There was once a mason who had a wife and son. One day the king sent for the mason to build a country-house to put his money in, for he was very rich and had no place to keep it.
The mason set to work with his son Ninu. In one corner they put in a stone that could be taken out and put back, large enough for a man to enter.
When the house was finished the king paid them and they went home. The king then had his money carted to the house and put guards around it. After a few days he saw that no one went there, and took away the guard.
Meanwhile the money of the mason was gone, and he said to his son Ninu, "Shall we go to the country-house?"
They took a sack and went there. When they arrived at the house they took out the stone, and the father entered and filled the bag with gold. When he came out he put the stone back as it was before and they departed.
The next day the king rode out to his house and saw that his pile of gold had diminished. He said to his servants, "Who has been taking the money?"
The servants answered, "It is not possible; where could anybody get in? It may be that the house has settled, being newly built."
So they repaired it.
After a while the mason said again to his son, "Let us go back there."
They took the same sack, and arriving as usual they took out the stone and the father entered, filled the sack, and left. The same night they made another trip, filled the same sack again, and went away.
Next day the king visited the house with his soldiers and councillors. When he entered he went to see the money, and it was very greatly diminished.
He turned to his councillors and said, "Someone comes here and takes the money."
The councillors said, "One thing can be done; take a few tubs, fill them with melted pitch, and place them around the walls on the innside. Whoever enters will fall in them, and the thief is found."
They took the tubs and put them inside, and the king left sentinels and returned to the city. The sentinels remained there a week; but as they saw no one, they, too, left.
After some time the mason said to his son again, "Let us go to the usual place." They took the sack and went Arriving there, they took out the stone, and the father entered. As he entered he stuck fast in the pitch. He tried to help himself and get his feet loose, but his hands stuck fast. Then he said to his son, "Alas! Since I'm done for, cut off my head, tear my coat to pieces, put back the stone as it was, and throw my head in the river, so that I shall not be known."
The son did as he was told, and returned home. When he told his mother what had become of his father, she began to tear her hair. After a few days, the son, who did not know any trade, entered the service of a carpenter, and told his mother not to say anything, as if nothing had happened.
Next day the king went with his councillors to the country-house. They entered and saw the body, and the king said, "But it has no head! How shall we find out who it is?"
The councillors said, "Take him and carry him through the streets three days; where you see weeping you will know who it is."
They took the body, and called two undertakers and made them carry it about. When they passed through the street where the mason's widow lived, she began to weep. The son, whose shop was near by, heard it, and gave himself a blow in the hand with an axe-head and got blue fingers.
The police arrested the mother, saying, "We have found out who it is." Meanwhile the son arrived there and said, "She is not weeping for that; she is weeping because I have got blue fingers fingers and can no longer work and earn my bread for many weeks."
The police saw it was so, believed him, and departed. At night they carried the body to the castle and built outside a scaffold to put the body on, because they had to carry it around three days. About the scaffold they placed nine sentinels - eight soldiers and a corporal.
Now it was in the winter and was very cold; so the son took a mule and loaded it with drugged wine, and passed up and down.
When the soldiers saw him they cried, "Friend, are you selling that wine?"
He said, "I am."
"Wait till we drink, for we are trembling with the cold." After they had drunk they threw themselves down and went to sleep, and the son took the body. After he had buried it outside of the town, he went home again.
In the morning the soldiers woke up and told the king what had happened. He issued a proclamation that whoever found the body should get a large sum of money. The body was found and carried about the street again, but no one wept.
That night new sentinels were appointed, but the same thing happened as the night before. The soldiers were drugged in the same way.
The next day another proclamation, the body again found and carried about, but no one detected weeping.
The mason's son could not rest, and went to a goatherd and asked, "Will you do me a favor?"
"If I can," answered the other. "What can I do for you?"
"Will you lend me your goats this evening?"
The mason's son took them, bought four little wheels and candles and an old earthen pot, knocked out the bottom and fastened some candles around it. Then he took the goats and fixed two candles to the horns of each one and took them where the body was, and followed with the pot on his head and the candles lighted. The soldiers ran away in terror, and the son took the body and threw it in the sea.
