“Good-day, Mr. Mayor,” Lovallec exclaimed, “will you give me something
“Go away, you tramp, or I will have you arrested this instant,” cried
He met the lord of the castle.
“Good-day,” said the traveller. “I am cold, your lordship; can you give
me some clothing to wear—something to hide my nakedness?”
Then the lord of the castle called to his servants and directed them
to give the beggar a hundred lashes, and the unfortunate young man was
beat and left for dead on the way.
A poor girl, passing by, saw him lying on the ground, and bent over him
tenderly. Then she called assistance, and had him carried to her home,
where she watched over him constantly, weeping and praying that he
At last Lovallec recovered, and said to the young girl who had rescued
“My guardian angel, what has happened since I have been ill? What is
the news in the city?”
“There is nothing new,” said the young girl. “Every one is the victim
of the water-famine.”
“What a misfortune!” cried the young man; “let us go at once to the
relief of these poor people!”
Although Lovallec was scarcely able to walk, he leaned on the arm of
the young girl, and was preparing to go, when, all of a sudden, he
remembered the pieces of bark he had secreted in his bosom. He took a
portion of this, rubbed himself, and at once the pains in his limbs
disappeared, and he was made whole again.
The young girl was astonished at this sudden change, as well she might
be, and her surprise continued until they had arrived in the centre of
the great city. Once there, however, the young man recognized the rock
that had been described by the Lion. Without loss of time he took the
piece of the root of the tree that he had procured, and struck the rock
three times, crying:
“Come, gentle Dew, from the skies,
Refreshing Fountains rise,
Oh, Rivers! greet men’s eyes!”
At once there was a mysterious noise in the rock. It parted in twain,
and the water gushed forth in an abundant supply. The news of this
miracle spread abroad in the city, and the inhabitants came with their
jugs and vessels to obtain a supply of water. All quenched their
thirst, and were happy; they embraced each other and made ready for
celebrating the event with festivities. They were so grateful that
they could talk of nothing else but the miracle that had given them an
abundance of water.
But in the midst of their congratulations and rejoicings a voice rose
above the tumult:
“Friends, let us not be ungrateful. To whom do we owe this abundance of
water that has given us renewed strength and life?”
When Lovallec heard these words he made an effort to escape the notice
of the crowd, but the young girl could not resist a desire to make him
known to the people. She cried out:
“Here is the saviour of Offemborough!”
At this the young man was surrounded by the priest, the mayor, and the
lord of the castle, and they wanted to carry him off in triumph. They
offered him great sums of money as a reward for the service he had
rendered them; but simple and modest as the young man was, he answered:
“No, no! keep all your money. I will have none of that. I was without
a shelter, and you drove me from your door; I was dying of hunger,
and you refused me even the scraps that you fed to your dogs; I was
shivering with cold, and all the clothing you gave me was a beating,
and I was left for dead on the pavement. Ah! keep your honors; keep
At these sad words, and, fearing that the young man would destroy the
source of their water as quickly as he had discovered it, the men,
women, and children fell on their knees before him and begged for
mercy. He bade them rise, and he was weeping as he spoke:
“Your kindness is my best revenge.”
Then the people asked Lovallec to make his home among them.
“No! no!” he answered, “I have a great deal of good to do as I journey
through the world, and those who are suffering cannot afford to wait.”
The people of Offemborough, however, persuaded him to accept a
magnificent carriage and horses; they clothed him in fine linen and
gave him money to go on his way.
“When will you return to us?” inquired the people.
“Very soon, perhaps, my friends,” cried Lovallec, and with that his
driver whipped up the horses, and the young man was soon lost to view.
After so long a time, Lovallec, arriving at the city of the famous
King, went immediately to the palace-door and knocked.
“What will you have?” said the King, who went to the door.
“Living in a far-off country I heard that your daughter is sick, and I
have come to cure her.”
“Alas!” cried the King, “you have come in vain. All the great
physicians of the world have exhausted their science in her behalf, and
I am in despair.”
“You must have courage,” said the young man; “your daughter will be
cured in a few days.”
“Stranger,” said the famous monarch, “if you can work such a wonderful
miracle as this, all that I have is yours. The riches that will fall to
you will be beyond computation. You shall have millions of gold pieces,
a hundred towns and ten provinces shall be yours, and you may even
command my crown if you succeed in curing my daughter.”
Then Lovallec thanked the famous King and said:
“Leave me alone a little while, as it is necessary that I should gather
some herbs that belong to the medicine which I desire to give your
Then the famous King went weeping to his daughter’s bedside. The young
man went down into the garden and caught a frog, and went to the
apartments that had been provided for him.
“Quick!” he exclaimed to one of the servants, “bring me a knife and a
plate and some green figs; and you,” he said to another, “make a big
fire, and don’t forget to fetch a frying-pan.”
