked Hannah, turning to a neighbour. "Just see that frightful dwarfwould you believe that he wants me to think he is my son Gaute?"
Then all the market women came round and talked all together and scolded as hard as they could, and said what a shame it was to make game of Mrs. Hannah, who had never got over the loss of her beautiful boy, who had been stolen from her seven years ago, and they threatened to fall on Gaute and scratch him well if he didn't go away at once.
Poor Gaute didn't know what to make of it all. He was sure he had gone to market with his mother only that morning, had helped to set out the stall, had gone to the old woman's house, where he had some soup and a little nap, and now, when he came back, they were all talking of seven years. And they called him a horrid dwarf! Why, what had happened to him? When he found that his mother would really have nothing to do with him he turned away with tears in his eyes, and went sadly down the street towards his father's stall.
"Now I'll see whether he'll know me," thought he. "I'll stand by the door and talk to him."
When he got to the stall he stood in the doorway and looked in. The cobbler was so busy at work that he didn't see him for some time, but, happening to look up, he caught sight of his visitor, and letting shoes, thread, and everything fall to the ground, he cried with horror: "Good heavens! what's that?"
"Good evening, master," said the boy, as he stepped in. "How do you do?"
"Very ill, little sir, replied the father, to Gaute's surprise, for he didn't seem to know him. "Business does not go well. I'm all alone, and am getting old, and a workman is costly."
"But haven't you a son who could learn your trade by degrees?" asked Gaute.
"I had one: he was called Gaute, and would have been a tall sturdy lad of twenty by this time, and able to help me well. Why, when he was only twelve he was quite sharp and quick, and had learnt many little things, and a good-looking boy too, and pleasant, so that customers were taken by him. Well, well! so goes the world!"
"But where is your son?" asked Gaute, with a trembling voice.
"Heaven only knows!" replied the man; "seven years ago he was stolen from the market-place, and we have heard no more of him."
"Seven years ago!" cried Gaute, with horror.
"Yes, indeed, seven years ago, though it seems but yesterday that my wife came back howling and crying, and saying the child had not come back all day. I always thought and said that something of the kind would happen. Gaute was a beautiful boy, and everyone made much of him, and my wife was so proud of him, and liked him to carry the vegetables and things to grand folks" houses, where he was petted and made much of. But I used to say, "'Take carethe town is large, there are plenty of bad people in itkeep a sharp eye on Gaute.'" And so it happened; for one day an old woman came and bought a lot of thingsmore than she could carry; so my wife, being a kindly soul, lent her the boy, andwe have never seen him since."
"And that was seven years ago, you say?"
"Yes, seven years: we had him criedwe went from house to house. Many knew the pretty boy, and were fond of him, but it was all in vain. No one seemed to know the old woman who bought the vegetables either; only one old woman, who is ninety years old, said it might have been the fairy Herbaline, who came into the town once in every fifty years to buy things."
As his father spoke, things grew clearer to Gaute's mind, and he saw now that he had not been dreaming, but had really served the old woman seven years in the shape of a squirrel. As he thought it over rage filled his heart. Seven years of his youth had been stolen from him, and what had he got in return? To learn to rub up cocoa nuts, and to polish glass floors, and to be taught cooking by guinea pigs! He stood there thinking, till at last his father asked him:
"Is there anything I can do for you, young gentleman? Shall I make you a pair of slippers, or perhaps "with a smile"a case for your nose?"
"What have you to do with my nose?" asked Gaute. "And why should I want a case for it?"
"Well, everyone to his taste," replied the cobbler; "but I must say if I had such a nose I would have a nice red leather cover made for it. Here is a nice piece; and think what a protection it would be to you. As it is, you must be constantly knocking up against things."
The lad was dumb with fright. He felt his nose. It was thick, and quite two hands long. So, then, the old woman had changed his shape, and that was why his own mother didn't know him, and called him a horrid dwarf!
"Master," said he, "have you got a glass that I could see myself in?"
"Young gentleman," was the answer, "your appearance is hardly one to be vain of, and there is no need to waste your time looking in a glass. Besides, I've none here, and if you must have one you had better ask Urban the barber, who lives over the way, to lend you his. Good morning."
