Once on a time there was an old man and an old woman who had no children; and one day the old woman went into the fields and picked a basket of beans. When she had finished, she looked into the basket and said, "I wish all the beans were little children." Scarcely had she uttered these words when a whole crowd of little children sprang out of the basket and danced about her. Such a family seemed too large for the old woman, so she said, "I wish you would all become beans again." At once the children climbed back into the basket and became beans again, all except one little boy, whom the old woman took home with her.
He was so small that everybody called him little Pepper-Corn, and so good and charming that everybody loved him.
One day the old woman was cooking her soup and little Pepper-Corn climbed up on the kettle and looked in to see what was cooking, but he slipped and fell into the boiling broth and was scalded to death. The old woman did not notice till meal-time that he was missing, and looked in vain for him everywhere to call him to dinner.
At last they sat down to the table without little Pepper-Corn, and when they poured the soup out of the kettle into the dish the body of little Pepper-Corn floated on top.
Then the old man and the old woman began to mourn and cry: " Dear Pepper-Corn is dead, dear Pepper-Corn is dead."
When the dove heard it she tore out her feathers, and cried, "Dear Pepper-Corn is dead. The old man and the old woman are mourning."
When the apple-tree saw that the dove tore out her feathers it asked her why she did so, and when it learned the reason it shook off all its apples.
In like manner, the well near by poured out all its water, the queen's maid broke her pitcher, the queen broke her arm, and the king threw his crown on the ground so that it broke into a thousand pieces; and when his people asked him what the matter was, he answered, "Dear Pepper-Corn is dead, the old man and the old woman mourn, the dove has torn out her feathers, the apple-tree has shaken off all its apples, the well has poured out all its water, the maid has broken her pitcher, the queen has broken her arm, and I, the king, have lost my crown; dear Pepper-Corn is dead."
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.