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The Fairy Book by Dinah Maria Mulock December 31, 2006

Filed under: Europe,Fairy Tales,Literature,Public Domain — Dreamtime Careers @ 6:19 am

THE PRINCE WITH THE NOSE

[429]

T HERE was once a king who was passionately in love with a beautiful princess, but she could not be married because a magician had enchanted her. The king went to a good fairy to inquire what he should do. Said the fairy, after receiving him graciously: “Sir, I will tell you a secret. The princess has a great cat whom she loves so well that she cares for nothing and nobody else; but she will be obliged to marry any person who is adroit enough to walk upon the cat’s tail.”

“That will not be very difficult,” thought the king to himself, and departed, resolving to trample the cat’s tail to pieces rather than not succeed in walking upon it. He went immediately to the palace of his fair mistress and the cat; the animal came in front of him, arching its back in anger as it was wont to do. The king lifted up his foot, thinking nothing would be so easy as to tread on the tail, but he found himself mistaken. Minon—that was the creature’s name—twisted itself round so sharply that the king only hurt his own foot by stamping on the floor. For eight days did he pursue the cat everywhere: up and down the palace he was after it from morning till night, but with no better success; the tail seemed [430] made of quicksilver, so very lively was it. At last the king had the good fortune to catch Minon sleeping, when tramp, tramp! he trod on the tail with all his force.

Minon woke up, mewed horribly, and immediately changed from a cat into a large, fierce-looking man, who regarded the king with flashing eyes.

“You must marry the princess,” cried he, “because you have broken the enchantment in which I held her; but I will be revenged on you. You shall have a son with a nose as long as—that;” he made in the air a curve of half a foot; “yet he shall believe it is just like all other noses, and shall be always unfortunate till he has found out it is not. And if you ever tell anybody of this threat of mine, you shall die on the spot.” So saying, the magician disappeared.

The king, who was at first much terrified, soon began to laugh at this adventure. “My son might have a worse misfortune than too long a nose,” thought he. “At least it will hinder him neither in seeing nor hearing. I will go and find the princess, and marry her at once.”

He did so, but he only lived a few months after, and died before his little son was born, so that nobody knew anything about the secret of the nose.

The little prince was so much wished for, that when he came into the world they agreed to call him Prince Wish. He had beautiful blue eyes, and a sweet little mouth, but his nose was so big that it covered half his face. The queen, his [431] mother, was inconsolable; but her ladies tried to satisfy her by telling her that the nose was not nearly so large as it seemed, that it would grow smaller as the prince grew bigger, and that if it did not a large nose was indispensable to a hero. All great soldiers, they said, had great noses, as everybody knew. The queen was so very fond of her son that she listened eagerly to all this comfort. Shortly she grew so used to the prince’s nose that it did not seem to her any larger than ordinary noses of the court; where, in process of time, everybody with a long nose was very much admired, and the unfortunate people who had only snubs were taken very little notice of.

Great care was observed in the education of the prince; and as soon as he could speak they told him all sorts of amusing tales, in which all the bad people had short noses, and all the good people long ones. No person was suffered to come near him who had not a nose of more than ordinary length; nay, to such an extent did the courtiers carry their fancy, that the noses of all the little babies were ordered to be pulled out as far as possible several times a day, in order to make them grow. But grow as they would, they never could grow as long as that of Prince Wish. When he was old enough his tutor taught him history; and whenever any great king or lovely princess was referred to, the tutor always took care to mention that he or she had a long nose. All the royal apartments were filled with pictures and portraits having this peculiarity, so that at [432] last Prince Wish began to regard the length of his nose as his greatest perfection, and would not have had it an inch less even to save his crown.

When he was twenty years old his mother and his people wished him to marry. They procured for him the likenesses of many princesses, but the one he preferred was Princess Darling, daughter of a powerful monarch and heiress to several kingdoms. Alas! with all her beauty, this princess had one great misfortune, a little turned-up nose, which, every one else said, made her only the more bewitching. But here, in the kingdom of Prince Wish, the courtiers were thrown by it into the utmost perplexity. They were in the habit of laughing at all small noses; but how dared they make fun of the nose of Princess Darling? Two unfortunate gentlemen, whom Prince Wish had overheard doing so, were ignominiously banished from the court and capital.

After this, the courtiers became alarmed, and tried to correct their habit of speech; but they would have found themselves in constant difficulties, had not one clever person struck out a bright idea. He said that though it was indispensably necessary for a man to have a great nose, women were different; and that a learned man had discovered in a very old manuscript that the celebrated Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, the beauty of the ancient world, had a turned-up nose. At this information Prince Wish was so delighted that he made the courtier a very handsome present, and immediately sent off ambassadors to demand Princess Darling in marriage.