Next day the king commanded that the price of meat should be set at twelve hundred gold coins, and ordered that all the old women of the city should gather at the castle. A hundred came, and he told them to go begging about the city and find out who was cooking meat; thinking that only the thief could afford to buy meat at that price.
And yes, Ninu had bought some. He gave it to his mother to cook. While it was cooking and Ninu absent, one of the old women came begging, and the widow gave her a piece of meat. As she was going downstairs, Ninu met her and asked her what she was doing. She explained that she was begging for some bread. Ninu, suspecting a trick, took her and threw her into the well.
At noon, when the old women were to present themselves to the king, one was missing. The king then sent for the butchers, and found that just one piece of meat had been sold. When the king saw this, he issued a proclamation to find out who had done all these wonders, and said, "If he is unmarried, I will give him my daughter; if he is married, I will give him two measures of gold."
Ninu presented himself to the king and said, "Your Majesty, it was I." The king burst out laughing, and asked, "Are you married or single?"
He said, "I am single."
And the king said, "Will you be satisfied with my daughter, or with two measures of gold?"
"Hm," he said, "I want to marry; give me your daughter." So the king did, and gave a grand banquet for them.
There was once a certain king named Jannone, who, desiring greatly to have children, had prayers continually made to Thor that he would grant his wish; and he was so charitable that at last he had nothing in his pocket. Then he bolted his door fast and shot with a cross-bow at whoever came near.
Now, it happened that about this time a long-bearded ragamuffin was passing that way; and not knowing that the king had turned over a new leaf, or perhaps knowing it and wishing to make him change his mind again, he went to Jannone and begged for food and shelter in his house. But with a fierce look and a terrible growl, the king said to him, "If you have no other candle than this, you may go to bed in the dark. The time is gone by; I am no longer a fool." And when the old man asked what was the cause of this change, the king answered,
"From my desire to have children I have spent and have lent to all who came and all who went, and have squandered away my wealth. At last, seeing that the beard was gone, I laid aside the razor."
"If that is all," answered the old man, "you may set your mind at rest, for I promise that your wish shall be fulfilled, on pain of losing my ears."
"Be it so," said the king, "and I pledge my word that I will give you one half of my kingdom in case."
The old ragamuffin said, "You have only to get the heart of a sea-dragon, and have it dressed for table by a young maiden. And as soon as the heart is dressed, give it to the queen to eat, and you'll see that what I say will speedily come to pass."
"If that is so," answered the king, "I must this very moment get the dragon's heart."
So he sent out a hundred fishermen, and they got ready all kinds of fishing-tackle, drag-nets, casting nets, seinenets, bow-nets, and fishing-lines; and they tacked and turned, and cruised in all directions, till at last they caught a dragon; then they took out its heart and brought it to the king, who gave it to a handsome young lady to dress.
When the heart was dressed, and the queen had tasted it, in a few days she and the young lady both had a son, so like the one to the other that nobody could tell which was which. And the boys grew up together in such love for one another that they could not be parted for a moment. Their attachment was so great that the queen began to be jealous at seeing her son show more affection for the son of one of her servants than he did for herself; and she did not know how to remove this thorn from her eyes.
Now, one day the prince wished to go hunting with his companion, he had a fire lighted in the fireplace in his chamber, and began to melt lead to make balls; and being in want of something, he went to look for it. Meanwhile the queen came in to see what her son was about, and finding nobody there but the son of her servant, she thought to put him out of the world. Stooping down, she flung the hot bulletmould at his face, which hit him over the brow and gave him an ugly wound.
She was just going to repeat the blow when her son Fonzo came in. She pretended that she was only come to see how he was, after giving him a few trifling caresses she went away.
