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You will bring him back to me

In the rocks on the seashore, left bare by the tide, one often finds tiny pools of water fringed with seaweed and padded with curious moss. These are the cradles which the Mermaids have trimmed prettily for the sea-babies, and where they leave the little ones when they have to go away on other business, as Mermaids do. But one never spies the sea-children in their cradles, for they are taught to tumble out and slip away into the sea if a human step should approach. You see, the fishes have told the Mer-folk cruel tales of the Land-people with their nets and hooks and lines.

 

In the softest, prettiest little cradle of all a Sea-child lay one afternoon crying to himself. He cried because he was lonesome. His mother did not love him as a baby’s mother should; for she was the silliest and the vainest of all the Mermaids. Her best friend was her looking-glass of polished pearl, and her only care was to remain young and girlish. Indeed, she bore her thousand-odd years well, even for a Mermaid. She liked the Sea-baby well enough, but she was ashamed to have him follow her about as he loved to do, because she imagined it made her seem old to be called “Mer-mother” by his lisping lips. She never had time to caress or play with him; and finally she forbade him ever to speak to her unless she spoke first. Sometimes she seemed to forget him altogether, as she left him to take care of himself, while she sat on the rocks combing her long green hair, or playing with the giddy Mermen in the caves below the sea.

 

So while the other sea-people sported or slept and were happy, her poor little Sea-child lay and cried in the green pool where the sea-anemones tickled his cheek with their soft fingers, seeking to make him laugh, and the sea-fringe curled about the scaly little tail which, like a fish, he had in place of legs. On this particular afternoon he was particularly lonesome.

 

“Ahoo!” he sobbed. “I am so unhappy! Ahoo! I want someone to love me very much!”

 

Now a kind old Stork was sitting on a rock above the baby’s head, preening his feathers in a looking-glass pool. He heard the Sea-child’s words, and he spoke in his kind, gruff voice.

 

“What is the matter, little one?” he asked.

 

At first the Sea-child was surprised to be addressed by a land bird. But he soon saw that this creature was friendly, and told him all his trouble, as babies do. “Tut tut!” said the Stork, frowning. “Your Mer-mother needs a lesson sadly.”

 

“What is a lesson?” lisped the Sea-child.

 

But the Stork was busy thinking and did not reply at once. “How would you like a change?” he asked after a time.

 

“What is a change?” asked the baby, for he was very young and ignorant.

 

“You shall see,” answered the Stork, “if you will take my advice; for I am your friend. Now listen. When next you hear a step upon the rocks do not stir from your cradle, but wait and see what will happen.” Without another word the Stork flapped away, leaving the baby to stare up at the blue sky with the tears still wet upon his cheeks, wondering what the Stork could have meant.

 

“I will not stir,” he said to himself. “Whatever happens I will wait and see.”

 

It was the Stork’s business to bring babies to the homes where babies were needed; and sometimes it was very hard to find babies enough. Even now he knew of a house upon the hill where a boy was longing for a little brother to play with. Every night Gil mentioned the matter in his prayers; every night he begged the Stork to bring him a playmate. But though the Stork had hunted far and wide through all the land he could not find a human baby to spare for the cottage on the hill. Now he had a happy idea.

 

With his long legs dangling he flew swiftly up towards the hill; and halfway there he met the boy wandering about sulkily all alone. The Stork had never before spoken to this boy, because he well knew what Gil wanted, and he hated to be teased for what he could not give. So, though he had listened sadly to the boy’s prayers, by day he had kept carefully out of sight. But now he came close overhead, and settling down stood upon one leg directly in Gil’s path.

 

“Good-afternoon,” he said. “I think I have heard you say that you wanted a little brother.”

 

Gil was surprised to have a Stork address him like this, but he was still more pleased at the happy word. “I do! Oh, I do indeed!” he cried.

 

“Would you make a good brother to him?” asked the Stork.

 

“Oh yes!” answered the boy eagerly. “A very good brother I should be.”

 

“H’m,” said the Stork. “One never can tell about these boys. I think you are selfish and jealous. But a little brother may be a good thing for you. In any case, there is little for him to lose. Will you be so good as to come with me?”

 

Without another word the Stork flew up and away toward the beach, leaving Gil staring. This certainly was a most extraordinary bird! But Gil soon decided to follow him and see what would happen, for who could tell what the Stork’s mysterious words might mean?

 

Presently, lying in his little cradle, the Sea-child heard the sound of feet scrambling up the rocks,—the sound he had been taught to fear more than anything in the world. It was his first thought to flop out of the cradle, over into the sea below; and he half turned to do so. But in a moment he remembered the Stork’s last words, and although he was trembling with fear he remained where he was.

 

Soon over the top of the rock peered the face of the boy, Gil of the hill cottage, looking straight down into the pool where the Sea-baby lay snugly on the seaweed.

 

“Oh!” cried the boy, with round black eyes fixed upon the baby’s round blue ones. “Oh!” cried the Sea-child. And it would be hard to say which of the two was more astonished. For to a Sea-child the sight of a clothed, two-legged land-boy is quite as strange as a naked little fish-tailed infant is to a human. But after the first look neither felt afraid, in spite of the terrible tales which each had heard of the other’s kind. They stared wistfully at each other, not knowing what to do next, until the Stork came forward and spoke wise words.

 

“You, land-boy Gil,” he said, “you want a little brother, do you not?” Gil nodded. “And you, Sea-child, want someone to love you? I think I can manage to please you both. But first you must kiss each other.”

 

Gil hesitated. He was a big boy of five or six, too old for kissing. Moreover the Sea-child looked cold and wet and somewhat fishy. But already the red lips of the little fellow were pouted into a round O, and the sad blue eyes were looking up at him so pleadingly that Gil bent low over the watery cradle. Then two little soft arms went about his neck, and Gil felt the heart of the Sea-child thump happily against his own.

 

“Very good,” said the Stork approvingly.

 

The Sea-child could not stand, on account of having no feet, but he lay in his pool holding Gil’s hand.

 

“Now the change is coming,” went on the Stork, and as he spoke the baby began to fall asleep. “In twelve hours,” he said to Gil, “he will become a tiny human child, and I shall carry him to the house on the hill, where he will find a loving family awaiting him. Look! Already he is losing the uniform of the sea,” and he pointed at the Sea-child’s fishy tail. Sure enough, the scales were falling away one by one, and already the shape of two little chubby legs could be seen under the skin, which was shrinking as a tadpole’s does before he becomes a frog. “When this tail is wholly gone,” declared the Stork, “he will forget what we have said to-night. He will forget his sea-home and the caves of the Mer-people. He will forget that he was once a Sea-child; and no one will ever remind him. For only you, Gil, and I shall know the secret.”

 

“And I shall never tell,” declared Gil.

 

“No, surely you will never tell,” answered the Stork gravely, “for if you tell that will be the end of all. You will lose the little brother, and you will be sorry all the rest of your life. Do not forget, Gil. Do not forget.”

 

“I shall not forget,” said Gil.

 

Again they looked at the Sea-child, and he had fallen sound asleep, still holding Gil’s hand. Now there was scarcely anything of the fish left about his little pink body; he was growing younger and younger, smaller and smaller.

