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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.

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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.

 

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

ISBN: 9788835379119

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

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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,

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QUEEN ZIXI of IX
More adventures in the Land of Oz
L. Frank Baum author of the Wizard of Oz

“Queen Zixi of Ix” was written by L Frank Baum, author of the many books in the Oz series, and illustrated by F Richardson with 86 exquisitely detailed drawings.

Our story starts on the night of a full moon – the fairies ruled by Queen Lurlene are dancing in the Forest of Burzee. Lurlene calls a halt to it, for “one may grow weary even of merrymaking”. To divert themselves, another fairy recommends that they make something they can imbue with fairy magic. After several ideas are considered and rejected, the fairies decide to make a magic cloak that can grant its wearer one wish. The fairy who proposed it, Espa, and Queen Lulea agree that such a cloak will benefit mortals greatly. However, its wish-granting power cannot be used if the cloak is stolen from its previous wearer. After the fairies finish the golden cloak, Ereol arrives from the kingdom of Noland whose king has just died. On the advice of the Man in the Moon, Ereol is dispatched to Noland to give the magic cloak to the first unhappy person she meets.

 

The deed done the fairies return to Fairyland and they watch and wait to see what happens – and some amazing things do happen which lead to adventures across Noland and Ix. Some amazing things are wished for and given with the magic cloak. But what are they. Well you’ll have to download and read this book for yourself.

 

At some point word of the cloak spreads afar and Queen Zixi hears of it and desires it for herself. Then somone steals the cloak and a search is otganised. During the search for the cloak many journeys have to be taken to find it. But just what happens on these journeys. Well, you’ll just have to download the book to find out for yourself.

YESTERDAY’S BOOKS FOR TODAY’S CHARITIES.

10% of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to charity.

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Download this book from: https://store.streetlib.com/en/l-frank-baum/queen-zixi-of-ix-more-adventures-in-the-style-of-dorothys-adventures-in-oz/

Search our store for the other ADVENTURES IN OZ series.

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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.
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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

TOSOTS-Front-Cover

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SUN 8 illustrated fairy stories for children. The stories in this volume by Evelyn Sharp are original stories, not retellings of fairy stories from the mists of time like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty etc.

They are:
The Weird Witch Of The Willow-Herb
The Magician’s Tea-Party
The Hundredth Princess
Somebody Else’s Prince
The Tears Of Princess Prunella
The Palace On The Floor
The Lady Daffodilia
The Kite That Went To The Moon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evelyn Jane Sharp (1869–1955) was a key figure in two major British women’s suffrage societies, the militant Women’s Social and Political Union and the United Suffragists and an established author. She helped found the United Suffragists and became editor of Votes for Women during the First World War. She was twice imprisoned and became a tax resister. An established author who had published in The Yellow Book, she was especially well known for her children’s fiction, namely, All the Way to Fairyland (1898) and The Other Side of the Sun (1900). REVIEW
Miss Sharp has wit, wisdom, and imagination for her initial equipment, but she possesses also what is rarer far—the accent and the point of view. For instance, she would never introduce a bicycle into this old-fashioned country. She knows perfectly well that if there should be any occasion for hurry—which is rarely the case in Fairyland—naturally you take a rocking-horse.—The Academy, Literature Review, London.

10% of the net sale will be donated to charities by the publisher.
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Get the book via StreetLib at https://store.streetlib.com/en/evelyn-sharp/the-other-side-of-the-sun-8-illustrated-original-fairy-stories/

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A fantastic tale of the demon-haunted forests of 13th C. Germany. In the Dale of the Dragon, or Der Tal des Drachen, lives a young man named Jerome, the hero of our story. In the surrounding forest lives the witch Martha and her twin ravens which speak of Satan, who even makes an appearance to tempt Jerome to the dark side of life.

But what is a haunted forest if it doesn’t have robber barons and outlaws, and what would our story be without Agnes the maiden, who is, of course, in distress. Who is the mysterious Saint of the Dragon’s Dale – a powerful, mysterious figure with a dark secret. Will he ride in to save the day, or will he be too late.

To find the answers to these, and any other questions you may have, download this little book and find out for yourself.