[433] She accepted his offer at once, and returned with the ambassadors. He made all haste to meet and welcome her; but when she was only three leagues distant from his capital, before he had time even to kiss her hand, the magician who had once assumed the shape of his mother’s cat, Minon, appeared in the air and carried her off before the lover’s very eyes.

Prince Wish, almost beside himself with grief, declared that nothing should induce him to return to his throne and kingdom till he had found Darling. He would suffer none of his courtiers or attendants to follow him; but, bidding them all adieu, mounted a good horse, laid the reins on the animal’s neck, and let him take him wherever he would.

The horse entered a wide-extended plain, and trotted on steadily the whole day without finding a single house. Master and beast began almost to faint with hunger; and Prince Wish might have wished himself safe at home again, had he not discovered, just at dusk, a cavern, where there sat, beside a bright lantern, a little woman who might have been more than a hundred years old.

She put on her spectacles the better to look at the stranger, and he noticed that her nose was so small that the spectacles would hardly stay on; then the prince and the fairy,—for it was a fairy,—burst into a mutual fit of laughter.

“What a funny nose!” cried the one.

“Not so funny as yours, madam,” returned the other. “But pray let us leave our noses alone, [434] and be good enough to give me something to eat, for I am dying with hunger, and so is my poor horse.”

“With all my heart,” answered the fairy. “Although your nose is ridiculously long, you are no less the son of one of my best friends. I loved your father like a brother; he had a very handsome nose.”

“What is wanting to my nose?” asked Wish, rather savagely.

“Oh! nothing at all. On the contrary, there is a great deal too much of it; but never mind, one may be a very honest man, and yet have too big a nose. As I said, I was a great friend of your father’s; he came often to see me. I was very pretty then, and oftentimes he used to say to me, ‘My sister—’ “

“I will hear the rest, madam, with pleasure, when I have supped; but will you condescend to remember that I have tasted nothing all day?”

“Poor boy!” said the fairy, “I will give you some supper directly; and while you eat it I will tell you my history in six words, for I hate much talking. A long tongue is as insupportable as a long nose; and I remember when I was young how much I used to be admired because I was not a talker; indeed, some one said to the queen, my mother,—for poor as you see me now, I am the daughter of a great king, who always—”

“Ate when he was hungry, I hope,” interrupted the prince, whose patience was fast departing.

[435] “You are right,” said the imperturbable old fairy; and I will bring you your supper directly, only I wish first just to say that the king my father—”

“Hang the king your father!” Prince Wish was about to exclaim, but he stopped himself, and only observed that however the pleasure of her conversation might make him forget his hunger, it could not have the same effect upon his horse, who was really starving.

The fairy, pleased at his civility, called her servants and bade them supply him at once with all he needed “And,” added she, “I must say you are very polite and very good-tempered, in spite of your nose.”

“What has the old woman to do with my nose?” thought the prince. “If I were not so very hungry I would soon show her what she is—a regular old gossip and chatter-box. She to fancy she talks little, indeed! One must be very foolish not to know one’s own defects. This comes of being born a princess. Flatterers have spoiled her, and persuaded her that she talks little. Little, indeed! I never knew anybody chatter so much.”

While the prince thus meditated, the servants were laying the table, the fairy asking them a hundred unnecessary questions, simply for the pleasure of hearing herself talk. “Well,” thought Wish, “I am delighted that I came hither, if only to learn how wise I have been in never listening to flatterers, who hide from us our faults, or make us believe they are perfec- [436] tions. But they could never deceive me. I know all my own weak points, I trust.” As truly he believed he did.

So he went on eating contentedly, nor stopped till the old fairy began to address him.

“Prince,” said she, ” will you be kind enough to turn a little? Your nose casts such a shadow that I cannot see what is in my plate. And, as I was saying, your father admired me and always made me welcome at court. What is the court etiquette there now? Do the ladies still go to assemblies, promenades, balls?—I beg your pardon for laughing, but how very long your nose is.”

“I wish you would cease to speak of my nose,” said the prince, becoming annoyed. “It is what it is, and I do not desire it any shorter.”

“Oh! I see that I have vexed you,” returned the fairy. “Nevertheless, I am one of your best friends, and so I shall take the liberty of always—” She would doubtless have gone on talking till midnight; but the prince, unable to bear it any longer, here interrupted her, thanked her for her hospitality, bade her a hasty adieu, and rode away.

He travelled for a long time, half over the world, but he heard no news of Princess Darling. However, in each place he went to, he heard one remarkable fact—the great length of his own nose. The little boys in the streets jeered at him, the peasants stared at him, and the more polite ladies and gentlemen whom he met in society used to try in vain to keep from [437] laughing, and to get out of his way as soon as they could. So the poor prince became gradually quite forlorn and solitary; he thought all the world was mad, but still he never thought of there being anything queer about his own nose.