Everything was ready in a short time, and Lovallec went to work,
having first made sure that there was nobody near to watch him. He
first killed the frog and mixed its blood with muscadine wine. Then he
took out the heart, and cooked it as the Lion had said. This mixture
prepared, the young man went before the King’s daughter.
“Powerful princess!” he exclaimed, “drink of this wine, for it is
renewed life that I give you.”
The princess drank one swallow, and immediately pushed the cup from her.
“I am poisoned!” she cried; “I feel that I am dying.”
“Drink, princess, drink!” exclaimed the young man, “for it is an evil
spirit that possesses you.”
Then the young girl took the rest of the draught, and was immediately
“Ah! I am better,” she exclaimed. “I feel my strength returning.
Thanks! thanks! my benefactor!”
The next day Lovallec presented her with the heart of the frog, cooked
according to the Lion’s directions.
“Eat this meat,” the young man said, “and all your troubles will be
Then the sick girl ate bravely of the queer morsel, and was
immediately restored to health.
“My father! my father!” she cried, “here is your daughter who is
restored to you. See my bright eyes and my rosy cheeks.” Then she
laughed and sang, and with a smile she again thanked her benefactor.
The old King was nearly crazed with joy, and more than once he went
to the young man and embraced him; but that seemed insufficient as an
expression of the gratitude that he owed the doctor, and he was loaded
with presents of all sorts. He had caskets of gold, precious stones,
villages and castles, and more riches than he could wish for. One day
the King said to him:
“My son, I want to give you my daughter’s hand in marriage, and my
crown, if you will accept it.”
“Your Majesty,” said Lovallec, “permit me to think over your
proposition. I desire to return to a foreign country to arrange my
affairs, and later I can give you an answer.”
“Go, my son,” said the King, “but return quickly. The hours seem long
to those who love and wait.”
The young man went away that very day. Where he was going he alone
knew, but his horses seemed to know where his heart turned, and he soon
found himself on the way to Offemborough, where one poor woman had
had pity on him. It was not long before he had reached the end of his
journey. He stopped at the best hotel and had a magnificent dinner set
before him. After dining he said to the landlord:
“My friend, what is new in the city?”
“Nothing,” said the landlord, “except that the marvellous palace,
built for the saviour of this city has been completed.”
“What is his name?” inquired Lovallec.
“Alas! no one knows,” said the landlord. “He was merely passing through
this land to a foreign country, where he had other good deeds to
perform. When he returns we hope to have him remain with us, and it is
our purpose to give him the most beautiful woman of the country for his
“Good-night, good-night,” said Lovallec, with a smile, and went to bed.
But the news of his arrival spread through the village, and on all
sides the grateful people came to see him and congratulate him. The
mayor of the town called on him, made a beautiful speech, and invited
him to take possession of the marvellous palace.
“What will I do with it?” asked Lovallec. “I am alone and have no
“Then get you a wife,” said the mayor.
“You are right,” said Lovallec. “To-morrow I will choose me a wife from
the beautiful girls of this village.”
The next day the maidens were gathered on the lawn before the church.
The young man inspected them carefully, but he could not find among
them the girl who had befriended him, and for whom he was searching.
The day after, the working-girls were ranged on the lawn, and among
these, the simplest and the most beautiful, he found the maiden who had
given him aid in the hour of need. This maiden he selected to be his
wife in preference to the princess in the far country.
He married her and was living happily, when one day a beggar, clothed
in rags, made his appearance at the castle-door and asked for alms.
“You seem to have seen trouble,” Lovallec said.
“Yes,” said the beggar, “and I have deserved it all.”
With that he went on to relate, amid tears and sobs, how, many years
before, he had robbed a brother of his eyesight. Lovallec had already
recognized him, but he permitted the poor man to tell his story,
and then made himself known. And after that they both lived happily
together in the palace which the gratitude of the people had provided.
THE KING AND THE LAPWINGS
One day the great King of the Magicians and Sorcerers was leaving
his country to visit a neighboring Queen. He was leaning on his
walking-stick, having been travelling since the break of day, when the
sun rose and spread his beneficent rays over all nature. The birds sang
blithely, and the little crickets in the grass made themselves noisy;
but the King, while enjoying the scene and the sounds around him, went
forward without delay. The sun shone brightly, the birds were joyous,
and all nature seemed to be happy, but the King suffered from fatigue.
Great beads of perspiration broke out on his forehead, and he longed
for a cloud that would give shade and coolness. The earth seemed to
be a furnace. The sun spread its great rays of light and the cloud
came not. The King begged for a clump of woods that he might have the
benefit of shade, and for a stream of cool and sparkling water that he
might quench his thirst. The road was long and dusty, and the wells
But in the air, far away, appeared the King of the Lapwings. He bore in
his beak a draught of water, and his wings were dripping wet. Faster
than the wind he made his way to the dying King.
