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THE COBWEB
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
The farmhouse kitchen probably stood where it did as a matter of accident
or haphazard choice; yet its situation might have been planned by a
master-strategist in farmhouse architecture.  Dairy and poultry-yard, and
herb garden, and all the busy places of the farm seemed to lead by easy
access into its wide flagged haven, where there was room for everything
and where muddy boots left traces that were easily swept away.  And yet,
for all that it stood so well in the centre of human bustle, its long,
latticed window, with the wide window-seat, built into an embrasure
beyond the huge fireplace, looked out on a wild spreading view of hill
and heather and wooded combe.  The window nook made almost a little room
in itself, quite the pleasantest room in the farm as far as situation and
capabilities went.  Young Mrs. Ladbruk, whose husband had just come into
the farm by way of inheritance, cast covetous eyes on this snug corner,
and her fingers itched to make it bright and cosy with chintz curtains
and bowls of flowers, and a shelf or two of old china.  The musty farm
parlour, looking out on to a prim, cheerless garden imprisoned within
high, blank walls, was not a room that lent itself readily either to
comfort or decoration.

"When we are more settled I shall work wonders in the way of making the
kitchen habitable," said the young woman to her occasional visitors.
There was an unspoken wish in those words, a wish which was unconfessed
as well as unspoken.  Emma Ladbruk was the mistress of the farm; jointly
with her husband she might have her say, and to a certain extent her way,
in ordering its affairs.  But she was not mistress of the kitchen.

On one of the shelves of an old dresser, in company with chipped sauce-
boats, pewter jugs, cheese-graters, and paid bills, rested a worn and
ragged Bible, on whose front page was the record, in faded ink, of a
baptism dated ninety-four years ago.  "Martha Crale" was the name written
on that yellow page.  The yellow, wrinkled old dame who hobbled and
muttered about the kitchen, looking like a dead autumn leaf which the
winter winds still pushed hither and thither, had once been Martha Crale;
for seventy odd years she had been Martha Mountjoy.  For longer than
anyone could remember she had pattered to and fro between oven and wash-
house and dairy, and out to chicken-run and garden, grumbling and
muttering and scolding, but working unceasingly.  Emma Ladbruk, of whose
coming she took as little notice as she would of a bee wandering in at a
window on a summer's day, used at first to watch her with a kind of
frightened curiosity.  She was so old and so much a part of the place, it
was difficult to think of her exactly as a living thing.  Old Shep, the
white-nozzled, stiff-limbed collie, waiting for his time to die, seemed
almost more human than the withered, dried-up old woman.  He had been a
riotous, roystering puppy, mad with the joy of life, when she was already
a tottering, hobbling dame; now he was just a blind, breathing carcase,
nothing more, and she still worked with frail energy, still swept and
baked and washed, fetched and carried.  If there were something in these
wise old dogs that did not perish utterly with death, Emma used to think
to herself, what generations of ghost-dogs there must be out on those
hills, that Martha had reared and fed and tended and spoken a last good-
bye word to in that old kitchen.  And what memories she must have of
human generations that had passed away in her time.  It was difficult for
anyone, let alone a stranger like Emma, to get her to talk of the days
that had been; her shrill, quavering speech was of doors that had been
left unfastened, pails that had got mislaid, calves whose feeding-time
was overdue, and the various little faults and lapses that chequer a
farmhouse routine.  Now and again, when election time came round, she
would unstore her recollections of the old names round which the fight
had waged in the days gone by.  There had been a Palmerston, that had
been a name down Tiverton way; Tiverton was not a far journey as the crow
flies, but to Martha it was almost a foreign country.  Later there had
been Northcotes and Aclands, and many other newer names that she had
forgotten; the names changed, but it was always Libruls and Toories,
Yellows and Blues.  And they always quarrelled and shouted as to who was
right and who was wrong.  The one they quarrelled about most was a fine
old gentleman with an angry face--she had seen his picture on the walls.
She had seen it on the floor too, with a rotten apple squashed over it,
for the farm had changed its politics from time to time.  Martha had
never been on one side or the other; none of "they" had ever done the
farm a stroke of good.  Such was her sweeping verdict, given with all a
peasant's distrust of the outside world.

When the half-frightened curiosity had somewhat faded away, Emma Ladbruk
was uncomfortably conscious of another feeling towards the old woman.  She
was a quaint old tradition, lingering about the place, she was part and
parcel of the farm itself, she was something at once pathetic and
picturesque--but she was dreadfully in the way.  Emma had come to the
farm full of plans for little reforms and improvements, in part the
result of training in the newest ways and methods, in part the outcome of
her own ideas and fancies.  Reforms in the kitchen region, if those deaf
old ears could have been induced to give them even a hearing, would have
met with short shrift and scornful rejection, and the kitchen region
spread over the zone of dairy and market business and half the work of
the household.  Emma, with the latest science of dead-poultry dressing at
her finger-tips, sat by, an unheeded watcher, while old Martha trussed
the chickens for the market-stall as she had trussed them for nearly
fourscore years--all leg and no breast.  And the hundred hints anent
effective cleaning and labour-lightening and the things that make for
wholesomeness which the young woman was ready to impart or to put into
action dropped away into nothingness before that wan, muttering,
unheeding presence.  Above all, the coveted window corner, that was to be
a dainty, cheerful oasis in the gaunt old kitchen, stood now choked and
lumbered with a litter of odds and ends that Emma, for all her nominal
authority, would not have dared or cared to displace; over them seemed to
be spun the protection of something that was like a human cobweb.
Decidedly Martha was in the way.  It would have been an unworthy meanness
to have wished to see the span of that brave old life shortened by a few
paltry months, but as the days sped by Emma was conscious that the wish
was there, disowned though it might be, lurking at the back of her mind.

She felt the meanness of the wish come over her with a qualm of
self-reproach one day when she came into the kitchen and found an
unaccustomed state of things in that usually busy quarter.  Old Martha
was not working.  A basket of corn was on the floor by her side, and out
in the yard the poultry were beginning to clamour a protest of overdue
feeding-time.  But Martha sat huddled in a shrunken bunch on the window
seat, looking out with her dim old eyes as though she saw something
stranger than the autumn landscape.

"Is anything the matter, Martha?" asked the young woman.

"'Tis death, 'tis death a-coming," answered the quavering voice; "I knew
'twere coming.  I knew it.  'Tweren't for nothing that old Shep's been
howling all morning.  An' last night I heard the screech-owl give the
death-cry, and there were something white as run across the yard
yesterday; 'tweren't a cat nor a stoat, 'twere something.  The fowls knew
'twere something; they all drew off to one side.  Ay, there's been
warnings.  I knew it were a-coming."

The young woman's eyes clouded with pity.  The old thing sitting there so
white and shrunken had once been a merry, noisy child, playing about in
lanes and hay-lofts and farmhouse garrets; that had been eighty odd years
ago, and now she was just a frail old body cowering under the approaching
chill of the death that was coming at last to take her.  It was not
probable that much could be done for her, but Emma hastened away to get
assistance and counsel.  Her husband, she knew, was down at a
tree-felling some little distance off, but she might find some other
intelligent soul who knew the old woman better than she did.  The farm,
she soon found out, had that faculty common to farmyards of swallowing up
and losing its human population.  The poultry followed her in interested
fashion, and swine grunted interrogations at her from behind the bars of
their styes, but barnyard and rickyard, orchard and stables and dairy,
gave no reward to her search.  Then, as she retraced her steps towards
the kitchen, she came suddenly on her cousin, young Mr. Jim, as every one
called him, who divided his time between amateur horse-dealing, rabbit-
shooting, and flirting with the farm maids.

"I'm afraid old Martha is dying," said Emma.  Jim was not the sort of
person to whom one had to break news gently.

"Nonsense," he said; "Martha means to live to a hundred.  She told me so,
and she'll do it."

"She may be actually dying at this moment, or it may just be the
beginning of the break-up," persisted Emma, with a feeling of contempt
for the slowness and dulness of the young man.

A grin spread over his good-natured features.

"It don't look like it," he said, nodding towards the yard.  Emma turned
to catch the meaning of his remark.  Old Martha stood in the middle of a
mob of poultry scattering handfuls of grain around her.  The turkey-cock,
with the bronzed sheen of his feathers and the purple-red of his wattles,
the gamecock, with the glowing metallic lustre of his Eastern plumage,
the hens, with their ochres and buffs and umbers and their scarlet combs,
and the drakes, with their bottle-green heads, made a medley of rich
colour, in the centre of which the old woman looked like a withered stalk
standing amid a riotous growth of gaily-hued flowers.  But she threw the
grain deftly amid the wilderness of beaks, and her quavering voice
carried as far as the two people who were watching her.  She was still
harping on the theme of death coming to the farm.

"I knew 'twere a-coming.  There's been signs an' warnings."

"Who's dead, then, old Mother?" called out the young man.

"'Tis young Mister Ladbruk," she shrilled back; "they've just a-carried
his body in.  Run out of the way of a tree that was coming down an' ran
hisself on to an iron post.  Dead when they picked un up.  Aye, I knew
'twere coming."

And she turned to fling a handful of barley at a belated group of guinea-
fowl that came racing toward her.

* * * * *

The farm was a family property, and passed to the rabbit-shooting cousin
as the next-of-kin.  Emma Ladbruk drifted out of its history as a bee
that had wandered in at an open window might flit its way out again.  On
a cold grey morning she stood waiting, with her boxes already stowed in
the farm cart, till the last of the market produce should be ready, for
the train she was to catch was of less importance than the chickens and
butter and eggs that were to be offered for sale.  From where she stood
she could see an angle of the long latticed window that was to have been
cosy with curtains and gay with bowls of flowers.  Into her mind came the
thought that for months, perhaps for years, long after she had been
utterly forgotten, a white, unheeding face would be seen peering out
through those latticed panes, and a weak muttering voice would be heard
quavering up and down those flagged passages.  She made her way to a
narrow barred casement that opened into the farm larder.  Old Martha was
standing at a table trussing a pair of chickens for the market stall as
she had trussed them for nearly fourscore years.
THE TREASURE SHIP
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 8
The great galleon lay in semi-retirement under the sand and weed and
water of the northern bay where the fortune of war and weather had long
ago ensconced it.  Three and a quarter centuries had passed since the day
when it had taken the high seas as an important unit of a fighting
squadron--precisely which squadron the learned were not agreed.  The
galleon had brought nothing into the world, but it had, according to
tradition and report, taken much out of it.  But how much?  There again
the learned were in disagreement.  Some were as generous in their
estimate as an income-tax assessor, others applied a species of higher
criticism to the submerged treasure chests, and debased their contents to
the currency of goblin gold.  Of the former school was Lulu, Duchess of
Dulverton.

The Duchess was not only a believer in the existence of a sunken treasure
of alluring proportions; she also believed that she knew of a method by
which the said treasure might be precisely located and cheaply
disembedded.  An aunt on her mother's side of the family had been Maid of
Honour at the Court of Monaco, and had taken a respectful interest in the
deep-sea researches in which the Throne of that country, impatient
perhaps of its terrestrial restrictions, was wont to immerse itself.  It
was through the instrumentality of this relative that the Duchess learned
of an invention, perfected and very nearly patented by a Monegaskan
savant, by means of which the home-life of the Mediterranean sardine
might be studied at a depth of many fathoms in a cold white light of more
than ball-room brilliancy.  Implicated in this invention (and, in the
Duchess's eyes, the most attractive part of it) was an electric suction
dredge, specially designed for dragging to the surface such objects of
interest and value as might be found in the more accessible levels of the
ocean-bed.  The rights of the invention were to be acquired for a matter
of eighteen hundred francs, and the apparatus for a few thousand more.
The Duchess of Dulverton was rich, as the world counted wealth; she
nursed the hope, of being one day rich at her own computation.  Companies
had been formed and efforts had been made again and again during the
course of three centuries to probe for the alleged treasures of the
interesting galleon; with the aid of this invention she considered that
she might go to work on the wreck privately and independently.  After
all, one of her ancestors on her mother's side was descended from Medina
Sidonia, so she was of opinion that she had as much right to the treasure
as anyone.  She acquired the invention and bought the apparatus.

Among other family ties and encumbrances, Lulu possessed a nephew, Vasco
Honiton, a young gentleman who was blessed with a small income and a
large circle of relatives, and lived impartially and precariously on
both.  The name Vasco had been given him possibly in the hope that he
might live up to its adventurous tradition, but he limited himself
strictly to the home industry of adventurer, preferring to exploit the
assured rather than to explore the unknown.  Lulu's intercourse with him
had been restricted of recent years to the negative processes of being
out of town when he called on her, and short of money when he wrote to
her.  Now, however, she bethought herself of his eminent suitability for
the direction of a treasure-seeking experiment; if anyone could extract
gold from an unpromising situation it would certainly be Vasco--of
course, under the necessary safeguards in the way of supervision.  Where
money was in question Vasco's conscience was liable to fits of obstinate
silence.

Somewhere on the west coast of Ireland the Dulverton property included a
few acres of shingle, rock, and heather, too barren to support even an
agrarian outrage, but embracing a small and fairly deep bay where the
lobster yield was good in most seasons.  There was a bleak little house
on the property, and for those who liked lobsters and solitude, and were
able to accept an Irish cook's ideas as to what might be perpetrated in
the name of mayonnaise, Innisgluther was a tolerable exile during the
summer months.  Lulu seldom went there herself, but she lent the house
lavishly to friends and relations.  She put it now at Vasco's disposal.

"It will be the very place to practise and experiment with the salvage
apparatus," she said; "the bay is quite deep in places, and you will be
able to test everything thoroughly before starting on the treasure hunt."

In less than three weeks Vasco turned up in town to report progress.

"The apparatus works beautifully," he informed his aunt; "the deeper one
got the clearer everything grew.  We found something in the way of a
sunken wreck to operate on, too!"

"A wreck in Innisgluther Bay!" exclaimed Lulu.

"A submerged motor-boat, the _Sub-Rosa_," said Vasco.

"No! really?" said Lulu; "poor Billy Yuttley's boat.  I remember it went
down somewhere off that coast some three years ago.  His body was washed
ashore at the Point.  People said at the time that the boat was capsized
intentionally--a case of suicide, you know.  People always say that sort
of thing when anything tragic happens."

"In this case they were right," said Vasco.

"What do you mean?" asked the Duchess hurriedly.  "What makes you think
so?"

"I know," said Vasco simply.

"Know?  How can you know?  How can anyone know?  The thing happened three
years ago."

"In a locker of the _Sub-Rosa_ I found a water-tight strong-box.  It
contained papers."  Vasco paused with dramatic effect and searched for a
moment in the inner breast-pocket of his coat.  He drew out a folded slip
of paper.  The Duchess snatched at it in almost indecent haste and moved
appreciably nearer the fireplace.

"Was this in the _Sub-Rosa's_ strong-box?" she asked.

"Oh no," said Vasco carelessly, "that is a list of the well-known people
who would be involved in a very disagreeable scandal if the _Sub-Rosa's_
papers were made public.  I've put you at the head of it, otherwise it
follows alphabetical order."

The Duchess gazed helplessly at the string of names, which seemed for the
moment to include nearly every one she knew.  As a matter of fact, her
own name at the head of the list exercised an almost paralysing effect on
her thinking faculties.

"Of course you have destroyed the papers?" she asked, when she had
somewhat recovered herself.  She was conscious that she made the remark
with an entire lack of conviction.

Vasco shook his head.

"But you should have," said Lulu angrily; "if, as you say, they are
highly compromising--"

"Oh, they are, I assure you of that," interposed the young man.

"Then you should put them out of harm's way at once.  Supposing anything
should leak out, think of all these poor, unfortunate people who would be
involved in the disclosures," and Lulu tapped the list with an agitated
gesture.

"Unfortunate, perhaps, but not poor," corrected Vasco; "if you read the
list carefully you'll notice that I haven't troubled to include anyone
whose financial standing isn't above question."

Lulu glared at her nephew for some moments in silence.  Then she asked
hoarsely: "What are you going to do?"

"Nothing--for the remainder of my life," he answered meaningly.  "A
little hunting, perhaps," he continued, "and I shall have a villa at
Florence.  The Villa Sub-Rosa would sound rather quaint and picturesque,
don't you think, and quite a lot of people would be able to attach a
meaning to the name.  And I suppose I must have a hobby; I shall probably
collect Raeburns."

Lulu's relative, who lived at the Court of Monaco, got quite a snappish
answer when she wrote recommending some further invention in the realm of
marine research.
THE HEN
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 8
"Dora Bittholz is coming on Thursday," said Mrs. Sangrail.

"This next Thursday?" asked Clovis

His mother nodded.

"You've rather done it, haven't you?" he chuckled; "Jane Martlet has only
been here five days, and she never stays less than a fortnight, even when
she's asked definitely for a week.  You'll never get her out of the house
by Thursday."

"Why should I?" asked Mrs. Sangrail; "she and Dora are good friends,
aren't they?  They used to be, as far as I remember."

"They used to be; that's what makes them all the more bitter now.  Each
feels that she has nursed a viper in her bosom.  Nothing fans the flame
of human resentment so much as the discovery that one's bosom has been
utilised as a snake sanatorium."

"But what has happened?  Has some one been making mischief?"

"Not exactly," said Clovis; "a hen came between them."

"A hen?  What hen?"

"It was a bronze Leghorn or some such exotic breed, and Dora sold it to
Jane at a rather exotic price.  They both go in for prize poultry, you
know, and Jane thought she was going to get her money back in a large
family of pedigree chickens.  The bird turned out to be an abstainer from
the egg habit, and I'm told that the letters which passed between the two
women were a revelation as to how much invective could be got on to a
sheet of notepaper."

"How ridiculous!" said Mrs. Sangrail.  "Couldn't some of their friends
compose the quarrel?"

"People tried," said Clovis, "but it must have been rather like composing
the storm music of the 'Fliegende Hollander.'  Jane was willing to take
back some of her most libellous remarks if Dora would take back the hen,
but Dora said that would be owning herself in the wrong, and you know
she'd as soon think of owning slum property in Whitechapel as do that."

"It's a most awkward situation," said Mrs. Sangrail.  "Do you suppose
they won't speak to one another?"

"On the contrary, the difficulty will be to get them to leave off.  Their
remarks on each other's conduct and character have hitherto been governed
by the fact that only four ounces of plain speaking can be sent through
the post for a penny."

"I can't put Dora off," said Mrs. Sangrail.  "I've already postponed her
visit once, and nothing short of a miracle would make Jane leave before
her self-allotted fortnight is over."

"Miracles are rather in my line," said Clovis.  "I don't pretend to be
very hopeful in this case but I'll do my best."

"As long as you don't drag me into it--" stipulated his mother.

* * * * *

"Servants are a bit of a nuisance," muttered Clovis, as he sat in the
smoking-room after lunch, talking fitfully to Jane Martlet in the
intervals of putting together the materials of a cocktail, which he had
irreverently patented under the name of an Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  It was
partly compounded of old brandy and partly of curacoa; there were other
ingredients, but they were never indiscriminately revealed.

"Servants a nuisance!" exclaimed Jane, bounding into the topic with the
exuberant plunge of a hunter when it leaves the high road and feels turf
under its hoofs; "I should think they were!  The trouble I've had in
getting suited this year you would hardly believe.  But I don't see what
you have to complain of--your mother is so wonderfully lucky in her
servants.  Sturridge, for instance--he's been with you for years, and I'm
sure he's a paragon as butlers go."

"That's just the trouble," said Clovis.  "It's when servants have been
with you for years that they become a really serious nuisance.  The 'here
to-day and gone to-morrow' sort don't matter--you've simply got to
replace them; it's the stayers and the paragons that are the real worry."

"But if they give satisfaction--"

"That doesn't prevent them from giving trouble.  Now, you've mentioned
Sturridge--it was Sturridge I was particularly thinking of when I made
the observation about servants being a nuisance."

"The excellent Sturridge a nuisance!  I can't believe it."

"I know he's excellent, and we just couldn't get along without him; he's
the one reliable element in this rather haphazard household.  But his
very orderliness has had an effect on him.  Have you ever considered what
it must be like to go on unceasingly doing the correct thing in the
correct manner in the same surroundings for the greater part of a
lifetime?  To know and ordain and superintend exactly what silver and
glass and table linen shall be used and set out on what occasions, to
have cellar and pantry and plate-cupboard under a minutely devised and
undeviating administration, to be noiseless, impalpable, omnipresent,
and, as far as your own department is concerned, omniscient?"

"I should go mad," said Jane with conviction.

"Exactly," said Clovis thoughtfully, swallowing his completed Ella
Wheeler Wilcox.

"But Sturridge hasn't gone mad," said Jane with a flutter of inquiry in
her voice.

"On most points he's thoroughly sane and reliable," said Clovis, "but at
times he is subject to the most obstinate delusions, and on those
occasions he becomes not merely a nuisance but a decided embarrassment."

"What sort of delusions?"

"Unfortunately they usually centre round one of the guests of the house
party, and that is where the awkwardness comes in.  For instance, he took
it into his head that Matilda Sheringham was the Prophet Elijah, and as
all that he remembered about Elijah's history was the episode of the
ravens in the wilderness he absolutely declined to interfere with what he
imagined to be Matilda's private catering arrangements, wouldn't allow
any tea to be sent up to her in the morning, and if he was waiting at
table he passed her over altogether in handing round the dishes."

"How very unpleasant.  Whatever did you do about it?"

"Oh, Matilda got fed, after a fashion, but it was judged to be best for
her to cut her visit short.  It was really the only thing to be done,"
said Clovis with some emphasis.

"I shouldn't have done that," said Jane, "I should have humoured him in
some way.  I certainly shouldn't have gone away."

Clovis frowned.

"It is not always wise to humour people when they get these ideas into
their heads.  There's no knowing to what lengths they may go if you
encourage them."

"You don't mean to say he might be dangerous, do you?" asked Jane with
some anxiety.

"One can never be certain," said Clovis; "now and then he gets some idea
about a guest which might take an unfortunate turn.  That is precisely
what is worrying me at the present moment."

"What, has he taken a fancy about some one here now?" asked Jane
excitedly; "how thrilling!  Do tell me who it is."

"You," said Clovis briefly.

"Me?"

Clovis nodded.

"Who on earth does he think I am?"

"Queen Anne," was the unexpected answer.

"Queen Anne!  What an idea.  But, anyhow, there's nothing dangerous about
her; she's such a colourless personality."

"What does posterity chiefly say about Queen Anne?" asked Clovis rather
sternly.

"The only thing that I can remember about her," said Jane, "is the saying
'Queen Anne's dead.'"

"Exactly," said Clovis, staring at the glass that had held the Ella
Wheeler Wilcox, "dead."

"Do you mean he takes me for the ghost of Queen Anne?" asked Jane.

"Ghost?  Dear no.  No one ever heard of a ghost that came down to
breakfast and ate kidneys and toast and honey with a healthy appetite.
No, it's the fact of you being so very much alive and flourishing that
perplexes and annoys him.  All his life he has been accustomed to look on
Queen Anne as the personification of everything that is dead and done
with, 'as dead as Queen Anne,' you know; and now he has to fill your
glass at lunch and dinner and listen to your accounts of the gay time you
had at the Dublin Horse Show, and naturally he feels that something's
very wrong with you."

"But he wouldn't be downright hostile to me on that account, would he?"
Jane asked anxiously.

"I didn't get really alarmed about it till lunch to-day," said Clovis; "I
caught him glowering at you with a very sinister look and muttering:
'Ought to be dead long ago, she ought, and some one should see to it.'
That's why I mentioned the matter to you."