At last the old fairy, who, though she was a chatter-box, was very good-natured, saw that he was almost breaking his heart. She felt sorry for him, and wished to help him in spite of himself, for she knew the enchantment, which hid from him the Princess Darling, could never be broken till he had discovered his own defect. So she went in search of the princess, and being more powerful than the magician, since she was a good fairy, and he was an evil magician, she got her away from him, and shut her up in a palace of crystal, which she placed on the road which Prince Wish had to pass.

He was riding along, very melancholy, when he saw the palace; and at its entrance was a room, made of the purest glass, in which sat his beloved princess, smiling and beautiful as ever. He leaped from his horse, and ran towards her. She held out her hand for him to kiss, but he could not get at it for the glass. Transported with eagerness and delight, he dashed his sword through the crystal, and succeeded in breaking a small opening, to which she put up her beautiful rosy mouth. But it was in vain, Prince Wish could not approach it. He twisted his neck about, and turned his head on all sides, till at length, putting up his hand to his face, he discovered the impediment.

[438] “It must be confessed,” exclaimed he, “that my nose is too long.”

That moment the glass walls all split asunder, and the old fairy appeared, leading Princess Darling.

“Avow, prince,” said she, “that you are very much obliged to me, for now the enchantment is ended. You may marry the object of your choice. But,” added she, smiling, “I fear I might have talked to you for ever on the subject of your nose, and you would not have believed me in its length, till it became an obstacle to your own inclinations. Now behold it!” and she held up a crystal mirror. Are you satisfied to be no different from other people?”

“Perfectly,” said Prince Wish, who found his nose had shrunk to an ordinary length. And, taking the Princess Darling by the hand, he kissed her, courteously, affectionately, and satisfactorily. Then they departed to their own country, and lived very happy all their days.

The Baldwin Project

 

SPANISH FAIRY TALE December 30, 2006

Filed under: Culture,Europe,Fairy Tales,Literature,Public Domain — Dreamtime Careers @ 4:45 am

THE BIRD-CAGE MAKER

IN a town of the ancient kingdom of Castile there lived, in former ages, a youth called Bartolo, who tried to eke out a living by making cages for birds, and taking them round to sell at the neighboring villages. But his trade was a poor one, and he judged himself in luck if he sold one cage in the day, and as may be supposed, he knew what sorrow and privation were.

One day as he was proceeding to a village he heard sounds of revelry, the buzz of many people, and the strains of a band of music. This merrymaking was a procession of children dressed in white, carrying in their midst a beautiful child crowned with roses, in a chariot covered with white satin, and ornamented with acacia and myrtle. This procession was in honor of Maya, the personification of Spring, and took place to announce the entry of Spring. In front of the little chariot some children danced, and held in their hands tin platters for contributions; and as may be imagined, all, or nearly all, the spectators dropped their coins into them.

Bartolo moved away in a desponding mood, saying to himself as he walked on; “Is this the justice of the world? There they are, flinging their money into these platters just [260] because these children come in procession to announce to them that it is the month of May, as though they could not know it by looking in an almanac. They barter and grind me down to the lowest price for my cages, even when I chance to sell one.”

Full of bitter thoughts he walked on sadly, for the voices of two importunate enemies were making themselves heard within him—these were hunger and thirst: the one clamored for food and the other for drink. Bartolo had nothing in his wallet but his clasp knife, and had had nought for his breakfast but hopes, and these made him sharp and active.

He had reached a plantation when he perceived a well- dressed individual coming toward him. Pressed by hunger Bartolo, taking his cap off respectfully, approached and said: “Excuse me, sir, but could you kindly give me a trifle? I promise I will return it as soon as I earn some money.”

“Don’t you think that it is a shameful thing for a man like you, young and with a good, healthy appearance, to be demanding charity of people? Does it not strike you that you have a duty to earn your living by working at your trade?”

“Yes, sir, certainly, but my trade does not fulfill its own duty. Most people like to see the birds flying about free rather than in cages, and, therefore, day by day I find myself poorer than before.”

At first the stranger doubted what he had heard, but the bird-cage maker gave him so detailed an account of his work and the small profits he derived, that he became interested and sympathized with his ill fortune. Bartolo was a man who always knew how to excite great interest in himself.

“Come, come,” the stranger said, smiling, “I will do something for you. As I cannot find customers for your cages, I will afford you a powerful means by which you shall never more be in want.”

He then blew a whistle, and Bartolo saw flying before him [261] a bird blue as the sky, which came and perched on one of his cages.