“Ah,” said the bird, “it was indeed time that I came;” and with the end
of his wing, as tenderly as would a mother, he washed the face of the
unfortunate King, and placed between his lips the water he held in his
beak. The King revived and opened his eyes.
“Ah, thou,” he exclaimed, “who gave me back my life! I am hereafter
under all obligations to you.”
“Wait a moment, your majesty,” said the King of the Lapwings; “thirst
still devours you, but have hope. Behold in the distance my faithful
subjects, who come forth, each one carrying at the end of its wings the
delightful refreshment you have longed for.”
The lapwings arrived on all sides. Each one deposited in the mouth of
the unfortunate King the fresh water for which he thirsted.
“Ah, this is better than bread,” said the King, reviving; “what can I
do to show my gratitude?”
“Nothing,” said the King of the Lapwings. “Nothing,” responded the
other birds. “Continue your journey, and you will find yourself
hereafter under the shadow of our wings.”
Then the King resumed his journey. Night came, and he found himself
near the palace of the Queen whom he had intended to visit. The
lapwings still continued with him. No matter how bright the sun shone,
no matter how suffocating the heat as he journeyed on, a gentle lapwing
came to his assistance. Touched by the solicitude of these birds the
“I cannot leave you, my friends, you who had pity on me when I was
forsaken by all, without giving you a substantial evidence of my
gratitude. Tell me, what can I do for you? How can I show you how
grateful I am?”
At these words the King of the Lapwings advanced and spoke to the King:
“We desire, your majesty, to be the most beautiful of birds. We want a
golden crown on our heads, so that we may be placed before the peacock,
who is so proud of his plumage, and before the gay nightingale, who is
so proud of his song.”
At these words a great sadness filled the heart of the King, who could
read the future, and he responded, shaking his head:
“Ah! you foolish birds, larger of heart than of mind! you do not know
the weight of a crown and of the numberless dangers to which it exposes
those who possess it. A golden diadem, say you? Alas! it will bring
you misfortune; ambition without bounds is wicked and perilous. Dear
friends, demand of me something else.”
“No, no,” cried the lapwings, on all sides, young and old, little and
big, “that is the only gift we desire—a crown on our heads. Ah, what
happiness! We will fly in the air and each bird will envy us.”
The King then saw that nothing he could say would convince his
companions. He had promised to satisfy their first request, and his
word was sacred.
“Come with me,” said he, “to my friend, the magician Zacchar. No one
is more expert in the working of metal. At his touch iron becomes more
supple, silver becomes malleable, and gold is mere paste. Come! and you
shall have the diadem you long for.”
During three days the magician worked pure gold. The bellows blew and
the hammers thumped. During three nights he chased the marvellous
crowns that were to adorn the heads of the lapwings. At the dawn of the
fourth day the King arrived, with a sad smile on his face.
“Friends,” said he to the birds, “my promise is fulfilled. Take these
diadems; take these diadems, which are masterpieces of art, and go
whither your destiny calls you.”
At these words the lapwings uttered loud cries of joy.
“Go, go,” cried the King, “escape from man or you are lost.”
Without understanding his warning, but obeying the command of the
powerful King, the lapwings took flight, filled with joy and happiness.
They went here and there, flying to the tops of the mountains and
descending to the depths of the valleys, telling of their good fortune
to all their friends both far and wide.
When the other birds saw the crowns with which the heads of the
lapwings were encircled they paid due homage to the symbols. Whenever
there was a feast or an important funeral the lapwings and their
friends walked in the place of honor, before the eagles and the
peafowls, leaving far behind them the humming-bird (that living
flower), the linnet, and the nightingale.
But, unfortunately, it happened one day that a lapwing came too near
the abode of man, and a hunter saw it and killed it.
“What is this?” exclaimed the sportsman, perceiving the golden crown.
Seizing it, he ran quickly to the jeweller’s.
“Worker in metals!” said he, “see this marvellous diadem the lapwing
carries! Of what metal is it made?”
The jeweller took the crown, turned it on all sides, and looking at it
with greedy eyes, exclaimed:
“It is of pure gold, and if you will part with it I will pay you an
When the other sportsmen found out the value of the ornament that the
lapwings wore on their heads, they made haste to go into the country,
and they pursued the lapwings, wherever they could find them. New
weapons were invented, and the hunters watched day and night, killing
all the lapwings that were so unfortunate as to appear in sight.
“Lord, have mercy on us!” exclaimed the lapwings, “and blind the eyes
of the cruel men who are killing us!”
But the crown of the lapwings was so brilliant that it resembled the
sun’s rays, and even in the darkness it shone like the stars. There was
no rest or escape for these unfortunate birds. The dark night, even,
was as fatal to them as the day. The huntsmen pursued them with so much
vigor that only ten remained alive.