"This is awful," said Jane; "your mother must be told about it at once."

"My mother mustn't hear a word about it," said Clovis earnestly; "it
would upset her dreadfully.  She relies on Sturridge for everything."

"But he might kill me at any moment," protested Jane.

"Not at any moment; he's busy with the silver all the afternoon."

"You'll have to keep a sharp look-out all the time and be on your guard
to frustrate any murderous attack," said Jane, adding in a tone of weak
obstinacy: "It's a dreadful situation to be in, with a mad butler
dangling over you like the sword of What's-his-name, but I'm certainly
not going to cut my visit short."

Clovis swore horribly under his breath; the miracle was an obvious
misfire.

It was in the hall the next morning after a late breakfast that Clovis
had his final inspiration as he stood engaged in coaxing rust spots from
an old putter.

"Where is Miss Martlet?" he asked the butler, who was at that moment
crossing the hall.

"Writing letters in the morning-room, sir," said Sturridge, announcing a
fact of which his questioner was already aware.

"She wants to copy the inscription on that old basket-hilted sabre," said
Clovis, pointing to a venerable weapon hanging on the wall.  "I wish
you'd take it to her; my hands are all over oil.  Take it without the
sheath, it will be less trouble."

The butler drew the blade, still keen and bright in its well-cared for
old age, and carried it into the morning-room.  There was a door near the
writing-table leading to a back stairway; Jane vanished through it with
such lightning rapidity that the butler doubted whether she had seen him
come in.  Half an hour later Clovis was driving her and her
hastily-packed luggage to the station.

"Mother will be awfully vexed when she comes back from her ride and finds
you have gone," he observed to the departing guest, "but I'll make up
some story about an urgent wire having called you away.  It wouldn't do
to alarm her unnecessarily about Sturridge."

Jane sniffed slightly at Clovis' ideas of unnecessary alarm, and was
almost rude to the young man who came round with thoughtful inquiries as
to luncheon-baskets.

The miracle lost some of its usefulness from the fact that Dora wrote the
same day postponing the date of her visit, but, at any rate, Clovis holds
the record as the only human being who ever hustled Jane Martlet out of
the time-table of her migrations.



THE BROGUE
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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The hunting season had come to an end, and the Mullets had not succeeded
in selling the Brogue.  There had been a kind of tradition in the family
for the past three or four years, a sort of fatalistic hope, that the
Brogue would find a purchaser before the hunting was over; but seasons
came and went without anything happening to justify such ill-founded
optimism.  The animal had been named Berserker in the earlier stages of
its career; it had been rechristened the Brogue later on, in recognition
of the fact that, once acquired, it was extremely difficult to get rid
of.  The unkinder wits of the neighbourhood had been known to suggest
that the first letter of its name was superfluous.  The Brogue had been
variously described in sale catalogues as a light-weight hunter, a lady's
hack, and, more simply, but still with a touch of imagination, as a
useful brown gelding, standing 15.1.  Toby Mullet had ridden him for four
seasons with the West Wessex; you can ride almost any sort of horse with
the West Wessex as long as it is an animal that knows the country.  The
Brogue knew the country intimately, having personally created most of the
gaps that were to be met with in banks and hedges for many miles round.
His manners and characteristics were not ideal in the hunting field, but
he was probably rather safer to ride to hounds than he was as a hack on
country roads.  According to the Mullet family, he was not really road-
shy, but there were one or two objects of dislike that brought on sudden
attacks of what Toby called the swerving sickness.  Motors and cycles he
treated with tolerant disregard, but pigs, wheelbarrows, piles of stones
by the roadside, perambulators in a village street, gates painted too
aggressively white, and sometimes, but not always, the newer kind of
beehives, turned him aside from his tracks in vivid imitation of the
zigzag course of forked lightning.  If a pheasant rose noisily from the
other side of a hedgerow the Brogue would spring into the air at the same
moment, but this may have been due to a desire to be companionable.  The
Mullet family contradicted the widely prevalent report that the horse was
a confirmed crib-biter.

It was about the third week in May that Mrs. Mullet, relict of the late
Sylvester Mullet, and mother of Toby and a bunch of daughters, assailed
Clovis Sangrail on the outskirts of the village with a breathless
catalogue of local happenings.

"You know our new neighbour, Mr. Penricarde?" she vociferated; "awfully
rich, owns tin mines in Cornwall, middle-aged and rather quiet.  He's
taken the Red House on a long lease and spent a lot of money on
alterations and improvements.  Well, Toby's sold him the Brogue!"

Clovis spent a moment or two in assimilating the astonishing news; then
he broke out into unstinted congratulation.  If he had belonged to a more
emotional race he would probably have kissed Mrs. Mullet.

"How wonderfully lucky to have pulled it off at last!  Now you can buy a
decent animal.  I've always said that Toby was clever.  Ever so many
congratulations."

"Don't congratulate me.  It's the most unfortunate thing that could have
happened!" said Mrs. Mullet dramatically.

Clovis stared at her in amazement.

"Mr. Penricarde," said Mrs. Mullet, sinking her voice to what she
imagined to be an impressive whisper, though it rather resembled a
hoarse, excited squeak, "Mr. Penricarde has just begun to pay attentions
to Jessie.  Slight at first, but now unmistakable.  I was a fool not to
have seen it sooner.  Yesterday, at the Rectory garden party, he asked
her what her favourite flowers were, and she told him carnations, and to-
day a whole stack of carnations has arrived, clove and malmaison and
lovely dark red ones, regular exhibition blooms, and a box of chocolates
that he must have got on purpose from London.  And he's asked her to go
round the links with him to-morrow.  And now, just at this critical
moment, Toby has sold him that animal.  It's a calamity!"

"But you've been trying to get the horse off your hands for years," said
Clovis.

"I've got a houseful of daughters," said Mrs. Mullet, "and I've been
trying--well, not to get them off my hands, of course, but a husband or
two wouldn't be amiss among the lot of them; there are six of them, you
know."

"I don't know," said Clovis, "I've never counted, but I expect you're
right as to the number; mothers generally know these things."

"And now," continued Mrs. Mullet, in her tragic whisper, "when there's a
rich husband-in-prospect imminent on the horizon Toby goes and sells him
that miserable animal.  It will probably kill him if he tries to ride it;
anyway it will kill any affection he might have felt towards any member
of our family.  What is to be done?  We can't very well ask to have the
horse back; you see, we praised it up like anything when we thought there
was a chance of his buying it, and said it was just the animal to suit
him."

"Couldn't you steal it out of his stable and send it to grass at some
farm miles away?" suggested Clovis; "write 'Votes for Women' on the
stable door, and the thing would pass for a Suffragette outrage.  No one
who knew the horse could possibly suspect you of wanting to get it back
again."

"Every newspaper in the country would ring with the affair," said Mrs.
Mullet; "can't you imagine the headline, 'Valuable Hunter Stolen by
Suffragettes'?  The police would scour the countryside till they found
the animal."

"Well, Jessie must try and get it back from Penricarde on the plea that
it's an old favourite.  She can say it was only sold because the stable
had to be pulled down under the terms of an old repairing lease, and that
now it has been arranged that the stable is to stand for a couple of
years longer."

"It sounds a queer proceeding to ask for a horse back when you've just
sold him," said Mrs. Mullet, "but something must be done, and done at
once.  The man is not used to horses, and I believe I told him it was as
quiet as a lamb.  After all, lambs go kicking and twisting about as if
they were demented, don't they?"

"The lamb has an entirely unmerited character for sedateness," agreed
Clovis.

Jessie came back from the golf links next day in a state of mingled
elation and concern.

"It's all right about the proposal," she announced; "he came out with it
at the sixth hole.  I said I must have time to think it over.  I accepted
him at the seventh."

"My dear," said her mother, "I think a little more maidenly reserve and
hesitation would have been advisable, as you've known him so short a
time.  You might have waited till the ninth hole."

"The seventh is a very long hole," said Jessie; "besides, the tension was
putting us both off our game.  By the time we'd got to the ninth hole
we'd settled lots of things.  The honeymoon is to be spent in Corsica,
with perhaps a flying visit to Naples if we feel like it, and a week in
London to wind up with.  Two of his nieces are to be asked to be
bridesmaids, so with our lot there will be seven, which is rather a lucky
number.  You are to wear your pearl grey, with any amount of Honiton lace
jabbed into it.  By the way, he's coming over this evening to ask your
consent to the whole affair.  So far all's well, but about the Brogue
it's a different matter.  I told him the legend about the stable, and how
keen we were about buying the horse back, but he seems equally keen on
keeping it.  He said he must have horse exercise now that he's living in
the country, and he's going to start riding to-morrow.  He's ridden a few
times in the Row, on an animal that was accustomed to carry octogenarians
and people undergoing rest cures, and that's about all his experience in
the saddle--oh, and he rode a pony once in Norfolk, when he was fifteen
and the pony twenty-four; and to-morrow he's going to ride the Brogue!  I
shall be a widow before I'm married, and I do so want to see what
Corsica's like; it looks so silly on the map."

Clovis was sent for in haste, and the developments of the situation put
before him.

"Nobody can ride that animal with any safety," said Mrs. Mullet, "except
Toby, and he knows by long experience what it is going to shy at, and
manages to swerve at the same time."

"I did hint to Mr. Penricarde--to Vincent, I should say--that the Brogue
didn't like white gates," said Jessie.

"White gates!" exclaimed Mrs. Mullet; "did you mention what effect a pig
has on him?  He'll have to go past Lockyer's farm to get to the high
road, and there's sure to be a pig or two grunting about in the lane."

"He's taken rather a dislike to turkeys lately," said Toby.

"It's obvious that Penricarde mustn't be allowed to go out on that
animal," said Clovis, "at least not till Jessie has married him, and
tired of him.  I tell you what: ask him to a picnic to-morrow, starting
at an early hour; he's not the sort to go out for a ride before
breakfast.  The day after I'll get the rector to drive him over to
Crowleigh before lunch, to see the new cottage hospital they're building
there.  The Brogue will be standing idle in the stable and Toby can offer
to exercise it; then it can pick up a stone or something of the sort and
go conveniently lame.  If you hurry on the wedding a bit the lameness
fiction can be kept up till the ceremony is safely over."

Mrs. Mullet belonged to an emotional race, and she kissed Clovis.

It was nobody's fault that the rain came down in torrents the next
morning, making a picnic a fantastic impossibility.  It was also nobody's
fault, but sheer ill-luck, that the weather cleared up sufficiently in
the afternoon to tempt Mr. Penricarde to make his first essay with the
Brogue.  They did not get as far as the pigs at Lockyer's farm; the
rectory gate was painted a dull unobtrusive green, but it had been white
a year or two ago, and the Brogue never forgot that he had been in the
habit of making a violent curtsey, a back-pedal and a swerve at this
particular point of the road.  Subsequently, there being apparently no
further call on his services, he broke his way into the rectory orchard,
where he found a hen turkey in a coop; later visitors to the orchard
found the coop almost intact, but very little left of the turkey.

Mr. Penricarde, a little stunned and shaken, and suffering from a bruised
knee and some minor damages, good-naturedly ascribed the accident to his
own inexperience with horses and country roads, and allowed Jessie to
nurse him back into complete recovery and golf-fitness within something
less than a week.

In the list of wedding presents which the local newspaper published a
fortnight or so later appeared the following item:

"Brown saddle-horse, 'The Brogue,' bridegroom's gift to bride."

"Which shows," said Toby Mullet, "that he knew nothing."

"Or else," said Clovis, "that he has a very pleasing wit."
THE PUNISHMENT
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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The gods were so angry with Loki that he had to run away and hide
himself in the mountains, and there he built a house which had four
doors, so that he could see around him on every side. He would often in
the day-time change himself into a salmon and hide in the water called
Franangursfors, and he thought over what trick the gods might devise to
capture him there. One day while he sat in his house, he took flax and
yarn, and with it made meshes like those of a net, a fire burning in
front of him. Then he became aware that the gods were near at hand, for
Odin had seen out of Hlidskjalf where he was. Loki sprang up, threw his
work into the fire, and went to the river. When the gods came to the
house, the first that entered was Kvasir, who was the most acute of them
all. In the hot embers he saw the ashes of a net, such as is used in
fishing, and he told the gods of it, and they made a net like that which
they saw in the ashes. When it was ready they went to the river and cast
the net in, Thor holding one end and the rest of the gods the other, and
so they drew it. Loki travelled in front of it and lay down between two
stones so that the net went over him, but the gods felt that something
living had been against the net. Then they cast the net a second time,
binding up in it a weight so that nothing could pass under it. Loki
travelled before it till he saw the sea in front of him. Then he leapt
over the top of the net and again made his way up the stream. The gods
saw this, so they once more dragged the stream, while Thor waded in the
middle of it. So they went to the sea.

Then Loki saw in what a dangerous situation he was. He must risk his
life if he swam out to sea. The only other alternative was to leap over
the net. That he did, jumping as quickly as he could over the top cord.

Thor snatched at him, and tried to hold him, but he slipped through his
hand, and would have escaped, but for his tail, and this is the reason
why salmon have their tails so thin.

Loki being captured, they took him to a certain cavern, and they took
three rocks, through each of which they bored a hole. Then they took
Loki's sons Vali and Nari, and having changed Vali into a wolf, he tore
his brother Nari into pieces. Then the gods took his intestines and
bound Loki with them to the three stones, and they changed the cord into
bands of iron. Skadi then took a serpent and suspended it over Loki's
head so that the venom drops from it on to his face. Siguna, Loki's
wife, stands near him, and holds a dish receiving the venom as it falls,
and when the dish is full she goes out and pours its contents away.
While she is doing this, however, the venom falls on Loki, and causes
him such intense pain that he writhes so that the earth is shaken as if
by an earthquake.

There he lies till Ragnarök (the twilight of the gods).

THE DEATH
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
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Baldur the Good had dreams which forewarned him that his life was in
danger, and he told the gods of them. The gods took counsel together
what should be done, and it was agreed that they should conjure away all
danger that might threaten him. Frigga took an oath of fire, water,
iron, and all other metals, stones, earth, trees, sicknesses, beasts,
birds, poisons, and worms, that these would none of them hurt Baldur.
When this had been done the gods used to divert themselves, Baldur
standing up in the assembly, and all the others throwing at him, hewing
at him, and smiting him with stones, for, do all they would, he received
no hurt, and in this sport all enjoyed themselves.

Loki, however, looked on with envy when he saw that Baldur was not hurt.
So he assumed the form of a woman, and set out to Fensalir to Frigga.
Frigga asked if the stranger knew what the gods did when they met. He
answered that they all shot at Baldur and he was not hurt.

"No weapon, nor tree may hurt Baldur," answers Frigga, "I have taken an
oath of them all not to do so."

"What," said the pretended woman, "have all things then sworn to spare
Baldur?"

"There is only one little twig which grows to the east of Valhalla,
which is called the mistletoe. Of that I took no oath, for it seemed to
me too young and feeble to do any hurt."

Then the strange woman departed, and Loki having found the mistletoe,
cut it off, and went to the assembly. There he found Hodur standing
apart by himself, for he was blind. Then said Loki to him--

"Why do you not throw at Baldur?"

"Because," said he, "I am blind and cannot see him, and besides I have
nothing to throw."

"Do as the others," said Loki, "and honour Baldur as the rest do. I will
direct your aim. Throw this shaft at him."

Hodur took the mistletoe and, Loki directing him, aimed at Baldur. The
aim was good. The shaft pierced him through, and Baldur fell dead upon
the earth. Surely never was there a greater misfortune either among gods
or men.

When the gods saw that Baldur was dead then they were silent, aghast,
and stood motionless. They looked on one another, and were all agreed as
to what he deserved who had done the deed, but out of respect to the
place none dared avenge Baldur's death. They broke the silence at length
with wailing, words failing them with which to express their sorrow.
Odin, as was right, was more sorrowful than any of the others, for he
best knew what a loss the gods had sustained.

At last when the gods had recovered themselves, Frigga asked--

"Who is there among the gods who will win my love and good-will? That
shall he have if he will ride to Hel, and seek Baldur, and offer Hela a
reward if she will let Baldur come home to Asgard."

Hermod the nimble, Odin's lad, said he would make the journey. So he
mounted Odin's horse, Sleipner, and went his way.

The gods took Baldur's body down to the sea-shore, where stood
Hringhorn, Baldur's vessel, the biggest in the world. When the gods
tried to launch it into the water, in order to make on it a funeral fire
for Baldur, the ship would not stir. Then they despatched one to
Jotunheim for the sorceress called Hyrrokin, who came riding on a wolf
with twisted serpents by way of reins. Odin called for four Berserkir to
hold the horse, but they could not secure it till they had thrown it to
the ground. Then Hyrrokin went to the stem of the ship, and set it
afloat with a single touch, the vessel going so fast that fire sprang
from the rollers, and the earth trembled. Then Thor was so angry that he
took his hammer and wanted to cast it at the woman's head, but the gods
pleaded for her and appeased him. The body of Baldur being placed on the
ship, Nanna, the daughter of Nep, Baldur's wife, seeing it, died of a
broken heart, so she was borne to the pile and thrown into the fire.

Thor stood up and consecrated the pile with Mjolnir. A little dwarf,
called Litur, ran before his feet, and Thor gave him a push, and threw
him into the fire, and he was burnt. Many kinds of people came to this
ceremony. With Odin came Frigga and the Valkyrjor with his ravens. Frey
drove in a car drawn by the boar, Gullinbursti or Slidrugtanni. Heimdall
rode the horse Gulltopp, and Freyja drove her cats. There were also many
of the forest-giants and mountain-giants there. On the pile Odin laid
the gold ring called Draupnir, giving it the property that every ninth
night it produces eight rings of equal weight. In the same pile was also
consumed Baldur's horse.

For nine nights and days Hermod rode through deep valleys, so dark that
he could see nothing. Then he came to the river Gjöll which he crossed
by the bridge which is covered with shining gold. The maid who keeps the
bridge is called Modgudur. She asked Hermod his name and family, and
told him that on the former day there had ridden over the bridge five
bands of dead men.

"They did not make my bridge ring as you do, and you have not the hue of
the dead. Why ride you thus on the way to Hel?"

He said--

"I ride to Hel to find Baldur. Have you seen him on his way to that
place?"

"Baldur," answered she, "has passed over the bridge, but the way to Hel
is below to the north."

Hermod rode on till he came to the entrance of Hel, which was guarded by
a grate. He dismounted, looked to the girths of his saddle, mounted, and
clapping his spurs into the horse, cleared the grate easily. Then he
rode on to the hall and, dismounting, entered it. There he saw his
brother, Baldur, seated in the first place, and there Hermod stopped
the night.

In the morning he saw Hela, and begged her to let Baldur ride home with
him, telling her how much the gods had sorrowed over his death. Hela
told him she would test whether it were true that Baldur was so much
loved.

"If," said she, "all things weep for him, then he shall return to the
gods, but if any speak against him or refuse to weep, then he shall
remain in Hel."

Then Hermod rose to go, and Baldur, leading him out of the hall, gave
him the ring, Draupnir, which he wished Odin to have as a keepsake.
Nanna also sent Frigga a present, and a ring to Fulla.

Hermod rode back, and coming to Asgard related all he had seen and
heard. Then the gods sent messengers over all the world seeking to get
Baldur brought back again by weeping. All wept, men and living things,
earth, stones, trees, and metals, all weeping as they do when they are
subjected to heat after frost. Then the messengers came back again,
thinking they had done their errand well. On their way they came to a
cave wherein sat a hag named Thaukt. The messengers prayed her to assist
in weeping Baldur out of Hel.

"I will weep dry tears," answered she, "over Baldur's pyre. What gain I
by the son of man, be he live or dead? Let Hela hold what she has."

It was thought that this must have been Loki, Laufey's son, he who has
ever wrought such harm to the gods.
JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF GIANTS.
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
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ne day the god Thor set out with Loki in his chariot drawn by two
he-goats. Night coming on they were obliged to put up at a peasant's
cottage, when Thor slew his goats, and having skinned them, had them put
into the pot. When this had been done he sat down to supper and invited
the peasant and his children to take part in the feast. The peasant had
a son named Thjalfi, and a daughter, Röska. Thor told them to throw the
bones into the goatskins, which were spread out near the hearth, but
young Thjalfi, in order to get at the marrow, broke one of the shank
bones with his knife. Having passed the night in this place, Thor rose
early in the morning, and having dressed himself, held up his hammer,
Mjolnir, and thus consecrating the goatskins; he had no sooner done it
than the two goats took again their usual form, only one of them was now
lame in one of its hind-legs. When Thor saw this he at once knew that
the peasant or one of his family had handled the bones of the goat too
roughly, for one was broken. They were terribly afraid when Thor knit
his brows, rolled his eyes, seized his hammer, and grasped it with such
force that the very joints of his fingers were white again. The peasant,
trembling, and fearful that he would be struck down by the looks of the
god, begged with his family for pardon, offering whatever they possessed
to repair the damage they might have done. Thor allowed them to appease
him, and contented himself with taking with him Thjalfi and Röska, who
became his servants, and have since followed him.

Leaving his goats at that place, Thor set out to the east, to the
country of the giants. At length they came to the shore of a wide and
deep sea which Thor, with Loki, Thjalfi, and Röska passed over. Then
they came to a strange country, and entered an immense forest in which
they journeyed all day. Thjalfi was unexcelled by any man as a runner,
and he carried Thor's bag, but in the forest they could find nothing
eatable to put in it. As night came on they searched on all sides for a
place where they might sleep, and at last they came to what appeared to
be a large hall, the gate of which was so large that it took up the
whole of one side of the building. Here they lay down to sleep, but
about the middle of the night they were alarmed by what seemed to be an
earthquake which shook the whole of the building. Thor, rising, called
his companions to seek with him some safer place. Leaving the apartment
they were in, they found on their right hand an adjoining chamber into
which they entered, but while the others, trembling with fear, crept to
the farthest corner of their retreat, Thor, armed with his mace,
remained at the entrance ready to defend himself, happen what might.
Throughout the night they heard a terrible groaning, and when the
morning came, Thor, going out, observed a man of enormous size, lying
near, asleep and snoring heavily. Then Thor knew that this was the noise
he had heard during the night. He immediately girded on his belt of
prowess which had the virtue of increasing his strength. The giant awoke
and stood up, and it is said that for once Thor was too frightened to
use his hammer, and he therefore contented himself with inquiring the
giant's name.

"My name," replied the giant, "is Skrymir. As for you it is not
necessary I should ask your name. You are the god Thor. Tell me, what
have you done with my glove?"

Then Skrymir stretched out his hand and took it up, and Thor saw that
what he and his companions had taken for a hall in which they had passed
the night, was the giant's glove, the chamber into which they had
retreated being only the thumb.

Skrymir asked whether they might not be friends, and Thor agreeing, the
giant opened his bag and took out something to eat. Thor and his
companions also made their morning meal, but eat in another place. Then
Skrymir, proposing that they should put their provisions together, and
Thor assenting to it, put all into one bag, and laying it on his
shoulder marched before them, with huge strides, during the whole day.
At night he found a place where Thor and his companions might rest under
an oak. There, he said, he would lie down and sleep.

"You take the bag," said he, "and make your supper."