Format: ebook – Kindle.Mobi, ePub, PDF
Download link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/william-s-davis/the-saint-of-the-dragons-dale-medieval-action-and-adventure/

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canvas

Herein are 25 famous stories from The Greek, German, English, Spanish Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources. These stories are further brought to life by 24 full colour plates

The myths and legends gathered here have appealed and will continue to appeal to every age. Nowhere in the realm of fiction are there stories to compare with those which took form centuries ago when the human race was in its childhood—stories so intimately connected with the life and history and religion of the great peoples of antiquity that they have become an integral part of our own civilization. These are a heritage of wealth to every child that is born into the world. Myths and legends like:
Prometheus The Friend Of Man, The Labors Of Hercules, The Gorgon’s Head, The Golden Fleece, The Cyclops, The Sack Of Troy, Beowulf And Grendel, The Good King Arthur and many, many more.

This volume is sure to keep you and your young ones enchanted for hours, if not because of the content, then because of their quality.

Format: eBook – Mobi/Kindle, ePub, PDF

Download Link: https://folklore-fairy-tales-myths-legends-and-other-stories.stores.streetlib.com/en/anon-e-mouse/myths-and-legends-of-all-nations-25-illustrated-myths-legends-and-stories-for-children/

MYTHS AND LEGENDS of all nations

ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 51

In Issue 51 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the ancient Mexican legend of NEZAHUALPILLI KING OF TEXCOCO and the magnificent palace he built and lived in. The opulence of the palace so amazed the Spanish Conquistadors that they reported that it rivalled the best palaces of Europe and the East. We invite you to download and read the amazing reports on Nezahualpilli’s palace in Texcoco.

33% of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to charities.

INCLUDES LINKS TO DOWNLOAD 8 FREE STORIES!

 

Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. “Baba Indaba” translates as “Father of Stories”.

URL: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Anon_E_Mouse_NEZAHUALPILLI_KING_OF_TEXCOCO_A_Centr?id=Jq8IDAAAQBAJ

Nezahualpilli King of Texcoco cover

Nezahualpilli King of Texcoco – cover

Eight-year-old Princess Irene lives a lonely life in a wild and desolate country full of mountains and valleys. Her fathers palace, built upon one of the mountains, was very grand and beautiful. The princess was born there, but, soon after her birth, she was sent away to be brought up by country people in a large house, half castle, half farm-house, on the side of another mountain, about halfway between its base and its peak.
Her father the king is normally absent attending to affairs of state, and her mother is dead. Irene has never known about the existence of the goblins which lurk in the underground mines, but her nursemaid Lootie does know about them. These goblins are grotesque and hideous beings, who centuries ago were human, but due to various reasons, they were driven underground and became malformed and distorted by their new lifestyle. This caused them to despise the humans above the ground and vow revenge against them.
When the peaceful kingdom is menaced by an army of monstrous goblins, intent of revenge, the brave and beautiful princess Irene joins forces with, Curdie, a resourceful peasant boy to rescue the noble king and all his people. The lucky pair explore the mines and battle the evil power of the wicked goblin prince armed only with the gift of song, the miracle of love, and a magical shimmering thread given to her by a beautiful lady who lives in the attic of the great house. But just who is this beautiful lady and what does she want?
33% of the publishers profit from the sale of this book will be donated to charities.
http://abelapublishing.com/the-princess-and-the-goblin_p26351841.htm

The Princess And The Goblin Cover

Now there was once a farmer who had but one daughter of whom he was very proud because she was so clever. So whenever he was in any difficulty he would go to her and ask her what he should do. It happened that he had a dispute with one of his neighbours, and the matter came before the King, and he, after hearing from both of them, did not know how to decide and said:

“You both seem to be right and you both seem to be wrong, and I do not know how to decide; so I will leave it to yourselves in this way: whichever of you can answer best the three questions I am about to ask shall win this trial. What is the most beautiful thing? What is the strongest thing? and, What is the richest thing? Now go home and think over your answers and bring them to me to-morrow morning.”

So the farmer went home and told his daughter what had happened, and she told him what to answer next day.