 

“You must go home now, Gil,” said the Stork. “Go home and go to bed. And to-morrow when you wake there will be a little brother in the house, and you ought to be a very good boy because you have your wish.”

 

Gil gently loosened the Sea-child’s hand and ran home as the Stork bade him, but said no word of all this to anyone.

 

Now early in the morning the Stork came to the house on the hill, bringing a rosy little new baby which he laid on the bed beside Gil’s mother, and then flew away. What a hullabaloo there was then, to be sure! What a welcome for the little stranger! Gil was not the only one who had longed for a new baby in the house, and this was the prettiest little fellow ever seen. Loudest of all cheered Gil when he saw the present which the Stork had brought. “Hurrah for my little new brother!” he cried. “Now I shall have someone to play with.” That was Gil’s chief thought: now he would have someone to play with.

 

They called the baby’s name Jan. And from the first little Jan was very happy in his new home. He was happy all day in his mother’s arms; happy when his foster-father came home at night and tossed him high to the ceiling; happiest of all when Gil held him close and begged him to hurry and grow up, so that they could play together.

 

Little Jan did hurry to grow up, as fast as health and strength and happiness could make a baby grow. He grew bigger and bigger, handsomer and handsomer, the finest baby in the village, and his family loved him dearly. Every day he became more of a playmate for Gil, whom he admired more than anyone in the world. Gil petted and teased the little fellow, who, as soon as he could walk, began to follow him about like a faithful dog. Grand times the brothers had together then. They dug in the sand on the seashore, and scrambled about the cliffs. They rowed out in the harbor boats with hooks and lines, and played at being fishermen like their father, who sailed away early and came home late. They grew bigger and sturdier and handsomer, and their parents were very proud of them both, the finest lads in all the country round.

 

The years went by, and during all this time Jan never dreamed the truth which only Gil and the Stork knew about the bargain made at the sea-pool cradle. To Jan, indeed, the sea was full of strange thoughts which were not memories but were like them. He loved to look and listen alone upon the water, or in the water, or by the water. Gil often caught him staring down into the blue waves, and when he raised his head there would be a puzzled look in the little fellow’s blue eyes, as though he were trying to solve a riddle. Then Gil would laugh; whereat the wrinkle would smooth itself from Jan’s forehead, and a smile would come about his mouth. He would throw his arm about his brother’s shoulder, saying,—

 

“What strange thing is it, brother, that the old sea does to me? I think sometimes that I am bewitched.” But Gil would only laugh again, thinking his own thoughts. It gave him a pleasant important feeling to know that he was the keeper of Jan’s secret.

 

Meantime what had become of the Sea-baby’s forgotten mother? What was the pretty Mermaid doing in her home under the waves? She was learning the lesson which the Stork had meant to teach.

 

At first she had not greatly missed the Sea-baby, having other things to interest her in the lovely world where she lived. But as the sea-days went by she began to find the grotto which had been their pretty home a very lonely place indeed. She missed the little fellow playing with the shells and starfish on the floor of shining sand. She longed to see him teasing the crabs in the crevices of the rocks, or tickling the sea-anemones to make them draw in their waving fingers. She missed the round blue eyes which used to look at her so admiringly, and the little hands which had once wearied her with their caresses. She even missed the mischievous tricks which the baby sometimes used to play upon his mother, and she would have been glad once more to see him running away with her pearly mirror, or with the golden comb with which she combed her long green hair.

 

As she watched the other sea-children playing merrily with the fishes the lonely Mermaid grew very sad, for she knew that her own baby had been the prettiest of them all, and she wondered how she could ever have been ashamed of him. The other mothers were proud of their darlings, and now they scorned her because she had no little one to hold her mirror when she made her toilet, or to run her errands when she was busy at play. But the poor Mermaid was too sad to play nowadays. She no longer took any pleasure in the gay life which the Mer-folk lived beneath the waves. She wandered instead here and there, up and down the sea, calling, calling for her lost baby. The sound of her sobbing came from the sea at morning, noon, and night.

 

She did not know her child’s fate, but she feared that he had been captured by the dreadful Men-folk, who, so her people said, were ever seeking to snare the sea-creatures in their wicked nets. Day after day the unhappy Mermaid swam along the shore trying to see the places where the Men-folk dwelt, hoping that she might catch a glimpse of her lost darling. But that good hap never befell her. Indeed, even if she had seen Jan, she would not have known her baby in the sturdy boy dressed all in blue, like the other fisher-lads. Nor would Jan have known his mother in this beautiful creature of the sea. For he had quite forgotten the Mermaid who had neglected him, and if he thought of the Mer-folk at all it was as humans do, with wonder and with longing, and yet with fear.

 

Now the good old Stork who had first meddled in these matters kept one eye upon the doings in that neighborhood, and he had seen the sorrowful Mermaid wandering lonely up and down the shore. He knew it must be the Sea-child’s mother, sorry at last for her long carelessness. As the years passed he began to pity the poor creature; but when he found himself growing too soft-hearted he would shake his head firmly and say to himself,—

 

“It will not do. She is not yet punished enough, for she was very cruel. If now she could have her baby again she would soon be as thoughtless as ever. Besides, there is my promise to Gil. So long as he keeps the secret so must I.”

 

But one day, several years later, when the Stork was flying over the harbor, he spied the Mermaid lying upon a rock over which the waves dashed merrily, and she was weeping bitterly, tearing her lovely green hair. She looked so pretty and so forlorn that the bird’s kind heart was touched, and he could not help stopping to comfort her a bit. Flying close to her head he said gently,—

 

“Poor Mermaid! What is the matter?”

 

“Oh, oh!” wailed the Mermaid. “Long, long ago I lost my pretty little Sea-child, and he is not to be found anywhere, anywhere in the whole sea, for I have looked. I have been from ocean to ocean, from pole to pole. Oh, what shall I do? He is on the land, I know he is, and the wicked humans are ill-treating him.”

 

The Stork spoke slowly and gravely. “Was he so happy, then, in his sea-home? Did you love him and care for him very dearly?”

 

“No, no!” sobbed the Mermaid. “I did not love him enough. I did not make him happy. I neglected him and found him in the way, till one day he disappeared, and I shall never see him again. Oh, my baby, my little Sea-child!”

 

The Stork wiped a tear from his eye. “It is very sad,” he said. “But perhaps it will comfort you to know that he is not far away.”

 

“Oh!” cried the Mermaid, clasping her hands. “You know where he is? You will bring him back to me? Dear, dear Stork! I will give you a necklace of pearls and a necklace of coral if you will bring my baby to me again.”

 

The Stork smiled grimly, looking down at his long neck. “A necklace of pearls and a necklace of coral!” he repeated. “How becoming they would be!” Then he grew grave once more and said: “I cannot return your child to you, but I can tell you something of him. He is indeed among the humans, but he is very happy there. They love him and he loves them, and all is well—so far.”

 

“Oh, show him to me that I may take him away!” cried the Mermaid.

 

But the Stork shook his head. “No, no, for you deserted him,” he said solemnly; “now he has another mother in yonder village who loves him better than you did. He has a brother, also, whom he loves best of all. You cannot claim him so long as he is happy there.”