Girlum, pulling his hat down on his forehead, said nothing of his wound to Fonzo, but stood quite quiet, though he was burning with the pain. And as soon as they had done making balls, he requested leave of the prince to go away for a long time. Fonzo, all in amazement, asked him the reason; but he answered, "Ask no more, my dear Fonzo, it is enough to know that I have to leave you; and Valhalla knows that in parting with you, who are my heart, the soul is ready to leave my bosom. But since it cannot be otherwise, farewell, and remember me!"
Then, after embracing the prince and shedding many tears, Girlum went to his own room and put on a suit of armour and a magic sword. Then he armed himself from top to toe. When he had taken a horse out of the stable and was just putting his foot into the stirrup, Fonzo came weeping and said, that since his friend was resolved to abandon him, he must at least leave him some token of his love. On this Girlum laid hold on his dagger and stuck it into the ground, and at once a fine fountain rose up. Then said he to the prince, "This is the best token I can leave you, for by the flowing of this fountain you will know the course of my life. If you see it run clear, know that my life is likewise clear and tranquil; if you see it turbid, think that I am passing through troubles; and if you find it dry (the rain- bearded thundergod forbid!), depend on it that the oil of my lamp is all consumed, and that I have paid my toll to nature."
So saying he took his sword, and sticking it into the ground he made a plant of myrtle spring up, saying to the prince, "As long as you see this myrtle green, know that I am flourishing. If you see it wither, think that my fortunes are not the best in the world. But if it becomes quite dried up, you may say a deep goodbye to me."
Girlum set out on his travels, and journeying on and on, after various adventures, he at last arrived at Long-Trellis, just at the time when they were holding a splendid tournament there, and the hand of the king's daughter was promised to the victor. Here Girlum presented himself and bore him so bravely that he overthrew all the knights who were come. Then Prine, the king's daughter, was given to him in marriage, and a great feast was made.
When Girlum had been there some months in peace and quiet, an unhappy fancy came into his head for going out to hunt.
He told it to the king, who said to him, "Keep your wits about you, for in these woods there is an ogre who changes his form every day, one time appearing like a wolf, at another like a lion, now like a stag, now like a donkey, now like one thing and now like another; and by a thousand tricks he decoys those who are so unfortunate as to meet him into a cave, where he devours them."
Girlum, who did not know what fear was, paid no heed to the advice of his father-in-law, and as soon as the sun was up he set out for the chase. On his way he came to the dark wood where the ogre lived. The monster was close at hand. Seeing Girlum coming, the ogre turned himself into a beautiful doe, and as soon as Girlum saw the creature he gave chase. But the doe doubled and turned, and led him about here and there at such a rate that at last she decoyed him into the very heart of the wood, where she brought down such a tremendous snowstorm that it looked as if the sky was going to fall.
Girlum, finding himself in front of the ogre's cave, went into it to seek shelter, and being benumbed with the cold he took some sticks which he found inside, and pulling his steel out of his pocket he kindled a large fire. As he was standing by it to dry his clothes the doe came to the mouth of the cave and said, "Hello, give me leave to warm myself a little while, for I am shivering with the cold."
Girlum, who was of a kind disposition, said to her, "Draw near, and welcome."
"I would gladly," answered the doe, "but that I am afraid you would kill me."
"Fear nothing," answered Girlum; "come, trust to my word."
"If you wish me to enter," rejoined the doe, "tie up those dogs that they may not hurt me, and tie up your horse that he may not kick me."
So Girlum tied up his dogs and tethered his horse, and the doe said, "I am now half assured, but unless you bind fast your sword, by the soul of my grandsire I will not go in!" Then Girlum, who wished to become friends with the doe, put away his sword.
As soon as the ogre saw Girlum defenceless, he took his own shape, and laying hold on him, flung him into a pit that was at the bottom of the cave, and covered it up with a stone, to keep him to eat.
In the meantime, Fonzo, who morning and evening visited the myrtle and the fountain to learn news of the fate of Girlum, found the one withered and the other troubled. He at once thought that his friend was passing through misfortunes. Desiring to help him, he mounted his horse without asking leave of his father or mother. He armed himself well, took with him two enchanted dogs, and went rambling through the world. He roamed and rambled here and there and everywhere till at last he came to Long-Trellis, which he found all in mourning for the supposed death of Girlum.