“What shall we do?” asked the King of the Lapwings, who had not yet
been destroyed. “Let us go and implore the great King to relieve us of
these golden crowns that are the cause of all our misfortunes.”
Immediately the lapwings started on their journey in search of the
great King. Some of them stopped by the way, so that only a few reached
the King’s throne, where they were welcomed, the powerful ruler talking
to them kindly as he would have talked to faithful friends.
“Lapwings with the golden diadems! My dear companions, what can I do to
please you this day?”
“Great Prince!” they replied, “you can give us our lives by removing
these unfortunate gifts that adorn our heads—by taking away these
golden crowns that have been the cause of all our misfortunes.”
“I will grant your desire,” said the great King; “but in remembrance
of your kindness to me you shall hereafter wear a diadem of feathers;
but bear in mind that happiness is not in the gift of the great or the
rich, but that it only belongs to those who earn it.”
Thereafter the lapwings were no longer pursued by man, and they were
happier with their modest tuft of feathers than they had been with
their golden diadem.
Once on a time there were three brothers, who were orphans. The oldest
was called Jack, the second was called John, and the youngest was known
as Jack-John. Their father was a poor laborer, who was compelled to get
up in the morning when the roosters crew for daylight, and he worked
all day, and until very late in the night. He found it a hard matter
to earn his daily bread, and it was only with a great deal of toil and
trouble that he could provide for his little children. When the mother
was alive they could manage to make both ends meet, but after she died
it seemed that everything was changed. The ground was less fertile, and
the rains were less frequent, and the crops were smaller than they had
been. In short, matters were in such a condition that the family had
fallen into the most abject want; and to add to all this, during a very
cold winter, their father died, leaving them alone. As may be supposed,
the children cried and mourned a long time, but, at last, as is natural
with children, they ceased to grieve. After a while, when all had
ceased to mourn, the oldest said:
“The land has been a curse to us. Let us divide the inheritance of our
father and go abroad. Perhaps we can make our fortunes elsewhere.”
“What inheritance do you speak of? What riches have we?” inquired
“I know not, my dear brother,” said the eldest. “Let us make an
inventory and then we will see.”
The inventory was made without any trouble, and, after paying a
few just debts there was nothing left but a cat, a rooster, and a
reap-hook. The brothers thereupon, in order to be perfectly fair, had
to draw lots. The short straw gave the rooster to Jack, the cat to
John, and the reap-hook to Jack-John.
Then the three brothers embraced each other affectionately, and
promised to meet at the old homestead as soon as they had made their
fortune; and each took a different road.
After travelling a long time in the plains and on the mountains, always
keeping ahead, Jack, the eldest, reached a great kingdom belonging to
Prince Calamor. Jack’s journey had been a long one, and the sun was
disappearing little by little, and the night coming on rapidly.
“Ah, how tired I am!” exclaimed Jack. “If I could only find a tavern
where I could rest!”
He had hardly ceased to speak when, at a turn in the road he saw a
beautiful castle, built on a rock, like an eagle’s nest, and flanked on
both sides by twelve towers.
“This is the very thing,” said the tired traveller, and he announced
his arrival by lifting the heavy knocker of a brass door.
“What do you want?” said a voice from the inside.
“I want a lodging-place,” said Jack, “for myself and my little
“The master of this house,” said the porter, opening the door, “never
refuses hospitality to those who demand shelter. Come in, and make
yourself at home.”
When Jack had entered, the friendly porter inquired:
“My friend, have you dined this afternoon?”
“My faith, no!” exclaimed Jack. “My wallet is empty, and it has been
empty since morning.”
“Come to the table, then,” exclaimed the porter, pushing Jack along the
wide hall-way. “Eat and drink and spare nothing, for you are the guest
of his most powerful majesty King Calamor.”
Jack did not wait for a second invitation. He hurried to the
dining-room and ate his fill, and his rooster—the rooster with the
golden feathers—ate heartily of the crumbs that fell from the table.
As it was already late, the porter made haste to prepare a bed for the
wayfarer, and Jack soon fell asleep, with the rooster perched on the
headboard of his bed.
It so happened that in that country those who served King Calamor had
to go and search for Day every morning. They not only had to search for
Day, but they had to hunt for the place where it could be found. Jack
slept but lightly, and he heard the conversation of the servants, who
were in the same room.
“Get up!” said one; “it is time for us to be going. We must be hunting
“Wait a little,” said the other, “I am very sleepy.”
“No, no,” said the first, “we must make haste, or some one who rises
earlier might seize the Sun and carry it away, and then the King, our
master, would be very angry.”
“Is the wagon ready?” asked another.
“Yes, and the axles are all well greased. It is early, and the wagon
will not break, as it did last week, and we will be able to go much
All this time Jack was thinking to himself in this wise: “Truly this is
a queer country that the King’s people have to go off to hunt Day.” The
servants were up and ready to go, when Jack cried out:
“Friends, get back to bed, and I will take charge of your work. I will
fetch the Day.”
