There was a king who had twelve daughters, and he was so fond of them they must always be at his side; but every day at noon, while the king slept, the princesses went out to take a walk. So once, while the king was taking his noontide nap, and the princesses had gone to take their walk, all at once they were missing, and worse, they never came home again. Then there was great grief and sorrow all over the land but the most sorry of all was the king. He sent messengers out throughout his own and other realms, and gave out their names in all the churches, and had the bells tolled for them in all the steeples; but gone the princesses were, and gone they stayed, and none could tell what was become of them. So it was as clear as day that they must have been carried off by some witchcraft.
Well, it wasn't long before these tidings spread far and wide, over land and town, aye, over many lands; and so the news came to a king ever so many lands off, who had twelve sons. So when these princes heard of the twelve king's daughters, they asked leave of their father to go out and seek them. They had hard work to get his leave, for he was afraid lest he should never see them again, but they all fell down on their knees before the king, and begged so long, at last he was forced to let them go after all.
He fitted out a ship for them, and gave them Ritter Red, who was quite at home at sea, for a captain. So they sailed about a long, long time, landed on every shore they came to, and hunted and asked after the princesses, but they could neither hear nor see anything of them. And now, a few days only were wanting to make up seven years since they set sail, when one day a strong storm rose, and such foul weather, they thought they should never come to land again, and all had to work so hard, they couldn't get a wink of sleep so long as the storm lasted. But when the third day was nearly over, the wind fell, and all at once it got as still as still could be. Now, they were all so weary with work and the rough weather, they fell fast asleep in the twinkling of an eye; all but the youngest prince, he could get no rest, and couldn't go off to sleep at all.
So as he was pacing up and down the deck, the ship came to a little island, and on the island ran a little dog, and bayed and barked at the ship as if it wanted to come on board. So the prince went to that side of the deck, and tried to coax the dog, and whistled and whistled to him, but the more he whistled and coaxed, the more the dog barked and snarled. Well, he thought it a shame the dog should run about there and starve, for he made up his mind that it must have come thither from a ship that had been cast away in the storm; but still he thought he should never be able to help it after all, for he couldn't put out the boat by himself, and as for the others, they all slept so sound, he wouldn't wake them for the sake of a dog. But then the weather was so calm and still; and at last he said to himself; "Come what may, you must go on shore and save that dog," and so he began to try to launch the boat, and he found it far easier work than he thought. So he rowed ashore, and went up to the dog; but every time he tried to catch it, it jumped on one side, and so it went on till he found himself inside a great grand castle, before he knew where he was. Then the dog, all at once, was changed into a lovely princess; and there, on the bench, sat a man so big and ugly, the prince almost lost his wits for fear.
"YOU'VE NO NEED TO BE AFRAID," said the man - but the prince, to tell you the truth, got far more afraid when he heard his gruff voice - "for I know well enough what you want. There are twelve princes of you, and you are looking for the twelve princesses that are lost. I know, too, very well whereabouts they are; they're with my lord and master, and there they sit, each of them on her chair, and comb his hair; for he has twelve heads. And now you have sailed seven years, but you'll have to sail seven years more before you find them. As for you, you might stay here and welcome, and have my daughter; but you must first slay him, for he's a hard master to all of us, and we're all weary of him, and when he's dead I shall be king in his stead; but first try if you can brandish this sword."
Then the king's son took hold of a rusty old sword which hung on the wall, but he could hardly stir it.
"Now you must take a pull at this flask," said the troll; and when he had done that he could stir it, and when he had taken another he could lift it, and when he had taken a third he could brandish the sword as easily as if it had been his own.
"Now, when you get on board," said the troll prince, "you must hide the sword well in your berth, that Ritter Red mayn't set eyes on it; he's not man enough to wield it, but he'll get spiteful against you, and try to take your life. And when seven years are almost out all but three days," he went on to say, "everything will happen just as now; foul weather will come on you, with a great storm, and when it is over you'll all be sleepy. Then you must take the sword and row ashore, and so you'll come to a castle where all sorts of guards will stand - wolves, and bears, and lions; but you need not be afraid of them, for they'll all come and crouch at your feet. But when you come inside the castle, you'll soon see the troll; he sits in a splendid chamber in grand attire and array; twelve heads he has of his own, and the princesses sit round them, each on her chair, and comb his heads, and that's a work you can guess they don't much like. Then you must make haste, and hew off one head after the other as quick as you can; for if he wakes and sets his eyes on you, he'll swallow you alive."