“See here,” added the stranger, “what will compensate for all your past misery. From this day forward you have only to formulate a wish and say slowly and distinctly, ‘Bluest of blue birds, do your duty!’ and your wish will be granted to you.”

“By my faith!” cried the bird-cage maker, “but I will try it at once. For the last twenty years I have wished to kill hunger: ‘Bluest of blue birds, do your duty!’

Scarcely were the words out of his mouth than he saw suddenly spread before him on the grass a breakfast fit got a prince, laid on a service of exquisite silver and glass and the whitest of cloths. Bartolo, astonished, flung himself on his knees before his benefactor to thank him, but he raised him up saying:

“I am the good genius of the honest workingmen of Castile. Sit down and eat without fear. Take advantage of your lucky star,” and then suddenly disappeared.

Bartolo reverently bent down and kissed the spot upon which he had stood, unable to find adequate expression of his gratitude. He then sat down and ate his breakfast. After his meal, Bartolo judged that a man who had feasted in such an elegant manner ought to have other, better clothing than his well-worn working suit; and, lifting his staff, he cried to the bird: “Bluest of blue birds, do your duty!” In an instant his old suit became transformed into one of richest velvet, embroidered in gold and silver, and his rough staff into a splendid horse fully caparisoned, and having round its neck a collar of silver bells.

More astonished than ever, Bartolo suspended to the saddle the cage with the blue bird, leaped on the horse, and went his way, as proud of his dress as a donkey of its ears.

Setting spurs to his horse, he soon reached the gates of a splendid castle. Some feast was taking place within. The guests were all seated under a shady bower, deploring that [262] they had been disappointed of the minstrels who were to have played.

Bartolo, on learning this, advanced to the bower, and, after elegantly saluting the lord and lady of the castle, in a most refined voice said:

“If it be right for a simple knight to offer his services to such a distinguished company of rank and beauty, I think I could promise to provide what you are requiring.”

“Oh, do! at once, please! cried all the ladies, who were longing to dance.

“Bluest of blue birds, do your duty!” said Bartolo.

Suddenly, in the distance, was heard the noise of many feet, and a troop of musicians with their instruments appeared, to the great delight of the company.

The lord of the castle thanked the stranger, and desired him to open the ball with his eldest daughter, a maiden fair and lovely, like a snowbird.

When the ball was at its height, the bird-cage maker ordered an elegant banquet to be served, during which the bluest of blue birds was commanded to sing some songs, which were very much admired. Games of chance followed, and Bartolo, taking advantage of his good fortune, distributed among the ladies, pearls, bracelets, and rings of precious stones. All those present were surprised beyond measure, because the lord of the castle was known to be extremely niggardly and mean.

The lord of the castle, who knew how all this had been done through the agency of the bird, and being himself of an inordinately avaricious nature, thought he might do a fine stroke of business were he to buy the creature. Hence, calling his unknown guest away to his study, he proposed to him to purchase the bird for what price he should quote.

“You would never give me my price,” replied Bartolo.

“For it I would give my castle with its nine forests,” said the lord of the castle.

“It is not enough!”

“Very well, I will add my olive plantations and vineyards.”

[263] “That is still insufficient!” cried Bartolo.

“I will add the orchards, gardens, and houses.”

“I want something else!”

“What, still more? Why, man, you must want paradise itself!”

“Not so; I want what you can give me this very moment. I want your daughter with whom I danced just now! Let her be my bride.”

“What, my daughter!” cried the old miser, in an ecstasy of joy; “by my faith, we shall soon conclude the bargain. Why did you not say so before?”

He went to seek the girl, and told her of the engagement he had entered into. But his daughter, in utter amazement, cried out:

“But what if he be a wicked elf, and all he does be witchcraft?”

“You have an amulet of coral hanging from your neck; it is an antidote against all witchery.”

“And what if he be Satan himself?”

“I will give you a piece of blessed candle, and he will have no power over you,” replied the unrelenting father.

Taking her hand, he led her to the stranger, who was already on his horse, and assisted her to mount behind her future husband. Taking the cage with the bluest of birds, he watched the retreating forms of the pair as the horse carried them away swifter than the wind, and when out of sight, he proceeded to join his guests. The company were all gathered in knots discussing the extraordinary powers of the bird and all the events which had taken place.

“Peace! peace!” cried the lords of the castle, as he entered; “I will perform more marvelous things than ever he did. I have given him my daughter to wed in exchange for the bird, and this blue bird will render me more wealthy than the King of Aragon. Approach, and see the wonders I will work with it.”