“What! you!” said a servant. “Only one man! And do you pretend that you
can do what ten horses can hardly accomplish? You are making game of
“I make game of no one. You will soon see that I mean what I say,” said
“That seems very queer,” said the head-servant.
“Fear not,” said Jack, “I will help you through this by the assistance
of my little companion—my rooster with the golden feathers.”
“But, see here!” exclaimed the head-servant, with an air of sternness,
“if you do not bring Day at the appointed hour, the King will be
without mercy, and you will be hanged.”
“Nay, let me do as I wish,” said Jack, sleepily; “go to bed quietly.”
With this assurance the servants and the carters did not need to be
coaxed. They returned to their beds and slept heavily. Shortly after,
the rooster with the golden feathers crew.
“What is that?” exclaimed the sleepers arising from their couches in
“It is very simple,” said one. “Our friend yonder is about to start on
his journey in search of Day.”
“That is very strange!” exclaimed the others as they fell back in their
An hour afterward the rooster crew again. “_Lock-the-Dairy-door!
The noise awoke them all.
“What is that?” exclaimed the servants.
“It is nothing,” said Jack. “My little companion is merely telling me
that he has returned from his journey in search of the Day. Get up and
The servants at once arose, and, to the astonishment of them all, they
saw the Sun appearing over the mountain-tops more brilliant than ever.
Seeing this there was at once a contention among the servants as to
which should be the first to carry the strange news to King Calamor.
“Master! master!” cried one, more nimble than the rest, “if you only
“What has happened?” exclaimed the King; “speak quickly!”
“The horses are——”
“Broken down like the others,” the King interrupted. “Well, it can’t be
“No, no, your Majesty; the horses are still in their stalls, and the
wagons have not been out of the stables. But, get up and look! Get up
and admire the Day.”
“Ah, you rascals! Do you make game of me? Did Day come by itself
“Yesterday, your Majesty,” said the servant, “a stranger came and asked
for lodging for himself and a queer creature with golden feathers. It
carries a bunch of feathers in its tail and a tuft of feathers on its
“Ah, well, what did he do?” said King Calamor.
“What has he done? What has he done?”
“Yes,” said the King, “answer me.”
“Well, then,” said the servant, “this insignificant creature, that
seems as if it could be crushed by a blow of the hand, is stronger than
all your horses put together. Without wagons or assistance of any kind
it started out, about two hours ago, and has already returned, bringing
“I cannot believe such a miracle!” exclaimed the King.
“Nevertheless it is the truth,” said the servant. “What fatigue and
trouble this creature would save us!”
“Yes,” said the King, “how many horses and wagons would I not save! But
what you say does not seem credible.”
“Nothing can be truer,” insisted the servant, “and you can easily
“How can that be?” inquired the King.
“Well,” said the servant, “tell the stranger and his companion to
remain in the castle, and by watching with us to-night you can be
“Tell him to stay,” said the King. “I am anxious to witness this queer
These directions were followed, and to the King who was waiting, the
day seemed long indeed. Never had he been so impatient. When night came
he went to bed in the granary with the servants.
“Do not be uneasy,” said Jack; “I shall take charge of these matters
again to-morrow,” and everybody went to sleep with the exception of the
King, who could not close his eyes, he was so impatient.
At three o’clock in the morning the rooster crew,
“Who is that?” exclaimed the King. “Who talks in that language?”
“It is my little companion, the rooster,” said Jack. “He is preparing
to go into the country in search of Day.”
The King lay quiet. At four o’clock he heard again the sonorous voice
of the strange creature with the golden feathers.
“Hey, my friend!” the King cried, “what is that?”
“It is the rooster who has returned,” said Jack. “His expedition has
been a prosperous one, as you can see. He has brought Day with him, and
already the light of it is shining on the mountain-tops and filling the
valleys. Rise, your Majesty, and see for yourself.”
At these words the King arose and ran to the window. The stranger had
spoken the truth. Day—clear, joyous, and resplendent—shone over the
land. Bewildered and confused, the King could hardly recover from his
astonishment. What would he not give to possess such an enchanted
rooster! And if he possessed him, how jealous and envious of his good
fortune the neighboring kings would be! Without loss of time the King
said to Jack:
“My friend, your companion pleases me much, and he can be of great
service to me. Will you sell him?”
“Sell him!” exclaimed Jack. “By no means! I would not sell him for gold
“Let us see,” said the King, “for a hundred crown pieces?”
“No,” said Jack, sturdily, “not for a thousand.”
“By my kingdom!” said the ruler, “you are hard to please. What price
have you set on him?”
“In exchange for my companion,” said Jack, “I want you to give me your
most beautiful daughter for a wife.”