So the king's son went on board with the sword, and he bore in mind what he had come to know. The others still lay fast asleep and snored, and he hid the sword in his berth, so that neither Ritter Red nor any of the rest got sight of it. And now it began to blow again, so he woke up the others, and said he thought they oughtn't to sleep any longer now when there was such a good wind. .and there was none of them that marked he had been away. Well, after the seven years were all gone but three days, all happened as the troll had said. A great storm and foul weather came on that lasted three days, and when it had blown itself out, all the rest grew sleepy and went to rest; but the youngest king's son rowed ashore, and the guards fell at his feet, and so he came to the castle. So when he got inside the chamber, there sat the king fast asleep as the troll prince had said, and the twelve princesses sat each on her chair and combed one of his heads. The king's son beckoned to the princesses to get out of the way; they pointed to the troll, and beckoned to him again to go his way as quick as ever he could, but he kept on making signs to them to get out of the way, and then they understood that he wanted to set them free, and stole away softly one after the other, and as fast as they went, he hewed off the troll king's heads, till at last the blood gushed out like a great brook. When the troll was slain he rowed on board and hid his sword. He thought now he had done enough, and as he couldn't get rid of the body by himself, he thought it only fair they should help him a little. So he woke them all up, and said it was a shame they should be snoring there, when he had found the princesses, and set them free from the troll. The others only laughed at him, and said he had been just as sound asleep as they, and only dreamt that he was man enough to do what he said; for if any one was to set the princesses free, it was far more likely it would be one of them. But the youngest king's son told them all about it, and when they followed him to the land and saw first of all the brook of blood, and then the castle, and the troll, and the twelve heads, and the princesses, they saw plain enough that he had spoken the truth, and now the whole helped him to throw the body and the heads into the sea. So all were glad and happy, but none more so than the princesses, who got rid of having to sit there and comb the troll's hair all day. Of all the silver and gold and precious things that were there, they took as much as the ship could hold, and so they went on board altogether princes and princesses alike.
But when they had gone a bit out on the sea, the princesses said they had forgotten in their joy their gold crowns, they lay behind in a press, and they would be so glad to have them. So when none of the others was willing to fetch them, the youngest king's son said,
"I have already dared so much, I can very well go back for the gold crowns too, if you will only strike sail and wait till I come again."
Yes, that they would do. But when he had gone back so far that they couldn't see him any longer, Ritter Red, who would have been glad enough to have been their chief, and to have the youngest princess, said, "it was no use their lying there still waiting for him, for they might know very well he would never come back; they all knew, too, how the king had given him all power and authority to sail or not as he chose; and now they must all say it was he that had saved the princesses, and if any one said anything else, he should lose his life."
The princes didn't dare to do anything else than what Ritter Red willed, and so they sailed away.
Meanwhile the youngest king's son rowed to land, went up to the castle, found the press with the gold crowns in it, and at last lugged it down to the boat, and shoved off; but when he came where he ought to have seen the ship, lo! it was gone. Well, as he couldn't catch a glimpse of it anywhere, he could very soon tell how matters stood. To row after them was no good, and so he was forced to turn about and row back to land. He was rather afraid to stay alone in the castle all night, but there was no other house to be got, so he plucked up a heart, locked up all the doors and gates fast, and lay down in a room where there was a bed ready made. But fearful and woeful he was, and still more afraid he got when he had lain a while and something began to creak and groan and quake in wall and roof, as if the whole castle were being torn asunder. Then all at once down something plunged close by the side of his bed, as if it were a whole cartload of hay. Then all was still again; but after a while he heard a voice, which bade him not to be afraid, and said,
"Here am I, the Big Bird Dam
"But the first thing you must do when you wake in the morning, will be to go to the barn and fetch four barrels of rye for me. I must fill my crop with them for breakfast, else I can't do anything."