Scarcely was he come to the court when everyone, thinking it was Girlum, because they were so like one another, hastened to tell Prine the good news. She ran tumbling down the stairs, and embraced Fonzo, exclaimed, "My husband, my heart, where have you been all this time?"
Fonzo at once understood that Girlum had come to this country and had left it again. So he resolved to examine into the matter carefully, to learn from the princess where his friend might be found. Hearing her say that he had put himself in great danger by hunting, especially if the cruel ogre had met him, he concluded that his friend must be in the forest. So without waiting another moment, in spite of the prayers of Prine and the commands of the king, off he rode to the forest with his enchanted dogs. The same thing befell him that had befallen Girlum; and entering the cave he saw his friend's arms and dogs and horse fast bound. Then he became certain that their owner had there fallen into a snare. The doe told him to put away his arms, and tie up his dogs and horses; but he at once set them on her, and they tore her to pieces. And as he was looking about for some other traces of his friend, he heard his voice down in the pit. Lifting up the stone, he drew out Girlum, with all the others whom the ogre had buried alive to fatten. Then embracing each other with great joy, the two friends went home, where Prine, seeing them so much alike, did not know which to choose for her husband. But when Girlum took off his cap she saw the old wound, and recognized and embraced him.
After staying with them a merry month, Fonzo wished to return to his own country and to his own nest. Girlum sent a letter by him to his mother, bidding her come and share his greatness. This she did, and lived happily with her son and his wife Prine.
1. The Fairy Aurelia
A fisherman sat watching his wife baking a cake. It was a rich and pretty cake, not just one for an everyday.
"What are you making that for?" he asked.
"Surely you haven't forgotten that it is our youngest boy's birthday tomorrow," answered his wife. "Thirteen he is. How the years pass."
The husband grew suddenly pale. "I had forgotten." he said. "I had forgotten." He sat by the fireside dejected and sad. His face was hidden in his hands, and when his wife turned round she saw him shaken by sobs, and his tears fell on the hearth.
"What is the matter, my good Luca? What has come over you?"
For some time she could not get a word from him, but at last he told her his trouble. You remember the time before our youngest son Lionbruno was born? We were very poor. We were before often hungry. There seemed no fish left in the sea."
* I remember, I remember," she answered. "But we've been well off this many a year. What's the use of calling up old sorrows?"
"But did you never wonder how luck came to us so suddenly?"
"Yes," said the woman. "I did at first, but I got used to it."
"Well, listen," said Luca. "One day I was in sore straits. Out in my boat I kept thinking of you and the children with nothing to eat at home, and hardly a stick of furniture left. For a week or more I had not caught a fish that would fetch a penny. Then out of the sea there rose up a strange dark shape, very horrible to look at, and fear struck into my heart. The creature called me by my name, and asked what ailed me.
"Poverty, just poverty," I answered.
He told me that might be cured. My children should never want for a good meal on one condition. "What is the condition?" I demanded.
''You have sons enough and to spare," said he, "and I'm always in want of stout lads. Keep those you have, but give me the next son born to you, and luck will be yours for the rest of your life."
Well, it did not seem likely we should have any more children, but I would not promise at first. "My wife would never consent," said I. "Oh," answered the monster, "she would have him for thirteen years."
Then again I thought of all the hardships we suffered, and I promised. "Bring him to the seashore on his thirteenth birthday," he said, and vanished.
In less than a year after our dear Lionbruno was born, the best and handsomest of all our children. I dared not tell you his fate. I have tried to forget it, and not to count the years. But tomorrow he must go, for the monster will not forget. Ah me! Ah me! "
The mother wept, lamented, and protested. Next day she hid the boy, but his father, fearing some terrible calamity would befall the household if he failed to keep his promise, went in search of him, found him, and took him along to the seashore. He could not bear to see his son carried off, so leaving him there, without a word of farewell he hurried back to his grief-stricken home.