 

“Then shall I never see him again, wise Bird?” asked the Mermaid sadly.

 

“Perhaps,” answered the Stork. “If he should become unhappy, or if the secret should be betrayed.”

 

“Ah, then I must be again a cruel mother and hope that he may become unhappy,” sobbed the Mermaid. “I shall look for him every day in the harbor near the village, and when his face is sad I shall claim him for my own.”

 

“You will not know him,” cried the Stork, rising on his wings and flapping away. “He wears a disguise. He is like a human,—like any other fisher-boy; and he bears a human name.”

 

“Oh, tell me that name!” begged the Mermaid.

 

But the Stork only cried, “I must not tell. I have told too much already,” and he was gone.

 

“Oh, then I will love all fisher-boys for his sake,” sobbed the Mermaid as she dived down into the sea. “And some day, some day I shall find him out; for my baby is sure to be the finest of them all.”

 

Now the years went by, and the parents of Gil and Jan were dead. The two brothers were tall and sturdy and stout, the finest lads in the whole country. But as their shadows grew taller and broader when they walked together across the sand, so another shadow which had begun to fall between them grew and grew. It was the shadow of Gil’s selfishness and jealousy. So long as Jan was smaller and weaker than he, Gil was quite content, and never ceased to be grateful for the little brother who had come to be his playmate. But suddenly, as it seemed, he found that Jan was almost as big as himself; for the boy had thriven wondrously, though there were still several years which Jan could never make up. Gil was still the leader, but Jan was not far behind; and Jan himself led all the other boys when his brother was not by. Everyone loved Jan, for he was kind and merry, while Gil was often gloomy and disagreeable. Gil wanted to be first in everything, but there began to be some things that Jan could do better than he. It made Gil angry to hear his brother praised; it made him sulky and malicious, and sometimes he spoke unkindly to Jan, which caused the blue eyes to fill with tears. For, big fellow though he was, Jan was five years younger, and he was a sensitive lad, loving Gil more than anything else in the world. Gil’s unkindness hurt Jan deeply, but could not make him love his brother less.

 

Both boys were famous swimmers. Gil was still the stronger of the two, and he could outswim any lad in town. As for Jan, the fishermen declared that he took to the water like a fish. No one in all the village could turn and twist, dive and glide and play such graceful pranks, flashing whitely through the waves, as did Jan. This was a great trouble to Gil, who wished to be foremost in this as in everything else. He was a selfish fellow; he had wanted a playmate to follow and admire him. He had not bargained for a comrade who might become a rival. And he seemed to love his brother less and less as the days went by.

 

One beautiful summer day Gil and Jan called together the other boys, the best swimmers in the village, and they all went down to the bay to swim. They played all sorts of water-games, in which the two brothers were leaders. They dived and floated and chased one another like fishes through the water. Jan, especially, won shouts of applause for his wonderful diving, for the other boys liked him, and were proud of him, glad to see him win. This again made Gil jealous and angry. Jan dived once more and remained under water so long that the boys began to fear that he would never come up; and in his wicked heart Gil half hoped that it was to be so. For it had come about that Gil began to wish he had no brother at all. So different was he from the boy who made the eager bargain with the good old Stork.

 

At last Jan’s head came out of the water, bubbling and blowing, and the boys set up a cheer. Never before had any one in the village performed such a feat as that. But Jan did not answer their cheers with his usual merry laugh. Something was troubling him which made him look strange to the others. As soon as he reached the shore he ran up to Gil and whispered in his brother’s ear a curious story.

 

“Oh, Gil!” he cried. “Such a strange feeling I have had! Down below there as I was swimming along I seemed to hear a strange sound like a cry, and then, surely, I felt something cling close to me, like soft arms. Gil, Gil, what could it have been? I have heard tell of the Mermaidens who are said to live in these waters. Some even say that they have seen them afar off on the rocks where the spray dashed highest. Gil, could it have been a Mermaid who touched me and seemed to pull me down as if to keep me under the water forever? I could hardly draw away, Gil. Tell me what you think it means?”

 

Gil was too angry at Jan’s success to answer kindly. He sneered, remembering the secret which only he and the Stork knew.

 

“There are slimy folk, half fish and half human, people say. The less one has to do with them the better. I think you are half fish yourself, Jan. It is no credit to you that you are able to swim!” So spoke Gil, breaking the promise which he had once given.

 

On the minute came a hoarse cry overhead, and a great Stork flapped down the sky, fixing his sharp eyes upon Gil, as if in warning.

 

“Why, how strangely the Stork acts!” cried Jan.

 

Gil bit his lip and said no more, but from that moment he hated his brother wickedly, knowing that the Stork was still watching over the child whom he had taken from the sea.

 

But Jan had no time to ask Gil what he meant by the strange words which he had just spoken, for at that moment several of the boys came running up to them. “Ho, Gil! Ho, Jan!” they cried. “Let us have a race! Come, let us swim out to the Round Rock and back. And the winner of this race shall be champion of the village. Come, boys, make ready for the race!”

 

Gil’s face brightened, for he had ever been the strongest swimmer on the bay, and now he could afford to be kind to poor Jan, whose blue eyes were clouded and unhappy, because of Gil’s former harsh words and manner.

 

“Ho! The race, the race!” cried Gil. “Come, Jan, you can dive like a fish. Now let us see how you can swim. One, two, three! We are off!”

 

The boys sprang, laughing, into the water. Jan needed but a kind word from his brother to make him happy again. Off they started for the Round Rock, where the spray was dashing high.

 

The black heads bobbed up and down in the waves, drawing nearer and nearer to the rock. Gradually they separated, and some fell behind. The lads could not all keep up the gay strokes with which they had begun the race. Four held the lead; Boise and Cadoc, the lighthouse-keeper’s sons, Gil, and Jan.

 

Almost abreast they rounded the rock, and began the long stretch back to the beach. Soon Boise began to fall behind. In a little while Cadoc’s strength failed also. They shouted, laughingly, that they were fairly beaten, and those who were on shore began to cry encouragement to the two brothers, who alone were left in the race.

 

“Gil! Jan! Oh, Gil! Oh, Jan! Hasten, lads, for one of you is the champion. Hurrah! Hurrah!”

 

Gil was in high spirits, for he was still in the lead. “Hurry, little brother,” he cried, “or I shall beat you badly. Oho! You can dive, but that is scarcely swimming, my fine lad. You had better hurry, or I win.”

 

And Jan did hurry. He put forth all his strength as he had never done before. Soon the black heads bobbed side by side in the water, and Gil ceased to laugh and jest, for it was now a struggle in good earnest. He shut his teeth angrily, straining forward with all his might. But push as he would, Jan kept close beside. At last, when within a few yards of the beach, Jan gave a little laughing shout and shot through the water like a flash. He had been saving his strength for this,—and he had won!

 

The other boys dragged him up the beach with shouts and cheers of welcome to the new champion, while Gil, who had borne that title for so long, crawled ashore unaided.

 

“Hurrah for Jan!” they cried, tossing their caps and dancing happily, for Jan was a great favorite. “Hurrah for the little brother! Now Gil must take the second place. You are the big brother now!” And they laughed and jeered at Gil,—not maliciously, but because they were pleased with Jan.