When he woke up, sure enough there he saw an awfully big bird, which had a feather at the nape of his neck, as thick and long as a half-grown spruce fir. So the king's son went down to the barn to fetch four barrels of rye for the Big Bird Dam, and when he had crammed them into his crop he told the king's son to hang the press with the gold crowns on one side of his neck, and as much gold and silver as would weigh it down on the other side, and after that to get on his back and hold fast by the feather in the nape of his neck. So away they went till the wind whistled after them, and so it wasn't long before they outstripped the ship. The king's son wanted to go on board for his sword, for he was afraid lest any one should get sight of it, for the troll had told him that mustn't be; but Bird Dam said that mustn't be either.
"Ritter Red will never see it, never fear; but if you go on board, he'll try to take your life, for he has set his heart on having the youngest princess; but make your mind quite easy about her, for she lays a naked sword by her side in bed every night."
So after a long, long time, they came to the island where the troll prince was; and there the king's son was welcomed so heartily there was no end to it. The troll prince didn't know how to be good enough to him for having slain his Bigwig and Master, and so made him king of the trolls, and if the king's son had been willing he might easily have got the troll king's daughter, and half the kingdom. But he had so set his heart on the youngest of the twelve princesses, he could take no rest, but was all for going after their ship time after time. So the troll king begged him to be quiet a little longer, and said they had still nearly seven years to sail before they got home. As for the princess the troll said the same thing as the Big Bird Dam.
"You need not fret yourself about her, for she lays a naked sword by her side every night in bed. And now if you don't believe what I say," said the troll, "you can go on board when they sail by here, and see for yourself, and fetch the sword too for I may just as well have it again."
So when they sailed by another great storm arose, and when the king's son went on board they all slept, and each princess lay beside her prince; but the youngest lay alone with a naked sword beside her in the bed, and on the floor by the bedside lay Ritter Red. Then the king's son took the sword and rowed ashore again, and none of them had seen that he had been on board. But still the king's son couldn't rest, and he often and often wanted to be off, and so at last when it got near the end of the seven years, and only three weeks were left, the troll king said,
"Now you may get ready to go, since you won't stay with us; and you shall have the loan of my iron boat, which sails of itself, if you only say,
"Boat, boat, go on!"
In that boat there is an iron club, and that club you must lift a little when you see the ship straight a-head of you, and then they'll get such a rattling fair breeze, they'll forget to look at you. But when you get alongside them, you must lift the club a little again, and then they'll get such a foul wind and storm they'll have something else to do than to stare at you; and when you have run past them you must lift the club a third time, but you must always be sure and lay it down carefully again, else there'll be such a storm, both you and they will be wrecked and lost. Now when you have got to land, you have no need to bother yourself at all about the boat; just turn it about, and shove it off, and say,
"Boat, boat, go back home!""
When he set out they gave him so much gold and silver, and so many other costly things, and clothes and linen which the troll princess had sewn and woven for him all that long time, that he was far richer than any of his brothers.
Well, he had no sooner seated himself in the boat and said,
"Boat, boat, go on!"
than away went the boat, and when he saw the ship right a-head, he lifted up the club, and then they got such a fair breeze, they forgot to look at him. When he was alongside the ship, he lifted the club again, and then such a storm arose and such foul weather, that the white foam flew about the ship, and the billows rolled over the deck, and they had something else to do than to stare at him; and when he had run past them he lifted the club the third time, and then the storm and the wind rose so, they had still less time to look after him, and to make him out. So he came to land long, long before the ship; and when he had got all his goods out of the boat, he shoved it off again, and turned it about and said,
"Boat, boat, go back home!"
And off went the boat.
Then he dressed himself up as a sailor. - whether the troll king had told him that or it was his own device, I'm sure I can't say - and went up to a wretched hut where an old wife lived, whom he got to believe that he was a poor sailor who had been on board a great ship that was wrecked, and that he was the only soul that had got ashore. After that he begged for house-room for himself and the goods he had saved.
"Poverty mend me!" said the old wife, "how can I lend any one house-room! look at me and mine, why, I've no bed to sleep on myself, still less one for any one else to lie on."