Lionbruno was playing in his father's boat, never guessing the fate that hung over him, when, suddenly, out of the water there rose a dark monster of terrible aspect. "The Ore!" he cried, but he did not budge.
"Come with me, my child." said a voice. "The hour has arrived."
But the lad looked the horrible creature in the face and said, "Come with you? No!"
It was not an easy thing to face the hideous Ore without flinching, and the creature was so much astonished that a mere child should resist him, that he paused a moment before he put out the claws that would clutch the boy and drag him down below the sea. That moment gave Lionbruno his great chance.
For just then the fairy princessAurelia was walking near, though unseen by either; and when she saw the little stripling prepare to resist her old enemy, the Black Ore, she was much pleased. "That's a lad of spirit," she said, "and he deserves a kinder fate. He'd better serve me than that odious monster." So she signed to an eagle who was in attendance on her, and next moment Lionbruno was seized by the hair of his head and carried to the fairy palace, which stood on a far-away seashore.
Think of the rage of the cheated monster! But he could do nothing, for the power of the fairy Aurelia was greater than his. He might trouble the waters and spoil the fishing, but with grown-up sons to work for him in the fields and vineyards, Luca was not much worse off than before.
In the fairy palace Lionbruno lived a happy, merry life. Sometimes he attended on the princess. At other times he played with the fairies and with those other mortal youths whom the princess had adopted. He rode, he hunted, he learned all kinds of knightly exercises, and when seven years had passed he had grown to be a tall, handsome, accomplished young man, the comeliest that ever was seen. Then the fairy Aurelia married him.
His happiness was almost perfect, but not quite; for he felt a great longing to see his old home, his parents and his brothers, and to share with them some of his good fortune. He did not need to tell his wish. Aurelia guessed it and granted him leave. Moreover, she gave him rich presents for all his kinsfolk, and sent him off splendidly clad, and with an equipage that the greatest prince might have envied.
And as he was taking leave of her, she brought him a precious ring with a flashing stone in it. "This ring is for you only," she said. "Rub this ring, and whatever you desire most at the moment shall be yours. Now, dear Lionbruno, hasten back. I give you but a month's leave. And, remember, that all will go well with you, on one condition. You must never boast of me. If you do, you will bitterly repent it."
Lionbruno promised, and away he went. In a second he was sped far on his way by her magic, so that in what part of the world stood the fairy palace was quite hidden from him. In his old village nobody knew him, but thought he was some great prince. Not even his mother recognised him, till he spoke of things that had happened in the days of his childhood. "And I thought you devoured by a monster!" she cried. Her joy was past description, and so was his father's. Then he brought out the presents for them, such things as they had never set eyes on before. Besides, he added to them by means of his magic ring. His father had now lands and a grand mansion; his mother ruled over a household of servants; and his brothers were fine gallants with jewelled swords by their sides.
But all their joy was turned to sorrow when they learned that Lionbruno could pay them only a short visit; and, indeed, it was hard for Lionbruno to tear himself away from them. But he thought of Aurelia, her commands and her goodness, and with promises of return he said farewell.
Now, on his way back to the fairy palace the horses knew the road and needed no directions Lionbruno heard a king's herald proclaim a great tournament. None but princes and knights of rare skill might enter the lists; but the prize was splendid nothing less than the hand of the king's daughter, the princess Claudia.
Of course Lionbruno did not want to marry any king's daughter; he had the loveliest bride in all the world. But he was tempted to show the court and all the assembled princes what a fine fellow he was; and then he was quite sure he could be victor, if he chose; for had he not his magic ring, obedient to his wishes? So he entered the lists.
Now, each competitor had to mount his horse, and, while riding, to throw his spear and pierce the jewelled eye of a bird that swung high in the air. Hundreds of fine knights made a trial; Lionbruno alone pierced the jewel. But at the end of the contest he had disappeared. The same thing happened the next day. And on the third he was again victor, but before he left the field the soldiers stopped him and led him before the king.