He was soon asleep, and, strange as it may seem, when Thor tried to open
the bag he could not untie a single knot nor loose the string. Enraged
at this he seized his hammer, swayed it in both his hands, took a step
forward, and hurled it at the giant's head. This awoke the giant, who
asked him if a leaf had not fallen on his head, and whether they had
finished their supper. Thor said they were just about to lie down to
sleep, and went to lie under another oak-tree. About midnight, observing
that Skrymir was snoring so loudly that the forest re-echoed the din,
Thor grasped his hammer and hurled it with such force at him that it
sank up to the handle in his head.

"What is the matter?" asked he, awakening. "Did an acorn fall on my
head? How are you going on, Thor?"

Thor departed at once, saying that it was only midnight and that he
hoped to get some more sleep yet. He resolved, however, to have a third
blow at the giant, hoping that with this he might settle everything.
Seizing his hammer, he, with all his force, threw it at the giant's
cheek, into which it buried itself up to the handle. Skrymir, awaking,
put his hand to his cheek, and said--

"Are there any birds perched on this tree? I thought some moss fell upon
me. How! art thou awake, Thor? It is time, is it not, for us to get up
and dress ourselves? You have not far, however, to go before you arrive
at the city Utgard. I have heard you whispering together that I am a
very tall fellow, but there you will see many larger than me. Let me
advise you then when you get there not to take too much upon yourselves,
for the men of Utgard-Loki will not bear much from such little folk as
you. I believe your best way would even be to turn back again, but if
you are determined to proceed take the road that goes towards the east,
as for me mine now lies to the north."

After he had said this, he put his bag upon his shoulder and turned away
into a forest; and I could never hear that Thor wished him a good
journey.

Proceeding on his way with his companions, Thor saw towards noon a city
situated in the middle of a vast plain. The wall of the city was so
lofty that one could not look up to the top of it without throwing one's
head quite back upon the shoulder. On coming to the wall, they found the
gate-way closed with bars, which Thor never could have opened, but he
and his companions crept in between them, and thus entered the place.
Before them was a large palace, and as the door of it was open, they
entered and found a number of men of enormous size, seated on benches.
Going on they came into the presence of the king, Utgard-Loki, whom they
saluted with great respect, but he, looking upon them for a time, at
length cast a scornful glance at them, and burst into laughter.

"It would take up too much time," said he, "to ask you concerning the
long journey you have made, but if I am not mistaken that little man
there is Aku-Thor. You may," said he to Thor, "be bigger than you seem
to be. What are you and your companions skilled in that we may see what
they can do, for no one may remain here unless he understands some art
and excels in it all other men?"

"I," said Loki, "can eat quicker than any one else, and of that I am
ready to give proof if there is here any one who will compete with me."

"It must, indeed, be owned," replied the king, "that you are not wanting
in dexterity, if you are able to do what you say. Come, let us test it."

Then he ordered one of his followers who was sitting at the further end
of the bench, and whose name was Logi (Flame) to come forward, and try
his skill with Loki. A great tub or trough full of flesh meat was placed
in the hall, and Loki having placed himself at one end of the trough,
and Logi having set himself at the other end, the two commenced to eat.
Presently they met in the middle of the trough, but Loki had only
devoured the flesh of his portion, whereas the other had devoured both
flesh and bones. All the company therefore decided that Loki was
beaten.

Then Utgard-Loki asked what the young man could do who accompanied Thor.
Thjalfi said that in running he would compete with any one. The king
admitted that skill in running was something very good, but he thought
Thjalfi must exert himself to the utmost to win in the contest. He rose
and, accompanied by all the company, went to a plain where there was a
good place for the match, and then calling a young man named Hugi
(Spirit or Thought), he ordered him to run with Thjalfi. In the first
race Hugi ran so fast away from Thjalfi that on his returning to the
starting-place he met him not far from it. Then said the king--

"If you are to win, Thjalfi, you must run faster, though I must own no
man has ever come here who was swifter of foot."

In the second trial, Thjalfi was a full bow-shot from the boundary when
Hugi arrived at it.

"Very well do you run, Thjalfi," said Utgard-Loki; "but I do not think
you will gain the prize. However, the third trial will decide."

They ran a third time, but Hugi had already reached the goal before
Thjalfi had got half-way. Then all present cried out that there had been
a sufficient trial of skill in that exercise.

Then Utgard-Loki asked Thor in what manner he would choose to give them
a proof of the dexterity for which he was so famous. Thor replied that
he would contest the prize for drinking with any one in the court.
Utgard-Loki consented to the match, and going into the palace, ordered
his cup-bearer to bring the large horn out of which his followers were
obliged to drink when they had trespassed in any way against the customs
of the court. The cup-bearer presented this to Thor, and Utgard-Loki
said--

"Whoever is a good drinker will empty that horn at a draught. Some men
make two draughts of it, but the most puny drinker of all can empty it
in three."

Thor looked at the horn, which seemed very long, but was otherwise of no
extraordinary size. He put it to his mouth, and, without drawing breath,
pulled as long and as deeply as he could, that he might not be obliged
to make a second draught of it. When, however, he set the horn down and
looked in it he could scarcely perceive that any of the liquor was gone.

"You have drunk well," said Utgard-Loki; "but you need not boast. Had it
been told me that Asu-Thor could only drink so little, I should not have
credited it. No doubt you will do better at the second pull."

Without a word, Thor again set the horn to his lips and exerted himself
to the utmost. When he looked in it seemed to him that he had not drunk
quite so much as before, but the horn could now be carried without
danger of spilling the liquor. Then Utgard-Loki said--

"Well, Thor, you should not spare yourself more than befits you in such
drinking. If now you mean to drink off the horn the third time it seems
to me you must drink more than you have done. You will never be reckoned
so great a man amongst us as the Æsir make you out to be if you cannot
do better in other games than it appears to me you will do in this."

Thor, angry, put the horn to his mouth and drank the best he could and
as long as he was able, but when he looked into the horn the liquor was
only a little lower. Then he gave the horn to the cup-bearer, and would
drink no more.

Then said Utgard-Loki--

"It is plain that you are not so mighty as we imagined. Will you try
another game? It seems to me there is little chance of your taking a
prize hence."

"I will try more contests yet," answered Thor. "Such draughts as I have
drunk would not have seemed small to the Æsir. But what new game have
you?"

Utgard-Loki answered--

"The lads here do a thing which is not much. They lift my cat up from
the ground. I should not have thought of proposing such a feat to
Asu-Thor, had I not first seen that he is less by far than we took him
to be."

As he spoke there sprang upon the hall floor a very large grey cat. Thor
went up to it and put his hand under its middle and tried to lift it
from the floor. The cat bent its back as Thor raised his hands, and when
Thor had exerted himself to the utmost the cat had only one foot off the
floor. Then Thor would make no further trial.

"I thought this game would go so," said Utgard-Loki. "The cat is large
and Thor is little when compared with our men."

"Little as you call me," answered Thor, "let any one come here and
wrestle with me, for now I am angry."

Utgard-Loki looked along the benches, and said--

"I see no man here who would not think it absurd to wrestle with you,
but let some one call here the old woman, my nurse, Elli, and let Thor
wrestle with her, if he will. She has cast to the ground many a man who
seemed to me to be as strong as Thor."

Then came into the hall a toothless old woman, and Utgard-Loki told her
to wrestle with Asu-Thor. The story is not a long one. The harder Thor
tightened his hold, the firmer the old woman stood. Then she began to
exert herself, Thor tottered, and at last, after a violent tussle, he
fell on one knee. On this Utgard-Loki told them to stop, adding that
Thor could not desire any one else to wrestle with him in the hall, and
the night had closed in. He showed Thor and his companions to seats, and
they passed the night, faring well.

At daybreak the next morning, Thor and his companions rose, dressed
themselves, and prepared to leave at once. Then Utgard-Loki came to them
and ordered a table to be set for them having on it plenty of meat and
drink. Afterwards he led them out of the city, and on parting asked Thor
how he thought his journey had prospered, and whether he had met with
any stronger than himself. Thor said he must own he had been much
shamed.

"And," said he, "I know you will call me a man of little might, and I
can badly bear that."

"Shall I tell you the truth?" said Utgard-Loki. "We are now out of the
city, and while I live and have my own way, you will never again enter
it. By my word you had never come in had I known before you had been so
strong and would bring us so near to great misfortune. I have deluded
thee with vain shows; first in the forest, where I met you, and where
you were unable to untie the wallet because I had bound it with
iron-thread so that you could not discover where the knot could be
loosened. After that you gave me three blows with your hammer. The first
blow, though the lightest, would have killed me had it fallen on me, but
I put a rock in my place which you did not see. In that rocky mountain
you will find three dales, one of which is very deep, those are the
dints made by your hammer. In the other games, I have deceived you with
illusions. The first one was the match with Loki. He was hungry and eat
fast, but Logi was Flame, and he consumed not only the flesh but the
trough with it. When Thjalfi contended with Hugi in running, Hugi was my
thought, and it was not possible for Thjalfi to excel that in swiftness.
When you drank of the horn and the liquor seemed to get lower so slowly,
you did, indeed, so well that had I not seen it, I should never have
believed it. You did not see that one end of the horn was in the sea,
but when you come to the shore you will see how much the sea has shrunk
in consequence of your draughts, which have caused what is called the
ebb. Nor did you do a less wondrous thing when you lifted up the cat,
and I can assure you all were afraid when you raised one of its paws off
the ground. The cat was the great Midgard serpent which lies stretched
round the whole earth, and when you raised it so high then did its
length barely suffice to enclose the earth between its head and tail.
Your wrestling match with Elli was, too, a great feat, for no one has
there been yet, and no one shall there be whom old age does not come and
trip up, if he but await her coming. Now we must part, and let me say
that it will be better for both of us if you never more come to seek me,
for I shall always defend my city with tricks, so that you will never
overcome me."

When Thor heard that he grasped his mace in a rage, and raised it to
hurl it at Utgard-Loki, but he had disappeared. Then Thor wanted to
return to the city, but he could see nothing but a wide fair plain. So
he turned, and went on his way till he came to Thrudvang, resolving if
he had an opportunity to attack the Midgard serpent.


HOW THOR WENT A-FISHING.

Thor had not been long at home before he left it so hastily that he did
not take his car, his goats, or any follower with him. He left Midgard
disguised as a young man, and when night was coming on, arrived at the
house of a giant, called Hymir. Thor stayed there as a guest for the
night, and when he saw in the morning that the giant rose, dressed
himself, and prepared to go out to sea-fishing in his boat, he begged
him to let him go also. Hymir said he was too little and young to be of
much use.

"And besides," added he, "you will die of cold, if I go so far out and
sit so long as I am accustomed."

Thor said he would row as far out as ever Hymir wanted, and he thought
he might not be the first to want to row back. While he said this he was
in such a rage that he had much to do to keep himself from throwing the
hammer at once at the giant's head, but he calmed himself thinking that
he might soon try his strength elsewhere. He asked Hymir what bait he
should use, but Hymir told him to look out for himself. Then Thor went
up to a herd of oxen belonging to Hymir, and capturing the largest bull,
called Himinbrjot, he wrung off its head, and went with it to the
sea-shore. Hymir launched the skiff, and Thor, sitting down in the
after-part, rowed with two oars so that Hymir, who rowed in the
fore-part, wondered to see how fast the boat went on. At length he said
they had arrived at the place where he was accustomed to fish for flat
fish, but Thor told him they had better go on further. So they rowed
till Hymir cried out that if they proceeded further they might be in
danger from the Midgard serpent. In spite of this, Thor said he would
row further, and so he rowed on, disregarding Hymir's words. When he
laid down his oars, he took out a very strong fishing line to which was
a no less strong hook. On this he fixed the bull's head and cast it over
into the sea. The bait soon reached the ground, and then truly Thor
deceived the Midgard serpent no less than Utgard-Loki deceived Thor when
he gave him the serpent to lift in his hand. The Midgard serpent gaped
wide at the bait, and the hook stuck fast in his mouth. When the worm
felt this he tugged at the hook so that Thor's hands were dashed against
the side of the boat. Then Thor got angry, and, collecting to himself
all his divine strength, he pulled so hard that his feet went through
the bottom of the boat and down to the sea's bottom. Then he drew the
serpent up on board. No one can be said to have seen an ugly sight who
did not see that. Thor threw wrathful looks on the serpent, and the
monster staring at him from below cast out venom at him. The giant
Hymir, it is said, turned pale when he saw the serpent, quaked, and,
seeing that the sea ran in and out of the skiff, just as Thor raised
aloft his mace, took out his knife and cut the line so that the serpent
at once sank under the water. Thor cast his mace at the serpent, and
some say it cut off its head at the bottom, but it is more true that the
Midgard serpent is yet alive lying at the bottom of the ocean. With his
fist Thor struck Hymir such a blow over the ear that the giant tumbled
headlong into the water, and Thor then waded to land.
THE STRANGE BUILDER.
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Once upon a time, when the gods were building their abodes, a certain
builder came and offered to erect them, in the space of three
half-years, a city so well fortified that they should be quite safe in
it from the incursions of the forest-giants and the giants of the
mountains, even although these foes should have already penetrated
within the enclosure Midgard. He asked, however, for his reward, the
goddess Freyja, together with the sun and moon. The gods thought over
the matter a long while, and at length agreed to his terms, on the
understanding that he would finish the whole work himself without any
one's assistance, and that all was to be finished within the space of
one single winter. If anything remained to be done when the first day of
summer came, the builder was to entirely forfeit the reward agreed on.
When the builder was told this he asked that he might be allowed the use
of his horse, Svadilfari, and to this the gods, by the advice of Loki,
agreed.

On the first day of winter the builder set to work, and during the night
he caused his horse to draw stones for the building. The gods beheld
with astonishment the extraordinary size of these, and marked with
wonder that the horse did much more work than his master. The contract
between them and the giant had, however, been confirmed with many oaths
and in the presence of many witnesses, for without such a precaution a
giant would not have trusted himself among the gods, especially at a
time when Thor was returning from an expedition he had made into the
east against the giants.

The winter was far advanced, and towards its end the city had been built
so strongly and so lofty as to be almost secure. The time was nearly
expired, only three days remaining, and nothing was wanted to complete
the work save the gates, which were not yet put up. The gods then began
to deliberate, and to ask one another who it was that had advised that
Freyja should be given to one who dwelt in Jotunheim, and that they
should plunge the heavens in darkness by allowing one to carry away with
him the sun and moon. They all agreed that only Loki could have given
such bad counsel, and that it would be only just to either make him
contrive some way or other to prevent the builder accomplishing his work
and having a right to claim his reward, or to put him to death. They at
once laid hands on Loki, who, in his fright, promised upon oath to do
what they desired, let it cost him what it might.

That very night, while the builder was employing his horse to convey
stones, a mare suddenly ran out of a neighbouring forest and commenced
to neigh. The horse broke loose and ran after the mare into the forest,
and the builder ran after his horse.

Between one thing and another the whole night was lost, so that when day
broke the work was not completed.

The builder, recognising that he could by no means finish his task,
took again his giant form; and the gods, seeing that it was a
mountain-giant with whom they had to deal, feeling that their oath did
not bind them, called on Thor. He at once ran to them, and paid the
builder his fee with a blow of his hammer which shattered his skull to
pieces and threw him down headlong into Niflhel.

The horse Sleipner comes of the horse Svadilfari, and it excels all
others possessed by gods or men.
THE GODS
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Among the Æsir, or gods, is reckoned one named Loki or Loptur. By many
he is called the reviler of the gods, the author of all fraud and
mischief, and the shame of gods and men alike. He is the son of the
giant Farbauti, his mother being Laufey or Nal, and his brothers Byleist
and Helblindi. He is of a goodly appearance and elegant form, but his
mood is changeable, and he is inclined to all wickedness. In cunning and
perfidy he excels every one, and many a time has he placed the gods in
great danger, and often has he saved them again by his cunning. He has a
wife named Siguna, and their son is called Nari.

Loki had three children by Angurbodi, a giantess of Jotunheim (the
giants' home). The first of these was Fenris, the wolf; the second was
Jörmungand, the Midgard serpent; and the third was Hela, death. Very
soon did the gods become aware of this evil progeny which was being
reared in Jotunheim, and by divination they discovered that they must
receive great injury from them. That they had such a mother spoke bad
for them, but their coming of such a sire was a still worse presage.
All-father therefore despatched certain of the gods to bring the
children to him, and when they were brought before him he cast the
serpent down into the ocean which surrounds the world. There the monster
waxed so large that he wound himself round the whole globe, and that
with such ease that he can with his mouth lay hold of his tail. Hela
All-father cast into Niflheim, where she rules over nine worlds. Into
these she distributes all those who are sent to her,--that is to say,
all who die through sickness or old age. She has there an abode with
very thick walls, and fenced with strong gates. Her hall is Elvidnir;
her table is Hunger; her knife, Starvation; her man-servant, Delay; her
maid-servant, Sloth; her threshold, Precipice; her bed, Care; and her
curtains, Anguish of Soul. The one half of her body is livid, the other
half is flesh-colour. She has a terrible look, so that she can be easily
known.

As to the wolf, Fenris, the gods let him grow up among themselves, Tyr
being the only one of them who dare give him his food. When, however,
they perceived how he every day increased prodigiously in size, and that
the oracles warned them that he would one day prove fatal to them, they
determined to make very strong iron fetters for him which they called
Loeding. These they presented to the wolf, and desired him to put them
on to show his strength by endeavouring to break them. The wolf saw that
it would not be difficult for him to burst them, so he let the gods put
the fetters on him, then violently stretching himself he broke the
fetters asunder, and set himself free.

Having seen this, the gods went to work, and prepared a second set of
fetters, called Dromi, half as strong again as the former, and these
they persuaded the wolf to put on, assuring him that if he broke them he
would then furnish them with an undeniable proof of his power. The wolf
saw well enough that it would not be easy to break this set, but he
considered that he had himself increased in strength since he broke the
others, and he knew that without running some risk he could never become
celebrated. He therefore allowed the gods to place the fetters on him.
Then Fenris shook himself, stretched his limbs, rolled on the ground,
and at length burst the fetters, which he made fly in all directions.
Thus did he free himself the second time from his chains, and from this
has arisen the saying, "To get free from Loeding, or to burst from
Dromi," meaning to perform something by strong exertion.

The gods now despaired of ever being able to secure the wolf with any
chain of their own making. All-father, however, sent Skirnir, the
messenger of the god Frey, into the country of the Black Elves, to the
dwarfs, to ask them to make a chain to bind Fenris with. This chain was
composed of six things--the noise made by the fall of a cat's foot, the
hair of a woman's beard, the roots of stones, the nerves of bears, the
breath of fish, and the spittle of birds.

The fetters were as smooth and as soft as silk, and yet, as you will
presently see, of great strength. The gods were very thankful for them
when they were brought to them, and returned many thanks to him who
brought them. Then they took the wolf with them on to the island Lyngvi,
which is in the lake Amsvartnir, and there they showed him the chain,
desiring him to try his strength in breaking it. At the same time they
told him that it was a good deal stronger than it looked. They took it
in their own hands and pulled at it, attempting in vain to break it, and
then they said to Fenris--

"No one else but you, Fenris, can break it."

"I don't see," replied the wolf, "that I shall gain any glory by
breaking such a slight string, but if any artifice has been employed in
the making of it, you may be sure, though it looks so fragile, it shall
never touch foot of mine."

The gods told him he would easily break so slight a bandage, since he
had already broken asunder shackles of iron of the most solid make.

"But," said they, "if you should not be able to break the chain, you are
too feeble to cause us any anxiety, and we shall not hesitate to loose
you again."

"I very much fear," replied the wolf, "that if you once tie me up so
fast that I cannot release myself, you will be in no haste to unloose
me. I am, therefore, unwilling to have this cord wound around me; but to
show you I am no coward, I will agree to it, but one of you must put his
hand in my mouth, as a pledge that you intend me no deceit."

The gods looked on one another wistfully, for they found themselves in
an embarrassing position.

Then Tyr stepped forward and bravely put his right hand in the monster's
mouth. The gods then tied up the wolf, who forcibly stretched himself,
as he had formerly done, and exerted all his powers to disengage
himself; but the more efforts he made the tighter he drew the chain
about him, and then all the gods, except Tyr, who lost his hand, burst
out into laughter at the sight. Seeing that he was so fast tied that he
would never be able to get loose again, they took one end of the chain,
which was called Gelgja, and having drilled a hole for it, drew it
through the middle of a large broad rock, which they sank very deep in
the earth. Afterwards, to make all still more secure, they tied the end
of the chain, which came through the rock to a great stone called
Keviti, which they sank still deeper. The wolf used his utmost power to
free himself, and, opening his mouth, tried to bite them. When the gods
saw that they took a sword and thrust it into his mouth, so that it
entered his under jaw right up to the hilt, and the point reached his
palate. He howled in the most terrible manner, and since then the foam
has poured from his mouth in such abundance that it forms the river
called Von. So the wolf must remain until Ragnarök.

Such a wicked race has Loki begot. The gods would not put the wolf to
death because they respected the sanctity of the place, which forbade
blood being shed there.
HOLGER DANSKE.
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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The Danish peasantry of the present day relate many wonderful things of
an ancient hero whom they name Holger Danske, _i.e_. Danish Holger,
and to whom they ascribe wonderful strength and dimensions.

Holger Danske came one time to a town named Bagsvoer, in the isle of
Zealand, where, being in want of a new suit of clothes, he sent for
twelve tailors to make them. He was so tall that they were obliged to
set ladders to his back and shoulders to take his measure. They measured
and measured away, but unluckily a man, who was on the top of one of the
ladders, happened, as he was cutting a mark in the measure, to give
Holger's ear a clip with the scissors. Holger, forgetting what was going
on, thinking that he was being bitten by a flea, put up his hand and
crushed the unlucky tailor to death between his fingers.

It is also said that a witch one time gave him a pair of spectacles
which would enable him to see through the ground. He lay down at a place
not far from Copenhagen to make a trial of their powers, and as he put
his face close to the ground, he left in it the mark of his spectacles,
which mark is to be seen at this very day, and the size of it proves
what a goodly pair they must have been.

Tradition does not say at what time it was that this mighty hero
honoured the isles of the Baltic with his actual presence, but, in
return, it informs us that Holger, like so many other heroes of renown,
"is not dead, but sleepeth." The clang of arms, we are told, was
frequently heard under the castle of Cronberg, but in all Denmark no one
could be found hardy enough to penetrate the subterranean recesses and
ascertain the cause. At length a slave, who had been condemned to death,
was offered his life and a pardon if he would go down, proceed through
the subterranean passage as far as it went, and bring an account of what
he should meet there. He accordingly descended, and went along till he
came to a great iron door, which opened of itself the instant he knocked
at it, and he beheld before him a deep vault. From the roof in the
centre hung a lamp whose flame was nearly extinct, and beneath was a
huge great stone table, around which sat steel-clad warriors, bowed down
over it, each with his head on his crossed arms. He who was seated at
the head of the board then raised himself up. This was Holger Danske.
When he had lifted his head up from off his arms, the stone table split
throughout, for his beard was grown into it.

"Give me thy hand," said he to the intruder.

The slave feared to trust his hand in the grasp of the ancient warrior,
and he reached him the end of an iron bar which he had brought with him.
Holger squeezed it so hard, that the mark of his hand remained in it. He
let it go at last, saying--

"Well! I am glad to find there are still men in Denmark."
TREASURE.
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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There are still to be seen near Flensborg the ruins of a very ancient
building. Two soldiers once stood on guard there together, but when one
of them was gone to the town, it chanced that a tall white woman came to
the other, and spoke to him, and said--

"I am an unhappy spirit, who has wandered here these many hundred years,
but never shall I find rest in the grave."