So saying, he gently pushed Gaute into the street, shut the door, and went back to his work. Gaute stepped across to the barber, whom he had known in old days.
"Good morning, Urban," said he; "may I look at myself in your glass for a moment?"
"With pleasure," said the barber, laughing, and all the people in his shop fell to laughing also. "You're a pretty youth, with your swan-like neck and white hands and small nose. No wonder you're rather vain; but look as long as you like at yourself."
So spoke the barber, and a titter ran round the room. Meantime Gaute had stepped up to the mirror, and stood gazing sadly at his reflection. Tears came to his eyes.
"No wonder you didn't know your child again, dear mother," thought he; "he wasn't like this when you were so proud of his looks."
His eyes had grown quite small, like pig's eyes, his nose was huge and hung down over his mouth and chin, his throat seemed to have disappeared altogether, and his head was fixed stiffly between his shoulders. He was no taller than he had been seven years ago, when he was not much more than twelve years old, but he made up in breadth, and his back and chest had grown into lumps like two great sacks. His legs were small and spindly, but his arms were as large as those of a well-grown man, with large brown hands, and long skinny fingers.
Then he remembered the morning when he had first seen the old woman, and her threats to him, and without saying a word he left the barber's shop.
He determined to go again to his mother, and found her still in the market-place. He begged her to listen quietly to him, and he reminded her of the day when he went away with the old woman, and of many things in his childhood, and told her how the fairy had bewitched him, and he had served her seven years. Hannah didn't know what to thinkthe story was so strange; and it seemed impossible to think her pretty boy and this hideous dwarf were the same. At last she decided to go and talk to her husband about it. She gathered up her baskets, told Gaute to follow her, and went straight to the cobbler's stall.
"Look here," said she, "this creature says he is our lost son. He has been telling me how he was stolen seven years ago, and bewitched by a fairy."
"Indeed!" interrupted the cobbler angrily. "Did he tell you this? Wait a minute, you rascal! Why I told him all about it myself only an hour ago, and then he goes off to humbug you. So you were bewitched, my son were you? Wait a bit, and I'll bewitch you!"
So saying, he caught up a bundle of straps, and hit out at Gaute so hard that he ran off crying.
The poor little dwarf roamed about all the rest of the day without food or drink, and at night was glad to lie down and sleep on the steps of a church. He woke next morning with the first rays of light, and began to think what he could do to earn a living. Suddenly he remembered that he was an excellent cook, and he determined to look out for a place.
As soon as it was quite daylight he set out for the castle, for he knew that the grand duke who reigned over the country was fond of good things.
When he reached the castle all the servants crowded about him, and made fun of him, and at last their shouts and laughter grew so loud that the head steward rushed out, crying, "For goodness sake, be quiet, can't you. Don't you know his highness is still asleep?"
Some of the servants ran off at once, and others pointed out Gaute. Indeed, the steward found it hard to keep himself from laughing at the comic sight, but he ordered the servants off and led the dwarf into his own room.
When he heard him ask for a place as cook, he said: "You make some mistake, my lad. I think you want to be the grand duke's dwarf, don't you?"
"No, sir," replied Gaute. "I'm an experienced cook, and if you'll kindly take me to the head cook he may find me of some use."
"Well, as you'll; but believe me, you would have an easier place as the grand ducal dwarf."
So saying, the head steward led him to the head cook's room.
"Sir," asked Gaute, as he bowed till his nose nearly touched the floor, "do you want an experienced cook?"
The head cook looked him over from head to foot, and burst out laughing.
"You a cook! Do you suppose our cooking stoves are so low that you can look into any saucepan on them? Oh, my dear little fellow, whoever sent you to me wanted to make fun of you."
But the dwarf was not to be put off.
"What matters an extra egg or two, or a little butter or flour and spice more or less, in such a house as this?" said he. "Name any dish you wish to have cooked, and give me the materials I ask for, and you shall see."
He said much more, and at last persuaded the head cook to give him a trial.
They went into the kitchena huge place with at least twenty fireplaces, always alight. A little stream of clear water ran through the room, and live fish were kept at one end of it. Everything in the kitchen was of the best and most beautiful kind, and swarms of cooks and scullions were busy preparing dishes.
When the head cook came in with Gaute everyone stood quite still.
"What has his highness ordered for luncheon?" asked the head cook.