Well, well, it was all the same, said the sailor; if he only got a roof over his head it didn't matter where he lay. So she couldn't turn him out of the house, when he was so thankful for what there was. That afternoon he fetched up his things, and the old wife, who was very eager to hear a bit of news to run about and tell, began at once to ask who he was, whence he came, where he was bound, what it was he had with him, what his business was, and if he hadn't heard anything of the twelve princesses who had been away the bigwig knew how many years. All this she asked and much more, which it would be waste of time to tell. But he said he was so poorly and had such a bad headache after the awful weather he had been out in, that he couldn't answer any of her questions; she must just leave him alone and let him rest a few days till he came to himself after the hard work he'd had in the gale, and then she'd know all she wanted.
The very next day the old wife began to stir him up and ask again, but the sailor's head was still so bad he hadn't got his wits together, but somehow he let drop a word or two to show that he did know something about the princesses. Off ran the old wife with what she had heard to all the gossips and chatterboxes round about, and soon the one came running after the other to ask about the princesses, "if he had seen them," "if they would soon be there," "if they were on the way," and much more of the same sort. He still went on groaning over his headache after the storm, so that he couldn't tell them all about it, but so much he told them, unless they had been lost in the great storm they'd make the land in about a fortnight or before perhaps; but he couldn't say for sure whether they were alive or no, for though he had seen them, it might very well be that they had been cast away in the storm since. So what did one of these old gossips do but run up to the castle with this story, and say that there was a sailor down in such and such an old wife's hut, who had seen the princesses, and that they were coming home in a fortnight or in a week's time. When the king heard that he sent a messenger down to the sailor to come up to him and tell the news himself.
"I don't see how it's to be," said the sailor, "for I haven't any clothes fit to stand in before the king.
But the king said he must come; for the king must and would talk with him, whether he were richly or poorly clad, for there was no one else who could bring him any tidings of the princesses. So he went up at last to the castle and went in before the king, who asked him if it were true that he had seen anything of the princesses.
"Aye, et," said the sailor, "I've seen them sure enough, but I don't know whether they're still alive, for when I last caught sight of them, the weather was so foul we in our ship were cast away; but if they're still alive they'll come safe home in a fortnight or perhaps before."
When the king heard that he was almost beside himself for joy; and when the time came that the sailor had said they would come, the king drove down to the strand to meet them in great state; and there was joy and gladness over the whole land when the ship came sailing in with the princes and princesses and Ritter Red. But no one was gladder than the old king, who had got his daughters back again. The eleven eldest princesses too, were glad and merry, but the youngest, who was to have Ritter Red, who said that he had set them all free and slain the troll, she wept and was always sorrowful. The king took this ill, and asked why she wasn't cheerful and merry like the others; she hadn't anything to be sorry for now when she had gut out of the troll's clutches, and was to have such a husband as Ritter Red. But she didn't dare to say anything, for Ritter Red had said he would take the life of any one who told the truth how things had gone.
But now one day, when they were hard at work sewing and stitching the bridal array, in came a man in a great sailor's cloak with a peddler's pack on his back, and asked if the princesses wouldn't buy something fine of him for the wedding; he had so many wares and costly things, both gold and silver. Yes, they might do so perhaps, so they looked at his wares, and they looked at him, for they thought they had seen both him and many of his costly thirds before.
"He who has so many fine things," said the youngest princess, "must surely have something still more precious, and which suits us better even than these."
"Maybe I have," said the Peddler.
But now all the others cried "Hush," and bade her bear in mind what Ritter Red had said he would do.
Some time after the princesses sat and looked out of the window, and then the king's son came again with the great sea-cloak thrown about him, and the press with the gold crowns at his back; and when he got into the palace hall he unlocked the press before the princesses, and when each of them knew her own gold crown again, the youngest said,
"I think it only right that he who set us free should get what is his due; and he is not Ritter Red, but this man who has brought us our gold crowns. He it is that set us free."
Then the king's son cast off the sailor's cloak, and stood there far finer and grander than all the rest; and so the old king made them put Ritter Red to death. And now there was real right down joy in the palace; each took his own bride, and there just was a wedding! Why, it was heard of and talked about over twelve kings' realms.
There was a king and a queen who had no children, and that gave the queen much grief; she hardly had one happy hour. She was always bewailing and bemoaning herself, and saying how dull and lonesome it was in the palace.
"If we had children there'd be life enough," she said.