She then informed him that under the walls of the castle a great
treasure was concealed, which only three men in the whole world could
take up, and that he was one of the three. The man, who now saw that his
fortune was made, promised to follow her directions in every particular,
whereupon she desired him to come to the same place at twelve o'clock
the following night.

The other soldier meanwhile had come back from the town just as the
appointment was made with his comrade. He said nothing about what,
unseen, he had seen and heard, but went early the next evening and
concealed himself amongst some bushes. When his fellow-soldier came with
his spade and shovel he found the white woman at the appointed place,
but when she perceived they were watched she put off the appointed
business until the next evening. The man who had lain on the watch to no
purpose went home, and suddenly fell ill; and as he thought he should
die of that sickness, he sent for his comrade, and told him how he knew
all, and conjured him not to have anything to do with witches or with
spirits, but rather to seek counsel of the priest, who was a prudent
man. The other thought it would be the wisest plan to follow the advice
of his comrade, so he went and discovered the whole affair to the
priest, who, however, desired him to do as the spirit had bidden him,
only he was to make her lay the first hand to the work herself.

The appointed time was now arrived, and the man was at the place. When
the white woman had pointed out to him the spot, and they were just
beginning the work, she said to him that when the treasure was taken up
one-half of it should be his, but that he must divide the other half
equally between the church and the poor. Then the devil entered into the
man, and awakened his covetousness, so that he cried out--

"What! shall I not have the whole?"

Scarcely had he spoken when the figure, with a most mournful wail,
passed in a blue flame over the moat of the castle, and the man fell
sick, and died within three days.

The story soon spread through the country, and a poor scholar who heard
it thought he had now an opportunity of making his fortune. He therefore
went at midnight to the place, and there he met with the wandering white
woman, and he told her why he was come, and offered his services to
raise the treasure. She, however, answered that he was not one of the
three, one of whom alone could free her, and that the wall in which was
the money would still remain so firm that no human being should be able
to break it. She also told him that at some future time he should be
rewarded for his good inclination; and, it is said, when a long time
after he passed by that place, and thought with compassion on the
sufferings of the unblest woman, he fell on his face over a great heap
of money, which soon put him again on his feet. The wall still remains
undisturbed, and as often as any one has attempted to throw it down,
whatever is thrown down in the day is replaced again in the night.

       *       *       *       *       *

Three men went once in the night-time to Klumhöi to try their luck, for
a dragon watches there over a great treasure. They dug into the ground,
giving each other a strict charge not to utter a word whatever might
happen, otherwise all their labour would be in vain. When they had dug
pretty deep, their spades struck against a copper chest. They then made
signs to one another, and all, with both hands, laid hold of a great
copper ring that was on the top of the chest, and pulled up the
treasure. When they had just got it into their possession, one of them
forgot the necessity of silence, and shouted out--

"One pull more, and we have it!"

That very instant the chest flew away out of their hands to the lake
Stöierup, but as they all held hard on the ring it remained in their
grasp. They went and fastened the ring on the door of St. Olaf's church,
and there it remains to this very day.

       *       *       *       *       *

Near Dangstrup there is a hill which is called Dangbjerg Dons. Of this
hill it is related that it is at all times covered with a blue mist, and
that under it there lies a large copper kettle full of money. One night
two men went there to dig after this treasure, and they had got so far
as to lay hold of the handle of the kettle. All sorts of wonderful
things began then to appear to disturb them at their work. One time a
coach, drawn by four black horses, drove by them. Then they saw a black
dog with a fiery tongue. Then there came a cock drawing a load of hay.
Still the men persisted in not letting themselves speak, and still dug
on without stopping. At last a fellow came limping up to them and said--

"See, Dangstrup is on fire!"

When the men looked towards the town, it appeared exactly as if the
whole place were in a bright flame. Then at length one of the men forgot
to keep silence, and the moment he uttered an exclamation the treasure
sank deeper and deeper, and as often since as any attempt has been made
to get it up, the trolls have, by their spells and artifices, prevented
its success.
MAIDEN FOXTAIL.
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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There was once upon a time a wicked woman who had a daughter and a
step-daughter. The daughter was ugly and of an evil disposition, but the
step-daughter was most beautiful and good, and all who knew her wished
her well. When the girl's step-mother and step-sister saw this they
hated the poor girl.

One day it chanced that she was sent by her step-mother to the well to
draw water. When the girl came there she saw a little hand held out of
the water, and a voice said--

"Maiden, beautiful and good, give me your golden apple, and in return
for it I will thrice wish you well."

The girl thought that one who spoke so fairly to her would not do her an
ill turn, so she put the apple into the little hand. Then she bent down
over the spring, and, taking care not to muddy the water, filled her
bucket. As she went home the guardian of the well wished that the girl
would become thrice as beautiful as she was, that whenever she laughed a
gold ring might fall from her mouth, and that red roses might spring up
wherever she trod. The same hour all that he wished came to pass. From
that day the girl was called the Maiden Swanwhite, and the fame of her
loveliness spread all through the land.

When the wicked step-mother perceived this, she was filled with rage,
and she thought how her own daughter might become as beautiful as
Swanwhite. With this object she set herself to learn all that had
happened, and then she sent her own daughter to fetch water. When the
wicked girl had come to the well, she saw a little hand rise up out of
the water, and heard a voice which said--

"Maiden, beautiful and good, give me your gold apple and I will thrice
wish thee well."

But the hag's daughter was both wicked and avaricious, and it was not
her way to make presents. She therefore made a dash at the little hand,
wished the guardian of the well evil, and said pettishly--

"You need not think you'll get a gold apple from me."

Then she filled her bucket, muddying the water, and away she went in a
rage. The guardian of the well was enraged, so he wished her three evil
wishes, as a punishment for her wickedness. He wished that she should
become three times as ugly as she was, that a dead rat should fall from
her mouth whenever she laughed, and that the fox-tail grass might spring
up in the footsteps wherever she trod. So it was. From that day the
wicked girl was called Maiden Foxtail, and very much talk was there
among the folk of her strange looks and her ill-nature. The hag could
not bear her step-daughter should be more beautiful than her own
daughter, and poor Swanwhite had to put up with all the ill-usage and
suffering that a step-child can meet with.

Swanwhite had a brother whom she loved very much, and he also loved her
with all his heart. He had long ago left home, and he was now the
servant of a king, far, far off in a strange land. The other servants of
the king bore him no good-will because he was liked by his master, and
they wished to ruin him if they could find anything against him.

They watched him closely, and one day, coming to the king, said--

"Lord king, we know well that you do not like evil or vice in your
servants. Thence we think it is only right to tell you that the young
foreigner, who is in your service, every morning and evening bows the
knee to an idol."

When the king heard that he set it down to envy and ill-will, and did
not think there was any truth in it, but the courtiers said that he
could easily discover for himself whether what they said was true or
not. They led the king to the young man's rooms, and told him to look
through the key-hole. When the king looked in he saw the young man on
his knees before a fine picture, and so he could not help believing that
what the courtiers had told him was true.

The king was much enraged, and ordered the young man to come before
him, when he condemned him to die for his great wickedness.

"My lord king," said he, "do not imagine that I worship any idol. That
is my sister's picture, whom I commend to the care of God every morning
and evening, asking Him to protect her, for she remains in a wicked
step-mother's power."

The king then wished to see the picture, and he never tired of looking
on its beauty.

"If it is true," said he, "what you tell me, that that is your sister's
picture, she shall be my queen, and you yourself shall go and fetch her;
but if you lie, this shall be your punishment,--you shall be cast into
the lions' den."

The king then commanded that a ship should be fitted out in grand style,
having wine and treasure in it. Then he sent away the young man in great
state to fetch his beautiful sister to the court.

The young man sailed away over the ocean, and came at length to his
land. Here he delivered his master's message, as became him, and made
preparations to return. Then the step-mother and step-sister begged that
they might go with him and his sister. The young man had no liking for
them, so he said no, and refused their request, but Swanwhite begged for
them, and got them what they wanted.

When they had put to sea and were on the wide ocean, a great storm arose
so that the sailors expected the vessel and all on her to go to the
bottom. The young man was, however, in good spirits, and went up the
mast in order to see if he could discover land anywhere. When he had
looked out from the mast, he called to Swanwhite, who stood on the
deck--

"Dear sister, I see land now."

It was, however, blowing so hard that the maiden could not hear a word.
She asked her step-mother if she knew what her brother said.

"Yes," said the false hag; "he says we shall never come to God's land
unless you throw your gold casket into the sea."

When Swanwhite heard that, she did what the hag told her, and cast the
gold casket into the deep sea.

A while after her brother once more called to his sister, who stood on
the deck--

"Swanwhite, go and deck yourself as a bride, for we shall soon be
there."

But the maiden could not hear a word for the raging of the sea. She
asked her step-mother if she knew what her brother had said.

"Yes," said the false hag; "he says we shall never come to God's land
unless you cast yourself into the sea."

While Swanwhite thought of this, the wicked step-mother sprang to her,
and thrust her on a sudden overboard. The young girl was carried away by
the blue waves, and came to the mermaid who rules over all those who are
drowned in the sea.

When the young man came down the mast, and asked whether his sister was
attired, the step-mother told him many falsehoods about Swanwhite having
fallen into the sea. When the young man heard this he and all the
ship-folk were afraid, for they well knew what punishment awaited them
for having so ill looked after the king's bride. The false hag then
thought of another deception. She said they had better dress her own
daughter as the bride, and then no one need know that Swanwhite had
perished. The young man would not agree to this, but the sailors, being
in fear of their lives, made him do as the step-mother had suggested.
Maiden Foxtail was dressed out in the finest manner with red rings and a
gold girdle, but the young man was ill at ease, and could not forget
what had happened to his sister.

In the midst of this the vessel came to shore, where was the king with
all his court with much splendour awaiting their arrival. Carpets were
spread upon the ground, and the king's bride left the ship in great
state. When the king beheld Maiden Foxtail, and was told that that was
his bride, he suspected some cheat, and was very angry, and he ordered
that the young man should be thrown into the lions' den. He would not,
however, break his kingly word, so he took the ugly maiden for his wife,
and she became queen in the place of her step-sister.

Now Maiden Swanwhite had a little dog of which she was very fond, and
she called it Snow-white. Now that its mistress was lost, there was no
one who cared for it, so it came into the king's palace and took refuge
in the kitchen, where it lay down in front of the fire. When it was
night and all had gone to bed, the master-cook saw the kitchen door open
of itself and a beautiful little duck, fastened to a chain, came into
the kitchen. Wherever the little bird trod the most beautiful roses
sprang up. The duck went up to the dog upon the hearth, and said--

"Poor little Snow-white! Once on a time you lay on blue silk cushions.
Now you must lie on the grey ashes. Ah! my poor brother, who is in the
lions' den! Shame on Maiden Foxtail! she sleeps in my lord's arms."

"Alas, poor me!" continued the duck, "I shall come here only on two more
nights. After that I shall see you no more."

Then it caressed the little dog, and the dog returned its caresses.
After a little while the door opened of itself and the little bird went
its way.

The next morning, when it was daylight, the master-cook took the
beautiful roses that lay strewn on the floor and with them decorated the
dishes for the king's table. The king so much admired the flowers that
he ordered the master-cook to be called to him, and asked him where he
had found such magnificent roses. The cook told him all that had
happened, and what the duck had said to the little dog. When the king
heard it he was much perplexed, and he told the cook to let him know as
soon as the bird showed itself again.

The next night the little duck again came to the kitchen, and spoke to
the dog as before. The cook sent word to the king, and he came just as
the bird went out at the door. However he saw the beautiful roses lying
all over the kitchen floor, and from them came such a delightful scent
that the like had never been known.

The king made up his mind that if the duck came again he would see it,
so he lay in wait for it. He waited a long while, when, at midnight, the
little bird, as before, came walking up to the dog which lay on the
hearth, and said--

"Poor little Snow-white! once on a time you lay on blue silk cushions.
Now you must lie on grey ashes. Ah! my poor brother, who is in the
lions' den. Shame on Maiden Foxtail! she sleeps in my lord's arms."

Then it went on--

"Alas! poor me! I shall see thee no more."

Then it caressed the little dog, and the dog returned its caresses. As
the bird was about to go away, the king sprang out and caught it by the
foot. Then the bird changed its form and became a horrible dragon, but
the king held it fast. It changed itself again, and took the forms of
snakes, wolves, and other fierce animals, but the king did not lose his
hold. Then the mermaid pulled hard at the chain, but the king held so
fast that the chain broke in two with a great snap and rattling. That
moment there stood there a beautiful maiden much more beautiful than
that in the fine picture. She thanked the king for having saved her
from the power of the mermaid. The king was very glad, and took the
beautiful maiden in his arms, kissed her, and said--

"I will have no one else in the world for my queen, and now I well see
that your brother was guiltless."

Then he sent off at once to the lions' den to learn if the young man was
yet alive. There the young man was safe and sound among the wild beasts,
which had done him no injury. Then the king was in a happy mood, and
rejoiced that everything had chanced so well. The brother and sister
told him all that the step-mother had done.

When it was daylight the king ordered a great feast to be got ready, and
asked the foremost people in the country to the palace. As they all sat
at table and were very merry, the king told a story of a brother and
sister who had been treacherously dealt with by a step-mother, and he
related all that had happened from beginning to end. When the tale was
ended the king's folk looked at one another, and all agreed that the
conduct of the step-mother in the tale was a piece of unexampled
wickedness.

The king turned to his mother-in-law, and said--

"Some one should reward my tale. I should like to know what punishment
the taking of such an innocent life deserves."

The false hag did not know that her own treachery was aimed at, so she
said boldly--

"For my part, I certainly think she should be put into boiling lead."

The king then turned himself to Foxtail, and said--

"I should like to have your opinion; what punishment is merited by one
who takes so innocent a life?"

The wicked woman answered at once--

"For my part, I think she deserves to be put into boiling tar."

Then the king started up from the table in a great rage, and said--

"You have pronounced doom on yourselves. Such punishment shall you
suffer!"

He ordered the two women to be taken out to die as they themselves had
said, and no one save Swanwhite begged him to have mercy on them.

After that the king was married to the beautiful maiden, and all folk
agreed that nowhere could be found a finer queen. The king gave his own
sister to the brave young man, and there was great joy in all the king's
palace.

There they live prosperous and happy unto this day, for all I know.
LOST BELL.
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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A shepherd's boy, belonging to Patzig, about half a mile from Bergen,
where there are great numbers of underground people in the hills, found
one morning a little silver bell on the green heath among the giants'
graves, and fastened it on him. It happened to be the bell belonging to
the cap of one of the little brown ones, who had lost it while he was
dancing, and did not immediately miss it or observe that it was no
longer tinkling in his cap. He had gone down into the hill without his
bell, and, having discovered his loss, was filled with melancholy, for
the worst thing that can befall the underground people is to lose their
cap, or their shoes; but even to lose the bell from their caps, or the
buckle from their belts, is no trifle to them. Whoever loses his bell
must pass some sleepless nights, for not a wink of sleep can he get till
he has recovered it.

The little fellow was in the greatest trouble, and looked and searched
about everywhere. But how could he learn who had the bell? for only on a
very few days in the year may they come up to daylight, nor can they
then appear in their true form. He had turned himself into every form of
birds, beasts, and men, and he had sung and groaned and lamented about
his bell, but not the slightest tidings or trace of tidings had he been
able to get. Most unfortunately for him, the shepherd's boy had left
Patzig the very day he found the little bell, and he was now keeping
sheep at Unrich, near Gingst, so that it was not till many a day after,
and then by mere chance, that the little underground fellow recovered
his bell, and with it his peace of mind.

He had thought it not unlikely that a raven, or a crow, or a jackdaw, or
a magpie, had found his bell, and from its thievish disposition, which
attracts it to anything bright and shining, had carried it into its
nest. With this thought he turned himself into a beautiful little bird,
and searched all the nests in the island, and he'd sang before all kinds
of birds to see if they had found what he had lost, and could restore to
him his sleep. He had, however, been able to learn nothing from the
birds. As he now, one evening, was flying over the waters of Ralov and
the fields of Unrich, the shepherd's boy, whose name was John
Schlagenteufel (Smite-devil), happened to be keeping his sheep there at
the very time. Several of the sheep had bells about their necks, and
they tinkled merrily when the boy's dog set them trotting. The little
bird who was flying over them thought of his bell, and sang in a
melancholy tone----

 "Little bell, little bell,
 Little ram as well,
 You, too, little sheep,
 If you've my tingle too,
 No sheep's so rich as you,
 My rest you keep."

The boy looked up and listened to this strange song which came out of
the sky, and saw the pretty bird, which seemed to him still more
strange.

"If one," said he to himself, "had but that bird that's singing up
there, so plain that one of us could hardly match him! What can he mean
by that wonderful song? The whole of it is, it must be a feathered
witch. My rams have only pinchbeck bells, he calls them rich cattle; but
I have a silver bell, and he sings nothing about me."

With these words he began to fumble in his pocket, took out his bell,
and rang it.

The bird in the air instantly saw what it was, and rejoiced beyond
measure. He vanished in a second, flew behind the nearest bush,
alighted, and drew off his speckled feather dress, and turned himself
into an old woman dressed in tattered clothes. The old dame, well
supplied with sighs and groans, tottered across the field to the
shepherd-boy, who was still ringing his bell and wondering what was
become of the beautiful bird. She cleared her throat, and coughing, bid
him a kind good evening, and asked him which was the way to Bergen.
Pretending then that she had just seen the little bell, she exclaimed--

"Well now, what a charming pretty little bell! Well, in all my life, I
never beheld anything more beautiful. Hark ye, my son, will you sell me
that bell? What may be the price of it? I have a little grandson at
home, and such a nice plaything as it would make for him!"

"No," replied the boy, quite short; "the bell is not for sale. It is a
bell that there is not such another bell in the whole world. I have only
to give it a little tinkle, and my sheep run of themselves wherever I
would have them go. And what a delightful sound it has! Only listen,
mother," said he, ringing it; "is there any weariness in the world that
can hold out against this bell? I can ring with it away the longest
time, so that it will be gone in a second."

The old woman thought to herself--

"We will see if he can hold out against bright shining money," and she
took out no less than three silver dollars and offered them to him, but
he still replied--

"No, I will not sell the bell."

She then offered him five dollars.

"The bell is still mine," said he.

She stretched out her hand full of ducats. He replied this third time--

"Gold is dirt, and does not ring."

The old dame then shifted her ground, and turned the discourse another
way. She grew mysterious, and began to entice him by talking of secret
arts and of charms by which his cattle might be made to thrive
prodigiously, relating to him all kinds of wonders of them. It was then
the young shepherd began to long, and he lent a willing ear to her
tales.

The end of the matter was, that she said to him--

"Hark ye, my child, give me your bell; and see, here is a white stick
for you," said she, taking out a little white stick which had Adam and
Eve very ingeniously cut upon it as they were feeding their flocks in
the Garden, with the fattest sheep and lambs dancing before them. There,
too, was the shepherd David, as he stood up with his sling against the
giant Goliath. "I will give you," said the woman, "this stick for the
bell, and as long as you drive the cattle with it they will be sure to
thrive. With this you will become a rich shepherd. Your wethers will be
always fat a month sooner than the wethers of other shepherds, and every
one of your sheep will have two pounds of wool more than others, and yet
no one will ever be able to see it on them."

The old woman handed him the stick. So mysterious was her gesture, and
so strange and bewitching her smile, that the lad was at once in her
power. He grasped eagerly at the stick, gave her his hand, and cried--

"Done! strike hands! The bell for the stick!"

Cheerfully the old woman took the bell for the stick, and departed like
a light breeze over the field and the heath. He saw her vanish, and she
seemed to float away before his eyes like a mist, and to go off with a
slight whiz and whistle that made the shepherd's hair stand on end.

The underground one, however, who, in the shape of an old woman, had
wheedled him out of his bell, had not deceived him. For the underground
people dare not lie, but must ever keep their word--a breach of it
being followed by their sudden change into the shape of toads, snakes,
dunghill beetles, wolves, and apes, forms in which they wander about,
objects of fear and aversion, for a long course of years before they are
freed. They have, therefore, naturally a great dread of lying. John
Schlagenteufel gave close attention and made trial of his new shepherd's
staff, and he soon found that the old woman had told him the truth, for
his flocks and his work, and all the labour of his hands, prospered with
him, and he had wonderful luck, so that there was not a sheep-owner or
head shepherd but was desirous of having him in his employment.

It was not long, however, that he remained an underling. Before he was
eighteen years of age he had got his own flocks, and in the course of a
few years was the richest sheep-master in the whole island of Bergen. At
last he was able to buy a knight's estate for himself, and that estate
was Grabitz, close by Rambin, which now belongs to the Lords of Sunde.
My father knew him there, and how from a shepherd's boy he became a
nobleman. He always conducted himself like a prudent, honest, and pious
man, who had a good word for every one. He brought up his sons like
gentlemen, and his daughters like ladies, some of whom are still alive,
and accounted people of great consequence.

Well may people who hear such stories wish that they had met with such
an adventure, and had found a little silver bell which the underground
people had lost!
THE MEAL OF FROTHI.
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Gold is called by the poets the meal of Frothi, and the origin of the
term is found in this story.

Odin had a son named Skioldr who settled and reigned in the land which
is now called Denmark, but was then called Gotland. Skioldr had a son
named Frithleif, who reigned after him. Frithleif's son was called
Frothi, and succeeded him on the throne. At the time that the Emperor
Augustus made peace over the whole world, Christ was born, but as Frothi
was the most powerful of all the monarchs of the north, that peace,
wherever the Danish language was spoken, was imputed to him, and the
Northmen called it Frothi's peace.

At that time no man hurt another, even if he found the murderer of his
father or brother, loose or bound. Theft and robbery were then unknown,
insomuch that a gold armlet lay for a long time untouched in
Jalangursheath.

Frothi chanced to go on a friendly visit to a certain king in Sweden,
named Fiolnir, and there purchased two female slaves, called Fenia and
Menia, equally distinguished for their stature and strength. In those
days there were found in Denmark two quern-stones of such a size, that
no one was able to move them, and these mill-stones were endued with
such virtue, that the quern in grinding produced whatever the grinder
wished for. The quern was called Grotti. He who presented this quern to
Frothi was called Hengikioptr (hanging-chops). King Frothi caused these
slaves to be brought to the quern, and ordered them to grind gold,
peace, and prosperity for Frothi. The king allowed them no longer rest
or sleep than while the cuckoo was silent or a verse could be recited.
Then they are said to have sung the lay called Grotta-Savngr, and before
they ended their song to have ground a hostile army against Frothi,
insomuch, that a certain sea-king, called Mysingr, arriving the same
night, slew Frothi, taking great spoil. And so ended Frothi's peace.

Mysingr took with him the quern, Grotti, with Fenia and Menia, and
ordered them to grind salt. About midnight they asked Mysingr whether he
had salt enough. On his ordering them to go on grinding, they went on a
little longer till the ship sank under the weight of the salt. A
whirlpool was produced, where the waves are sucked up by the mill-eye,
and the waters of the sea have been salt ever since.



THE HILL-MAN
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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The hill-people are excessively frightened during thunder. When,
therefore, they see bad weather coming on, they lose no time in getting
to the shelter of their hills. This terror is also the cause of their
not being able to endure the beating of a drum. They take it to be the
rolling of thunder. It is, therefore, a good recipe for banishing them
to beat a drum every day in the neighbourhood of their hills, for they
immediately pack up, and depart to some quieter residence.