So when the matter came up for trial before the King he asked first the farmer’s neighbour,

“What is the most beautiful thing?”

And he answered, “My wife.”

Then he asked him, “What is the strongest thing?”

“My ox.”

“And what is the richest?”

And he answered, “Myself.”

Then he turned to the farmer and asked him,

“What is the most beautiful thing?”

And the farmer answered, “Spring.”

Then he asked him, “What is the strongest?”

“The earth.”

Then he asked, “What is the richest thing?”

He answered, “The harvest.”

Then the King decided that the farmer had answered best, and gave judgment in his favour. But he had noticed that the farmer had hesitated in his answers and seemed to be trying to remember things. So he called him up to him and said,

“I fancy those arrows did not come from your quiver. Who told you how to answer so cleverly?”

Then the farmer said, “Please your Majesty, it was my daughter who is the cleverest girl in all the world.”

“Is that so?” said the King. “I should like to test that.”

Shortly afterwards the King sent one of his servants to the farmer’s daughter with a round cake and thirty small biscuits and a roast capon, and told him to ask her whether the moon was full, and what day of the month it was, and whether the rooster had crowed in the night. On the way the servant ate half the cake and half of the biscuits and hid the capon away for his supper. And when he had delivered the rest to the Clever Girl and told his message she gave this reply to be brought back to the King:

“It is only half-moon and the th of the month and the rooster has flown away to the mill; but spare the pheasant for the sake of the partridge.”

And when the servant had brought back this message to the King, he cried out,

“You have eaten half the cake and fifteen of the biscuits and didn’t hand over the capon at all.”

Then the servant confessed that this was all true, and the King said,

“I would have punished you severely but that this Clever Girl begs me to forgive the pheasant, by which she meant you, for the sake of the partridge, by which she meant herself. So you may go unpunished.”

The King was so delighted with the cleverness of the girl that he determined to marry her.

But, wishing to test her once more before doing so, he sent her a message that she should come to him clothed, yet unclothed, neither walking, nor driving, nor riding, neither in shadow nor in sun, and with a gift which is no gift.

When the farmer’s daughter received this message she went near the King’s palace, and having undressed herself wrapped herself up in her long hair, and then had herself placed in a net which was attached to the tail of a horse. With one hand she held a sieve over her head to shield herself from the sun; and in the other she held a platter covered with another platter.

Thus she came to the King neither clothed nor unclothed, neither walking, nor riding, nor driving, neither in sun nor in shadow.

Now when she was released from the net and a mantle had been placed over her she handed the platter to the King, who took the top platter off, whereupon a little bird that had been between the two platters flew away. This was the gift that was no gift.

The King was so delighted at the way in which the farmer’s daughter had solved the riddle that he immediately married her and made her his Queen. And they lived very happily together though no children came to them. The King depended upon her for advice in all his affairs and would often have her seated by him when he was giving judgment in law matters.

Now it happened that one day at the end of all the other cases there came two peasants, each of whom claimed a foal that had been born in a stable where they had both left their carts, one with a horse and the other with a mare. The King was tired with the day’s pleadings, and without thinking and without consulting his Queen who sat by his side, he said,

“Let the first man have it,” who happened to be the peasant whose cart was drawn by the horse.

Now the Queen was vexed that her husband should have decided so unjustly, and when the court was over she went to the other peasant and told him how he could convince the King that he had made a rash judgment. So the next day he took a stool outside the King’s window and commenced fishing with a fishing-rod in the road.

The King looking out of his window saw this and began to laugh and called out to the man,

“You won’t find many fish on a dry road,” to which the peasant answered,

“As many as foals that come from a horse.”

Then the King remembered his judgment of yesterday and, calling the men before him, decided that the foal should belong to the man who had the mare and who had fished in front of his windows. But he said to him as he dismissed them,

“That arrow never came from your quiver.”

Then he went to his Queen in a towering rage and said to her,

“How dare you interfere in my judgments?”

And she said, “I did not like my dear husband to do what was unjust.” But the King said,

“Then you ought to have spoken to me, not shamed me before my people. That is too much. You shall go back to your father who is so proud of you. And the only favour I can grant you will be that you can take with you from the palace whatever you love best.”