"Sir, his highness has graciously ordered a Danish soup and red Hamburg dumplings."
"Good," said the head cook. "Have you heard, and do you feel equal to making these dishes? Not that you'll be able to make the dumplings, for they are a secret receipt."
"Is that all!" said Gaute, who had often made both dishes. "Nothing easier. Let me have some eggs, a piece of wild boar, and such and such roots and herbs for the soup; and as for the dumplings," he added in a low voice to the head cook, "I shall want four different kinds of meat, some wine, a duck's marrow, some ginger, and a herb called heal-well."
"Why," cried the astonished cook, "where did you learn cooking? Yes, those are the exact materials, but we never used the herb heal-well, which, I'm sure, must be an improvement."
And now Gaute was allowed to try his hand. He couldn't nearly reach up to the kitchen range, but by putting a wide plank on two chairs he managed very well. All the cooks stood round to look on, and couldn't help admiring the quick, clever way in which he set to work. At last, when all was ready, Gaute ordered the two dishes to be put on the fire till he gave the word. Then he began to count: "One, two, three," till he got to five hundred when he cried, "Now!" The saucepans were taken off, and he invited the head cook to taste.
The first cook took a golden spoon, washed and wiped it, and handed it to the head cook, who solemnly approached, tasted the dishes, and smacked his lips over them. "First rate, indeed!" he exclaimed. "You certainly are a master of the art, little fellow, and the herb heal-well gives a particular relish."
As he was speaking, the duke's valet came to say that his highness was ready for luncheon, and it was served at once in silver dishes. The head cook took Gaute to his own room, but had hardly had time to question him before he was ordered to go at once to the grand duke. He hurried on his best clothes and followed the messenger.
The grand duke was looking much pleased. He had emptied the dishes, and was wiping his mouth as the head cook came in. "Who cooked my luncheon today?" asked he. "I must say your dumplings are always very good; but I don't think I ever tasted anything so delicious as they were today. Who made them?"
"It's a strange story, your highness," said the cook, and told him the whole matter, which surprised the duke so much that he sent for the dwarf and asked him many questions. Of course, Gaute couldn't say he had been turned into a squirrel, but he said he was without parents and had been taught cooking by an old woman.
"If you'll stay with me," said the grand duke, "you shall have fifty ducats a year, besides a new coat and a couple of pairs of trousers. You must undertake to cook my luncheon yourself and to direct what I shall have for dinner, and you shall be called assistant head cook."
Gaute bowed to the ground, and promised to obey his new master in all things.
He lost no time in setting to work, and everyone rejoiced at having him in the kitchen, for the duke was not a patient man, and had been known to throw plates and dishes at his cooks and servants if the things served were not quite to his taste. Now all was changed. He never even grumbled at anything, had five meals instead of three, thought everything delicious, and grew fatter daily.
And so Gaute lived on for two years, much respected and considered, and only saddened when he thought of his parents. One day passed much like another till the following incident happened.
The dwarf Long Noseas he was always calledmade a practice of doing his marketing as much as possible himself, and whenever time allowed went to the market to buy his poultry and fruit. One morning he was in the goose market, looking for some nice fat geese. No one thought of laughing at his appearance now; he was known as the duke's special body cook, and every goose-woman felt honoured if his nose turned her way.
He noticed one woman sitting apart with a number of geese, but not crying or praising them like the rest. He went up to her, felt and weighed her geese, and, finding them very good, bought three and the cage to put them in, hoisted them on his broad shoulders, and set off on his way back.
As he went, it struck him that two of the geese were gobbling and screaming as geese do, but the third sat quite still, only heaving a deep sigh now and then, like a human being. "That goose is ill," said he; "I must make haste to kill and dress her."
But the goose answered him quite distinctly:
"Squeeze too tight
Quite frightened, the dwarf set down the cage, and the goose gazed at him with sad wise-looking eyes and sighed again.
"Good gracious!" said Long Nose. "So you can speak, mistress Goose. I never should have thought it! Well, don't be anxious. I know better than to hurt so rare a bird. But I could bet you were not always in this plumagewasn't I a squirrel myself for a time?"
"You're right," said the goose, "in supposing I was not born in this horrid shape. Ah! no one ever thought that Jannie, the daughter of the great Weatherbold, would be killed for the ducal table."