A farmer lived once in great friendship and concord with a hill-man,
whose hill was in his lands. One time when his wife was about to have a
child, it gave him great perplexity to think that he could not well
avoid inviting the hill-man to the christening, which might, not
improbably, bring him into ill repute with the priest and the other
people of the village. He was going about pondering deeply, but in vain,
how he might get out of this dilemma, when it came into his head to ask
the advice of the boy that kept his pigs, who had a great head-piece,
and had often helped him before. The pig-boy instantly undertook to
arrange the matter with the hill-man in such a manner that he should not
only stay away without being offended, but, moreover, give a good
christening present.

Accordingly, when it was night, he took a sack on his shoulder, went to
the hill-man's hill, knocked, and was admitted. He delivered his
message, gave his master's compliments, and requested the honour of his
company at the christening. The hill-man thanked him, and said--

"I think it is but right I should give you a christening present."

With these words he opened his money-chests, bidding the boy hold up his
sack while he poured money into it.

"Is there enough now?" said he, when he had put a good quantity into it.

"Many give more, few give less," replied the boy.

The hill-man once more fell to filling the sack, and again asked--

"Is there enough now?"

The boy lifted the sack a little off the ground to see if he was able to
carry any more, and then answered--

"It is about what most people give."

Upon this the hill-man emptied the whole chest into the bag, and once
more asked--

"Is there enough now?"

The guardian of the pigs now saw that there was as much in the sack as
he would be able to carry, so he answered--

"No one gives more, most people give less."

"Come now," said the hill-man, "let us hear who else is to be at the
christening."

"Ah," said the boy, "we are to have a great many strangers and great
people. First and foremost, we are to have three priests and a bishop."

"Hem!" muttered the hill-man; "however, those gentlemen usually look
only after the eating and drinking; they will never take any notice of
me. Well, who else?"

"Then we have asked St. Peter and St. Paul."

"Hem! hem! However, there will be a bye-place for me behind the stove.
Well, and what then?"

"Then Our Lady herself is coming."

"Hem! hem! hem! However, guests of such high rank come late and go away
early. But tell me, my lad, what sort of music is it you are to have?"

"Music," said the boy, "why, we are to have drums."

"Drums!" repeated the troll, quite terrified. "No, no! Thank you. I
shall stay at home in that case. Give my best respects to your master,
and I thank him for the invitation, but I cannot come. I did but once go
out to take a little walk, and some people began to beat a drum. I
hurried home, and was but just got to my door when they flung the
drum-stick after me, and broke one of my shins. I have been lame of that
leg ever since, and I shall take good care in future to avoid that sort
of music."

So saying he helped the boy to put the sack on his back, once more
charging him to present his best respects to his master.

Cat Tales
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
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The house of Katholm (Cat-isle) near Grenaac, in Jutland, got its name
from the following circumstance.

There was a man in Jutland who had made a good deal of money by improper
means. When he died he left his property equally among his three sons.
The youngest, when he got his share, thought to himself--

"What comes with sin goes with sorrow," and he resolved to submit his
money to the water-ordeal, thinking that the ill-got money would sink to
the bottom, and what was honestly acquired swim on the top. He
accordingly cast all his money into the water, and only one solitary
farthing swam. With this he bought a cat, and he went to sea and visited
foreign parts. At length he chanced to come to a place where the people
were sadly plagued by an enormous number of rats and mice, and as his
cat had had kittens by this time, he acquired great wealth by selling
them. So he came home to Jutland, and built himself a house, which he
called Katholm.

There was one time a poor sailor out of Ribe, who came to a foreign
island whose inhabitants were grievously plagued with mice. By good
luck he had a cat of his own on board, and the people of the island gave
him so much gold for it that he went home as fast as he could to fetch
more cats, and by this traffic he in a short time grew so rich that he
had no need of any more. Some time after, when he was on his deathbed,
he bequeathed a large sum of money for the building of Ribe Cathedral,
and a proof of this is still to be seen in a carving over the east door
of the church, representing a cat and four mice. The door is called
Cat-head Door (Kathoved Dor).

MAGICIAN'S DAUGHTER
Posted by Bling King Jun 28th 2011
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Just on the Finland frontiers there is situated a high mountain, which,
on the Swedish side, is covered with beautiful copsewood, and on the
other with dark pine-trees, so closely ranked together, and so luxuriant
in shade, that one might almost say the smallest bird could not find its
way through the thickets. Below the copsewood there stands a chapel with
the image of St. George, as guardian of the land and as a defence
against dragons, if there be such, and other monsters of paganism,
while, on the other side, on the borders of the dark firwood, are
certain cottages inhabited by wicked sorcerers, who have, moreover, a
cave cut so deep into the mountain that it joins with the bottomless
abyss, whence come all the demons that assist them. The Swedish
Christians who dwelt in the neighbourhood of this mountain thought it
would be necessary, besides the chapel and statue of St. George, to
choose some living protector, and therefore selected an ancient warrior,
highly renowned for his prowess in the battle-field, who had, in his old
age, become a monk. When this man went to take up his abode upon the
mountains, his only son (for he had formerly lived as a married man in
the world) would on no account leave him, but lived there also,
assisting his father in his duties as watcher, and in the exercises of
prayer and penitence, fully equalling the example that was now afforded
him as he had formerly done his example as a soldier.

The life led by those two valiant champions is said to have been most
admirable and pious.

Once on a time it happened that the young hero went out to cut wood in
the forest. He bore a sharp axe on his shoulders, and was besides girded
with a great sword; for as the woods were not only full of wild beasts,
but also haunted by wicked men, the pious hermits took the precaution of
always going armed. While the good youth was forcing his way through the
thickest of the copsewood, and already beheld over it the pointed tops
of the fir-trees (for he was close on the Finland frontier), there
rushed out against him a great white wolf, so that he had only just time
enough to leap to one side, and not being able immediately to draw his
sword, he flung his axe at his assailant. The blow was so well aimed
that it struck one of the wolf's fore-legs, and the animal, being sorely
wounded, limped back, with a yell of anguish, into the wood. The young
hermit warrior, however, thought to himself--

"It is not enough that I am rescued, but I must take such measures that
no one else may in future be injured, or even terrified by this wild
beast."

So he rushed in as fast as possible among the fir-trees, and inflicted
such a vehement blow with his sword on the wolf's head, that the animal,
groaning piteously, fell to the ground. Hereupon there came over the
young man all at once a strange mood of regret and compassion for his
poor victim. Instead of putting it immediately to death, he bound up the
wounds as well as he could with moss and twigs of trees, placed it on a
sort of canvas sling on which he was in the habit of carrying great
fagots, and with much labour brought it home, in hopes that he might be
able at last to cure and tame his fallen adversary. He did not find his
father in the cottage, and it was not without some fear and anxiety that
he laid the wolf on his own bed, which was made of moss and rushes, and
over which he had nailed St. George and the Dragon. He then turned to
the fire-place of the small hut, in order to prepare a healing salve for
the wounds. While he was thus occupied, how much was he astonished to
hear the moanings and lamentations of a human voice from the bed on
which he had just before deposited the wolf. On returning thither his
wonder was inexpressible on perceiving, instead of the frightful wild
beast, a most beautiful damsel, on whose head the wound which he had
inflicted was bleeding through her fine golden hair, and whose right
arm, in all its grace and snow-white luxuriance, was stretched out
motionless, for it had been broken by the blow from his axe.

"Pray," said she, "have pity, and do not kill me outright. The little
life that I have still left is, indeed, painful enough, and may not
last long; yet, sad as my condition is, it is yet tenfold better than
death."

The young man then sat down weeping beside her, and she explained to him
that she was the daughter of a magician, on the other side of the
mountain, who had sent her out in the shape of a wolf to collect plants
from places which, in her own proper form, she could not have reached.
It was but in terror she had made that violent spring which the youth
had mistaken for an attack on him, when her only wish had been to pass
by him.

"But you directly broke my right arm," said she, "though I had no evil
design against you."

How she had now regained her proper shape she could not imagine, but to
the youth it was quite clear that the picture of St. George and the
Dragon had broken the spell by which the poor girl had been transformed.

While the son was thus occupied, the old man returned home, and soon
heard all that had occurred, perceiving, at the same time, that if the
young pagan wanderer had been released from the spells by which she had
been bound, the youth was, in his turn, enchanted and spellbound by her
beauty and amiable behaviour.

From that moment he exerted himself to the utmost for the welfare of her
soul, endeavouring to convert her to Christianity, while his son
attended to the cure of her wounds; and, as their endeavours were on
both sides successful, it was resolved that the lovers should be united
in marriage, for the youth had not restricted himself by any monastic
vows.

The magician's daughter was now restored to perfect health. A day had
been appointed for her baptism and marriage. It happened that one
evening the bride and bridegroom went to take a pleasure walk through
the woods. The sun was yet high in the west, and shone so fervently
through the beech-trees on the green turf that they could never resolve
on turning home, but went still deeper and deeper into the forest. Then
the bride told him stories of her early life, and sang old songs which
she had learned when a child, and which sounded beautifully amid the
woodland solitude. Though the words were such that they could not be
agreeable to the youth's ears (for she had learned them among her pagan
and wicked relations), yet he could not interrupt her, first, because he
loved her so dearly, and, secondly, because she sang in a voice so clear
and sweet that the whole forest seemed to rejoice in her music. At last,
however, the pointed heads of the pine-trees again became visible, and
the youth wished to turn back, in order that he might not come again too
near the hated Finnish frontier. His bride, however, said to him--

"Dearest Conrad, why should we not walk on a little further? I would
gladly see the very place where you so cruelly wounded me on the head
and arm, and made me prisoner, all which has, in the end contributed to
my happiness. Methinks we are now very near the spot."

Accordingly they sought about here and there until at last the twilight
fell dim and heavy on the dense woods. The sun had long since set. The
moon, however, had risen, and, as a light broke forth, the lovers stood
on the Finland frontier, or rather they must have gone already some
distance beyond it, for the bridegroom was exceedingly terrified when he
found his cap lifted from his head, as if by human hand, though he saw
only the branch of a fir-tree. Immediately thereafter the whole air
around them was filled with strange and supernatural beings--witches,
devils, dwarfs, horned-owls, fire-eyed cats, and a thousand other
wretches that could not be named and described, whirled around them as
if dancing to rapid music. When the bride had looked on for a while, she
broke out into loud laughter, and at last began to dance furiously along
with them. The poor bridegroom might shout and pray as much and as
earnestly as he would, for she never attended to him, but at last
transformed herself in a manner so extraordinary that he could not
distinguish her from the other dancers. He thought, however, that he had
kept his eyes upon her, and seized on one of the dancers; but alas! it
was only a horrible spectre which held him fast, and threw its wide
waving shroud around him, so that he could not make his escape, while,
at the same time, some of the subterraneous black demons pulled at his
legs, and wanted to bear him down along with them into their bottomless
caves.

Fortunately he happened at that moment to cross himself and call on the
name of the Saviour, upon which the whole of this vile assembly fell
into confusion. They howled aloud and ran off in all directions, while
Conrad in the meantime saved himself by recrossing the frontier, and
getting under the protection of the Swedish copsewood. His beautiful
bride, however, was completely lost; and by no endeavours could he ever
obtain her again, though he often came to the Finland border, called out
her name aloud, wept and prayed, but all in vain. Many times, it is
true, he saw her floating about through the pine-trees, as if in chase,
but she was always accompanied by a train of frightful creatures, and
she herself also looked wild and disfigured. For the most part she never
noticed Conrad, but if she could not help fixing her eyes upon him, she
laughed so immoderately, and in a mood of merriment so strange and
unnatural, that he was terrified and made the sign of the cross,
whereupon she always fled away, howling, into one of the thickets.

Conrad fell more and more into melancholy abstraction, hardly ever
spoke, and though he had given over his vain walks into the forest, yet
if one asked him a question, the only answer he returned was--

"Ay, she is gone away beyond the mountains," so little did he know or
remember of any other object in the world but the lost beauty.

At last he died of grief; and according to a request which he had once
made, his father prepared a grave for him on the place where the bride
was found and lost, though during the fulfilment of this duty he had
enough to do--one while in contending with his crucifix against evil
spirits, and at another, with his sword against wild beasts, which were
no doubt sent thither by the magicians to attack and annoy him. At
length, however, he brought his task to an end, and thereafter it seemed
as if the bride mourned for the youth's untimely death, for there was
heard often a sound of howling and lamentation at the grave. For the
most part, indeed, this voice is like the voices of wolves, yet, at the
same time, human accents are to be distinguished, and I myself have
often listened thereto on dark winter nights.

Alas! that the poor maiden should have ventured again so near the
accursed paths she had once renounced. A few steps in the backward
course, and all is lost!


LITTLE ONE-EYE, TWO-EYES AND THREE-EYES
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Once upon a time there was a Woman, who had three daughters, the eldest
of whom was named One-Eye, because she had but a single eye, and that
placed in the middle of her forehead; the second was called Two-Eyes,
because she was like other mortals; and the third, Three-Eyes, because
she had three eyes, and one of them in the centre of her forehead, like
her eldest sister. But, because her second sister had nothing out of the
common in her appearance, she was looked down upon by her sisters, and
despised by her mother. "You are no better than common folk," they would
say to her; "you do not belong to us"; and then they would push her
about, give her coarse clothing, and nothing to eat but their leavings,
besides numerous other insults as occasion offered.

Once it happened that Two-Eyes had to go into the forest to tend the
goat; and she went very hungry, because her sisters had given her very
little to eat that morning. She sat down upon a hillock, and cried so
much that her tears flowed almost like rivers out of her eyes! By and by
she looked up and saw a Woman standing by, who asked, "Why are you
weeping, Two-Eyes?" "Because I have two eyes like ordinary people,"
replied the maiden, "and therefore my mother and sisters dislike me,
push me into corners, throw me their old clothes, and give me nothing to
eat but what they leave. To-day they have given me so little that I am
still hungry." "Dry your eyes, then, now," said the wise Woman; "I will
tell you something which shall prevent you from being hungry again. You
must say to your goat:

  "'Little kid, milk
  Table, appear!'

"and immediately a nicely filled table will stand before you, with
delicate food upon it, of which you can eat as much as you please. And
when you are satisfied, and have done with the table, you must say:

  'Little kid, milk
  Table, depart!'

"and it will disappear directly."

With these words the wise Woman went away, and little Two-Eyes thought
to herself she would try at once if what the Woman said were true, for
she felt very hungry indeed.

  "Little kid, milk
  Table, appear!"

said the maiden, and immediately a table covered with a white cloth
stood before her, with a knife and fork, and silver spoon; and the most
delicate dishes were ranged in order upon it, and everything as warm as
if they had been just taken away from the fire. Two-Eyes said a short
grace, and then began to eat; and when she had finished she pronounced
the words which the wise Woman had told her:

  "Little kid, milk
  Table, depart!"

and directly the table and all that was on it quickly disappeared. "This
is capital housekeeping," said the maiden, in high glee; and at evening
she went home with her goat, and found an earthen dish which her sisters
had left her filled with their leavings. She did not touch it; and the
next morning she went off again without taking the meagre breakfast
which was left out for her. The first and second time she did this the
sisters thought nothing of it; but when she did the same the third
morning their attention was roused, and they said, "All is not right
with Two-Eyes, for she has left her meals twice, and has touched nothing
of what was left for her; she must have found some other way of living."
So they determined that One-Eye should go with the maiden when she drove
the goat to the meadow and pay attention to what passed, and observe
whether any one brought her to eat or to drink.

When Two-Eyes, therefore, was about to set off, One-Eye told her she was
going with her to see whether she took proper care of the goat and fed
her sufficiently. Two-Eyes, however, divined her sister's object, and
drove the goat where the grass was finest, and then said, "Come,
One-Eye, let us sit down, and I will sing to you." So One-Eye sat down,
for she was quite tired with her unusual walk and the heat of the sun.

  "Are you awake or asleep, One-Eye?
  Are you awake or asleep?"

sang Two-Eyes, until her sister really went to sleep. As soon as she was
quite sound, the maiden had her table out, and ate and drank all she
needed; and by the time One-Eye woke again the table had disappeared,
and the maiden said to her sister, "Come, we will go home now; while you
have been sleeping the goat might have run about all over the world." So
they went home, and after Two-Eyes had left her meal untouched, the
mother inquired of One-Eye what she had seen, and she was obliged to
confess that she had been asleep.

The following morning the mother told Three-Eyes that she must go out
and watch Two-Eyes, and see who brought her food, for it was certain
that some one must. So Three-Eyes told her sister that she was going to
accompany her that morning to see if she took care of the goat and fed
her well; but Two-Eyes saw through her design, and drove the goat again
to the best feeding-place. Then she asked her sister to sit down and she
would sing to her, and Three-Eyes did so, for she was very tired with
her long walk in the heat of the sun. Then Two-Eyes began to sing as
before:

  "Are you awake, Three-Eyes?"

but, instead of continuing as she should have done,

  "Are you asleep, Three-Eyes?"

she said by mistake,

  "Are you asleep, Two-Eyes?"

and so went on singing:

  "Are you awake, Three-Eyes?"
  "Are you asleep, Two-Eyes?"

By and by Three-Eyes closed two of her eyes, and went to sleep with
them; but the third eye, which was not spoken to, kept open. Three-Eyes,
however, cunningly shut it too, and feigned to be asleep, while she was
really watching; and soon Two-Eyes, thinking all safe, repeated the
words:

  "Little kid, milk
  Table, appear!"

and as soon as she was satisfied she said the old words:

  "Little kid, milk
  Table, depart!"

Three-Eyes watched all these proceedings; and presently Two-Eyes came
and awoke her, saying, "Ah, sister! you are a good watcher, but come,
let us go home now." When they reached home Two-Eyes again ate nothing;
and her sister told her mother she knew now why the haughty hussy would
not eat their victuals. "When she is out in the meadow," said her
sister, "she says:

  "'Little kid, milk
  Table, appear!'

"and, directly, a table comes up laid out with meat and wine, and
everything of the best, much better than we have; and as soon as she has
had enough she says:

  "'Little kid, milk
  Table, depart!'

"and all goes away directly, as I clearly saw. Certainly she did put to
sleep two of my eyes, but the one in the middle of my forehead luckily
kept awake!"

"Will you have better things than we?" cried the envious mother; "then
you shall lose the chance"; and so saying, she took a carving-knife and
killed the goat dead.

As soon as Two-Eyes saw this she went out, very sorrowful, to the old
spot and sat down where she had sat before to weep bitterly. All at once
the wise Woman stood in front of her again, and asked why she was
crying. "Must I not cry," replied she, "when the goat which used to
furnish me every day with a dinner, according to your promise, has been
killed by my mother, and I am again suffering hunger and thirst?"
"Two-Eyes," said the wise Woman, "I will give you a piece of advice. Beg
your sisters to give you the entrails of the goat, and bury them in the
earth before the house door, and your fortune will be made." So saying,
she disappeared, and Two-Eyes went home, and said to her sisters, "Dear
sisters, do give me some part of the slain kid; I desire nothing
else--let me have the entrails." The sisters laughed and readily gave
them to her; and she buried them secretly before the threshold of the
door, as the wise Woman had bidden her.

The following morning they found in front of the house a wonderfully
beautiful tree, with leaves of silver and fruits of gold hanging from
the boughs, than which nothing more splendid could be seen in the world.
The two elder sisters were quite ignorant how the tree came where it
stood; but Two-Eyes perceived that it was produced by the goat's
entrails, for it stood on the exact spot where she had buried them. As
soon as the mother saw it she told One-Eye to break off some of the
fruit. One-Eye went up to the tree, and pulled a bough toward her, to
pluck off the fruit; but the bough flew back again directly out of her
hands; and so it did every time she took hold of it, till she was forced
to give up, for she could not obtain a single golden apple in spite of
all her endeavors. Then the mother said to Three-Eyes, "Do you climb up,
for you can see better with your three eyes than your sister with her
one." Three-Eyes, however, was not more fortunate than her sister, for
the golden apples flew back as soon as she touched them. At last the
mother got so impatient that she climbed the tree herself; but she met
with no more success than either of her daughters, and grasped the air
only when she thought she had the fruit. Two-Eyes now thought she would
try, and said to her sisters, "Let me get up, perhaps I may be
successful." "Oh, you are very likely indeed," said they, "with your two
eyes: you will see well, no doubt!" So Two-Eyes climbed the tree, and
directly she touched the boughs the golden apples fell into her hands,
so that she plucked them as fast as she could, and filled her apron
before she went down. Her mother took them of her, but returned her no
thanks; and the two sisters, instead of treating Two-Eyes better than
they had done, were only the more envious of her, because she alone
could gather the fruit--in fact, they treated her worse.

One morning, not long after the springing up of the apple-tree, the
three sisters were all standing together beneath it, when in the
distance a young Knight was seen riding toward them. "Make haste,
Two-Eyes!" exclaimed the two elder sisters; "make haste, and creep out
of our way, that we may not be ashamed of you"; and so saying, they put
over her in great haste an empty cask which stood near, and which
covered the golden apples as well, which she had just been plucking.
Soon the Knight came up to the tree, and the sisters saw he was a very
handsome man, for he stopped to admire the fine silver leaves and golden
fruit, and presently asked to whom the tree belonged, for he should like
to have a branch off it. One-Eye and Three-Eyes replied that the tree
belonged to them; and they tried to pluck a branch off for the Knight.
They had their trouble for nothing, however, for the boughs and fruit
flew back as soon as they touched them. "This is very wonderful." cried
the Knight, "that this tree should belong to you, and yet you cannot
pluck the fruit!" The sisters, however, maintained that it was theirs;
but while they spoke Two-Eyes rolled a golden apple from underneath the
cask, so that it travelled to the feet of the Knight, for she was angry,
because her sisters had not spoken the truth. When he saw the apple he
was astonished, and asked where it came from; and One-Eye and Three-Eyes
said they had another sister, but they dared not let her be seen,
because she had only two eyes, like common folk! The Knight, however,
would see her, and called, "Two-Eyes, come here!" and soon she made her
appearance from under the cask. The Knight was bewildered at her great
beauty, and said, "You, Two-Eyes, can surely break off a bough of this
tree for me?" "Yes," she replied, "that I will, for it is my property";
and climbing up, she easily broke off a branch with silver leaves and
golden fruit, which she handed to the Knight. "What can I give you in
return, Two-Eyes?" asked the Knight. "Alas! if you will take me with you
I shall be happy, for now I suffer hunger and thirst, and am in trouble
and grief from early morning to late evening; take me, and save me!"
Thereupon the Knight raised Two-Eyes upon his saddle, and took her home
to his father's castle. There he gave her beautiful clothes, and all she
wished for to eat or to drink; and afterward, because his love for her
had become so great, he married her, and a very happy wedding they had.

Her two sisters, meanwhile, were very jealous when Two-Eyes was carried
off by the Knight; but they consoled themselves by saying, "The
wonderful tree remains still for us; and even if we cannot get at the
fruit, everybody that passes will stop to look at it, and then come and
praise it to us. Who knows where our wheat may bloom?" The morning after
this speech, however, the tree disappeared, and with it all their hopes;
but when Two-Eyes that same day looked out of her chamber window,
behold, the tree stood before it, and there remained!