Wherever she went in all her realm she found Snout's blessings in children, even in the vilest hut; and wherever she came she heard the Goodies scolding the young ones, and saying how they had done that and that wrong. All this the queen heard, and thought it would be so nice to do as other women did. At last the king and queen took into their palace a stranger lassie to rear up, that they might have her always with them, to love her if she did well, and scold her if she did wrong, like their own child.
So one day the little lassie whom they had taken as their own, ran down into the palace-yard, and was playing with a gold apple. Just then an old beggar wife came by, who had a little girl with her, and it wasn't long before the little lassie and the beggar's child were great friends, and began to play together, and to toss the gold apple about between them. When the queen saw this, as she sat at a window in the palace, she tapped on the pane for her foster-daughter to come up. She went at once, but the beggar-girl went up too; and as they went into the queen's bower, each held the other by the hand. Then the queen began to scold the little lady, and to say,
"You ought to be above running about and playing with a tattered beggar's brat."
And so she wanted to drive the lassie down-stairs.
"If the queen only knew my mother's power, she'd not drive me out," said the little lassie; and when the queen asked what she meant more plainly, she told her how her mother could get her children if she chose. The queen wouldn't believe it, but the lassie held her own, and said every word of it was true, and bade the queen only to try and make her mother do it. So the queen sent the lassie down to fetch up her mother.
"Do you know what your daughter says?" asked the queen of the old woman, as soon as ever she came into the room.
No; the beggar-wife knew nothing about it.
"Well, she says you can get me children if you will," answered the queen.
"Queens shouldn't listen to beggar lassies' silly stories," said the old wife, and strode out of the room.
Then the queen got angry, and wanted again to drive out the little lassie, but she declared that every word that she had said was true and more than that.
"Let the queen only give my mother a drop to drink," said the lassie; "when she gets merry she'll soon find out a way to help you."
The queen was ready to try this; so the beggar wife was fetched up again once more, and treated both with wine and mead as much as she chose; and so it was not long before her tongue began to wag. Then the queen came out again with the same question she had asked before.
"One way to help you perhaps I know," said the beggar wife. "Your Majesty must make them bring in two pails of water some evening before you go to bed. In each of them you must wash yourself, and afterwards throw away the water under the bed. When you look under the bed next morning, two flowers will have sprung up, one fair and one ugly. The fair one you must eat, the ugly one you must let stand; but mind you don't forget the last."
That was what the beggar wife said.
Yes; the queen did what the beggar wife advised her to do; she had the water brought up in two pails, washed herself in them, and emptied them under the bed; and lo! when she looked under the bed next morning, there stood two flowers; one was ugly and foul, and had black leaves; but the other was so bright, and fair, and lovely, she had never seen its like; so she ate it up at once. But the pretty flower tasted so sweet, that she couldn't help herself. She ate the other up too, for, she thought," it can't hurt or help one much either way, I'll be bound."
Well, sure enough, after a while the queen was brought to bed. First of all, she had a girl who had a wooden spoon in her hand, and rode upon a goat; horrible and ugly she was, and the very moment she came into the world she bawled out "Mamma."
"If I'm your mamma," said the queen, "Snout give me grace to mend my ways."
"Oh, don't be sorry," said the girl, who rode on the goat, "for one will soon come after me who is better looking."
So, after a while, the queen had another girt who was so fair and sweet, no one had ever set eyes on such a lovely child, and with her you may fancy the queen was very well pleased. vThe elder twin they called "Tatterhood" because she was always so ugly and ragged, and because she had a hood which hung about her ears in tatters. The queen could hardly bear to look at her, and the nurses tried to shut her up in a room by herself, but it was all no good; where the younger twin was, there she must also be, and no one could ever keep them apart.
Well, one Christmas eve, when they were half grown up, there rose such a frightful noise and clatter in the gallery outside the queen's bower. So Tatterhood asked what it was that dashed and crashed so out in the passage.
"Oh!" said the queen, "it isn't worth asking about!"