The king paid him many compliments on his skill and his modesty. "Now shall you have your reward," he said, and he called the princess Claudia to come forward. He was just going to put her hand in that of the victor when Lionbruno stepped back. Bowing low, he said, "Madam, I cannot have the honour. I have a bride at home."
"Why then did you enter the lists?" cried the king. "You have mocked us. But you have your punishment for insulting us. You will go back to some miserable, ugly creature whom you can never love again after having seen the beautiful lady whom you might have married."
"Your Majesty has, indeed, a lovely daughter," said Lionbruno, "but my wife surpasses her in beauty and every grace." (It was out of his mouth before he remembered his vow never to boast of the fairy Aurelia.)
There was an uproar at his words. "Let us see her then!" they cried on all sides. And the king's voice rose above the others, saying, "It is easy to make vain boasts. We command you to prove them. Send for your wife. If in three days she does not come, you shall die."
"She lives a long way off, your Majesty."
But they told him he was a liar, a braggart, and no true knight. So poor Lionbruno rubbed his ring hard, saying to it, "Tell my dear princess to come to me without delay." Aurelia refused; for had not he broken his word? Instead, she sent her kitchenmaid.
Suddenly she appeared in the hall before them all, a girl so beautiful that there was a general cry of "Oh! He spoke the truth! What a lovely creature!"
But Lionbruno was indignant. "That my lady?" he said. "I should think not. That is her kitchenmaid."
What must his lady be like then? But the king was suspicious. He again accused him of lying, and as his Majesty angrily left the hall, he once more reminded him of the punishment awaiting him if he could not prove his boast.
Next day Lionbruno was brought again into the king's presence. He rubbed the ring very hard, and in a low, pleading voice said, "Aurelia, my Princess, come to my help."
Suddenly there appeared a lady whom all eyes turned to look at, so fair she was and graceful. "There she is at last!" they cried. "After all he spoke the truth."
But Lionbruno cried out, "That my bride? Why, that's the goose-herd."
Oh! if the goose-herd was like that, what must her mistress be? But the king spoke sternly, and said, "No more vain boasting! I give you till tomorrow. If your wife comes not then, I deliver you over to the executioner. We will not be mocked." Then he sent him out of his presence.
Once more Lionbruno stood before the king. It was his last chance. He could see the gallows through the window. " Aurelia, my Aurelia," he pleaded, as he rubbed the ring, "come to the help of your Lionbruno, for death threatens."
The door swung open, and suddenly all eyes rested on a lady of such dazzling beauty as they had never seen before. Not a sound could be heard in the hall, and the king sat motionless as a statue in his astonishment and admiration. There could be no doubt this time. It was Aurelia.
She walked up to where Lionbruno stood, but instead of giving him the affectionate greeting he hoped for, she seized his hand, took off the ring from his finger, and flicked him scornfully on the cheek. "That for your broken promise!" she said. "If I am your beautiful wife, as you boast, come and find me!" And she vanished.
The king, seeing how she had repulsed Lionbruno, and taken away his ring, cried out to his guards, "Seize the impostor! Seize him! To the gallows with him!" And had not Lionbruno taken to his heels, slipped through the crowd like an eel, and made use of all the agility he had learned in the fairy palace, it would have been all over with him.
2. In the Shoes of Swiftness
He escaped, but he was now in a very bad case. His lady was offended. His ring was gone, and with it all his power. He was as poor as ever he had been; and he did not know in what part of the world her palace was. But not for a moment did he think of losing heart. He had to find Aurelia, and to gain her forgiveness.
So he set off to find her, and on foot, of course; for his horses and carriages had disappeared. He walked and he walked and he walked all day long, and every day, from dawn to nightfall, till he was weary, weary, weary. And of every one he met he asked the way to the palace of the princess Aurelia. "Never heard of such a person," was all the answer he ever got. He asked men; he asked beasts; he asked birds. But none of them could help him. And on he went again, and walked and walked. And the years passed. But he never once thought of giving up his search.