He took the cage, and lifting it up to look at the bird, was astonished to find that it was not blue at all, but a [264] large gray bird, which turned to stare at him in an insolent manner, gave a fierce peck at the door of the cage with its beak, flung it open, and flew out of the window uttering a terrible screech.

The lord of the castle stood with open mouth, not knowing what to do or say. His guests broke out in peals of laughter at his discomfiture and the well-deserved punishment for his unseemly avarice in exchanging his beautiful daughter for a worthless bird.

Meanwhile, Bartolo was galloping on with his bride to the nearest town to be married, and when he arrived at the first hostelry, he wished to dismount and engage the most splendid suite of apartments for his intended wife, but he found himself utterly penniless. He had not calculated that in parting with the bird he had parted with his luck, and therefore as soon as he dismounted the horse disappeared and his elegant dress became changed for the shabby one he had worn before he met the kind individual who had wished to befriend him. When the beautiful daughter of the lord of the castle beheld the transformation which had taken place she ran back to her father as fast as she could, fright lending wings to her feet.

Bartolo had to return to his old life of making cages and to his miserable existence.

http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=wiggin&book=fairy&story=maker, Story compiled by Kate Wiggins and Nora Smith

 

CELTIC FAIRY TALES December 28, 2006

Filed under: Europe,Fairy Tales,Literature,Public Domain — Dreamtime Careers @ 8:03 am

ELIDORE

IN the days of Henry Beauclerc of England there was a little lad named Elidore, who was being brought up to be a cleric. Day after day he would trudge from his mother’s house, and she was a widow, up to the monks’ Scriptorium. There he would learn his A B C, to read it and to write it. But he was a lazy little rogue was this Elidore, and as fast as he learned to write one letter, he forgot another ; so it was very little progress he was making. Now when the good monks saw this they remembered the saying of the Book ” Spare the rod and spoil the child,” and whenever Elidore forgot a letter they tried to make him remember it with the rod. At first they used it seldom and lightly, but Elidore was not a boy to be driven, and the more they thwacked him the less he learned : so the thwackings became more frequent and more severe, till Elidore could not stand any longer. So one day when he was twelve years old he upped with them and offed with him into the great forest near St. David’s. There for two long days and nights he wandered about eating nothing but hips and haws. At last he found himself at the mouth of a cave, at the side of a river, and there he sank down, all tired and exhausted. Suddenly two little pigmies appeared to him and said “Come with us, and we will lead you into a land full of games and sports: ” so Elidore raised himself and went with these two; at first through an underground passage all in the dark, but soon they came out into a most beautiful country, with rivers and meadows, woods and plains, as pleasant as can be; only this there curious about it, that the sun never shone and clouds were always over the sky, so that neither sun was seen by day, nor moon and stars at night.

The two little men led Elidore before their king, who asked why and whence he came. Elidore told him, and the king said : “Thou shalt attend on my son,” and waved him away. So for a long time Elidore waited on the king’s son, and joined in all the games and sports of the little men.

They were little, but they were not dwarfs, for all their limbs were of suitable size one with another. Their hair was fair, and hung upon their shoulders like that of women. They had little horses, about the size of greyhounds ; and did not eat flesh, fowl, or fish, but lived on milk flavoured with saffron. And as they had such curious ways, so they had strange thoughts. No oath took they, but never a lie they spoke. They would jeer and scoff at men for their struggles, lying, and treachery. Yet though they were so good they worshipped none, unless you might say they were worshippers of Truth.

After a time Elidore began to long to see boys and men of his own size, and he begged permission to go and visit his mother. So the King gave him permission so the little men led him along the passage, and guided him through the forest, till he came near his mother’s cottage, and when he entered, was not she rejoiced to see her dear son again ? ” Where have you been? What have you done?” she cried ; and he had to tell her all that had happened to him. She begged of him to stay with her, but he had promised the King to go back. And soon he returned, after making his mother promise not to tell where he was, or with whom. Henceforth Elidore lived, partly with the little men, and partly with his mother. Now one day, when he was with his mother, be told her of the yellow balls they used in their play, and which she felt sure must be of gold. So she begged of him that the next time he came back to her he would bring with him one of these balls. When the time came for him to go back to his mother again, he did not wait for the little men to guide him back, as he now knew the road. But seizing one of the yellow balls with which he used to play, he rushed home through the passage. Now as he got near his mother’s house he seemed to hear tiny footsteps behind him, and he rushed up to the door as quickly as he could. Just as he reached it his foot sJipped, and he fell down, and the ball rolled out of his hand, just to the feet of his mother. At that moment two little men rushed forward, seized the ball and ran away, making faces, and spitting at the boy as they passed him. Elidore remained with his mother for a time; but he missed the play and games of the little men, and determined to go back to them. But when he came to where the cave had been, near the river where the under-ground passage commenced, he could not find it again, and though he searched again and again in the years to come, he could not get back to that fair country. So after a time he went back to the monastery, and became in due course a monk. And men used to come and seek him out, and ask him what had happened to him when he was in the Land of the Little Men. Nor could he ever speak of that happy time without shedding tears.