But Tatterhood wouldn't give over till she found out all about it; and so the queen told her it was a pack of Trolls and witches who had come there to keep Christmas. So Tatterhood said she'd just go out and drive them away; and in spite of all they could say, and however much they begged and prayed her to let the trolls alone, she must and would go out to drive the witches off; but she begged the queen to mind and keep all the doors close shut, so that not one of them came so much as the least bit ajar. Having said this, off she went with her wooden spoon, and began to hunt and sweep away the hags; and all this while there was such a pother out in the gallery, the like of it was never heard. The whole palace creaked and groaned as if every joint and beam were going to be torn out of its place. Somehow or other one door did get the least bit ajar, then her twin sister just peeped out to see how things were going with Tatterhood, and put her head a tiny bit through the opening. But, POP! up came an old witch, and whipped off her head, and stuck a calf's head on her shoulders instead; and so the princess ran back into the room on all-fours, and began to "moo" like a calf. When Tatterhood came back and saw her sister, she scolded them all round, and was very angry because they hadn't kept better watch, and asked them what they thought of their heedlessness now, when her sister was turned into a calf.
"But still I'll see if I can't set her free," she said.
Then she asked the king for a ship in full trim, and well fitted with stores; but captain and sailors she wouldn't have. No; she would sail away with her sister all alone; and as there was no holding her back, at last they let her have her own way.
Then Tatterhood sailed off, and steered her ship right under the land where the witches dwelt, and when she came to the landing-place, she told her sister to stay quite still on board the ship; but she herself rode on her goat up to the witches' castle. When she got there, one of the windows in the gallery was open, and there she saw her sister's head hung up on the window frame; so she leapt her goat through the window into the gallery, snapped up the head, and set off with it. After her came the witches to try to get the head again, and they flocked about her as thick as a swarm of bees or a nest of ants; but the goat snorted and puffed, and butted with his horns, and Tatterhood beat and banged them about with her wooden spoon; and so the pack of witches had to give it up. So Tatterhood got back to her ship, took the calf's head off her sister, and put her own on again, and then she became a girl as she had been before. After that she sailed a long, long way, to a strange king's realm.
Now the king of that land was a widower, and had an only son. So when he saw the strange sail, he sent messengers down to the strand to find out whence it came, and who owned it; but when the king's men came down there, they saw never a living soul on board but Tatterhood, and there she was, riding round and round the deck on her goat at full speed, till her elf locks streamed again in the wind. The folk from the palace were all amazed at this sight, and asked were there not more on board. Yes, there were; she had a sister with her, said Tatterhood. Her, too, they wanted to see, but Tatterhood said "No," -
"No one shall see her, unless the king comes himself," she said; and so she began to gallop about on her goat till the deck thundered again.
So when the servants got back to the palace, and told what they had seen and heard down at the ship, the king was for setting out at once, that he might see the lassie that rode on the goat. When he got down, Tatterhood led out her sister, and she was so fair and gentle, the king fell over head and ears in love with her as he stood. He brought them both back with him to the palace, and wanted to have the sister for his queen; but Tatterhood said "No;" the king couldn't have her in any way, unless the king's son chose to have Tatterhood. That you may fancy the prince was very loath to do, such an ugly hussy as Tatterhood was; but at last the king and all the others in the palace talked him over, and he yielded, giving his word to take her for his queen; but it went sore against the grain, and he was a doleful man.
Now they set about the wedding, both with brewing and baking; and when all was ready, they were to go to church; but the prince thought it the weariest church round he had ever had in all his life. First, the king drove off with his bride, and she was so lovely and so grand, all the people stopped to look after her all along the road, and they stared at her till she was out of sight. After them came the prince on horseback by the side of Tatterhood, who trotted along on her goat with her wooden spoon in her fist, and to look at him, it was more like going to a burial than a wedding, and that his own; so sorrowful he seemed, and with never a word to say.
"Why don't you talk?" asked Tatterhood, when they had ridden a bit.
"Why, what should I talk about?" answered the prince.
"Well, you might at least ask me why I ride upon this ugly goat," said Tatterhood.
"Why do you ride on that ugly goat?" asked the prince.
"Is it an ugly goat? why, it's the grandest horse bride ever rode on," answered Tatterhood; and in a trice the goat became a horse, and that the finest the prince had ever set eyes on.
Then they rode on again a bit, but the prince was just as woeful as before, and couldn't get a word out. So Tatterhood asked him again why he didn't talk, and when the prince answered, he didn't know what to talk about, she said,
"You can at least ask me why I ride with this ugly spoon in my fist."
"Why do you ride with that ugly spoon?" asked the prince.