 

Jan ran to Gil and held out his hand for his brother’s congratulations, but Gil thrust it aside. “It was not a fair race!” he sputtered. “Unfair, unfair, I vow!”

 

The others gathered around, surprised to see Gil so angry and with such wild eyes.

 

“Gil, oh, Gil! What do you mean?” cried Jan, turning very pale. “Why was it not a fair race, brother?”

 

“Brother! You are no brother of mine!” shouted Gil, beside himself with rage. “You are a changeling,—half fish, half sea-monster. You were helped in this race by the sea-people; you cannot deny it. I saw one push you to the shore. You could not have beaten me else. Everyone knows that I am the better swimmer, though I am no fish.”

 

“Nonsense!” cried Boise, clapping Gil on the shoulder with a laugh. “You talk foolishness, Gil. There are no sea-folk in these waters; those are old women’s tales. It was a fair race, I say, and Jan is our champion.”

 

But Jan heeded only the cruel words which his brother had spoken. “Gil, what do you mean?” he asked again, trembling with a new fear. “I was not helped by anyone.”

 

“Ha!” cried Gil, pointing at him fiercely, “see him tremble, see his guilty looks! He knows that I speak true. The Mermaid helped him. He is half fish. He came out of the sea and was no real brother of mine, but a Merbaby. A Mermaid was his mother!”

 

At these words a whirring sound was heard in the air overhead, and a second time the Stork appeared, flapping across the scene out to sea, where he alighted upon the Round Rock. But Gil was too angry even to notice him.

 

“Gil, Gil, tell me how this can be?” begged Jan, going up to his brother and laying a pleading hand upon his arm.

 

But Gil shook him off, crying, “It is true! He is half fish and the sea-folk helped him. It was not a fair race. Let us try it again.”

 

“Nonsense!” cried the other boys indignantly. “It was a fair race. Jan need not try again, for he is our champion. We will have it so.”

 

But Jan was looking at Gil strangely, and the light was gone out of his eyes. His face was very white. “I did not know that you cared so much to win,” he said to Gil in a low voice. Then he turned to the others. “If my brother thinks it was not a fair race let us two try again. Let us swim once more to the Round Rock and back; and the winner shall be declared the village champion.” For Jan meant this time to let his brother beat. What did he care about anything now, since Gil hated him so much that he could tell that story?

 

“Well, let them try the race again, since Jan will have it so,” cried the boys, grumbling and casting scornful looks at Gil, who had never been so unpopular with them as at this moment.

 

Once more the two sprang into the waves and started for the Round Rock, where the spray was dashing merrily over the plumage of the Stork as he stood there upon one leg, trying not to mind the wetness which he hated. For he was talking earnestly with a pretty Mermaid who sat on the rock in the surf, wringing her hands.

 

“It is he! It is he!” she cried. “I know him now. It is the lad whom they call Jan, the finest swimmer of them all. Oh, he dives like a fish! He swims like a true Sea-child. He is my own baby, my little one! I followed, I watched him. I could hardly keep my hands from him. Tell me, dear Stork, is he not indeed my own?”

 

The Stork looked at her gravely. “It is no longer a secret,” he said, “for Jan has been betrayed. He who is now Jan the unhappy mortal boy was once your unhappy Sea-baby.”

 

“Unhappy! Oh, is he unhappy?” cried the Mermaid. “Then at last I may claim him as you promised. I may take him home once more to our fair sea-home, to cherish him and make him happier than he ever was in all his little life. But tell me, dear Stork, will he not be my own little Sea-child again? I would not have him in his strange, ugly human guise, but as my own little fish-tailed baby.”

 

“When you kiss him,” said the Stork, “when you throw your arms about his neck and speak to him in the sea-language, he will become a Sea-child once more, as he was when I found him in his cradle on the rocks. But look! Yonder he comes. A second race has begun, and they swim this way. Wait until they have turned the rock, and then it will be your turn. Ah, Gil! You have ill kept your promise to me!”

 

Yes, the race between the brothers was two thirds over. Side by side as before the two black heads pushed through the waves. Both faces were white and drawn, and there was no joy in either. Gil’s was pale with anger, Jan’s only with sadness. He loved his brother still, but he knew that Gil loved him no more.

 

They were nearing the shore where the boys waited breathlessly for the end of this strange contest. Suddenly Jan turned his face towards Gil and gave him one look. “You will win, brother,” he breathed brokenly, “my strength is failing. You are the better swimmer, after all. Tell the lads that I confess it. Go on and come in as the champion.”

 

He thought that Gil might turn to see whether he needed aid. But Gil made no sign save to quicken his strokes, which had begun to lag, for in truth he was very weary. He pushed on with only a desire to win the shore and to triumph over his younger brother. With a sigh Jan saw him shoot ahead, then turning over on his back he began to float carelessly. He would not make another effort. It was then that he saw the Stork circling close over his head; and it did not seem so very strange when the Stork said to him,—

 

“Swim, Jan! You are the better swimmer; you can beat him yet.”

 

“I know; but I do not wish to beat,” said Jan wearily. “He would only hate me the more.”

 

“There is one who loves you more than ever he did,” said the Stork gently. “Will you go home to your sea-mother, the beautiful Mermaid?”

 

“The Mermaid!” cried Jan; “then it is true. My real home is not upon the shore?”

 

“Your real home is here, in the waves. Beneath them your mother waits.”

 

“Then I need not go back to that other home,” said Jan, “that home where I am hated?”

 

“Ah, you will be loved in this sea-home,” said the Stork. “You will be very happy there. Come, come, Mermaid! Kiss your child and take him home.”

 

Then Jan felt two soft arms come around his neck and two soft lips pressed upon his own. “Dear child!” whispered a soft voice, “come with me to your beautiful sea-home and be happy always.” A strange, drowsy feeling came over him, and he forgot how to be sad. He felt himself growing younger and younger. The world beyond the waves looked unreal and odd. He forgot why he was there; he forgot the race, the boys, Gil, and all his trouble. But instead he began to remember things of a wonderful dream. He closed his eyes; the sea rocked him gently, as in a cradle, and slowly, slowly, with the soft arms of the Mermaid about him, and her green hair twining through his fingers, he sank down through the water. As he sank the likeness of a human boy faded from him, and he became once more a fresh, fair little Sea-child, with a scaly tail and plump, merry face. The Mer-folk came to greet him. The fishes darted about him playfully. The sea-anemones beckoned him with enticing fingers. The Sea-child was at home again, and the sea was kind.

 

So Gil became the champion; but that was little pleasure to him, as you can fancy. For he remembered, he remembered, and he could not forget. He thought, like all the village, that Jan had been drowned through his brother’s selfishness and jealousy. He forgave himself less even than the whole village could forgive him for the loss of their favorite; for he knew better than they how much more he was to blame, because he had broken the promise which kept Jan by him. If he had known how happy the Sea-child now was in the home from which he had come to be Gil’s brother, perhaps Gil would not have lived thereafter so sad a life. The Stork might have told him the truth. But the wise old Stork would not. That was to be Gil’s punishment,—to remember and regret and to reproach himself always for the selfishness and jealousy which had cost him a loving brother.