Now it happened once, when this Elidore was old, that David, Bishop of St. David’s, came to visit his monastery and ask him about the manners and customs of the little men, and above all, he was curious to know what language they spoke ; and Elidore told him some of their words. When they asked for water, they would say : Udor udorum; and when they wanted salt, they would say : Hapru udorum. And from this, the Bishop, who was a learned man, discovered that they spoke some sort of Greek. For Udor is Greek for Water, and Hap for Salt.

Hence we know that the Britons came from Troy, being descendants from Brito, son of Priam, King of Troy.

Jacobs, Joseph. More Celtic Fairy Tales. London: David Nutt, 1894.

SurLaLune 

Sacred-Texts 

 

 

 

A FINNISH TALE by Z. TOPELIUS December 27, 2006

Filed under: Audio Books,Europe,Fairy Tales,Project Gutenberg,Public Domain,Storytelling — Dreamtime Careers @ 6:06 pm

THE RASPBERRY WORM – From the Lilac Fairy Book, Andrew Lang, Editor, 1910

‘Phew!’ cried Lisa.

‘Ugh!’ cried Aina.

‘What now?’ cried the big sister.

‘A worm!’ cried Lisa.

‘On the raspberry!’ cried Aina.

‘Kill it!’ cried Otto.

‘What a fuss over a poor little worm!’ said the big sister scornfully.

‘Yes, when we had cleaned the raspberries so carefully,’ said Lisa.

‘It crept out from that very large one,’ put in Aina.

‘And supposing someone had eaten the raspberry,’ said Lisa.

‘Then they would have eaten the worm, too,’ said Aina.

‘Well, what harm?’ said Otto.

‘Eat a worm!’ cried Lisa.

‘And kill him with one bite!’ murmured Aina.

‘Just think of it!’ said Otto laughing.

‘Now it is crawling on the table,’ cried Aina again.

‘Blow it away!’ said the big sister.

‘Tramp on it!’ laughed Otto.

But Lisa took a raspberry leaf, swept the worm carefully on to the leaf and carried it out into the yard. Then Aina noticed that a sparrow sitting on the fence was just ready to pounce on the poor little worm, so she took up the leaf, carried it out into the wood and hid it under a raspberry bush where the greedy sparrow could not find it. Yes, and what more is there to tell about a raspberry worm? Who would give three straws for such a miserable little thing? Yes, but who would not like to live in such a pretty home as it lives in; in such a fresh fragrant dark- red cottage, far away in the quiet wood among flowers and green leaves!

Now it was just dinner time, so they all had a dinner of raspberries and cream. ‘Be careful with the sugar, Otto,’ said the big sister; but Otto’s plate was like a snowdrift in winter, with just a little red under the snow.

Soon after dinner the big sister said: ‘Now we have eaten up the raspberries and we have none left to make preserve for the winter; it would be fine if we could get two baskets full of berries, then we could clean them this evening, and to-morrow we could cook them in the big preserving pan, and then we should have raspberry jam to eat on our bread!’

‘Come, let us go to the wood and pick,’ said Lisa.

‘Yes, let us,’ said Aina. ‘You take the yellow basket and I will take the green one.’

‘Don’t get lost, and come back safely in the evening,’ said the big sister.

‘Greetings to the raspberry worm,’ said Otto, mockingly. ‘Next time I meet him I shall do him the honour of eating him up.’

So Aina and Lisa went off to the wood. Ah! how delightful it was there, how beautiful! It was certainly tiresome sometimes climbing over the fallen trees, and getting caught in the branches, and waging war with the juniper bushes and the midges, but what did that matter? The girls climbed well in their short dresses, and soon they were deep in the wood.

There were plenty of bilberries and elder berries, but no raspberries. They wandered on and on, and at last they came … No, it could not be true! … they came to a large raspberry wood. The wood had been on fire once, and now raspberry bushes had grown up, and there were raspberry bushes and raspberry bushes as far as the eye could see. Every bush was weighted to the ground with the largest, dark red, ripe raspberries, such a wealth of berries as two little berry pickers had never found before!

Lisa picked, Aina picked. Lisa ate, Aina ate, and in a little while their baskets were full.

‘Now we shall go home,’ said Aina. ‘No, let us gather a few more,’ said Lisa. So they put the baskets down on the ground and began to fill their pinafores, and it was not long before their pinafores were full, too.