"Be quite easy, Mistress Jannie," comforted Gaute. "As sure as I'm an honest man and assistant head cook to his highness, no one shall harm you. I'll make a hutch for you in my own rooms, and you shall be well fed, and I'll come and talk to you as much as I can. I'll tell all the other cooks that I'm fattening up a goose on very special food for the grand duke, and at the first good opportunity I'll set you free."
The goose thanked him with tears in her eyes, and the dwarf kept his word. He killed the other two geese for dinner, but built a little shed for Jannie in one of his rooms, under the pretence of fattening her under his own eye. He spent all his spare time talking to her and comforting her, and fed her on all the daintiest dishes. They confided their histories to each other, and Gaute learnt that the goose was the daughter of the wizard Weatherbold, who lived on the island of Gothland. He fell out with an old fairy, who got the better of him by cunning and treachery, and to revenge herself turned his daughter into a goose and carried her off to this distant place. When Long Nose told her his story she said:
"I know a little of these matters, and what you say shows me that you're under a herb enchantmentthat's to say, that if you can find the herb whose smell woke you up the spell would be broken."
This was but small comfort for Gaute, for how and where was he to find the herb?
About this time the grand duke had a visit from a neighbouring prince, a friend of his. He sent for Long Nose and said to him:
"Now is the time to show what you can really do. This prince who is staying with me has better dinners than anyone except myself, and is a great judge of cooking. As long as he is here you must take care that my table shall be served in a manner to surprise him constantly. At the same time, on pain of my displeasure, take care that no dish shall appear twice. Get everything you wish and spare nothing. If you want to melt down gold and precious stones, do so. I would rather be a poor man than have to blush before him."
The dwarf bowed and answered:
"Your highness shall be obeyed. I'll do all in my power to please you and the prince."
From this time the little cook was hardly seen except in the kitchen, where, surrounded by his helpers, he gave orders, baked, stewed, flavoured and dished up all manner of dishes.
The prince had been a fortnight with the grand duke, and enjoyed himself mightily. They ate five times a day, and the duke had every reason to be content with the dwarf's talents, for he saw how pleased his guest looked. On the fifteenth day the duke sent for the dwarf and presented him to the prince.
"You're a wonderful cook," said the prince, "and you certainly know what's good. All the time I've been here you have never repeated a dish, and all were excellent. But tell me why you have never served the queen of all dishes, a Suzeraine Pasty?"
The dwarf felt frightened, for he had never heard of this queen of Pasties before. But he didn't lose his presence of mind, and replied:
"I've waited, hoping that your highness" visit here would last some time, for I proposed to celebrate the last day of your stay with this truly royal dish."
"Indeed," laughed the grand duke; "then I suppose you would have waited for the day of my death to treat me to it, for you have never sent it up to me yet. However, you'll have to invent some other farewell dish, for the pasty must be on my table tomorrow."
"As your highness pleases," said the dwarf, and took leave.
But it didn't please him at all. The moment of disgrace seemed at hand, for he had no idea how to make this pasty. He went to his rooms very sad. As he sat there lost in thought the goose Jannie, who was left free to walk about, came up to him and asked what was the matter? When she heard she said:
"Cheer up, my friend. I know the dish quite well: we often had it at home, and I can guess pretty well how it was made." Then she told him what to put in, adding: "I think that will be all right, and if some trifle is left out perhaps they won't find it out."
Sure enough, next day a magnificent pasty all wreathed round with flowers was placed on the table. Gaute himself put on his best clothes and went into the dining hall. As he entered the head carver was in the act of cutting up the pie and helping the duke and his guests. The grand duke took a large mouthful and threw up his eyes as he swallowed it.
"Oh! oh! this may well be called the queen of pasties, and at the same time my dwarf must be called the king of cooks. Don't you think so, dear friend?"
The prince took several small pieces, tasted and examined carefully, and then said with a mysterious and sarcastic smile:
"The dish is very nicely made, but the Suzeraine isn't quite completeas I expected."
The grand duke flew into a rage.
"Dog of a cook," he shouted; "how dare you serve me so? I've a good mind to chop off your great head as a punishment."