“What!” cried the King, “for no less?”
“For no less,” said Jack.
“So be it,” said the King. “I give you my youngest daughter, and a
hundred thousand gold crown pieces for her dowry.”
In a transport of joy Jack threw himself on the King’s neck, and the
marriage was celebrated at once, in the midst of pomp becoming so great
From that time the good King Calamor had no occasion to send his
servants and his horses for the Day.
_The Story of the Cat_
We have seen how Jack made his fortune. Now let us see what became of
his brother John, the possessor of the cat. We shall soon know whether
he wandered over the earth in misery and misfortune.
Satisfied with the lot that had befallen him, the poor fellow went
on his way singing and whistling, feeling no uneasiness as to his
destination. He paused only to drink the sparkling waters, or to
eat the luscious fruit that had been ripened by the golden sun. He
travelled thus for many miles, until one day he found himself in the
country where the birds speak the language of men—the country of the
Murzipouloums, where the flowers sing songs to themselves, and the
cattle fly in the air. He was astonished by these things, but presently
he came to a village where a new and a more astonishing spectacle
presented itself to his sight. More than a hundred people were abroad
in the streets, armed with sticks, chasing rats and mice that seemed to
laugh at them. At the sight of this new and peculiar war, John could
not keep his countenance. He laughed aloud. At this unseemly display of
jollity the people on all sides cried out:
“What in the world are you laughing at?” Some were furious and some
“I laugh, my poor friends,” said John, “because you give yourselves so
much trouble for so small a thing.”
“So small a thing!” they cried—”a small thing! One can tell you are
a stranger here, otherwise you would know that the rats and the mice
are our most terrible enemies. It would be an easier matter for us to
contend with ten thousand men.”
“Now, is this true?” exclaimed John. “Well, here is my little companion
who will aid you greatly. In one hour’s time he will do more of this
kind of work than all the rest of you could do in a year.”
The people gathered around, admiring the little creature with gray
eyes. It seemed to be very mild.
“Young man,” cried they, “do you wish to have a laugh at our expense?”
“You can see for yourselves,” said John, and with that he turned the
cat loose among the rats and mice. You may be sure the cat was very
happy. A leap here, a bound there, a jump yonder—to the right and to
the left, before and behind—and the rats and the mice were destroyed
by hundreds and by thousands. The people marvelled greatly, the more so
since the cat had accomplished in a very short time a work that would
have required the aid of an army of rat-killers.
While this work was going on, the Prince of the country happened to be
passing by. He saw the work the cat had accomplished, and cried out:
“Hey, my friends! Where did you find such a creature as that? Where did
you discover such a warrior?”
Thereupon John advanced politely, and said to the Prince:
“The creature which you see so cleverly amusing itself with the mice
is called a cat. It is my faithful friend, and since it came into my
possession I have never permitted it to leave me.”
“My young friend,” said the Prince, “you have there a fine fortune. My
castle is infested with rats and mice; sell me your companion, and you
shall be well paid.”
“Be separated from my best friend!” exclaimed John. “Never, never will
I do that.”
“Let us see,” said the Prince; “will you not sell me your companion
for a hundred crown pieces?”
“No,” cried John; “I would die of grief.”
“I will give you a thousand then,” said the Prince.
“Never,” said John, stoutly.
“My friend,” exclaimed the Prince, “be reasonable. I must have your
cat. Name the price.”
John scratched his head thoughtfully, and replied:
“Well, give me a meadow and a mill, a vineyard and a thousand
crown-pieces, and a carriage to ride in.”
“They shall be yours,” said the Prince.
“Then,” said John, “my beautiful cat is yours.”
_The Story of the Reap-hook_
We have thus far followed the history of Jack, with his rooster, and
John, with his cat. What became of Jack-John, the younger brother, with
Journeying over hills and across valleys, with his reap-hook hung over
his shoulder, stopping only to eat and to drink, the younger brother,
at the end of thirty days and thirty nights, arrived in the great
empire of Malissours. It was in the month of July, and the fields were
yellow with the golden grain, which waved lightly in the wind. For the
first time since he left home, Jack-John felt tired; his limbs refused
to carry him farther. How happy he would be, he thought, if he could
only reach the village near by, where there was an orange-grove. But
his efforts were useless, and the young fellow lay down in the shadow
of a big oak, and was soon fast asleep.
How long he remained there he did not know; but when Jack-John awoke,
it was morning, and he was surrounded by a crowd of people who eyed him
curiously without daring to approach.
“Hey, friends!” he cried, “I am ravenously hungry. Have you nothing to
“Yes, yes,” was the reply on all sides, “but on one condition.”
“And what is that?” asked Jack-John.
“You must tell us what the half-moon in a handle, which you have
sleeping beside you, is for.”