At last one day he came upon two ruffians who were quarrelling over a heap of things they had stolen. They couldn't agree at all about their shares; and seeing Lionbruno, who looked like an honest man, they asked him to judge between them. He consented. After examining the money and jewels, he divided them as fairly as possible, and gave to each his portion.
"But that is not all," they said. "There is this pair of shoes, and there is this mantle."
"They don't seem worth much," said Lionbruno.
"Oh, but they are!" cried the robbers. "These are the famous shoes of swiftness. Whoever puts them on can go as fast as the wind. And whoever puts on this mantle cannot be seen at all. Such things would be most useful in our trade." But they could not agree; for each wanted to have both. And again they asked Lionbruno to judge who should have what.
"But how can I judge unlesss I put them on, and see if they are really as valuable as you say, and find out which is the better of the two."
"Put them on!" cried the robbers. "And then divide them fairly between us." So Lionbruno threw the mantle over his arm, and put on the boots. In a second he was up the hill as if he had been the wind, far above the two rascals. "The boots are good!" he shouted down.
"Now for the mantle," they cried, as they began to toil up after him.
"Do you see me now?" he asked, as he proceeded to put the mantle over his head.
"We see your legs."
"Do you see me now?" he cried again, when it had fallen about him.
"No!" they called out.
"The objects do not belong to you, and you do not have in mind to use them for good. I'll take charge of them till the rightful owners appear, if ever. Goodbye," said Lionbruno. And off he set in the shoes of swiftness and the magic mantle. They could not even see in what direction he went.
When the two robbers knew that they were outwitted, each laid the blame on the other. Then they came to blows, and fought till they felt empty and bare.
But Lionbruno was far on his way by this time. He went like the wind; but neither shoes nor mantle could tell him the road back to his princess. And however far he went, the folks were no better informed. His was a weary life! At last one evening at the foot of a hill, he met an old woman, who looked very tousled and weather-beaten.
"Good evening, mother," he said. "Do you know if the princess Aurelia lives about these parts?"
What should I know of princesses?" she answered.
"Well, then, perhaps you could give me a lodging for the night and some supper, for I am very weary and quite famished."
"That I cannot." said the old woman. "My house is not my own. It belongs to my seven sons; and they would not welcome you."
"But, good mother, have pity! I have travelled twelve thousand miles since morning."
"Oh, that's nothing!" she said. "My sons do that any day. Now, don't keep me talking. I must hurry home to get their supper ready; and if they saw me talking to you, who knows but they would tear you in pieces. My sons are wild, and terribly strong."
Lionbruno slipped on his mantle, and said, "Do you see me, mother?"
"No!" she answered. "Where have you gone to?"
"Well, they won't see me either unless I please. Now take me home with you, and give me some food."
So she took him home with her to her house, which was no house, but a great roomy cavern on the hillside. She gave him food; and then he sat down in a corner to rest. Before long he heard strange sounds of puffing and panting and sighing and blowing; and suddenly he felt cold breaths striking on his face, from this side and that. The sand on the cavern floor whirled about; and Lionbruno had to tuck his mantle well about him lest it should be blown up over his head and some part of him should be seen. He wondered and wondered what was happening, for he hardly dared peep out of his corner; but at last he knew who were the old woman's sons. They were the seven winds.
"Good evening, my sons!" said the old woman. "Are you all here?"
"I am here," said the north wind, "and the west wind, my brother, is just round the corner. The others are coming. What a smell of human flesh!"
"Human flesh? A wind smelling? Nonsense!" said the old woman. "Your supper is now ready."
Then more puffing and panting, and in came the rest, hustling one another in the doorway.
"What a smell of human flesh!" cried the south wind. "If I could get my teeth into it!"
"Human flesh? Windy teeth? Nonsense!" said the old woman. "But now your supper is ready."
When they had all eaten, and were calmer, and almost falling asleep, the old woman said, "I know what you smelt when you came home. A man passed by today. He asked the way to the palace of the princess Aurelia."