===============

Let Him Prove it

Oh, give me for a little space
To see with childlike eyes
This curious world, our dwelling-place
Of wonder and surprise. . . .

 

The long, long road from Day to Night
Winds on through constant change,
Whereon one hazards with delight
Adventures new and strange;

 

The wonders of the earth and sky!
The magic of the sea!
The mysteries of beast and fly,
Of bird and flower and tree!

 

One feels the breath of holy things
Unseen along the road,
The whispering of angel wings,
The neighboring of Good.

 

And Beauty must be good and true,
One battles for her sake;
But Wickedness is foul to view,
So one cannot mistake. . . .

 

Ah, give me with the childlike sight
The simple tongue and clear
Wherewith to read the vision right
Unto a childish ear.

 

===============

From: THE FLOWER PRINCESS – Four Short Fantasy Stories for Children

ISBN: 9788835379119

DOWNLOAD LINK: https://bit.ly/2WQ6c2C

==============

KEYWORDS/TAGS: The Flower Princess, Little Friend, Mermaid’s Child, Ten Blowers, Folklore, fairy tale, myth, legend, fable, childrens story, storyteller, baby, beauty, blonde, Child, Christmas, dove, fair, family, Fleurette, flower, Fortemain, garden, Gil, heart, hill, Jan, Joyeuse, King, lost love, Mermaid, merry, morning mother, music, palace, Pierre, Prince, Princess, race, Sea-child, secret, snow, Stork, strange, throne, time, village, voice, words, Let Him Prove It, Princess Fleurette, Clap Her Hands, Joy, Help Comes, Blow For Our King,

BFB_Front_Cover_A5_Centered

ANDREW LANG’s BLUE FAIRY BOOK
37 Illustrated Fairy Tales

Compiled and Edited by Andrew Lang
Illustrated by H. J. Ford

In the Blue Fairy Book you will find a set of 37 illustrated Fairy Tales collected and edited by Andrew Lang who was Britain’s answer to the Grimm brothers. Within you will find perennial favourites like

  • Hansel And Grettel,
  • Little Red Riding Hood,
  • Sleeping Beauty,
  • Beauty And The Beast,
  • Cinderella,
  • Aladdin And The Wonderful Lamp

and many more.

You will also find some of the tales are less well-known, even so, they are equally fascinating and entertaining all the same.

As to whether there are really any fairies or not, is a difficult question to answer.  The Editor never saw any himself, but he knew several people who have seen them-in the Scottish Highlands – and heard their music.  So, if ever you are ever near Nether Lochaber (16km/10m south west of Fort William), be sure to go to the Fairy Hill, and you may hear the music yourself, as grown-up people have often done. The only stipulation is that you must go on a fine day, but remember this poem as the little folk may ask you to recite it to gain entry to their magical kingdom.

Books Yellow, Red, and Green and Blue,
All true, or just as good as true,
And here’s the Blue Book just for YOU!

Hard is the path from A to Z,
And puzzling to a curly head,
Yet leads to Books—Green, Yellow and Red.

For every child should understand
That letters from the first were planned
To guide us into Fairy Land.

So labour at your Alphabet,
For by that learning shall you get
To lands where Fairies may be met.

And going where this pathway goes,
You too, at last, may find, who knows?
The Garden of the Singing Rose.

Download Link: https://store.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/andrew-langs-blue-fairy-book-37-illustrated-fairy-tales/

10% of the Publisher’s profit from the sale of this book will be donated to Charities.

YESTERDAYS BOOKS raising funds for TODAYS CHARITIES

===============

HASTAGS: #Folklore, #fairytales, #fables, #myths, #legends, #childrensstories, #bedtime, #childrensBooks, #Bluefairybook, #path, #curlyhead, #letters, #FairyLand, #learn, #Alphabet, #Fairies, #pathway, #Garden, #SingingRose, #bronzering, #prince, #hyacinth, #princess, #eastofthesun, #westofthemoon, #yellowdwarf, #redridinghood, #sleepingbeauty, #woods, #Cinderella, #glassslipper, #Aladdin, #wonderfullamp, #youth, #fear, #rumpelstiltzkin, #beauty, #beast, #mastermaid, #sea, #salt, #mastercat, #pussinboots, #Felicia, #potofpinks, #whitecat, #water #lily, #goldspinners, #terriblehead, #prettygoldilocks, #Whittington, #cat, #wonderfulsheep, #littlethumb, #tomthumb, alibaba, #fortythieves, #Hansel, #Grettel, #snowwhite, #rosered, #goosegirl, #toads, #diamonds, #princedarling, #bluebeard, #trustyjohn, #brave, #littletailor, #voyagetoLilliput, #glasshill, #princeahmed, #paribanou, #jack, #giantkiller, #blackbull, #norroway, #redetin,

TITCH_Front_Cover-A5-Centered

TOLD IN THE COFFEE HOUSE

29 Turkish and Islamic Folk Tales

Herein are 29 of the most notable Turkish and Islamic stories recorded and translated by Adler in partnership with Allan Ramsay.

Herein you will find stories like:
HOW THE HODJA SAVED ALLAH
THE HANOUM AND THE UNJUST CADI
HOW COBBLER AHMET BECAME THE CHIEF ASTROLOGER
THE WISE SON OF ALI PASHA
THE MERCIFUL KHAN
KING KARA-KUSH OF BITHYNIA
WE KNOW NOT WHAT THE DAWN MAY BRING FORTH
THE EFFECTS OF RAKI
and many, many more.

You are invited to download these 29 stories in ebook form for only US$1.99

Link: https://store.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/told-in-the-coffee-house-29-turkish-and-islamic-folk-tales/

 

It must be noted that while Turkish folklore is entertaining and is guaranteed to give rise to a smile, a chuckle or even laughter, the stories do have a gravity of their own and will impart a wisdom only found in Eastern lands.

During the course of a number of visits to Istanbul, Cyrus Adler* became interested in the tales that were being told in the coffee houses of the city, and many they were.

Turkish Coffee Houses have an intimacy which encourages the sharing of stories. They usually consist of a little more than rooms, with walls made of small panes of glass. The furniture consists of a tripod with a contrivance for holding the kettle, and a fire to keep the coffee boiling. A carpeted bench traverses the entire length of the room. This is occupied by turbaned Turks, their legs folded under them, smoking hookahs or chibouks, and sipping coffee. A few will be engaged in a game of backgammon, but the majority enter into conversation, at first only in syllables, which gradually gives rise to a general discussion. Finally, some sage of the neighborhood comes in, and the company appeals to him to settle the point at issue. This he usually does by telling a story to illustrate his opinion. Some of the stories told on these occasions are adaptations of those already known in Arabic and Persian literature, but the Turkish mind gives them a new setting and a peculiar philosophy. They are characteristic of the habits, customs, and methods of thought of the people, and for this reason seem worthy of preservation.