"Is it an ugly spoon? why, it's the loveliest silver wand bride ever bore," said Tatterhood; and in a trice it became a silver wand, so dazzling bright, the sunbeams glistened from it.
So they rode on another bit, but the prince was just as morose, and said never a word. In a little while Tatterhood asked him again why he didn't talk, and bade him ask why she wore that ugly grey hood on her head.
"Why do you wear that ugly grey hood on your head?" asked the prince.
"Is it an ugly hood? why, it's the brightest golden crown bride ever wore," answered Tatterhood, and it became a crown on the spot.
Now they rode on a long while again, and the prince was so woeful, that he sat without sound or speech, just as before. So his bride asked him again why he didn't talk, and bade him ask right now why her face was so ugly and ashen-grey. It was needed.
"Ah!" asked the prince, "why is your face so ugly and ashen-grey?"
"Am I really ugly?" said the bride; "you think my sister is pretty, but I am ten times prettier;" and lo! when the prince looked at her, she was so lovely, he thought there never was so lovely a woman in all the world. After that, I shouldn't wonder if the prince found his tongue, and no longer rode along hanging down his head. Or maybe he should.
So they drank the bridal cup both deep and long. After that, both prince and king set out with their brides to the princess's father's palace, and there they had another bridal feast, and drank anew, both deep and long. There was no end to the fun, and a story is left for you.
Once on a time there were two brothers; one was called True, and the other Untrue. True was always upright and good towards all, but Untrue was bad and full of lies. No one could believe what he said. Their mother was a widow. She didn't have much to live on. As soon as her sons had grown up, she was forced to send them away so that they might earn their bread in the world. Each got a little scrip with some food in it. Then they went their way.
When they had walked till evening, they sat down on a windfall in the wood and took out their scrips, for they were hungry after walking the whole day, and thought a morsel of food would be great.
"If you're of my mind," said Untrue, "I think we had better eat out of your scrip so long as there is anything in it. After that we can take to mine."
True was well pleased with this, so they fell to eating. But Untrue got all the best bits and stuffed himself with them, while True got only the burnt crusts and scraps.
Next morning they broke their fast off True's food, and they dined off it too, and then there was nothing left in his scrip. So when they had walked till late at night, and were ready to eat again, True wanted to eat out of his brother's scrip, but Untrue said "No," the food was his, and he had only enough for himself.
"But you know you ate out of my scrip so long as there was anything in it," said True.
"All very fine," answered Untrue; "but if you are such a fool as to let others eat up your food right in front of you, you must make the best of it, for now all you have to do is to sit here and starve."
"Good!" said True, "you're Untrue by name and untamed by nature; so you have been, and so you will be all your life long."
Now when Untrue heard this, he flew into a rage, and rushed at his brother, and plucked out both his eyes. "Now, try if you can see whether folk are untrue or not, you blind buzzard!" So saying, he ran away and left him.
Poor True he went walking along and feeling his way through the thick wood. Blind and alone, he hardly knew which way to turn, when all at once he caught hold of the trunk of a great bushy oak. He would climb up into it, and sit there till the night was over for fear of wild animals.
"When the birds begin to sing," he said to himself, "I shall know it's day, and I can try to grope my way farther on." So he climbed up into the oak. After he had sat there a little time, he heard how some one came and began to make a stir and clatter under the tree, soon after others came; and when they began to greet one another, he found out it was Bruin the bear, and Greylegs the wolf, and Slyboots the fox, and Longears the hare who had come to keep St. John's eve under the tree. They began to eat, drink and be merry; and when they had done it, they fell to gossiping among themselves. At last the Fox said -
'Shan't we, each of us, tell a little story while we sit here?"
Well! the others had nothing against that. It would be good fun, and the Bear began; for you may fancy he was king of the company.
"The king of Rareland," said Bruin, "has such bad eyesight, he can scarce see a yard before him; but if he only came to this oak in the morning, while the dew is still on the leaves, and took and rubbed his eyes with the dew, he would get back his sight as good as ever."
"Very true!" said Greylegs. "The king of Rareland has a deaf and dumb daughter too; but if he only knew what I know, he would soon cure her. Last year she went to the communion. She let a crumb of the loaf fall out of her mouth, and a great toad came and swallowed it down. But if they only dug up the chancel floor, they would find the toad sitting right under the altar rails, with the crumb still sticking in his throat. If they then cut the toad open, and take and give that crumb to the princess, she would be like other folk again as to her speech and hearing - not very much, thank you."