"Did he?" said the north wind. "Well, he'll wear out many pairs of shoes before he gets there."
"Of course," said the east wind, "every wind that blows knows her palace. Only last week I was knocking at the doors and windows myself."
"And I this very morning," said the south wind. "I had a look in. But she isn't what she used to be. She is wasting away."
(Think how closely Lionbruno was listening in his corner!)
"What's the matter with her?" asked the old woman.
"Lost her husband, they say. She'll die if he does not come back."
(Lionbruno was listening, listening.)
Yes, that is so," said the wind of the south. "Only yesterday I tried a little jest on her, whirling her curtains about, and the curls on her head. Couldn't get a smile out of her. She is in a poor way. Well, I shall be going there again tomorrow, and I'll see if she is still alive." Then they all went to sleep.
What a long night it seemed to Lionbruno! But morning came at last; and just as the south wind shook himself awake, and was saying, "Good-bye, mother! I'm off for my day's work," he darted out of the cavern, pulled off his mantle and stood at the door.
"Good-morning, your windship! I'd be glad of your company on the road. I'm seeking the palace of the princess Aurelia, and am looking to you to show me the way."
Oh, how the south wind laughed! A mere man to talk of keeping company with a wind! He laughed and laughed again till Lionbruno was nearly blown over. But he stood his ground. "After me then!" said the south wind, and off he flew.
"Not after you!" cried Lionbruno, casting on his mantle, "With you!" And his boots were as good as the wings of the wind. Over hill and dale, over plain and forest he kept pace, till he came to the palace on the far seashore which he knew so well, and had feared he might never see again.
"At last!" shouted Lionbruno.
"Oh, you're there!" said the south wind. Lionbruno cast off his mantle; and there he was.
"What are men coming to?" said the wind. "But you're not inside yet. And if the row of lions that guard the door of the princess catch a glimpse of you, you'll be but a mouthful to them."
"But they shall not see me," and he put on his mantle once more. One step of his magic- booted feet and he was in at the door, another and he was upstairs and into the princess's chamber.
Aurelia was lying on the bed, pale and weak. Her servant had put down a basin of broth beside her, but she would not taste a drop.
"It smells good," thought Lionbruno to himself. He took it up, and gulped it down. To keep pace with the wind gives one an appetite.
"Who has eaten up my broth?" said Aurelia. And her maid when she came back exclaimed, "Dear me! She has actually eaten it all. She must be much better!" And she ran away to fetch more food, some chicken and jelly and grapes, which she set down on the table by the bedside. Next moment they were gone. Only the empty plates were left.
The maid cried out in alarm. "Someone very hungry is hiding in my room," said Aurelia. "I know nobody with such an appetite except my dear Lionbruno, that I shall never see again. Ah me! Ah me!"
Lionbruno could bear it no longer. He cast off his mantle, and stood before her, and then knelt by her bedside, saying, "My dear, I have travelled the world over to find you. Never a day have I stopped on the road. Will you forgive me?" She rose from her bed crying, "Lionbruno! Lionbruno! I have not had a moment's peace and happiness since I sent you away."
They embraced, and laughed, and cried. And the roses came back to Aurelia's face. Her beauty and her health returned on the spot. Hand in hand they went downstairs, and summoned the household, and told the great news. "Tomorrow we shall give a great feast to all our subjects," she said. And messengers were sent off, on the instant, north, south, east and west with the invitations.
"But the lions at your gate will frighten our guests," said Lionbruno.
Aurelia rubbed her ring; and in came the lions and knelt down at her feet. "I only gave them back their fierceness while I lay ill and the castle lacked my protection and yours. From now they are your docile servants;" and they fawned on Lionbruno, and owned him master from that moment.
"Have you no friends to invite to the feast?" said Aurelia.
"I would fain see my parents and my brothers."
She rubbed the ring, and, lo! Lionbruno's kinsfolk were all about him. They were the chief guests at the great feast next day.
They feasted, they danced,