For a long time after this occurrence Two-Eyes lived in the enjoyment of
the greatest happiness; and one morning two poor women came to the
palace and begged an alms. Two-Eyes, after looking narrowly at their
faces, recognized her two sisters, One-Eye and Three-Eyes, who had come
to such great poverty that they were forced to wander about, begging
their bread from day to day. Two-Eyes, however, bade them welcome,
invited them in, and took care of them, till they both repented of their
evil which they had done to their sister in the days of their childhood.
MOTHER HOLLE
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 12
There was once a widow who had two daughters--one of whom was pretty and
industrious, while the other was ugly and idle. But she was much fonder
of the ugly and idle one, because she was her own daughter; and the
other, who was a step-daughter, was obliged to do all the work, and be
the Cinderella of the house. Every day the poor girl had to sit by a
well, in the highway, and spin and spin till her fingers bled.

Now it happened that one day the shuttle was marked with her blood, so
she dipped it in the well, to wash the mark off; but it dropped out of
her hand and fell to the bottom. She began to weep, and ran to her
step-mother and told of the mishap. But she scolded her sharply, and was
so merciless as to say, "Since you have let the shuttle fall in, you
must fetch it out again."

So the girl went back to the well, and did not know what to do; and in
the sorrow of her heart she jumped into the well to get the shuttle. She
lost her senses; and when she awoke and came to herself again, she was
in a lovely meadow where the sun was shining and many thousands of
flowers were growing. Along this meadow she went, and at last came to a
baker's oven full of bread, and the bread cried out, "Oh, take me out!
take me out! or I shall burn; I have been baked a long time!" So she
went up to it, and took out all the loaves one after another with the
bread-shovel. After that she went on till she came to a tree covered
with apples, which called out to her, "Oh, shake me! shake me! we apples
are all ripe!" So she shook the tree till the apples fell like rain, and
went on shaking till they were all down, and when she had gathered them
into a heap, she went on her way.

At last she came to a little house, out of which an old woman peeped;
but she had such large teeth that the girl was frightened, and was about
to run away.

But the old woman called out to her, "What are you afraid of, dear
child? Stay with me; if you will do all the work in the house properly,
you shall be the better for it. Only you must take care to make my bed
well, and to shake it thoroughly till the feathers fly--for then there
is snow on the earth. I am Mother Holle."

As the old woman spoke so kindly to her, the girl took courage and
agreed to enter her service. She attended to everything to the
satisfaction of her mistress, and always shook her bed so vigorously
that the feathers flew about like snow-flakes. So she had a pleasant
life with her; never an angry word; and boiled or roast meat every day.

She stayed some time with Mother Holle, and then she became sad. At
first she did not know what was the matter with her, but found at length
that it was homesickness; although she was many times better off here
than at home, still she had a longing to be there. At last she said to
the old woman, "I have a longing for home; and however well off I am
down here, I cannot stay any longer; I must go up again to my own
people." Mother Holle said, "I am pleased that you long for your home
again, and as you have served me so truly, I myself will take you up
again." Thereupon she took her by the hand, and led her to a large door.
The door was opened, and just as the maiden was standing beneath the
doorway, a heavy shower of golden rain fell, and all the gold remained
sticking to her, so that she was completely covered with it.

"You shall have that because you are so industrious," said Mother Holle;
and at the same time she gave her back the shuttle which she had let
fall into the well. Thereupon the door closed, and the maiden found
herself up above upon the earth, not far from her mother's house.

And as she went into the yard the cock cried: "Cock-a-doodle-doo! Your
golden girl's come back to you!"

So she went in to her mother, and as she arrived thus covered with gold,
she was well received, both by her and her sister.

The girl told all that had happened to her; and as soon as the mother
heard how she had come by so much wealth, she was very anxious to obtain
the same good luck for the ugly and lazy daughter. She had to seat
herself by the well and spin; and in order that her shuttle might be
stained with blood, she stuck her hand into a thorn-bush and pricked her
finger. Then she threw her shuttle into the well, and jumped in after
it.

She came, like the other, to the beautiful meadow and walked along the
very same path. When she got to the oven the bread again cried, "Oh,
take me out! take me out! or I shall burn; I have been baked a long
time!" But the lazy thing answered, "As if I had any wish to make myself
dirty!" and on she went. Soon she came to the apple-tree, which cried,
"Oh, shake me! shake me! we apples are all ripe!" But she answered, "I
like that! one of you might fall on my head," and so went on.

When she came to Mother Holle's house she was not afraid, for she had
already heard of her big teeth, and she hired herself to her
immediately.

The first day she forced herself to work diligently, and obeyed Mother
Holle when she told her to do anything, for she was thinking of all the
gold that she would give her. But on the second day she began to be
lazy, and on the third day still more so, and then she would not get up
in the morning at all. Neither did she make Mother Holle's bed as she
ought, and did not shake it so as to make the feathers fly up. Mother
Holle was soon tired of this, and gave her notice to leave. The lazy
girl was willing enough to go, and thought that now the golden rain
would come. Mother Holle led her, too, to the great door; but while she
was standing beneath it, instead of the gold a big kettleful of pitch
was emptied over her. "That is the reward of your service," said Mother
Holle, and shut the door.

So the lazy girl went home; but she was quite covered with pitch, and
the cock by the well-side, as soon as he saw her, cried:
"Cock-a-doodle-doo! Your pitchy girl's come back to you." But the pitch
stuck fast to her, and could not be got off as long as she lived.
BRIAR ROSE
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who had no children; and
this they lamented very much. But one day, as the queen was walking by
the side of the river, a little fish lifted its head out of the water,
and said, "Your wish shall be fulfilled, and you shall soon have a
daughter."

What the little fish had foretold soon came to pass; and the queen had a
little girl who was so very beautiful that the king could not cease
looking on her for joy, and determined to hold a great feast. So he
invited not only his relations, friends, and neighbors, but also all the
fairies, that they might be kind and good to his little daughter. Now
there were thirteen fairies in his kingdom, and he had only twelve
golden dishes for them to eat out of, so that he was obliged to leave
one of the fairies without an invitation. The rest came, and after the
feast was over they gave all their best gifts to the little princess;
one gave her virtue, another beauty, another riches, and so on till she
had all that was excellent in the world. When eleven had done blessing
her, the thirteenth, who had not been invited, and was very angry on
that account, came in, and determined to take her revenge. So she cried
out, "The king's daughter shall in her fifteenth year be wounded by a
spindle, and fall down dead." Then the twelfth, who had not yet given
her gift, came forward and said that the bad wish must be fulfilled, but
that she could soften it, and that the king's daughter should not die,
but fall asleep for a hundred years.

But the king hoped to save his dear child from the threatened evil, and
ordered that all the spindles in the kingdom should be bought up and
destroyed. All the fairies' gifts were in the meantime fulfilled; for
the princess was so beautiful, and well-behaved and amiable, and wise,
that every one who knew her loved her.

Now it happened that on the very day she was fifteen years old the king
and queen were not at home, and she was left alone in the palace. So she
roamed about by herself, and looked at all the rooms and chambers, till
at last she came to an old tower, to which there was a narrow staircase
ending with a little door. In the door there was a golden key, and when
she turned it the door sprang open, and there sat an old lady spinning
away very busily.

"Why, how now, good mother," said the princess, "what are you doing
there?"

"Spinning," said the old lady, and nodded her head. "How prettily that
little thing turns round!" said the princess, and took the spindle and
began to spin. But scarcely had she touched it before the prophecy was
fulfilled, and she fell down lifeless on the ground.

However, she was not dead, but had only fallen into a deep sleep; and
the king and the queen, who just then came home, and all their court,
fell asleep too, and the horses slept in the stables, and the dogs in
the yard, and the pigeons on the house-top, and the flies on the walls.
Even the fire on the I  hearth left off blazing, and went to sleep; and
the meat that was roasting stood still; and the cook, who was at that
moment pulling the kitchen-boy by the hair to give him a box on the ear
for something he had done amiss, let him go, and both fell asleep; and
so everything stood still, and slept soundly.

A high hedge of thorns soon grew around the palace, and every year it
became higher and thicker, till at last the whole palace was surrounded
and hidden, so that not even the roof or the chimneys could be seen.

But there went a report through all the land of the beautiful sleeping
Briar Rose, for thus was the king's daughter called; so that from time
to time several kings' sons came, and tried to break through the thicket
into the palace.

This they could never do; for the thorns and bushes laid hold of them as
it were with hands, and there they stuck fast and died miserably.

After many, many years there came another king's son into that land, and
an old man told him the story of the thicket of thorns, and how a
beautiful palace stood behind it, in which was a wondrous princess,
called Briar Rose, asleep with all her court. He told, too, how he had
heard from his grandfather that many, many princes had come, and had
tried to break through the thicket, but had stuck fast and died.

Then the young prince said, "All this shall not frighten me; I will go
and see Briar Rose." The old man tried to dissuade him, but he persisted
in going.

Now that very day the hundred years were completed; and as the prince
came to the thicket he saw nothing but beautiful flowering shrubs,
through which he passed with ease, and they closed after him as firm as
ever.

Then he came at last to the palace, and there in the yard lay the dogs
asleep, and the horses in the stables, and on the roof sat the pigeons
fast asleep with their heads under their wings; and when he came into
the palace, the flies slept on the walls, and the cook in the kitchen
was still holding up her hand as if she would beat the boy, and the maid
sat with a black fowl in her hand ready to be plucked.

Then he went on still further, and all was so still that he could hear
every breath he drew; till at last he came to the old tower and opened
the door of the little room in which Briar Rose was, and there she lay
fast asleep, and looked so beautiful that he could not take his eyes
off, and he stooped down and gave her a kiss. But the moment he kissed
her she opened her eyes and awoke, and smiled upon him.

Then they went out together, and presently the king and queen also
awoke, and all the court, and they gazed on each other with great
wonder.

And the horses got up and shook themselves, and the dogs jumped about
and barked; the pigeons took their heads from under their wings, and
looked about and flew into the fields; the flies on the walls buzzed
away; the fire in the kitchen blazed up and cooked the dinner, and the
roast meat turned round again; the cook gave the boy the box on his ear
so that he cried out, and the maid went on plucking the fowl.

And then was the wedding of the prince and Briar Rose celebrated, and
they lived happily together all their lives.


THUMBLING
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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There was once a poor peasant who sat in the evening by the hearth and
poked the fire, and his wife sat and span. Then said he, "How sad it is
that we have no children! With us all is so quiet, and in other houses
it is noisy and lively."

"Yes," replied the wife, and sighed, "even if we had only one, and it
were quite small, and only as big as a thumb, I should be quite
satisfied, and we would still love it with all our hearts." Now it so
happened that their wish was granted and a child was given them, but
although it was perfect in all its limbs, it was no longer than a thumb.
Then said they, "It is as we wished it to be, and it shall be our dear
child;" and because of its size, they called it Thumbling. They did not
let it want for food, but the child did not grow taller, but remained as
it had been at the first, nevertheless it looked sensibly out of its
eyes, and soon showed itself to be a wise and nimble creature, for
everything it did turned out well.

One day the peasant was getting ready to go into the forest to cut wood,
when he said as if to himself, "How I wish that there was any one who
would bring the cart to me!" "Oh, father," cried Thumbling, "I will soon
bring the cart; rely on that; it shall be in the forest at the appointed
time." The man smiled and said, "How can that be done; you are far too
small to lead the horse by the reins?" "That's of no consequence,
father, if my mother will only harness it, I will sit in the horse's
ear, and call out to him how he is to go." "Well," answered the man,
"for once we will try it."

When the time came, the mother harnessed the horse, and placed Thumbling
in its ear, and then the little creature cried, "Gee up, gee up!"

Then it went quite properly as if with its master, and the cart went the
right way into the forest. It so happened that just as he was turning a
corner, and the little one was crying, "Gee up," two strange men came
towards him. "My word!" said one of them. "What is this? There is a cart
coming, and a driver is calling to the horse, and still he is not to be
seen!" "That can't be right," said the other, "we will follow the cart
and see where it stops." The cart, however, drove right into the forest,
and exactly to the place where the wood had been cut. When Thumbling saw
his father, he cried to him, "See, father, here I am with the cart; now
take me down." The father got hold of the horse with his left hand, and
with the right took his little son out of the ear. Thumbling sat down
quite merrily on a straw, but when the two strange men saw him, they did
not know what to say for astonishment. Then one of them took the other
aside and said, "Hark, the little fellow would make our fortune if we
exhibited him in a large town, for money. We will buy him." They went to
the peasant and said, "Sell us the little man. He shall be well treated
with us." "No," replied the father, "he is the apple of my eye, and all
the money in the world cannot buy him from me." Thumbling, however, when
he heard of the bargain, had crept up the folds of his father's coat,
placed himself on his shoulder, and whispered in his ear. "Father, do
give me away; I will soon come back again." Then the father parted with
him to the two men for a handsome bit of money. "Where do you want to
sit?" they said to him. "Oh, just set me on the rim of your hat, and
then I can walk backwards and forwards and look at the country, and
still not fall down." They did as he wished, and when Thumbling had
taken leave of his father, they went away with him. They walked until it
was dusk, and then the little fellow said, "Do take me down; I want to
come down." The man took his hat off, and put the little fellow on the
ground by the wayside, and he leapt and crept about a little between the
sods, and then he suddenly slipped into a mouse-hole which he had sought
out. "Good-evening, gentlemen, just go home without me," he cried to
them, and mocked them. They ran thither and stuck their sticks into the
mouse-hole, but it was all lost labor. Thumbling crept still farther in,
and as it soon became quite dark, they were forced to go home with their
vexation and their empty purses.

When Thumbling saw that they were gone, he crept back out of the
subterranean passage. "It is so dangerous to walk on the ground in the
dark," said he; "how easily a neck or a leg is broken!" Fortunately, he
knocked against an empty snail-shell. "Thank God!" said he. "In that I
can pass the night in safety," and got into it. Not long afterwards,
when he was just going to sleep, he heard two men go by, and one of them
was saying, "How shall we contrive to get hold of the rich pastor's
silver and gold?" "I could tell you that," cried Thumbling, interrupting
them. "What was that?" said one of the thieves in a fright; "I heard
some one speaking." They stood still listening, and Thumbling spoke
again and said, "Take me with you, and I'll help you."

"But where are you?" "Just look on the ground, and observe from where my
voice comes," he replied. There the thieves at length found him, and
lifted him up. "You little imp, how will you help us?" they said. "A
great deal," said he; "I will creep into the pastor's room through the
iron bars, and will reach out to you whatever you want to have." "Come,
then," they said, "and we will see what you can do." When they got to
the pastor's house, Thumbling crept into the room, but instantly cried
out with all his might, "Do you want to have everything that is here?"
The thieves were alarmed, and said, "But do speak softly, so as not to
waken any one!" Thumbling, however, behaved as if he had not understood
this, and cried again, "What do you want? Do you want to have everything
that is here?" The cook, who slept in the next room, heard this and sat
up in bed, and listened. The thieves, however, had in their fright run
some distance away, but at last they took courage, and thought, "The
little rascal wants to mock us." They came back and whispered to him,
"Come, be serious, and reach something out to us." Then Thumbling again
cried as loudly as he could, "I really will give you everything, only
put your hands in." The maid who was listening, heard this quite
distinctly, and jumped out of bed and rushed to the door. The thieves
took flight, and ran as if the Wild Huntsman were behind them, but as
the maid could not see anything, she went to strike a light. When she
came to the place with it, Thumbling, unperceived, hid himself in the
granary, and the maid, after she had examined every corner and found
nothing, lay down in her bed again, and believed that, after all, she
had only been dreaming with open eyes and ears.

Thumbling had climbed up among the hay and found a beautiful place to
sleep in: there he intended to rest until day, and then go home again to
his parents. But he had other things to go through. Truly there is much
affliction and misery in this world! When day dawned, the maid arose
from her bed to feed the cows. Her first walk was into the barn, where
she laid hold of an armful of hay, and precisely that very one in which
poor Thumbling was lying asleep. He, however, was sleeping so soundly
that he was aware of nothing, and did not awake until he was in the
mouth of the cow, who had picked him up with the hay. "Ah, heavens!"
cried he, "how have I got into the fulling mill?" but he soon discovered
where he was. Then it was necessary to be careful not to let himself go
between the teeth and be dismembered, but he was nevertheless forced to
slip down into the stomach with the hay. "In this little room the
windows are forgotten," said he, "and no sun shines in, neither will a
candle be brought." His quarters were especially unpleasing to him, and
the worst was, more and more hay was always coming in by the door, and
the space grew less and less. Then, at length in his anguish, he cried
as loud as he could, "Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder."
The maid was just milking the cow, and when she heard some one speaking,
and saw no one, and perceived that it was the same voice that she had
heard in the night, she was so terrified that she slipped off her stool,
and spilt the milk. She ran in the greatest haste to her master, and
said, "Oh, heavens, pastor, the cow has been speaking!" "You are mad,"
replied the pastor; but he went himself to the byre to see what was
there. Hardly, however, had he set his foot inside than Thumbling again
cried, "Bring me no more fodder, bring me no more fodder." Then the
pastor himself was alarmed, and thought that an evil spirit had gone
into the cow, and ordered her to be killed. She was killed, but the
stomach, in which Thumbling was, was thrown on the midden. Thumbling had
great difficulty in working his way out; however, he succeeded so far as
to get some room, but, just as he was going to thrust his head out, a
new misfortune occurred. A hungry wolf ran thither, and swallowed the
whole stomach at one gulp. Thumbling did not lose courage. "Perhaps,"
thought he, "the wolf will listen to what I have got to say," and he
called to him from out of his stomach, "Dear wolf, I know of a
magnificent feast for you."

"Where is it to be had?" said the wolf.

"In such and such a house; you must creep into it through the
kitchen-sink; you will find cakes, and bacon, and sausages, and as much
of them as you can eat," and he described to him exactly his father's
house. The wolf did not require to be told this twice, squeezed himself
in at night through the sink, and ate to his heart's content in the
larder. When he had eaten his fill, he wanted to go out again, but he
had become so big that he could not go out by the same way. Thumbling
had reckoned on this, and now began to make a violent noise in the wolfs
body, and raged and screamed as loudly as he could. "Will you be quiet,"
said the wolf; "you will waken up the people!" "Eh, what," replied the
little fellow, "you have eaten your fill, and I will make merry
likewise," and began once more to scream with all his strength. At last
his father and mother were aroused by it, and ran to the room and looked
in through the opening in the door. When they saw that a wolf was
inside, they ran away, and the husband fetched his axe, and the wife the
scythe. "Stay behind," said the man, when they entered the room. "When I
have given him a blow, if he is not killed by it, you must cut him down
and hew his body to pieces." Then Thumbling heard his parents' voices,
and cried, "Dear father, I am here; I am in the wolf's body." Said the
father, full of joy, "Thank God, our dear child has found us again," and
bade the woman take away her scythe, that Thumbling might not be hurt
with it. After that he raised his arm, and struck the wolf such a blow
on his head that he fell down dead, and then they got knives and
scissors and cut his body open, and drew the little fellow forth. "Ah,"
said the father, "what sorrow we have gone through for your sake." "Yes,
father, I have gone about the world a great deal. Thank heaven, I
breathe fresh air again!" "Where have you been, then?" "Ah, father, I
have been in a mouse's hole, in a cow's stomach, and then in a wolf's;
now I will stay with you." "And we will not sell you again; no, not for
all the riches in the world," said his parents, and they embraced and
kissed their dear Thumbling.


FAITHFUL JOHN
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Category: Love Letters
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Once upon a time there lived an old King, who fell very sick, and
thought he was lying upon his death-bed; so he said, "Let faithful John
come to me." This faithful John was his affectionate servant, and was so
called because he had been true to him all his lifetime. As soon as John
came to the bedside, the King said, "My faithful John, I feel that my
end approaches, and I have no other care than about my son, who is still
so young that he cannot always guide himself aright. If you do not
promise to instruct him in everything he ought to know, and to be his
guardian, I cannot close my eyes in peace." Then John answered, "I will
never leave him; I will always serve him truly, even if it costs me my
life." So the old King was comforted, and said, "Now I can die in peace.
After my death you must show him all the chambers, halls, and vaults in
the castle, and all the treasures which are in them; but the last room
in the long corridor you must not show him, for in it hangs the portrait
of the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace; if he sees her
picture, he will conceive a great love for her, and will fall down in a
swoon, and on her account undergo great perils, therefore you must keep
him away." The faithful John pressed his master's hand again in token of
assent, and soon after the King laid his head upon the pillow and
expired.

After the old King had been borne to his grave, the faithful John
related to the young King all that his father had said upon his
death-bed, and declared, "All this I will certainly fulfil; I will be as
true to you as I was to him, if it costs me my life." When the time of
mourning was passed, John said to the young King, "It is now time for
you to see your inheritance; I will show you your paternal castle." So
he led the King all over it, upstairs and downstairs, and showed him all
the riches, and all the splendid chambers; only one room he did not
open, containing the perilous portrait, which was so placed that one saw
it directly the door was opened, and, moreover, it was so beautifully
painted that one thought it breathed and moved; nothing in all the world
could be more lifelike or more beautiful. The young King remarked,
however, that the faithful John always passed by one door, so he asked,
"Why do you not open that one?" "There is something in it," he replied,
"which will frighten you."

But the King said, "I have seen all the rest of the castle, and I will
know what is in there," and he went and tried to open the door by force.
The faithful John pulled him back, and said, "I promised your father
before he died that you should not see the contents of that room; it
would bring great misfortunes both upon you and me."

"Oh, no," replied the young King, "if I do not go in it will be my
certain ruin; I should have no peace night nor day until I had seen it
with my own eyes. Now I will not stir from the place till you unlock the
door."

Then the faithful John saw that it was of no use talking; so, with a
heavy heart and many sighs, he picked the key out of the great bunch.
When he had opened the door, he went in first, and thought he would
cover up the picture, that the King should not see it; but it was of no
use, for the King stepped upon tiptoes and looked over his shoulder; and
as soon as he saw the portrait of the maiden, which was so beautiful and
glittered with precious stones, he fell down on the ground insensible.
The faithful John lifted him up and carried him to his bed, and thought
with great concern, "Mercy on us! the misfortune has happened; what will
come of it?" and he gave the young King wine until he came to himself.
The first words he spoke were, "Who does that beautiful picture
represent?" "That is the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace," was
the reply.

"Then," said the King, "my love for her is so great that if all the
leaves on the trees had tongues, they should not gainsay it; my life is
set upon the search for her. You are my faithful John, you must
accompany me."

The trusty servant deliberated for a long while how to set about this
business, for it was very difficult to get into the presence of the
King's daughter. At last he bethought himself of a way, and said to the
King, "Everything which she has around her is of gold--chairs, tables,
dishes, bowls, and all the household utensils. Among your treasures are
five tons of gold; let one of the goldsmiths of your kingdom manufacture
vessels and utensils of all kinds therefrom--all kinds of birds, and
wild and wonderful beasts, such as will please her, then we will travel
with these, and try our luck." Then the King summoned all his
goldsmiths, who worked day and night until many very beautiful things
were ready. When all had been placed on board a ship, the faithful John
put on merchant's clothes, and the King likewise, so that they might
travel quite unknown. Then they sailed over the wide sea, and sailed
away until they came to the city where dwelt the daughter of the King of
the Golden Palace.