Most of the stories have been collected by Mr. Allan Ramsay, who, by a long residence in Constantinople, has had special, and many, opportunities for learning to know the modern Turk.
Cyrus Adler (1863 – 1940) was an American educator, Jewish religious leader and scholar.
==============
KEYWORDS/TAGS: fairy tales, folklore, myths, legends, children’s stories, children’s stories, bygone era, fairydom, fairy land, classic stories, children’s bedtime stories, fables, Adventures, Turkey, Turkish, coffee house, one, man, Ahmet, Pasha, Jew, wife, Hodja, money, Hadji, Dervish, piasters, father, Cadi, gold, Halid, Allah, Sultan, Ben, Hussein, woman, house, devil, Moïse, horse, Vizier, Grand, Imam, Armenian, thousand, Hanoum, husband, Effendi, Chief, Majesty, olives, judges, slave, Turk, Patriarch, Palace, children, friend, goose, Stamboul, Brother, Alas, God, spokesman, Paradise, priest, monkey, smith, Ali, box, people, twelve, Jesus, Khan, astrologer, Janissary, Governor, begger, Hassan, beadle, faith, death, stranger, necklace, blessing, judgment, desire, master, thief, peace, hands, birds, sword, Forty, heart, dream, true, arm, 25, twenty-five, Astrologer, Detective, statement, pleasure, justice, village, farrier, funeral, punish, tailor, spirit, Egypt, baker, alone, Osman, Porte, child, third, blood, short, Avram, youth, possessions, Mohammed, history, journey, despair, Chepdji, window, evil, rose, Wise, wisdom, conversation, disappear, apprentice, protest, Mustapha, steward Scutari, towers, prison, garden, Bekri, Abdul, raki, Janissaries, thirty-nine, horseshoes, Inshallah, Dervish, gunsmith, Chacham, turban, Konak, Agha, thunderstruck, flute-player, gentlemen, medjidies, Chapkin, baker

We should consider the daily life of Philip very monotonous. It was the same, day by day, year in and year out, with very little change. The little village where he lived contained fewer than one hundred inhabitants. Everybody was thoroughly acquainted with everybody else.

There was no society such as we have to-day. Philip’s squaw did not dress herself up in the afternoon, and make calls on the other squaws. If she wished to talk with them she went where they were, whether it was morning, afternoon, or evening.
There were no parties, no receptions, no theaters, no art museums, no libraries, no books, no music, no fireworks, no holidays, no Sabbath. The Indians believed in a good and a bad spirit, but they had no churches or temples or service or worship or priests.

So we cannot think of Philip sitting in the best pew in church, and listening to a grand sermon, preached by the most famous minister in the country. Philip knew nothing of sermons.

He played no games that instructed his mind. He cared for only such games as would strengthen his body, increase his power of endurance, or develop his muscle or his craftiness. With the other Indians he played football, tossed quoits, wrestled, ran, and jumped.

Occasionally he engaged with them in the war dance. This was performed in a very solemn manner. It represented a war campaign, or a sham battle, as we say. First, the Indians came together from different directions. Then they marched forward stealthily and quietly, lay in ambush, awaited the coming of the enemy, suddenly jumped out and rushed upon them, slaughtered them, retreated, and finally went home. The dance ended with the reception at home, and the torturing and killing of the prisoners.

These were his amusements. His occupations were two in number: hunting and fishing.

In the fall of the year, and again in the spring, he spent about three months in hunting. In company with his brother or some close friend, he went in search of a supply of meat for the use of the family, and of skins to sell to the white men or to use for clothing.

After reaching the hunting-grounds, they built a big wigwam where they stayed at night. There also they stored the skins of the animals they had captured.

Many stories might be told of the exciting adventures they had with bears and wolves. The woods of New England contained many moose and other wild animals, and generally Philip returned to his little village with meat enough to last all winter. Frequently he brought home as many as one hundred beaver skins.

But Philip, like others, had bad luck sometimes. Now and then he lost his way in the woods, and on one or two occasions the raft on which he was taking his skins across the river upset and the results of his winter’s labor were lost.

He captured his game by shooting or snaring, or by catching it in pitfalls. When the hunting season was over he spent his time in fishing. Generally he caught his fish in nets, although occasionally he used a hook and line.

When not engaged in hunting or fishing, or attending a meeting of Indian princes, he was generally to be found near his wigwam, asleep or watching his squaw at work.

All the work around the wigwam was done by his wife or squaw. According to the Indian view she was his slave. She covered and lined the wigwam, plaited the mats and baskets, planted, tended, and harvested the corn and vegetables, cooked the food, ate the leavings, and slept on the coldest side of the wigwam.
Many Indians did not care very much for their squaws, and made their lives miserable by treating them badly, and showing them no sympathy nor love in any way whatever. But we are told that Philip was better than the other Indians in this respect. He loved his wife and treated her as a companion instead of as a slave.

Philip had no pots and kettles like ours. His wife roasted his meat by placing it on the point of a stake. She broiled it by laying it on hot coals or hot stones. She boiled it in rude vessels made of stone, earth, or wood, and heated the water by throwing hot stones into it.

Philip’s only garden tool was a hoe, made of clam shells or of a moose’s shoulder-blade fastened to a wooden handle. He also had a rude axe or hatchet made of a piece of stone, sharpened by being scraped on another stone, and tied to a wooden handle. His arrows and spears were tipped with bone or with triangular pieces of flint. These were all home-made, for Philip, like other Indians, was obliged to make his own hatchets and arrows.

Finally, Philip never went to the store to buy things to be used at home, for the Indians kept no stores. His wife raised the corn, squashes, and pumpkins, and he caught his own fish and game. These, with nuts, roots, and berries, gave him all the food he needed.

Native American Women at Work

Books Yellow, Red, and Green and Blue,
All true, or just as good as true,
And now here’s the Pink Book just for YOU!

Hard is the path from A to Z,
And puzzling to a curly head,
Yet leads to Books—Green, Blue, and Red.

For every child should understand
That letters from the first were planned
To guide us into Fairy Land

So labour at your Alphabet,
For by that learning shall you get
To lands where Fairies may be met.

And going where this pathway goes,
You too, at last, may find, who knows?
The Garden of the Singing Rose.

Penned by Andrew Lang as an introduction to his Pink Fairy Books – now part of a 3 book set.

URL: http://abelapublishing.com/andrew-langs-coloured-fairy-tales-3-book-set_p24618764.htm

Andrew Lang's Coloured Fairy Tales 3 Book Set

 

 

NOTE: Yes, Roumanian is the correct spelling. This was the way it was spelt in 1881

 

Happy to have received such a handsome remuneration, the gardener with much trouble and pains made the garden in as good a state as it was before the folly of Dimitri. The marriage of the second daughter took place in a short space of time, and her father and his suite accompanied them also, to the frontier; Didine only remaining at home under the plea of indisposition. Dimitri repeated the same folly as on the marriage of the oldest sister, the only difference being that this time he wore the second suit belonging to the fairies. All was repeated as before, and to prevent his being beaten, Didine sent two handfuls of gold to the gardener in return for his flowers. Again he worked until the garden had once more got into good condition.

 

Shortly after this the Governor organised a great chase, and while hunting he narrowly escaped being torn to pieces by a wild boar; to celebrate his good fortune he raised a temporary kiosque in the wood, and bade all his friends come and make merry.

 

Didine only was not there, still on the plea of indisposition. Dimitri for the third time alone, recommenced his folly, and put on the third dress of the fairies which was embroidered with the sun on the chest, the moon on the back, and the morning and evening star on the sleeves.