“Your Majesty’s wish shall be my law,” said the Queen, “but let us at least not part in anger. Let me have my last dinner as Queen in your company.”

When they dined together the Queen put a sleeping potion in the King’s cup, and when he fell asleep she directed the servants to put him in the carriage that was waiting to take her home, and carried him into her bed. When he woke up next morning he asked,

“Where am I, and why are you still with me?”

Then the Queen said, “You allowed me to take with me that which I loved best in the palace, and so I took you.”

Then the King recognized the love his Queen had for him, and brought her back to his palace, and they lived together there forever afterwards

http://abelapublishing.com/europas-fairy-book_p24104597.htm

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There was once a poor lad. He took the road, went to find himself a master. He met a priest on the road. Where are you going, my lad?’

 

‘I am going to find myself a master.’

 

‘Mine’s the very place for you, my lad, for I’ve another lad like you, and I have six oxen and a plough. Do you enter my service and plough all this field.’

 

The lad arose, and took the plough and the oxen, and went into the fields and ploughed two days. Luck and the Ogre came to him. And the Ogre said to Luck, ‘Go for him.’ Luck didn’t want to go for him; only the Ogre went. When the Ogre went for him, he laid himself down on his back, and unlaced his boots, and took to flight across the plain.

 

The other lad shouted after him, ‘Don’t go, brother; don’t go, brother.’

 

‘Bah! God blast your plough and you as well.’

 

Then he came to a city of the size of Bucharest. Presently he arrived at a watchmaker’s shop. And he leaned his elbows on the shop-board and watched the prentices at their work. Then one of them asked him, ‘Why do you sit there hungry?’

 

‘He said, ‘Because I like to watch you working.’

 

Then the master came out and said, ‘Here, my lad, I will hire you for three years, and will show you all that I am master of. For a year and a day,’ he continued, ‘you will have nothing to do but chop wood, and feed the oven fire, and sit with your elbows on the table, and watch the prentices at their work.’

 

Now the watchmaker had had a clock of the emperor’s fifteen years, and no one could be found to repair it; he had fetched watchmakers from Paris and Vienna, and not one of them had managed it. The time came when the emperor offered the half of his kingdom to whoso should repair it; one and all they failed. The clock had twenty-four tunes in it. And as it played, the emperor grew young again. Easter Sunday came; and the watchmaker went to church with his prentices. Only the old wife and the lad stayed behind. The lad chopped the wood up quickly, and went back to the table that they did their work at. He never touched one of the little watches, but he took the big clock, and set it on the table. He took out two of its pipes, and cleaned them, and put them back in their place; then the four-and-twenty tunes began to play, and the clock to go. Then the lad hid himself for fear; and all the people came out of the church when they heard the tunes playing.

 

The watchmaker, too, came home, and said, ‘Mother, who did me this kindness, and repaired the clock?’

 

His mother said, ‘Only the lad, dear, went near the table.’

 

And he sought him and found him sitting in the stable. He took him in his arms: ‘My lad, you were my master, and I never knew it, but set you to chop wood on Easter Day.’ Then he sent for three tailors, and they made him three fine suits of clothes. Next day he ordered a carriage with four fine horses; and he took the clock in his arms, and went off to the emperor. The emperor, when he heard it, came down from his throne, and took his clock in his arms and grew young. Then he said to the watchmaker, ‘Bring me him who mended the clock.’

 

He said, ‘I mended it.’

 

‘Don’t tell me it was you. Go and bring me him who mended it.’

 

He went then and brought the lad.

 

The emperor said, ‘Go, give the watchmaker three purses of ducats; but the lad you shall have no more, for I mean to give him ten thousand ducats a year, just to stay here and mind the clock and repair it when it goes wrong.’

 

So the lad dwelt there thirteen years.

 

The emperor had a grown-up daughter, and he proposed to find a husband for her. She wrote a letter, and gave it to her father. And what did she put in the letter? She put this: ‘Father, I am minded to feign to be dumb; and whoso is able to make me speak, I will be his.’