“The half-moon that sleeps?” exclaimed Jack-John in surprise. “What do
“Your companion that sleeps beside you on the green moss,” said the
“You make me laugh,” said Jack-John. “It is not my companion—it is not
an animal. It is simply a reap-hook.”
“A reap-hook,” exclaimed the people. “What a strange name! Never before
have we seen such a thing.”
Jack-John was astonished, but in a moment he thought that the time had
arrived for him to make his fortune; so he said:
“I see that your grain is ripe. It is time to harvest it. How do you
“Like everybody else,” said they, “we gnaw it with the teeth.”
“That must be tedious,” said Jack-John.
“Oh, there are hundreds of us to do the work,” said the people.
“And how long does it take you to complete the task?” asked Jack-John.
“Two or three months only,” the people replied.
“Ah, well!” said Jack-John, “what it takes all of you three months to
accomplish my good reap-hook will do in one hour’s time. A thousand of
you working together could not make as much headway. Under its magic
touch the grain falls and you have only to bind it.”
“What!” they exclaimed, “that little instrument does all the work?”
“Yes, indeed,” said Jack-John, “and if you desire it, I will prove it
to you instantly.”
Thereupon Jack-John made his way to the fields of ripe golden grain,
and in a few minutes had cut quantities of it. The spectators were
full of admiration. Never had they seen anything so extraordinary; and
to these people it was indeed a most marvellous thing for them to see
accomplished in a minute the work that would require the efforts of a
hundred men from sunrise to sunset. On all sides there were shouts of
joy and enthusiasm.
“Oh, the beautiful machine you have there!” the people cried—”the
fairy that runs and cuts the grain. What a treasure to him who
“I see that my beautiful reap-hook pleases you,” said Jack-John. “How
much are you willing to pay for it?”
“All the gold in the world would not be sufficient to pay you,” said
the spokesman of the people. “Name your price.”
“I want each one of you to give me as many gold-pieces as my reap-hook
has cut stalks of wheat.”
“Your demand is modest,” they answered, “and to-day each one of us will
bring the required sum.”
After this Jack-John was lifted on the shoulders of the multitude
and carried to the neighboring village, where he was treated with
great honor, and for a little more he could have become king. Soon, on
all sides, the people brought sacks of gold, and such was its weight
that ten mules were required to carry it. Jack-John, however, did not
stay very long in this empire. He rightly thought that no country is
so beautiful as one’s birthplace, and, at the end of a few weeks, he
arrived at his native village, where he found his two brothers, who had
been as successful.
“Our good fortune,” exclaimed the eldest, “has made us rich, and now it
ought to make us happy.”
THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
A rich lord, who was at the same time the best of men, wishing to
contribute to the happiness of one of his slaves, set him free. He
equipped a vessel with a white prow and a golden stern, and said to his
“Go out into the world, navigate the seas, and choose a country that
will please you, and always remember to do what good you can on the
way, and remember also to avoid evil.”
The grateful slave set sail, but he had journeyed only a few hours when
a terrible tempest arose, and it was so violent as to throw him on an
island that seemed to be deserted. The unfortunate man had lost his
vessel and all his merchandise, and he was the victim of despair. When
he landed on the island, the sole survivor of his expedition, he gave
himself up to grief, and went forward friendless, alone, and in the
direst poverty, not knowing where to direct his steps. But he was soon
to be made supremely happy, for he discovered a path that was scarcely
perceptible. He followed it with eagerness, and soon arrived at the top
of a high mountain, from which he could see a great city.
He made haste to go in that direction, but what was his astonishment
when, on approaching the city, he found himself surrounded by a great
concourse of people, crying out in transports of joy. The drums
beat loudly and the trumpets sounded, and on all sides the heralds
“Men! here is your monarch!”
At last the slave and his cavalcade arrived in the city, and with
great pomp he was installed in a marvellous palace, where the kings
of the country had lived. The fortunate slave was taken in charge by
the servants of the palace, and robed in fine purple garments, and his
head was crowned with a diadem. Then the principal lords of the realm,
in the name of the people, swore allegiance to him and the obedience
and fidelity due unto sovereigns. The happy monarch for a long time
believed that he was dreaming. His good fortune seemed to him to be a
whim—the result of circumstance.
However, after a long time he realized the full measure of his
responsibility, and thought to himself—”What does all this signify?
What does Providence wish me to do? This worried him night and day,
and finally he sent for the wisest lord in his kingdom.
“Vizier,” he asked, “who made me your King? Why do the people obey me?
And what is to become of me?”