‘Now we shall go home,’ said Lina. ‘Yes, now we shall go home,’ said Aina. Both girls took a basket in one hand and held up her apron in the other and then turned to go home. But that was easier said than done. They had never been so far in the great wood before, they could not find any road nor path, and soon the girls noticed that they had lost their way.

The worst of it was that the shadows of the tress were becoming so long in the evening sunlight, the birds were beginning to fly home, and the day was closing in. At last the sun went down behind the pine tops, and it was cool and dusky in the great wood.

The girls became anxious but went steadily on, expecting that the wood would soon end, and that they would see the smoke from the chimneys of their home.

After they had wandered on for a long time it began to grow dark. At last they reached a great plain overgrown with bushes, and when they looked around them, they saw, as much as they could in the darkness, that they were among the same beautiful raspberry bushes from which they had picked their baskets and their aprons full. Then they were so tired that they sat down on a stone and began to cry.

‘I am so hungry,’ said Lisa.

‘Yes,’ said Aina, ‘if we had only two good meat sandwiches now.’

As she said that, she felt something in her hand, and when she looked down, she saw a large sandwich of bread and chicken, and at the same time Lisa said: ‘How very queer! I have a sandwich in my hand.’

‘And I, too,’ said Aina. ‘Will you dare to eat it?’

‘Of course I will,’ said Lisa. ‘Ah, if we only had a good glass of milk now!’

Just as she said that she felt a large glass of milk between her fingers, and at the same time Aina cried out, ‘Lisa! Lisa! I have a glass of milk in my hand! Isn’t it queer?’

The girls, however, were very hungry, so they ate and drank with a good appetite. When they had finished Aina yawned, stretched out her arms and said: ‘Oh, if only we had a nice soft bed to sleep on now!’

Scarcely had she spoken before she felt a nice soft bed by her side, and there beside Lisa was one too. This seemed to the girls more and more wonderful, but tired and sleepy as they were, they thought no more about it, but crept into the little beds, drew the coverlets over their heads and were soon asleep.

When they awoke the sun was high in the heavens, the wood was beautiful in the summer morning, and the birds were flying about in the branches and the tree tops.

At first the girls were filled with wonder when they saw that they had slept in the wood among the raspberry bushes. They looked at each other, they looked at their beds, which were of the finest flax covered over with leaves and moss. At last Lisa said: ‘Are you awake, Aina?’

‘Yes,’ said Aina.

‘But I am still dreaming,’ said Lisa.

‘No,’ said Aina, ‘but there is certainly some good fairy living among these raspberry bushes. Ah, if we had only a hot cup of coffee now, and a nice piece of white bread to dip into it!’

Scarcely had she finished speaking when she saw beside her a little silver tray with a gilt coffee-pot, two cups of rare porcelain, a sugar basin of fine crystal, silver sugar tongs, and some good fresh white bread. The girls poured out the beautiful coffee, put in the cream and sugar, and tasted it; never in their lives had they drunk such beautiful coffee.

‘Now I should like to know very much who has given us all this,’ said Lisa gratefully.

‘I have, my little girls,’ said a voice just then from the bushes.

The children looked round wonderingly, and saw a little kind- looking old man, in a white coat and a red cap, limping out from among the bushes, for he was lame in his left foot; neither Lisa nor Aina could utter a word, they were so filled with surprise.

‘Don’t be afraid, little girls,’ he said smiling kindly at them; he could not laugh properly because his mouth was crooked. ‘Welcome to my kingdom! Have you slept well and eaten well and drunk well?’ he asked.

‘Yes, indeed we have,’ said both the girls, ‘but tell us …’ and they wanted to ask who the old man was, but were afraid to.

‘I will tell you who I am,’ said the old man; ‘I am the raspberry king, who reigns over all this kingdom of raspberry bushes, and I have lived here for more than a thousand years. But the great spirit who rules over the woods, and the sea, and the sky, did not want me to become proud of my royal power and my long life. Therefore he decreed that one day in every hundred years I should change into a little raspberry worm, and live in that weak and helpless form from sunrise to sunset. During that time my life is dependent on the little worm’s life, so that a bird can eat me, a child can pick me with the berries and trample under foot my thousand years of life. Now yesterday was just my transformation day, and I was taken with the raspberry and would have been trampled to death if you had not saved my life. Until sunset I lay helpless in the grass, and when I was swept away from your table I twisted one of my feet, and my mouth became crooked with terror; but when evening came and I could take my own form again, I looked for you to thank you and reward you. Then I found you both here in my kingdom, and tried to meet you both as well as I could without frightening you. Now I will send a bird from my wood to show you the way home. Good-bye, little children, thank you for your kind hearts; the raspberry king can show that he is not ungrateful.’ The children shook hands with the old man and thanked him, feeling very glad that they had saved the little raspberry worm. They were just going when the old man turned round, smiled mischievously with his crooked mouth, and said: ‘Greetings to Otto from me, and tell him when I meet him again I shall do him the honour of eating him up.’