 

Then the emperor made a proclamation throughout the world: ‘He who is able to make my daughter speak shall get her to wife; and whoso fails him will I kill.’

 

Then many suitors came, but not one of them made her speak. And the emperor killed them all, and by and by no one more came.

 

Now the lad, the watchmaker, went to the emperor, and said, ‘Emperor, let me also go to the maiden, to see if I cannot make her speak.’

 

‘Well, this is how it stands, my lad. Haven’t you seen the proclamation on the table, how I have sworn to kill whoever fails to make her speak?’

 

‘Well, kill me also, Emperor, if I too fail.’

 

‘In that case, go to her.’

 

The lad dressed himself bravely, and went into her chamber. She was sewing at her frame. When the lad entered, he said, ‘Good-day, you rogue.’

 

Thank you, watchmaker. Well, sit you down since you have come, and take a bite.’

 

‘Well, all right, you rogue.’

 

He only was speaking. Then he tarried no longer, but came out and said, ‘Good-night, rogue.’

 

‘Farewell, watchmaker.’

 

Next evening the emperor summoned him, to kill him. But the lad said, ‘Let me go one more night.’ Then the lad went again, and said, ‘Good-evening, rogue.’

 

‘Welcome, watchmaker. And since you have come, brother, pray sit down to table.’

 

Only he spoke, so at last he said, ‘Good-night, rogue.’

 

‘Farewell, watchmaker.’

 

Next night the emperor summoned him. ‘I must kill you now, for you have reached your allotted term.’

 

Then said the lad, ‘Do you know, emperor, that there is thrice forgiveness for a man?’

 

‘Then go to-night, too.’

 

Then the lad went that night, and said, ‘How do you do, rogue?’

 

‘Thank you, watchmaker. Since you have come, sit at table.’

 

‘So I will, rogue. And see you this knife in my hand? I mean to cut you in pieces if you will not answer my question.’ And why should I not answer it, watchmaker?’

 

‘Well, rogue, know you the princess?’

 

‘And how should I not know her?’

 

‘And the three princes, know you them?’

 

‘I know them, watchmaker.’

 

‘Well and good, if you know them. The three brothers had an intrigue with the princess. They knew not that the three had to do with her. But what did the maiden? She knew they were brothers. The eldest came at nightfall, and she set him down to table and he ate. Then she lay with him and shut him up in a chamber. The middle one came at midnight, and she lay with him also and shut him up in another chamber. And that same night came the youngest, and she lay with him too. Then at daybreak she let them all out, and they sprang to slay one another, the three brothers. The maiden said, “Hold, brothers, do not slay one another, but go home and take each of you to himself ten thousand ducats, and go into three cities; and his I will become who brings me the finest piece of workmanship.” So the eldest journeyed to Bucharest, and there found a beautiful mirror. Now look you what kind of mirror it was. “Here, merchant, what is the price of your mirror?” “Ten thousand ducats, my lad.” “Indeed, is that not very dear, brother?” “But mark you what kind of mirror it is. You look in it and you can see both the dead and the living therein.” Now let’s have a look at the middle brother. He went to another city and found a robe. “You, merchant, what is the price of this robe?” “Ten thousand ducats, my son.”‘

 

‘What are you talking about, watchmaker? A robe cost ten thousand ducats!’

 

‘But look you, you rogue, what sort of robe it is. For when you step on it, it will carry you whither you will. So you may fancy he cries “Done!” Meanwhile the youngest also arrived in a city and found a Jew, and bought an apple from him. And the apple was such that when a dead man ate it he revived. He took it and came to his brothers. And when they were all come home they saw their sweet-heart dead. And they gave her the apple to eat and she arose. And whom then did she choose? She chose the youngest. What do you say?’

 

And the emperor’s daughter finally spoke. And the watchmaker took her to wife. And they made a marriage.

 

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From Gypsy Folk Tales (1899) compiled by Francis Hindes Groome

ISBN: 978-0-956584-47-8

URL: http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_gft1.html

 

The illustrated edition of this book will be published during the summer of 2012. The illustrations are currently being worked on by Dutch illustrator Maggie Gunzel.

 

Gypsy Folk Tales Book 1