“You must know, great King,” responded the minister, “that the genii
who inhabit this island have asked the good Lord to send them each
year a child of Adam to reign over them. These vows the great Being
has deigned to answer, and every year, on the same day, a man lands on
our coast. At such time the people are filled with transports of joy;
they meet him with loud acclaim, as they met you, and crown him King;
but the extent of his reign can only be for one year. When the twelve
months are out, the King, who has been so powerful is stripped of his
honors, clothed in coarse garments, and his soldiers, unmercifully
pursuing a custom, seize and convey him on board a black ship, which
carries him away to a deserted island, which has been rendered sterile
by the winds and waves. He that was only a few days before a rich and
powerful monarch, now finds himself without subjects, friends, or
consolers. Thereafter he lives a sorrowful life, and the people who
have obeyed his will forget even his name.”
“Were my predecessors,” said the King to his minister, “advised of the
fate that awaited them?”
“None of them were ignorant of it,” the minister replied; “but they
lacked the courage and the thoughtfulness to contemplate such a future.
They were dazzled by the pomp and grandeur of their position; and,
in their eagerness for passing pleasures they refused to contemplate
the sad end that awaited them. The year of their prosperity and
power passed away almost before they knew it, and when the fatal
day came they had done nothing to render their inevitable fate less
At these words from his minister the King was filled with fear. He
thought with terror of the precious time that had already passed, and
with tears in his eyes he said:
“Wise friend! you have announced to me the misfortunes that are in
store for me; who but you can tell me how to provide a remedy?”
“Remember, your Majesty,” said the minister, “that naked and in poverty
you came upon this island, and naked and in poverty you must leave it.
There is but one way for you to avoid the misfortunes that threaten
you. You must send to the island to which you are to be exiled a
number of workmen and order them to construct vast storehouses and
fill them with such provisions as seem to you necessary for sustaining
life. You must prepare for the inevitable. Go quickly to work, for
time presses. Time is approaching, time is passing away, and you must
remember that you will only find at the place of exile the treasures
you will be able to send there during the remaining few days of your
The King thanked his minister, and resolved to follow the wise man’s
advice. Workmen of experience were despatched to the Island of Exile,
and it was not long before a vast palace was built. The King conveyed
an abundance of treasure there, and a thousand men were sent to render
the island more inhabitable.
The day came when the King was to leave his throne; but, far from
regretting it, he sighed for the hour when he would be able to take
possession of his new estates. He was banished from the throne,
divested of his royal robes, and sent on board a ship that conveyed him
to the Island of Exile.
Having provided himself a place of refuge, he lived long and happily
BROTHER TIGER AND DADDY
During the time when the animals could talk, Daddy Sheep was the terror
of all the plains and the woods. When he walked abroad, with his sharp
horns hanging on his head, the creatures that met him saluted him with
the utmost politeness, and then ran away, glad to escape with their
lives. In order for Daddy Sheep to have such a reputation as this,
it would seem to be necessary that he had made a great many victims,
devouring some with his teeth, and tearing others with his terrible
horns; but in regard to these matters I am not able to testify. I am
of the opinion, moreover, that old Mammy Sheep, who knew him well,
could not say any more. She and her friends, and, indeed, all the
other animals, justified the proverb that is applied to those who are
lazy and cowardly: “It is better to believe what you hear than to go
and investigate the matter.” As often happens, the repetition of a
statement gives it currency, and all the creatures came to believe that
Daddy Sheep was as terrible as rumor had described him to be.
One day, as Daddy Sheep was going out of the pasture, where he had been
grazing on wild thyme, he came to a beautiful river and concluded to
quench his thirst. He approached the water, and started to drink, but
the terrible reflection he saw there—a frowning face surrounded by
wrinkled horns frightened him to such a degree that he scampered home
as fast as his legs could carry him.
One day a Tiger, who lived not far from this so-called king of the
forest and plain, mustered up courage, and resolved to cultivate
the good-will of his powerful neighbor by making him a visit. So he
took with him his son, the young Tiger, who was already well grown.
While yet at a distance the Tiger saw the powerful Sheep, and saluted
him very humbly. Coming nearer, the Tiger, still humble and polite,
inquired after the health of Daddy Sheep’s family.
“I came, dear neighbor,” said Brother Tiger, “to pay you a visit of
respect. My good wife would have come also, but she is unavoidably
detained at home expecting a visit from a friend, and she is compelled
to postpone this pleasure to another day.”
“Come in, neighbor—come in!” exclaimed Daddy Sheep. “To whom does this
charming child belong?”
“It is my child,” said Brother Tiger.
“Then you must accept my sincere congratulations,” said Daddy Sheep.
“And your own son?” exclaimed Brother Tiger, with effusive politeness;
“how is he?”
“He is very well, I thank you,” said Daddy Sheep, “he is in the house.”
While the two fathers were gravely discussing the affairs of the
country, the young Tiger and the young Sheep went out into the garden
to play. After a while, Brother Tiger became so uneasy that he could
scarcely keep still.
“Excuse me a moment,” he said to Daddy Sheep, “I will return directly.”
“Certainly, certainly!” exclaimed Daddy Sheep. “Do not stand on