 

This time he committed such havoc that it was impossible to re-arrange the garden.

 

The gardener’s rage knew no bounds and he was on the point of giving Dimitri a beating when Didine tapped at the window and asked for flowers.

 

With difficulty were two or three flowers found which had escaped the hoofs of the horse, but she gave him three handfuls of gold and begged him not to lay hands on Dimitri. In five weeks the garden was restored and Dimitri made to promise that he would never more commit such mischief.

 

The Governor began to be anxious about his daughter Didine for she kept to the house and seemed always sad, he proposed that she should marry the son of a neighbouring Boyard but she would not entertain the idea, so he called his council and asked their advice. “Governor!” said they “you must build a great tower with a gateway, and all the pretenders to the hand of Didine must pass under it, give to her a golden apple which she must throw to the one whom she desires for her husband.”

 

No sooner said than done, the tower was built, and it was soon spread abroad that all who wished to marry Didine must pass under this Archway. Many came, of both high and low degree, but still she did not throw the apple, and they began to believe that she had no wish to marry, until one of the councillors said, “Let all those who are in your court, all those who are employed on your estate, pass under also.” So they were called, and last of all came Dimitri who with great difficulty was persuaded to pass under. Didine at once flung the apple at him. The Governor seeing this exclaimed, “it is a mistake, she has hit the wrong man, let all pass through again.” This was done, and again Didine threw the apple to Dimitri. All agreed that there was no mistake this time, and so the father unwillingly consented to her choice.

 

They were married without any rejoicings and suffered to live in the Governor’s court, Dimitri earning their living as a water carrier. They were laughed at by all, the servants even throw dust and sweepings in the direction of their room. Inside it was very different, the horse had brought there all the wonders of the world, not even in King’s palaces were to be found such lovely things as in their wretched dwelling.

 

The other pretenders to the hand of Didine were so indignant at their rejection, that they united together to make war on the Governor. This caused him much pain, but he had no other alternative than to prepare for the struggle.

 

His two sons-in-law brought their retainers and Dimitri asked his wife to beg of the Governor to let him go to the battle. “Go from out of my sight,” said the father, “you have broken my peace for ever.” After much entreaty he was prevailed on to allow Dimitri to be there, if only as a water carrier for the soldiers.

 

So in a shabby working dress, astride a wretched horse, blind and lame, he set off in front. When the army caught him up, they found that his horse had sunk into a bog, and he was trying with all his might to extricate it. With laughs and jeers they passed on, leaving him alone to do the best he could. When they were out of sight, Dimitri swiftly donned the clothes of the fairies, and mounting his winged horse, sped to a commanding height, where he had a good view of the troops. Seeing that the enemy was eight times greater in number, he dashed into their midst, and slashing right and left, put them to rout in the greatest disorder. In the effort Dimitri cut his wrist, and the Governor gave him his handkerchief with which to bind it up.

 

When the Governor’s army returned victorious, they again came upon Dimitri, still trying to extricate the miserable mare from the bog; and being in good humour with their success, the Governor ordered his soldiers to come to his aid.

 

Shortly after this, the Governor fell ill and became totally blind. All the doctors, all the wise men, all the astrologers were called, but none could think of any remedy.

 

On awaking one morning, the Governor related that he had dreamt that if he washed his eyes with the milk of a wild red goat, he would regain his sight. Hearing this, his two sons-in-law set off in search of such a goat, without taking notice of Dimitri, or asking him to accompany them. He, on his side, went out alone, on his faithful steed, to the mountains where the red goats browsed.

 

Finding quickly both sheep and goats, Dimitri milked the sheep, disguised himself as a goat-herd, and was on the look out for his brothers-in-law. When they came up they asked him if he had milk to sell? He answered, yes, but that having heard of the Governor’s dream, he was going to take this reel goat’s milk to him. Enquiring if he would sell the milk to them, he said he would take no money for it, but that if they wished for the milk he would give them some, if they would allow him to mark them with his brand on their backs.

 

The sons-in-law taking council together, thought it would not do them much harm, so they consented to being branded, and taking the milk, set off quickly to the Governor. He took of the milk and drank it, he bathed his eyes with it, but it had no effect.

 

Sometime after came Didine with a wooden pail, saying, “Father, take this milk and use it, it is brought by my husband-drink it, and bathe your eyes with it, I entreat you.” The Governor answered, “What good has your stupid husband ever done to me? Is it likely he can be of any use now? Even your brothers-in-law who aided me in battle, are no good to me. Have I not forbade you my presence? How dare you intrude?” “I will submit to any punishment you may think fit, father, if you will but wash your eyes with this milk, which your loving daughter brings you.” The Governor seeing that she was so importunate, bathed his eyes with the milk again and again, until he began to see dimly; continuing this, in a few days his sight was quite restored to him.

 

On the Governor’s recovery he gave a great banquet, and Didine with her husband, Dimitri, were allowed to sit at the lower end of the table. While the festivity was at its height, Dimitri arose, and demanding pardon for the interruption, enquired of the Governor if it were right for slaves to sit at the same table as their masters. “Certainly not,” said the Governor. “If that be the case, and as all the world knows you to be a just man, give me justice, and bid your right hand and your left hand guest, arise, for they are my slaves, for proof of which you will find them both branded with my mark.”

 

When the sons-in-law heard this, they began to tremble, and were forced to confess the truth. They were bade to rise, and place themselves behind Dimitri’s chair.

 

Later on Dimitri drew from his pocket, the handkerchief which the Governor gave him to bind his wrist after the battle. “How did you come by this handkerchief?” said the Governor, “for I gave it to the powerful man. sent from God to aid me in the battle.” “Not at all,” said Dimitri, “for you gave it to me.” “Is it so? Could it have been you who stood us in such good stead.”

 

“I alone,” said Dimitri.

 

“It is impossible that I can believe this,” said the Governor, “unless you stand before me precisely as you were when I gave you the handkerchief.” Dimitri rose from the table, and going out quickly, returned clad in a suit of the fairies’ clothes, and with his golden hair let down, to the astonishment of the Governor and his guests. All rose and saluted him on his entrance, the Governor complimented Didine on her choice, and feeling that he was growing old, said he wished to relinquish the Governorship in favour of Dimitri. This done, Dimitri’s power and renown became world-wide talk. He pardoned his brothers-in-law, and gave them good posts in the country.

 

His winged horse returned to fairyland, bearing the three suits of charmed clothing, which he no longer needed. All that remained to him was his hair which was like threads of gold, from his having bathed in the magic bath.

 

His sons and daughters inherited his beautiful hair, and the old women to this day, believe that all true Dimitris ought to have hair as bright and golden as the ripe maize in their cornfields.

 

————————-

From Roumanian Fairy Tales and Legends (1881)

ISBN: 978-0-9560584-9-2

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_rft.html

 

Romanian Fairy Tales and Legends

NOTE: Yes, “Roumanian” is the correct spelling. This was the way it was spelt in 1881

 

Once on a time there dwelt in a hollow of one of the great mountains a solitary Hermit, who had not seen the face of a human creature since he was a Child.

 

His only neighbours were the beasts of the forest, with whom he lived on very good terms.