The faithful John told the King to remain in the ship, and wait for him.
"Perhaps," said he, "I shall bring the King's daughter with me;
therefore take care that all is in order, and set out the golden vessels
and adorn the whole ship." Thereupon John placed in a napkin some of the
golden cups, stepped upon land, and went straight to the King's palace.
When he came into the castle yard, a beautiful maid stood by the brook,
who had two golden pails in her hand, drawing water; and when she had
filled them and had turned round, she saw a strange man, and asked who
he was. Then John answered, "I am a merchant"; and opening his napkin he
showed her its contents. Then she exclaimed, "Oh, what beautiful golden
things!" and, setting the pails down, she looked at the cups one after
another, and said, "The King's daughter must see these; she is so
pleased with anything made of gold that she will buy all these." And
taking him by the hand, she led him in; for she was the lady's maid.
When the King's daughter saw the golden cups, she was much pleased, and
said, "They are so finely worked that I will purchase them all." But the
faithful John replied, "I am only the servant of a rich merchant; what I
have here is nothing in comparison to those which my master has in his
ship, than which nothing more delicate or costly has ever been worked in
gold." Then the King's daughter wished to have them all brought; but he
said, "It would take many days, and so great is the quantity that your
palace has not halls enough in it to place them around." Then her
curiosity and desire were still more excited, and at last she said,
"Take me to the ship; I will go myself and look at your master's
treasure."

The faithful John conducted her to the ship with great joy, and the
King, when he beheld her, saw that her beauty was still greater than the
picture had represented, and thought nothing else but that his heart
would jump out of his mouth. Presently she stepped on board, and the
King conducted her below; but the faithful John remained on deck by the
steersman, and told him to unmoor the ship and put on all the sail he
could, that it might fly as a bird through the air. Meanwhile the King
showed the Princess all the golden treasures--the dishes, cups, bowls,
the birds, the wild and wonderful beasts. Many hours passed away while
she looked at everything, and in her joy she did not remark that the
ship sailed on and on. As soon as she had looked at the last, and
thanked the merchant, she wished to depart. But when she came on deck,
she perceived that they were upon the high sea, far from the shore, and
were hastening on with all sail. "Ah," she exclaimed in affright, "I am
betrayed; I am carried off and taken away in the power of a strange
merchant. I would rather die!"

But the King, taking her by the hand, said, "I am not a merchant, but a
king, thine equal in birth. It is true that I have carried thee off; but
that is because of my overwhelming love for thee. Dost thou know that
when I first saw the portrait of thy beauteous face I fell down in a
swoon before it?" When the King's daughter heard these words, she was
reassured, and her heart was inclined toward him, so that she willingly
became his bride. While they thus went on their voyage on the high sea,
it happened that the faithful John, as he sat on the deck of the ship,
playing music, saw three crows in the air, who came flying toward them.
He stopped playing, and listened to what they were saying to each other,
for he understood them perfectly. The first one exclaimed, "There he is,
carrying home the daughter of the King of the Golden Palace." "But he is
not home yet," replied the second. "But he has her," said the third;
"she is sitting by him in the ship." Then the first began again, and
exclaimed, "What matters that? When they go on shore a fox-colored horse
will spring toward them, on which he will mount; and as soon as he is on
it, it will jump up with him into the air, so that he will never again
see his bride." The second one asked, "Is there no escape?" "Oh, yes, if
another mounts behind quickly, and takes out the firearms which are in
the holster, and with them shoots the horse dead, then the young King
will be saved. But who knows that? And if any one does know it, and
tells him, such a one will be turned to stone from the toe to the knee."
Then the second spoke again, "I know still more: if the horse should be
killed, the young King will not then retain his bride; for when they
come into the castle a beautiful bridal shirt will lie there upon a
dish, and seem to be woven of gold and silver, but it is nothing but
sulphur and pitch, and if he puts it on it will burn him to his marrow
and bones." Then the third Crow asked, "Is there no escape?" "Oh, yes,"
answered the second, "if some one takes up the shirt with his glove on,
and throws it into the fire, so that it is burnt, the young King will be
saved. But what does that signify? Whoever knows it, and tells him, will
be turned to stone from his knee to his heart." Then the third Crow
spoke: "I know still more: even if the bridal shirt be consumed, still
the young King will not retain his bride. For if, after the wedding, a
dance is held, while the young Queen dances she will suddenly turn pale,
and fall down as if dead; and if some one does not raise her up, and
take three drops of blood from her right breast and throw them away, she
will die. But whoever knows that, and tells it, will have his whole body
turned to stone, from the crown of his head to the toes of his feet."

After the crows had thus talked with one another, they flew away, and
the trusty John, who had perfectly understood all they had said, was
from that time very quiet and sad; for if he concealed from his master
what he had heard, misfortune would happen to him, and if he told him
all he must give up his own life. But at last he thought, "I will save
my master, even if I destroy myself."

As soon as they came on shore, it happened just as the Crow had
foretold, and an immense fox-red horse sprang up. "Capital!" said the
King, "this shall carry me to my castle," and he tried to mount; but the
faithful John came straight up, and swinging himself quickly on, drew
the firearms out of the holster and shot the horse dead. Then the other
servants of the King, who were not on good terms with the faithful John,
exclaimed, "How shameful to kill the beautiful creature, which might
have borne the King to the castle!" But the King replied, "Be silent,
and let him go; he is my very faithful John--who knows the good he may
have done?" Now they went into the castle, and there stood a dish in the
hall, and the splendid bridal shirt lay in it, and seemed nothing else
than gold and silver. The young King went up to it and wished to take it
up, but the faithful John pushed him away, and taking it up with his
gloves on, bore it quickly to the fire and let it burn. The other
servants thereupon began to murmur, saying, "See, now he is burning the
King's bridal shirt!" But the young King replied, "Who knows what good
he has done? Let him alone--he is my faithful John."

Soon after, the wedding was celebrated, and a grand ball was given, and
the bride began to dance. So the faithful John paid great attention, and
watched her countenance; all at once she grew pale, and fell as if dead
to the ground. Then he sprang up hastily, raised her up and bore her to
a chamber, where he laid her down, kneeled beside her, and drawing the
three drops of blood out of her right breast, threw them away. As soon
as she breathed again, she raised herself up; but the young King had
witnessed everything, and not knowing why the faithful John had done
this was very angry, and called out, "Throw him into prison!" The next
morning the trusty John was brought up for trial, and led to the
gallows; and as he stood upon them, and was about to be executed, he
said, "Every one condemned to die may once before his death speak. Shall
I also have that privilege?" "Yes," answered the King, "it shall be
granted you." Then the faithful John replied, "I have been unrighteously
judged, and have always been true to you"; and he narrated the
conversation of the crows which he heard at sea; and how, in order to
save his master, he was obliged to do all he had done. Then the King
cried out, "Oh, my most trusty John, pardon, pardon; lead him away!" But
the trusty John had fallen down at the last word and was turned into
stone.

At this event both the King and the Queen were in great grief, and the
King thought, "Ah, how wickedly have I rewarded his great fidelity!" and
he had the stone statue raised up and placed in his sleeping-chamber,
near his bed; and as often as he looked at it, he wept and said, "Ah,
could I bring you back to life again, my faithful John!"

After some time had passed, the Queen bore twins, two little sons, who
were her great joy. Once, when the Queen was in church, and the two
children at home playing by their father's side, he looked up at the
stone statue full of sorrow, and exclaimed with a sigh, "Ah, could I
restore you to life, my faithful John!" At these words the statue began
to speak, saying, "Yes, you can make me alive again, if you will bestow
on me that which is dearest to you." The King replied, "All that I have
in the world I will give up for you." The statue spake again: "If you,
with your own hand, cut off the heads of both your children, and
sprinkle me with their blood, I shall be brought to life again." The
King was terrified when he heard that he must himself kill his two dear
children; but he remembered his servant's great fidelity, and how the
faithful John had died for him, and drawing his sword he cut off the
heads of both his children with his own hand. And as soon as he had
sprinkled the statue with blood, life came back to it, and the trusty
John stood again alive and well before him, and said, "Your faith shall
not go unrewarded"; and taking the heads of the two children he set them
on again, and anointed their wounds with their blood, and thereupon they
healed again in a moment, and the children sprang away and played as if
nothing had happened.

Now the King was full of happiness, and as soon as he saw the Queen
coming, he hid the faithful John and both the children in a great
closet. As soon as she came in he said to her, "Have you prayed in the
church?" "Yes," she answered; "but I thought continually of the faithful
John, who has come to such misfortune through us." Then he replied, "My
dear wife, we can restore his life again to him, but it will cost us
both our little sons, whom we must sacrifice." The Queen became pale and
was terrified at heart, but she said, "We are guilty of his life on
account of his great fidelity." Then he was very glad that she thought
as he did, and going up to the closet, he unlocked it, brought out the
children and the faithful John, saying, "God be praised! he is saved,
and we have still our little sons"; and then he told her all that
happened. Afterward they lived happily together to the end of their
days.
BEARSKIN
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 10
There was once upon a time a young fellow who enlisted for a soldier,
and became so brave and courageous that he was always in the front ranks
when it rained blue beans.[1] As long as the war lasted all went well,
but when peace was concluded he received his discharge, and the captain
told him he might go where he liked. His parents meanwhile had died, and
as he had no longer any home to go to he paid a visit to his brothers,
and asked them to give him shelter until war broke out again. His
brothers, however, were hard-hearted, and said, "What could we do with
you? We could make nothing of you; see to what you have brought
yourself"; and so turned a deaf ear. The poor Soldier had nothing but
his musket left; so he mounted this on his shoulder and set out on a
tramp. By and by he came to a great heath with nothing on it but a
circle of trees, under which he sat down, sorrowfully considering his
fate. "I have no money," thought he; "I have learnt nothing but
soldiering, and now, since peace is concluded, there is no need of me. I
see well enough I shall have to starve." All at once he heard a
rustling, and as he looked round he perceived a stranger standing before
him, dressed in a gray coat, who looked very stately, but had an ugly
cloven foot. "I know quite well what you need," said this being; "gold
and other possessions you shall have, as much as you can spend; but
first I must know whether you are a coward or not, that I may not spend
my money foolishly."

"A soldier and a coward!" replied the other, "that cannot be; you may
put me to any proof."

"Well, then," replied the stranger, "look behind you."

[Footnote 1: Small shot.]

The Soldier turned and saw a huge bear, which eyed him very ferociously.
"Oho!" cried he, "I will tickle your nose for you, that you shall no
longer be able to grumble"; and, raising his musket, he shot the bear in
the forehead, so that he tumbled in a heap upon the ground, and did not
stir afterward. Thereupon the stranger said, "I see quite well that you
are not wanting in courage; but there is yet one condition which you
must fulfil." "If it does not interfere with my future happiness," said
the Soldier, who had remarked who it was that addressed him; "if it does
not interfere with that, I shall not hesitate."

"That you must see about yourself!" said the stranger. "For the next
seven years you must not wash yourself, nor comb your hair or beard,
neither must you cut your nails nor say one paternoster. Then I will
give you this coat and mantle, which you must wear during these seven
years; and if you die within that time you are mine, but if you live you
are rich, and free all your life long."

The Soldier reflected for awhile on his great necessities, and,
remembering how often he had braved death, he at length consented, and
ventured to accept the offer. Thereupon the Evil One pulled off the gray
coat, handed it to the soldier, and said, "If you at any time search in
the pockets of your coat when you have it on, you will always find your
hand full of money." Then also he pulled off the skin of the bear, and
said, "That shall be your cloak and your bed; you must sleep on it, and
not dare to lie in any other bed, and on this account you shall be
called 'Bearskin.'" Immediately the Evil One disappeared.

The Soldier now put on the coat, and dipped his hands into the pockets,
to assure himself of the reality of the transaction. Then he hung the
bearskin around himself, and went about the world chuckling at his good
luck, and buying whatever suited his fancy which money could purchase.
For the first year his appearance was not very remarkable, but in the
second he began to look quite a monster. His hair covered almost all his
face, his beard appeared like a piece of dirty cloth, his nails were
claws, and his countenance was so covered with dirt that one might have
grown cresses upon it if one had sown seed! Whoever looked at him ran
away; but because he gave the poor in every place gold coin they prayed
that he might not die during the seven years; and because he paid
liberally everywhere, he found a night's lodging without difficulty. In
the fourth year he came to an inn where the landlord would not take him
in, and refused even to give him a place in his stables, lest the horses
should be frightened and become restive. However, when Bearskin put his
hand into his pocket and drew it out full of gold ducats the landlord
yielded the point, and gave him a place in the outbuildings, but not
till he had promised that he would not show himself, for fear the inn
should gain a bad name.

While Bearskin sat by himself in the evening, wishing from his heart
that the seven years were over, he heard in the corner a loud groan. Now
the old Soldier had a compassionate heart, so he opened the door and saw
an old man weeping violently and wringing his hands. Bearskin stepped
nearer, but the old man jumped up and tried to escape; but when he
recognized a human voice he let himself be persuaded, and by kind words
and soothings on the part of the old Soldier he at length disclosed the
cause of his distress. His property had dwindled away by degrees, and he
and his daughters would have to starve, for he was so poor that he had
not the money to pay the host, and would therefore be put into prison.

"If you have no care except that," replied Bearskin, "I have money
enough"; and causing the landlord to be called, he paid him, and put a
purse full of gold besides into the pocket of the old man. The latter,
when he saw himself released from his troubles, knew not how to be
sufficiently grateful, and said to the Soldier, "Come with me; my
daughters are all wonders of beauty, so choose one of them for a wife.
When they hear what you have done for me they will not refuse you. You
appear certainly an uncommon man, but they will soon put you to rights."

This speech pleased Bearskin, and he went with the old man. As soon as
the eldest daughter saw him, she was so terrified at his countenance
that she shrieked out and ran away. The second one stopped and looked at
him from head to foot; but at last she said, "How can I take a husband
who has not a bit of a human countenance? The grizzly bear would have
pleased me better who came to see us once, and gave himself out as a
man, for he wore a hussar's hat, and had white gloves on besides."

But the youngest daughter said, "Dear father, this must be a good man
who has assisted you out of your troubles; if you have promised him a
bride for the service your word must be kept"

It was a pity the man's face was covered with dirt and hair, else one
would have seen how glad at heart these words made him. Bearskin took a
ring off his finger, broke it in two, and, giving the youngest daughter
one half, he kept the other for himself. On her half he wrote his name,
and on his own he wrote hers, and begged her to preserve it carefully.
Thereupon he took leave, saying, "For three years longer I must wander
about; if I come back again, then we will celebrate our wedding; but if
I do not, you are free, for I shall be dead. But pray to God that he
will preserve my life."

When he was gone the poor bride clothed herself in black, and whenever
she thought of her bridegroom burst into tears. From her sisters she
received nothing but scorn and mocking. "Pay great attention when he
shakes your hand," said the eldest, "and you will see his beautiful
claws!" "Take care!" said the second, "bears are fond of sweets, and if
you please him he will eat you up, perhaps!" "You must mind and do his
will," continued the eldest, "or he will begin growling!" And the second
daughter said further, "But the wedding will certainly be merry, for
bears dance well!" The bride kept silence, and would not be drawn from
her purpose by all these taunts; and meanwhile Bearskin wandered about
in the world, doing good where he could, and giving liberally to the
poor, for which they prayed heartily for him. At length the last day of
the seven years approached, and Bearskin went and sat down again on the
heath beneath the circle of trees. In a very short time the wind
whistled, and the Evil One presently stood before him and looked at him
with a vexed face. He threw the Soldier his old coat and demanded his
gray one back. "We have not got so far as that yet," replied Bearskin;
"you must clean me first." Then the Evil One had, whether he liked it or
no, to fetch water, wash the old Soldier, comb his hair out, and cut his
nails. This done, he appeared again like a brave warrior, and indeed was
much handsomer than before.

As soon as the Evil One had disappeared, Bearskin became quite
light-hearted; and going into the nearest town he bought a fine velvet
coat, and hired a carriage drawn by four white horses, in which he was
driven to the house of his bride. Nobody knew him; the father took him
for some celebrated general, and led him into the room where his
daughters were. He was compelled to sit down between the two eldest, and
they offered him wine, and heaped his plate with the choicest morsels;
for they thought they had never seen any one so handsome before. But the
bride sat opposite to him dressed in black, neither opening her eyes nor
speaking a word. At length the Soldier asked the father if he would give
him one of his daughters to wife, and immediately the two elder sisters
arose, and ran to their chambers to dress themselves out in their most
becoming clothes, for each thought she should be chosen. Meanwhile the
stranger, as soon as he found himself alone with his bride, pulled out
the half of the ring and threw it into a cup of wine, which he handed
across the table. She took it, and as soon as she had drunk it and seen
the half ring lying at the bottom her heart beat rapidly, and she
produced the other half, which she wore round her neck on a riband. She
held them together, and they joined each other exactly, and the stranger
said, "I am your bridegroom, whom you first saw as Bearskin; but through
God's mercy I have regained my human form, and am myself once more."
With these words he embraced and kissed her; and at the same time the
two eldest sisters entered in full costume. As soon as they saw that the
very handsome man had fallen to the share of their youngest sister, and
heard that he was the same as "Bearskin," they ran out of the house full
of rage and jealousy.

The Little Tailor
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 12
One fine day a Tailor was sitting on his bench by the window in very
high spirits, sewing away most diligently, and presently up the street
came a country woman, crying, "Good jams for sale! Good jams for sale!"
This cry sounded nice in the Tailor's ears, and, poking his diminutive
head out of the window, he called, "Here, my good woman, just bring your
jams in here!" The woman mounted the three steps up to the Tailor's
house with her large basket, and began to open all the pots together
before him. He looked at them all, held them up to the light, smelt
them, and at last said, "These jams seem to me to be very nice, so you
may weigh me out two ounces, my good woman; I don't object even if you
make it a quarter of a pound." The woman, who hoped to have met with a
good customer, gave him all he wished, and went off grumbling, and in a
very bad temper.

"Now!" exclaimed the Tailor, "Heaven will send me a blessing on this
jam, and give me fresh strength and vigor;" and, taking the bread from
the cupboard, he cut himself a slice the size of the whole loaf, and
spread the jam upon it. "That will taste very nice," said he; "but,
before I take a bite, I will just finish this waistcoat." So he put the
bread on the table and stitched away, making larger and larger stitches
every time for joy. Meanwhile the smell of the jam rose to the ceiling,
where many flies were sitting, and enticed them down, so that soon a
great swarm of them had pitched on the bread. "Holloa! who asked you?"
exclaimed the Tailor, driving away the uninvited visitors; but the
flies, not understanding his words, would not be driven off, and came
back in greater numbers than before. This put the little man in a great
passion, and, snatching up in his anger a bag of cloth, he brought it
down with a merciless swoop upon them. When he raised it again he
counted as many as seven lying dead before him with outstretched legs.
"What a fellow you are!" said he to himself, astonished at his own
bravery. "The whole town must hear of this." In great haste he cut
himself out a band, hemmed it, and then put on it in large letters,
"SEVEN AT ONE BLOW!" "Ah," said he, "not one city alone, the whole world
shall hear it!" and his heart danced with joy, like a puppy-dog's tail.

The little Tailor bound the belt around his body, and made ready to
travel forth into the wide world, feeling the workshop too small for his
great deeds. Before he set out, however, he looked about his house to
see if there were anything he could carry with him, but he found only an
old cheese, which he pocketed, and observing a bird which was caught in
the bushes before the door, he captured it, and put that in his pocket
also. Soon after he set out boldly on his travels; and, as he was light
and active, he felt no fatigue. His road led him up a hill, and when he
arrived at the highest point of it he found a great Giant sitting there,
who was gazing about him very composedly.

But the little Tailor went boldly up, and said, "Good day, friend; truly
you sit there and see the whole world stretched below you. I also am on
my way thither to seek my fortune. Are you willing to go with me?"

The Giant looked with scorn at the little Tailor, and said, "You rascal!
you wretched creature!"

"Perhaps so," replied the Tailor; "but here may be seen what sort of a
man I am;" and, unbuttoning his coat, he showed the Giant his belt. The
Giant read, "SEVEN AT ONE BLOW"; and supposing they were men whom the
Tailor had killed, he felt some respect for him. Still he meant to try
him first; so taking up a pebble, he squeezed it so hard that water
dropped out of it. "Do as well as that," said he to the other, "if you
have the strength."

"If it be nothing harder than that," said the Tailor, "that's child's
play." And, diving into his pocket, he pulled out the cheese and
squeezed it till the whey ran out of it, and said, "Now, I fancy that I
have done better than you."

The Giant wondered what to say, and could not believe it of the little
man; so, catching up another pebble, he flung it so high that it almost
went out of sight, saying, "There, you pigmy, do that if you can."

"Well done," said the Tailor; "but your pebble will fall down again to
the ground. I will throw one up which will not come down;" and, dipping
into his pocket, he took out the bird and threw it into the air. The
bird, glad to be free, flew straight up, and then far away, and did not
come back. "How does that little performance please you, friend?" asked
the Tailor.

"You can throw well," replied the giant; "now truly we will see if you
are able to carry something uncommon." So saying, he took him to a large
oak tree, which lay upon the ground, and said, "If you are strong
enough, now help me to carry this tree out of the forest."

"With pleasure," replied the Tailor; "you may hold the trunk upon your
shoulder, and I will lift the boughs and branches, they are the
heaviest, and carry them."

The Giant took the trunk upon his shoulder, but the Tailor sat down on
one of the branches, and the Giant, who could not look round, was
compelled to carry the whole tree and the Tailor also. He being behind,
was very cheerful, and laughed at the trick, and presently began to sing
the song, "There rode three tailors out at the gate," as if the carrying
of trees were a trifle. The Giant, after he had staggered a very short
distance with his heavy load, could go no further, and called out, "Do
you hear? I must drop the tree." The Tailor, jumping down, quickly
embraced the tree with both arms, as if he had been carrying it, and
said to the Giant, "Are you such a big fellow, and yet cannot you carry
a tree by yourself?"

Then they travelled on further, and as they came to a cherry-tree, the
Giant seized the top of the tree where the ripest cherries hung, and,
bending it down, gave it to the Tailor to hold, telling him to eat. But
the Tailor was far too weak to hold the tree down, and when the Giant
let go, the tree flew up in the air, and the Tailor was taken with it.
He came down on the other side, however, unhurt, and the Giant said,
"What does that mean? Are you not strong enough to hold that twig?" "My
strength did not fail me," said the Tailor; "do you imagine that that
was a hard task for one who has slain seven at one blow? I sprang over
the tree simply because the hunters were shooting down here in the
thicket. Jump after me if you can." The Giant made the attempt, but
could not clear the tree, and stuck fast in the branches; so that in
this affair, too, the Tailor had the advantage.

Then the Giant said, "Since you are such a brave fellow, come with me to
my house, and stop a night with me." The Tailor agreed, and followed
him; and when they came to the cave, there sat by the fire two other
Giants, each with a roast sheep in his hand, of which he was eating. The
Tailor sat down thinking. "Ah, this is very much more like the world
than is my workshop." And soon the Giant pointed out a bed where he
could lie down and go to sleep. The bed, however, was too large for him,
so he crept out of it, and lay down in a corner. When midnight came, and
the Giant fancied the Tailor would be in a sound sleep, he got up, and
taking a heavy iron bar, beat the bed right through at one stroke, and
believed he had thereby given the Tailor his death-blow. At the dawn of
day the Giants went out into the forest, quite forgetting the Tailor,
when presently up he came, quite cheerful, and showed himself before
them. The Giants were frightened, and, dreading he might kill them all,
they ran away in a great hurry.