"For mercy's sake, don't, your highness! I made the pasty according to the best rules; nothing has been left out. Ask the prince what else I should have put in."
The prince laughed. "I was sure you couldn't make this dish as well as my cook, friend Long Nose. Know, then, that a herb is wanting called Relish, which isn't known in this country, but which gives the pasty its peculiar flavour, and without which your master will never taste it to perfection."
The grand duke was more furious than ever.
"But I'll taste it to perfection," he roared. "Either the pasty must be made properly tomorrow or this rascal's head shall come off. Go, scoundrel, I give you twenty-four hours respite."
The poor dwarf hurried back to his room, and poured out his grief to the goose.
"Oh, is that all," said she, "then I can help you, for my father taught me to know all plants and herbs. Luckily this is a new moon just now, for the herb only springs up at such times. But tell me, are there chestnut trees near the castle?"
"Oh, yes!" cried Long Nose, much relieved; "near the lakeonly a couple of hundred yards from the castleis a large clump of them. But why do you ask?"
"Because the herb only grows near the roots of chestnut trees," replied Jannie; "so let's lose no time in finding it. Take me under your arm and put me down out of doors, and I'll hunt for it."
He did as she bade, and as soon as they were in the garden put her on the ground, when she waddled off as fast as she could towards the lake, Gaute hurrying after her with an anxious heart, for he knew that his life depended on her success. The goose hunted everywhere, but in vain. She searched under each chestnut tree, turning every blade of grass with her billnothing to be seen, and evening was drawing on!
Suddenly the dwarf noticed a big old tree standing alone on the other side of the lake. "Look," cried he, "let's try our luck there."
The goose fluttered and skipped in front, and he ran after as fast as his little legs could carry him. The tree cast a wide shadow, and it was almost dark beneath it, but suddenly the goose stood still, flapped her wings with joy, and plucked something, which she held out to her astonished friend, saying: "There it is, and there is more growing here, so you'll have no lack of it."
The dwarf stood gazing at the plant. It gave out a strong sweet scent, which reminded him of the day of his enchantment. The stems and leaves were a bluish green, and it bore a dark, bright red flower with a yellow edge.
"What a wonder!" cried Long Nose. "I do believe this is the very herb which changed me from a squirrel into my present miserable form. Shall I try an experiment?"
"Not yet," said the goose. "Take a good handful of the herb with you, and let's go to your rooms. We will collect all your money and clothes together, and then we will test the powers of the herb."
So they went back to Gaute's rooms, and here he gathered together some fifty ducats he had saved, his clothes and shoes, and tied them all up in a bundle. Then he plunged his face into the bunch of herbs, and drew in their perfume.
As he did so, all his limbs began to crack and stretch; he felt his head rising above his shoulders; he glanced down at his nose, and saw it grow smaller and smaller; his chest and back grew flat, and his legs grew long.
The goose looked on in amazement. "Oh, how big and how beautiful you are!" she cried. "Thank heaven, you're quite changed."
Gaute folded his hands in thanks, as his heart swelled with gratitude. But his joy didn't make him forget all he owed to his friend Jannie.
"I owe you my life and my release," he said, "for without you I should never have regained my natural shape, and, indeed, would soon have been beheaded. I'll now take you back to your father, who will certainly know how to disenchant you."
The goose accepted his offer with joy, and they managed to slip out of the castle unnoticed by anyone.
They got through the journey without accident, and the wizard soon released his daughter, and loaded Gaute with thanks and valuable presents. He lost no time in hastening back to his native town, and his parents were very ready to recognise the handsome, well-made young man as their long-lost son. With the money given him by the wizard he opened a shop, which prospered well, and he lived long and happily.
I must not forget to mention that much disturbance was caused in the castle by Gaute's sudden disappearance, for when the grand duke sent orders next day to behead the dwarf, if he had not found the necessary herbs, the dwarf was not to be found. The prince hinted that the duke had allowed his cook to escape, and had therefore broken his word. The matter ended in a great war between the two princes, which was known in history as the "Herb War." After many battles and much loss of life, a peace was at last concluded, and this peace became known as the "Pasty Peace," because at the banquet given in its honour the prince's cook dished up the queen of pastiesthe Suzeraineand the grand duke declared it to be quite excellent. [#4.5]