 

One day when he had gone to fetch water from a neighbouring stream, he saw floating on its surface a tarred basket containing what seemed to be a bundle of clothes. To his astonishment the cries of a baby issued from this basket! Muttering a prayer, he plunged into the water, and with the aid of his staff drew the basket to the edge of the stream. In this basket was a boy of only a few weeks old. The Hermit took the little one in his arms, and its wailing ceased. On examining further he found attached to it a letter, saying that the infant was the unhappy son of a king’s daughter, who for fear of her shame being brought to light, had sent her little one clown the stream to the care of the good God. The Hermit received the gift with joy, but when he thought of his own incompetence, and his inability to procure milk, or any suitable food for his little charge, he was in despair. Suddenly there began to grow near the entrance of his Cave, a Vine whose branches spread and climbed quickly up to the top of the Cave. It already bore grapes, of which some were ripe, others still green, others hardly formed, others in flower; taking of the ripe grapes, and squeezing the juice into the mouth of the little one, he saw that he sucked it in with relish.

 

So the child was fed on the juice of the grape until he had teeth to share the roots and other hard fare of his protector.

 

As he grew bigger, the Hermit taught him to read and write, to gather roots for their daily food, and to shoot birds with a bow and arrow.

 

The boy had now grown into a youth, when the Hermit called him, and thus said: My son, Dimitri (for thus had he baptized him), I find myself getting weaker every day, as you see I am very old, and I warn you that in three days from this, I shall go to another world. I am not your real father, for I rescued you from the stream when you had been abandoned in a basket by your mother, so as to hide the shame, and the punishment of her fault. When I sleep the last long sleep, which you will recognize by the coldness of my body, there will come a Lion; have no fear of him, he will make my grave, and you will cover me over with earth. I have no legacy for you except a horse’s bridle. When I have left you for ever, then reach down from the top of the cave, the bridle, shake it, and a horse will appear at this summons, who will from henceforth be your guide.”

 

On the third day after this, the Hermit was no more. On his hard couch he slept his long sleep. The Lion with his claws dug the grave, and Dimitri placed him gently therein and covered him over with earth, and wept three days and three nights for his benefactor.

 

On the third day, hunger reminded him that he had not eaten, so going to his vine for support, his astonishment was extreme on finding it withered, and with no grapes on it. Calling to mind the last instructions of the Hermit, he entered the cave, and found the bridle, on shaking which, appeared a Winged Horse, who enquired, “Master, what are your commands?” The youth recounted to him his past life, and how the Hermit had stood him in the stead of a parent.

 

“Let us go to some other country,” said he, “for here with that grave before my eyes, I am always disposed to cry.” Said the horse, “Just so, my Master, we will go and live where there are other men like you.” “How,” said Dimitri, “are there other men like me and my father? and shall we live amongst them?” “Certainly,” answered the horse. Said the youth, “How is it that none of them have ever come here?”

 

“There is nothing to lead them to this mountain, we must go to them.”

 

“Let us set off,” said he, gleefully. “Yes,” said the horse, “but you must be clothed; where we are going, they don’t wear Lion and Tiger skins; put your hand in my right ear, and draw out what you will find.” To Dimitri’s surprise, there he found a suit of clothes, and aided by the instructions of the horse, he succeeded in putting them on. He mounted the horse, and submitted himself to its guidance.

 

On arriving at a City where men and women were moving about, as numerous as ants, our hero was dumb with astonishment and admiration at the houses, and at all which met his view.

 

Said the horse, “Master, here everyone has some trade, some occupation; you also must find something to do;” but the youth was unwilling, so after a few days sojourn, they set off again on their journey.

 

Soon they arrived at a Kingdom ruled over by three Fairies, and the horse advised Dimitri to try and enter their service.

 

With some difficulty he succeeded, and commenced his new duties. The horse visited him daily, and gave him instructions; he informed him that there was a room in the Fairies’ Palace which contained a bath, and that once in a hundred years, the water in this bath had the power of changing into gold, the hair of the one who bathed first in it. Also that in a chest in the same room was a bundle of three suits of clothes, which they preserved with a jealous care. The Fairies had given the youth orders to clean all parts of the Palace, excepting the bath room, which he was strictly forbidden to enter. The Fairies being called away to a fairy festival, the youth all alone entered the forbidden chamber, and saw all as described by the horse, but the bath was without water. On the next absence of the fairies, before leaving, knowing that the time of the filling of the fountain was approaching, they instructed Demitri that if he heard the slightest noise in the bath room, to take a horn and sound it three times, so that they might return quickly.

 

Shortly after their departure, came the sound of rushing water from the bath room, the youth called at once for the horse who bade him enter the bath and bathe, then steal the bundle of clothes from the chest, then mount the winged horse and fly away.

 

When they had quitted. the palace, it began to shake and tremble to its foundations. This brought back the fairies, who seeing that the bath had been used and was no good for another hundred years, their bundle of precious clothes gone, and their servant absent, they set off in pursuit of the latter. They had nearly laid hands on him, when he passed the frontier of their power, and came to a sudden stop. At this disappointment the fairies could not restrain their anger but cried, “Son of an elf, how you have cheated us, let us see at least your hair,” he shook loose his hair and they continued, “who ever saw such hair? as bright as gold–only give us back the bundle of clothes and we will pardon you.” “No!” said he, “I keep them instead of the wages you owe me,” and then with his horse continued his journey.

 

Arrived in a town, he covered his hair with a close fitting bladder, and went to the gardener of the Governor of the town to seek service as under gardener.

 

As he was in need of a help, he engaged him to water the grass, weed the garden, and lop the trees.

 

This Governor was the father of three daughters, who were somewhat neglected and left to themselves, owing to their father’s official duties. One day the eldest of the girls Anika, calling her sisters to her, said, “Let us each choose a melon to take to table for our father.” This was done, the melons being served on golden plates. The Governor was so astonished that he summoned his council together and asked them to guess the meaning of this act of his daughters. They decided to cut open the melons, and found that one of them was beginning slightly to decay, that another was just ripe enough to eat, and that a third was only ripening. Said the eldest councillor, “May your Excellence live many years! these melons are the ages of your daughters, and show the time is arrived for you to provide them with homes and with husbands.” So the Governor decided that his daughters should be married, and even on the next day negotiations were entered into for their hands.

 

The eldest, Anika, soon made her choice, and after the marriage, the Governor accompanied his son-in-law and daughter to the frontier.

 

Only the youngest, Didine, remained at home.

 

Our hero, the under gardener, seeing that the cortège had set off, let down his hair, put on one of the fairy suits, called his horse and mounting it, danced all over the garden, crushing and destroying the flowers.

 

He was unaware that Didine was at the window watching all his movements. When he saw the folly he had committed, he changed quickly his dress, and began to repair the damage he had done. On his arrival, the head gardener was so vexed with the state of things, that he was on the point of giving our here a hearty thrashing. Didine, still looking on, tapped at the window and asked the gardener to send her some flowers. He made her up a bouquet, in return for which she sent him gold, and a request not to beat his under gardener.

 

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From Roumanian Fairy Tales and Legends (1881)

ISBN: 978-0-9560584-9-2

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_rft.html

 

Romanian Fairy Tales and Legends