‘Oh, please don’t do that,’ cried both the girls, very frightened.

‘Well, for your sake I will forgive him,’ said the old man, ‘I am not revengeful. Greetings to Otto and tell him that he may expect a gift from me, too. Good-bye.’

The two girls, light of heart, now took their berries and ran off through the wood after the bird; and soon it began to get lighter in the wood and they wondered how they could have lost their way yesterday, it seemed so easy and plain now.

One can imagine what joy there was when the two reached home. Everyone had been looking for them, and the big sister had not been able to sleep, for she thought the wolves had eaten them up.

Otto met them; he had a basket in his hand and said: ‘Look, here is something that an old man has just left for you.’

When the girls looked into the basket they saw a pair of most beautiful bracelets of precious stones, dark red, and made in the shape of a ripe raspberry and with an inscription: ‘To Lisa and Aina'; beside them there was a diamond breast pin in the shape of a raspberry worm: on it was inscribed ‘Otto, never destroy the helpless!’

Otto felt rather ashamed: he quite understood what it meant, but he thought that the old man’s revenge was a noble one.

The raspberry king had also remembered the big sister, for when she went in to set the table for dinner, she found eleven big baskets of most beautiful raspberries, and no one knew how they had come there, but everyone guessed.

And so there was such a jam-making as had never been seen before, and if you like to go and help in it, you might perhaps get a little, for they must surely be making jam still to this very day.

E-text available to download free at Project Gutenberg- The Lilac Fairy Book

Story as an audio recording by Rebecca Dekker – The Raspberry Worm (polishing-this is a proof-listening audio, please comment!)

 

Fairy Blogmother’s Fairy Tales December 26, 2006

Filed under: Anthropology,Audio Books,Blogroll,Culture,Fairy,Fairy Tales,Literature — Dreamtime Careers @ 10:09 pm

Welcome to my new blog.


 

West-African Folk-Tales, by William Barker, Lagos 1917

Filed under: Africa,Fairy Tales,Public Domain — Dreamtime Careers @ 7:51 pm

HOW WE GOT THE NAME “SPIDER TALES”

IN the olden days all the stories which men told were stories of Nyankupon, the chief of the gods. Spider, who was very conceited, wanted the stories to be told about him.

Accordingly, one day he went to Nyankupon and asked that, in future, all tales told by men might be Anansi stories, instead of Nyankupon stories. Nyankupon agreed, on one condition. He told Spider (or Anansi) that he must bring him three things: the first was a jar full of live bees, the second was a boa-constrictor, and the third a tiger. Spider gave his promise.

He took an earthen vessel and set out for a place where he knew were numbers of bees. When he came in sight of the bees he began saying to himself, “They will not be able to fill this jar”—”Yes, they will be able”—”No, they will not be able,” until the bees came up to him and said, “What are you talking about, Mr. Anansi?” He thereupon explained to them that Nyankupon and he had had a great dispute. Nyankupon had said the bees could not fly into the jar—Anansi had said they could. The bees immediately declared that of course they could fly into the jar—which they at once did. As soon as they were safely inside, Anansi sealed up the jar and sent it off to Nyankupon.

Next day he took a long stick and set out in search of a boa-constrictor. When he arrived at the place where one lived he began speaking to himself again. “He will just be as long as this stick”—”No, he will not be so long as this”—”Yes, he will be as long as this.” These words he repeated several times, till the boa came out and asked him what was the matter. “Oh, we have been having a dispute in Nyankupon’s town about you. Nyankupon’s people say you are not as long as this stick. I say you are. Please let me measure you by it.” The boa innocently laid himself out straight, and Spider lost no time in tying him on to the stick from end to end. He then sent him to Nyankupon.

The third day he took a needle and thread and sewed up his eye. He then set out for a den where he knew a tiger lived. As he approached the place he began to shout and sing so loudly that the tiger came out to see what was the matter. “Can you not see?” said Spider. “My eye is sewn up and now I can see such wonderful things that I must sing about them.” “Sew up my eyes,” said the tiger, “then I too can see these surprising sights.” Spider immediately did so. Having thus made the tiger helpless, he led him straight to Nyankupon’s house. Nyankupon was amazed at Spider’s cleverness in fulfilling the three conditions. He immediately gave him permission for the future to call all the old tales Anansi tales.

SOURCES: The Baldwin Project and SurLaLune Fairy Tales

 

 
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