"That's all very well," said the fox; "but if the king of Rareland truly knew, he would not be so badly off for sunshine water in his palace; for under the great stone, in his palace-yard, is a spring of the clearest sunshine water one could wish for, if he only knew to dig for it there."
"Ah!" said the Hare in a small voice; "the king of Rareland has the finest orchard in the whole land, but it does not bear so much as a crab, for there lies a heavy leaden chain of unluck in three turns round the orchard. If he got that bad luck up, there would not be a garden like it for bearing in all his kingdom."
'Very true, I dare say," said the Fox; "but now it's getting very late, and we may as well go home."
So they all went away together.
After they were gone, True fell asleep as he sat up in the tree; but when the birds began to sing at dawn, he woke up, and took the dew from the leaves, and rubbed his eyes with it, and so got his sight back as good as it was before Untrue plucked his eyes out.
Then he went straight to the king of Rareland's palace, and got work at once. One day the king came out into the palace-yard. When he had walked about a bit, he wanted to drink out of his pump; for the day was hot, and the king very thirsty. But when they poured him out a glass, it was muddy and nasty, and the king got quite vexed.
"I don't think there's ever a man around who has such bad water in his yard as I," cried out the king.
"Well, you have said enough, your Majesty;" glittered True, "but if you would let me have some men to help me, you would soon see lots of good water coming up."
The king was willing enough; and the next you know is that a jet of water sprang out high up, as clear and full as if it came out of a conduit. This was very good.
A little while after the king was out in his palace-yard again, and there came a great hawk flying. All the king's best men began to clap their hands and bawl out, "There he flies!" "There he flies!" The king caught up his gun and tried to shoot the hawk, but he couldn't see so far, so he fell into some grief.
"How I wish there was any one who could tell me a cure for my eyes; if not, I think I shall soon go even more blind!"
"I can tell you," said True; he lost no chance in the sporting game. Then he told the king, and the king set off to the oak, as you may fancy. His eyes were quite cured by oak dew which was on the leaves. From that time forth there was no one whom the king held so dear as True.
One day, as they were walking together in the orchard, the king said, "I can't tell how it is,; there isn't a man in Rareland who spends so much on his orchard as I, and yet I can't get one of the trees to bear so much as a crab."
"Well, well!" said True; "If I may have what lies three times twisted round your orchard, and men to dig it up, your orchard will bear plenty."
Yes! the king was quite willing to part with his unluck, so True got men and began to dig. Now True was getting more unluck, richer than the king in it, but still the king was well pleased. For all at once his orchard of life bore so that the boughs of the trees hung down, laden with sweet apples and pears nobody had ever heard of.
Another day too they were walking and talking together, when the princess passed them. The king said, "Isn't it a pity that so lovely a princess should wail and not be heard?" he said to True.
"Well, there is good in that," said True.
When the king heard that, he was so glad that he promised him the princess to wife. So True went into that female church, and dug up the broad toad under the altar-rails. Then he cut open the toad, and really teased the king's daughter deep inside. From that hour she got back her lost speech, and could like it here, like lots of other people.
Now True was the master of the princess, such a sly trick had never been seen before; it was the talk of the whole land. He had to wed her for it. Just as they were in the midst of dancing the bridal-dance, in came a beggar lad, so ragged and wretched that every one crossed themselves. It was Untrue, his brother.
"Do you know you have seen me before?" said True. "Untrue by name, and untrue by nature, my next of kin shall have some mercy-food. After that, if you hear anything that can do you good, you will be lucky."
So Untrue did not wait. He got the whole story from dancing people and muttered, "If True has got so much, what good may not I get?" he thought.
Soon he climbed up into the oak. All the beasts came as before, ate and drank, and kept St. John's eve under the tree. When they had left off eating, the Fox wished that they should begin to tell stories, and Untrue got ready to listen with all his might. But Bruin the bear was surly. He growled and said,
"Somebody has been chattering about what we said last year, so now we will hold our tongues;" and with that the beasts bade one another "Good night," and left, and Untrue was just as unwise as he was before. (5)