The Tailor travelled on, always following his nose, and after he had
journeyed some long distance, he came into the courtyard of a royal
palace; and feeling very tired he laid himself down on the ground and
went to sleep. Whilst he lay there the people came and viewed him on all
sides, and read upon his belt, "Seven at one blow." "Ah," they said,
"what does this great warrior here in time of peace? This must be some
valiant hero." So they went and told the King, knowing that, should war
break out, here was a valuable and useful man, whom one ought not to
part with at any price. The King took advice, and sent one of his
courtiers to the Tailor to beg for his fighting services, if he should
be awake. The messenger stopped at the sleeper's side, and waited till
he stretched out his limbs and unclosed his eyes, and then he mentioned
to him his message. "Solely for that reason did I come here," was his
answer; "I am quite willing to enter into the King's service." Then he
was taken away with great honor, and a fine house was appointed him to
dwell in.

The courtiers, however, became jealous of the Tailor, and wished him at
the other end of the world. "What will happen?" said they to one
another. "If we go to war with him, when he strikes out seven will fall
at one stroke, and nothing will be left for us to do." In their anger
they came to the determination to resign, and they went all together to
the King, and asked his permission, saying, "We are not prepared to keep
company with a man who kills seven at one blow." The King was sorry to
lose all his devoted servants for the sake of one, and wished that he
had never seen the Tailor, and would gladly have now been rid of him. He
dared not, however dismiss him, because he feared the Tailor might kill
him and all his subjects, and seat himself upon the throne. For a long
time he deliberated, till finally he came to a decision; and, sending
for the Tailor, he told him that, seeing he was so great a hero, he
wished to beg a favor of him. "In a certain forest in my kingdom," said
the King, "there are two Giants, who, by murder, rapine, fire, and
robbery, have committed great damage, and no one approaches them without
endangering his own life. If you overcome and slay both these Giants, I
will give you my only daughter in marriage, and half of my kingdom for a
dowry: a hundred knights shall accompany you, too, in order to render
you assistance."

"Ah, that is something for a man like me," thought the Tailor to
himself: "a lovely Princess and half a kingdom are not offered to one
every day." "Oh, yes," he replied, "I will soon settle these two Giants,
and a hundred horsemen are not needed for that purpose; he who kills
seven at one blow has no fear of two."

Speaking thus, the little Tailor set out, followed by the hundred
knights, to whom he said, immediately they came to the edge of the
forest, "You must stay here; I prefer to meet these Giants alone."

Then he ran off into the forest, peering about him on all sides; and
after a while he saw the two Giants sound asleep under a tree, snoring
so loudly that the branches above them shook violently. The Tailor, bold
as a lion, filled both his pockets with stones and climbed up the tree.
When he got to the middle of it he crawled along a bough, so that he sat
just above the sleepers, and then he let fall one stone after another
upon the body of one of them. For some time the Giant did not move,
until, at last awaking, he pushed his companion, and said, "Why are you
hitting me?"

"You have been dreaming," he answered; "I did not touch you." So they
laid themselves down again to sleep, and presently the Tailor threw a
stone down upon the other. "What is that?" he cried. "Why are you
knocking me about?"

"I did not touch you; you are dreaming," said the first. So they argued
for a few minutes; but, both being very weary with the day's work, they
soon went to sleep again. Then the Tailor began his fun again, and,
picking out the largest stone, threw it with all his strength upon the
chest of the first Giant. "This is too bad!" he exclaimed; and, jumping
up like a madman, he fell upon his companion, who considered himself
equally injured, and they set to in such good earnest, that they rooted
up trees and beat one another about until they both fell dead upon the
ground. Then the Tailor jumped down, saying, "What a piece of luck they
did not pull up the tree on which I sat, or else I must have jumped on
another like a squirrel, for I am not used to flying." Then he drew his
sword, and, cutting a deep wound in the breast of both, he went to the
horsemen and said, "The deed is done; I have given each his
death-stroke; but it was a tough job, for in their defence they uprooted
trees to protect themselves with; still, all that is of no use when such
an one as I come, who slew seven at one stroke."

"And are you not wounded?" they asked.

"How can you ask me that? they have not injured a hair of my head,"
replied the little man. The knights could hardly believe him, till,
riding into the forest, they found the Giants lying dead, and the
uprooted trees around them.

Then the Tailor demanded the promised reward of the King; but he
repented of his promise, and began to think of some new plan to shake
off the hero. "Before you receive my daughter and the half of my
kingdom," said he to him, "you must execute another brave deed. In the
forest there lives a unicorn that commits great damage, you must first
catch him."

"I fear a unicorn less than I did two Giants! Seven at one blow is my
motto," said the Tailor. So he carried with him a rope and an axe and
went off to the forest, ordering those, who were told to accompany him,
to wait on the outskirts. He had not to hunt long, for soon the unicorn
approached, and prepared to rush at him as if it would pierce him on the
spot. "Steady! steady!" he exclaimed, "that is not done so easily"; and,
waiting till the animal was close upon him, he sprang nimbly behind a
tree. The unicorn, rushing with all its force against the tree, stuck
its horn so fast in the trunk that it could not pull it out again, and
so it remained prisoner.

"Now I have got him," said the Tailor; and coming from behind the tree,
he first bound the rope around its neck, and then cutting the horn out
of the tree with his axe, he arranged everything, and, leading the
unicorn, brought it before the King.

The King, however, would not yet deliver over the promised reward, and
made a third demand, that, before the marriage, the Tailor should
capture a wild boar which did much damage, and he should have the
huntsmen to help him. "With pleasure," was the reply; "it is a mere
nothing." The huntsmen, however, he left behind, to their great joy, for
this wild boar had already so often hunted them, that they saw no fun in
now hunting it. As soon as the boar perceived the Tailor, it ran at him
with gaping mouth and glistening teeth, and tried to throw him down on
the ground; but our flying hero sprang into a little chapel which stood
near, and out again at a window, on the other side, in a moment. The
boar ran after him, but he, skipping around, closed the door behind it,
and there the furious beast was caught, for it was much too unwieldy and
heavy to jump out of the window.

The Tailor now ordered the huntsmen up, that they might see his prisoner
with their own eyes; but our hero presented himself before the King, who
was obliged at last, whether he would or no, to keep his word, and
surrender his daughter and the half of his kingdom.

If he had known that it was no warrior, but only a Tailor, who stood
before him, it would have grieved him still more.

So the wedding was celebrated with great magnificence, though with
little rejoicing, and out of a Tailor there was made a King.

A short time afterwards the young Queen heard her husband talking in his
sleep, saying, "Boy, make me a coat, and then stitch up these trowsers,
or I will lay the yard-measure over your shoulders!" Then she understood
of what condition her husband was, and complained in the morning to her
father, and begged he would free her from her husband, who was nothing
more than a tailor. The King comforted her by saying, "This night leave
your chamber-door open: my servants shall stand outside, and when he is
asleep they shall come in, bind him, and carry him away to a ship, which
shall take him out into the wide world." The wife was pleased with the
proposal; but the King's armor-bearer, who had overheard all, went to
the young King and revealed the whole plot. "I will soon put an end to
this affair," said the valiant little Tailor. In the evening at their
usual time they went to bed, and when his wife thought he slept she got
up, opened the door, and laid herself down again.

The Tailor, however, only pretended to be asleep, and began to call out
in a loud voice, "Boy, make me a coat, and then stitch up these
trowsers, or I will lay the yard-measure about your shoulders. Seven
have I slain with one blow, two Giants have I killed, a unicorn have I
led captive, and a wild boar have I caught, and shall I be afraid of
those who stand outside my room?"

When the men heard these words spoken by the Tailor, a great fear came
over them, and they ran away as if wild huntsmen were following them;
neither afterwards dared any man venture to oppose him. Thus the Tailor
became a King, and so he lived for the rest of his life.







Goose-Girl
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Category: Love Letters
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 9
An old queen, whose husband had been dead some years, had a beautiful
daughter. When she grew up, she was betrothed to a prince who lived a
great way off; and as the time drew near for her to be married, she got
ready to set off on her journey to his country. Then the queen, her
mother, packed up a great many costly things--jewels, and gold, and
silver, trinkets, fine dresses, and in short, everything that became a
royal bride; for she loved her child very dearly; and she gave her a
waiting-maid to ride with her, and give her into the bridegroom's hands;
and each had a horse for the journey. Now the princess' horse was called
Falada, and could speak.

When the time came for them to set out, the old queen went into her
bed-chamber, and took a little knife, and cut off a lock of her hair,
and gave it to her daughter, saying, "Take care of it, dear child; for
it is a charm that may be of use to you on the road." Then they took a
sorrowful leave of each other, and the princess put the lock of her
mother's hair into her bosom, got upon her horse, and set off on her
journey to her bridegroom's kingdom.

One day, as they were riding along by the side of a brook, the princess
began to feel very thirsty, and said to her maid, "Pray get down and
fetch me some water in my golden cup out of yonder brook, for I want to
drink." "Nay," said the maid, "if you are thirsty, get down yourself,
and lie down by the water and drink; I shall not be your waiting-maid
any longer." The princess was so thirsty that she got down, and knelt
over the little brook and drank, for she was frightened, and dared not
bring out her golden cup; and then she wept, and said, "Alas! what will
become of me?" And the lock of hair answered her, and said--

  "Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it,
  Sadly, sadly her heart would rue it."

But the princess was very humble and meek, so she said nothing to her
maid's ill behavior, but got upon her horse again.

Then all rode further on their journey, till the day grew so warm, and
the sun so scorching, that the bride began to feel very thirsty again;
and at last, when they came to a river, she forgot her maid's rude
speech, and said, "Pray get down and fetch me some water to drink in my
golden cup." But the maid answered her, and even spoke more haughtily
than before, "Drink if you will, but I shall not be your waiting-maid."
Then the princess was so thirsty that she got off her horse and lay
down, and held her head over the running stream, and cried, and said,
"What will become of me?" And the lock of hair answered her again--

  "Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it,
  Sadly, sadly her heart would rue it."

And as she leaned down to drink, the lock of hair fell from her bosom
and floated away with the water, without her seeing it, she was so much
frightened. But her maid saw it, and was very glad, for she knew the
charm, and saw that the poor bride would be in her power now that she
had lost the hair. So when the bride had finished drinking, and would
have got upon Falada again, the maid said, "I shall ride upon Falada,
and you may have my horse instead;" so she was forced to give up her
horse, and soon afterwards to take off her royal clothes, and put on her
maid's shabby ones.

At last, as they drew near the end of the journey, this treacherous
servant threatened to kill her mistress if she ever told anyone what had
happened. But Falada saw it all, and marked it well. Then the
waiting-maid got upon Falada, and the real bride was set upon the other
horse, and they went on in this way till at last they came to the royal
court. There was great joy at their coming, and the prince hurried to
meet them, and lifted the maid from her horse, thinking she was the one
who was to be his wife; and she was led upstairs to the royal chamber,
but the true princess was told to stay in the court below.

However, the old king happened to be looking out of the window, and saw
her in the yard below; and as she looked very pretty, and too delicate
for a waiting-maid, he went into the royal chamber to ask the bride whom
it was she had brought with her, that was thus left standing in the
court below. "I brought her with me for the sake of her company on the
road," said she. "Pray give the girl some work to do, that she may not
be idle." The old king could not for some time think of any work for
her, but at last he said, "I have a lad who takes care of my geese; she
may go and help him." Now the name of this lad, that the real bride was
to help in watching the king's geese, was Curdken.

Soon after, the false bride said to the prince, "Dear husband, pray do
me one piece of kindness." "That I will," said the prince. "Then tell
one of your slaughterers to cut off the head of the horse I rode upon,
for it was very unruly, and plagued me sadly on the road." But the truth
was, she was very much afraid lest Falada should speak, and tell all she
had done to the princess. She carried her point, and the faithful Falada
was killed; but when the true princess heard of it she wept, and begged
the man to nail up Falada's head against a large dark gate in the city
through which she had to pass every morning and evening, that there she
might still see him sometimes. Then the slaughterer said he would do as
she wished, so he cut off the head and nailed it fast under the dark
gate.

Early the next morning, as the princess and Curdken went out through the
gate, she said sorrowfully--

  "Falada, Falada, there thou art hanging!"

and the head answered--

  "Bride, bride, there thou are ganging!
  Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it,
  Sadly, sadly her heart would rue it."

Then they went out of the city, driving the geese. And when they came to
the meadow, the princess sat down upon a bank there and let down her
waving locks of hair, which were all of pure gold; and when Curdken saw
it glitter in the sun, he ran up, and would have pulled some of the
locks out; but she cried--

  "Blow, breezes, blow!
  Let Curdken's hat go!
  Blow breezes, blow!
  Let him after it go!

  "O'er hills, dales, and rocks,
  Away be it whirl'd,
  Till the golden locks
  Are all comb'd and curl'd!"

Then there came a wind, so strong that it blew off Curdken's hat, and
away it flew over the hills, and he after it; till, by the time he came
back, she had done combing and curling her hair, and put it up again
safely. Then he was very angry and sulky, and would not speak to her at
all; but they watched the geese until it grew dark in the evening, and
then drove them homewards.

The next morning, as they were going through the dark gate, the poor
girl looked up at Falada's head, and cried--

  "Falada, Falada, there thou art hanging!"

and it answered--

  "Bride, bride, there thou are ganging!
  Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it,
  Sadly, sadly her heart would rue it."

Then she drove on the geese and sat down again in the meadow, and began
to comb out her hair as before, and Curdken ran up to her, and wanted to
take of it; but she cried out quickly--

  "Blow, breezes, blow!
  Let Curdken's hat go!
  Blow breezes, blow!
  Let him after it go!
  O'er hills, dales, and rocks,
  Away be it whirl'd,
  Till the golden locks
  Are all comb'd and curl'd!"

Then the wind came and blew off his hat, and off it flew a great
distance over the hills and far away, so that he had to run after it:
and when he came back, she had done up her hair again, and all was safe.
So they watched the geese till it grew dark.

In the evening, after they came home, Curdken went to the old king, and
said, "I cannot have that strange girl to help me to keep the geese any
longer."

"Why?" inquired the king.

"Because she does nothing but tease me all day long."

Then the king made him tell him all that had passed.

And Curdken said, "When we go in the morning through the dark gate with
our flock of geese, she weeps, and talks with the head of a horse that
hangs upon the wall, and says--

  "Falada, Falada, there thou art hanging!"

and the head answers--

  "Bride, bride, there thou are ganging!
  Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it,
  Sadly, sadly her heart would rue it."

And Curdken went on telling the king what had happened upon the meadow
where the geese fed; and how his hat was blown away, and he was forced
to run after it, and leave his flock. But the old king told him to go
out again as usual the next day: and when morning came, he placed
himself behind the dark gate, and heard how the princess spoke, and how
Falada answered; and then he went into the field and hid himself in a
bush by the meadow's side, and soon saw with his own eyes how they drove
the flock of geese, and how, after a little time, she let down her hair
that glittered in the sun; and then he heard her say--

  "Blow, breezes, blow!
  Let Curdken's hat go!
  Blow breezes, blow!
  Let him after it go!
  O'er hills, dales, and rocks,
  Away be it whirl'd,
  Till the golden locks
  Are all comb'd and curl'd!"

And soon came a gale of wind, and carried away Curdken's hat, while the
girl went on combing and curling her hair.

All this the old king saw; so he went home without being seen; and when
the goose-girl came back in the evening, he called her aside, and asked
her why she did so; but she burst into tears, and said, "That I must not
tell you or any man, or I shall lose my life."

But the old king begged so hard that she had no peace till she had told
him all, word for word: and it was very lucky for her that she did so,
for the king ordered royal clothes to be put upon her, and he gazed with
wonder, she was so beautiful.

Then he called his son, and told him that he had only the false bride,
for that she was merely a waiting-maid, while the true one stood by.

And the young king rejoiced when he saw her beauty, and heard how meek
and patient she had been; and without saying anything, he ordered a
great feast to be prepared for all his court.

The bridegroom sat at the top, with the false princess on one side, and
the true one on the other; but nobody knew her, for she was quite
dazzling to their eyes, and was not at all like the little goose-girl,
now that she had on her brilliant dress.

When they had eaten and drunk, and were very merry, the old king told
all the story, as one that he had once heard of, and asked the true
waiting-maid what she thought ought to be done to anyone who would
behave thus.

"Nothing better," said this false bride, "than that she should be thrown
into a cask stuck around with sharp nails, and that two white horses
should be put to it, and should drag it from street to street till she
is dead."

"Thou art she!" said the old king; "and since thou hast judged thyself,
it shall be so done to thee."

Then the young king was married to his true wife, and they reigned over
the kingdom in peace and happiness all their lives.
Untitled
Posted by Bling King Jun 27th 2011
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 2
It was several minutes before Dyson could bring himself to open the
book a second time; he remembered the wretched exile in his garret and
his strange talk, and the memory too of the face he had seen at the
window, and of what the specialist had said surged up in his mind, and
as he held his finger on the cover he shivered, dreading what might be
written within. When at last he held it in his hand, and turned the
pages, he found that the first two leaves were blank, but the third was
covered with clear minute writing, and Dyson began to read with the
light of the opal flaming in his eyes.




"Ever since I was a young man," the record began, "I devoted all my
leisure and a good deal of time that ought to have been given to other
studies to the investigation of curious and obscure branches of
knowledge. What are commonly called the pleasures of life had never any
attractions for me, and I lived alone in London, avoiding my
fellow-students, and in my turn avoided by them as a man self-absorbed
and unsympathetic. So long as I could gratify my desire of knowledge of
a peculiar kind, knowledge of which the very existence is a profound
secret to most men, I was intensely happy, and I have often spent whole
nights sitting in the darkness of my room, and thinking of the strange
world on the brink of which I trod. My professional studies, however,
and the necessity of obtaining a degree, for some time forced my more
obscure employment into the background, and soon after I had qualified
I met Agnes, who became my wife. We took a new house in this remote
suburb, and I began the regular routine of a sober practice, and for
some months lived happily enough, sharing in the life about me, and
only thinking at odd intervals of that occult science which had once
fascinated my whole being. I had learnt enough of the paths I had begun
to tread to know that they were beyond all expression difficult and
dangerous, that to persevere meant in all probability the wreck of a
life, and that they lead to regions so terrible that the mind of man
shrinks appalled at the very thought. Moreover, the quiet and the peace
I had enjoyed since my marriage had wiled me away to a great extent
from places where I knew no peace could dwell. But suddenly,--I think,
indeed, it was the work of a single night, as I lay awake on my bed
gazing into the darkness,--suddenly, I say, the old desire, the former
longing returned, and returned with a force that had been intensified
ten times by its absence; and when the day dawned and I looked out of
the window and saw with haggard eyes the sun rise in the East, I knew
that my doom had been pronounced; that as I had gone far, so now I must
go farther with steps that know no faltering. I turned to the bed where
my wife was sleeping peacefully, and lay down again weeping bitter
tears, for the sun had set on our happy life and had risen with a dawn
of terror to us both. I will not set down here in minute detail what
followed; outwardly I went about the day's labour as before, saying
nothing to my wife. But she soon saw that I had changed. I spent my
spare time in a room which I had fitted up as a laboratory, and often I
crept upstairs in the gray dawn of the morning, when the light of many
lamps still glowed over London; and each night I had stolen a step
nearer to that great abyss which I was to bridge over, the gulf between
the world of consciousness and the world of matter. My experiments were
many and complicated in their nature, and it was some months before I
realized whither they all pointed, and when this was borne in upon me
in a moment's time, I felt my face whiten and my heart still within me.
But the power to draw back, the power to stand before the doors that
now opened wide before me and not to enter in, had long ago been
absent; the way was closed, and I could only pass onward. My position
was as utterly hopeless as that of the prisoner in an utter dungeon,
whose only light is that of the dungeon above him; the doors were shut
and escape was impossible. Experiment after experiment gave the same
result, and I knew, and shrank even as the thought passed through my
mind, that in the work I had to do there must be elements which no
laboratory could furnish, which no scales could ever measure. In that
work, from which even I doubted to escape with life, life itself must
enter; from some human being there must be drawn that essence which men
call the soul, and in its place (for in the scheme of the world there
is no vacant chamber), in its place would enter in what the lips can
hardly utter, what the mind cannot conceive without a horror more awful
than the horror of death itself. And when I knew this, I knew also on
whom this fate would fall; I looked into my wife's eyes. Even at that
hour, if I had gone out and taken a rope and hanged myself I might have
escaped, and she also, but in no other way. At last I told her all. She
shuddered, and wept, and called on her dead mother for help, and asked
me if I had no mercy, and I could only sigh. I concealed nothing from
her; I told her what she would become, and what would enter in where
her life had been; I told her of all the shame and of all the horror.
You who will read this when I am dead,--if indeed I allow this record
to survive--you who have opened the box and have seen what lies there,
if you could understand what lies hidden in that opal! For one night my
wife consented to what I asked of her, consented with the tears running
down her beautiful face, and hot shame flushing red over her neck and
breast, consented to undergo this for me. I threw open the window, and
we looked together at the sky and the dark earth for the last time; it
was a fine starlight night, and there was a pleasant breeze blowing,
and I kissed her on her lips, and her tears ran down upon my face. That
night she came down to my laboratory, and there, with shutters bolted
and barred down, with curtains drawn thick and close so that the very
stars might be shut out from the sight of that room, while the crucible
hissed and boiled over the lamp, I did what had to be done, and led out
what was no longer a woman. But on the table the opal flamed and
sparkled with such light as no eyes of man have ever gazed on, and the
rays of the flame that was within it flashed and glittered, and shone
even to my heart. My wife had only asked one thing of me; that when
there came at last what I had told her, I would kill her. I have kept
that promise."


There was nothing more. Dyson let the little pocket-book fall, and
turned and looked again at the opal with its flaming inmost light, and
then, with unutterable irresistible horror surging up in his heart,
grasped the jewel, and flung it on the ground, and trampled it beneath
his heel. His face was white with terror as he turned away, and for a
moment stood sick and trembling, and then with a start he leapt across
the room and steadied himself against the door. There was an angry
hiss, as of steam escaping under great pressure, and as he gazed,
motionless, a volume of heavy yellow smoke was slowly issuing from the
very centre of the jewel, and wreathing itself in snake-like coils
above it. And then a thin white flame burst forth from the smoke, and
shot up into the air and vanished; and on the ground there lay a thing
like a cinder, black, and crumbling to the touch.


Ning Vs. Spruz
Posted by Bling King May 28th 2011
Tags: blog funny money plenty tony bling sting ching ring sing ding ping rang chang
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 300

Many people have started communities on the popular network creation site Ning since its inception. On April 15th they announced they would no longer offer their free services. Realize this isn’t the end of Ning as they point out

The tens of thousands of you who already use our paid service represent over 75% of our traffic

So I imagine most of the popular networks you belong to on Ning will remain in place.

However, for the other 25% that might navigate elsewhere you have several options. I’ve yet to see a good breakdown of some of the better free Ning alternatives out there so I thought I would give it a shot. I found most of these sites in the comments and blog posts of other despaired Ning network creators. I’ve also tried to track down these other networks reactions to Ning’s announcement. Hopefully this will help you with your own transition.

Spruz seems to be the network of choice for most ex-ningers. I’ve read several reports of great up time and quality service. Spruz seems to have everything Ning has and a few extras that make it somewhat unique. I’ve seen users specifically boast about its file sharing capabilities.

Untitled
Posted by Bling King Apr 24th 2011
Options: Edit Delete Feature Views: 10

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