Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s “The Elves”

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A shoemaker, through no fault of his own, had become so poor that he had only leather enough for a single pair of shoes. He cut them out one evening, then went to bed, intending to finish them the next morning. Having a clear conscience, he went to bed peacefully, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. The next morning, after saying his prayers, he was about to return to his work when he found the shoes on his workbench, completely finished. Amazed, he did not know what to say. He picked up the shoes in order to examine them more closely. They were so well made that not a single stitch was out of place, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. A customer soon came by, and he liked the shoes so much that he paid more than the usual price for them.

The shoemaker now had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. That evening he cut them out, intending to continue his work the next morning with good cheer. But he did not need to do so, because when he got up they were already finished. Customers soon bought them, paying him enough that he now could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. Early the next morning he found the four pairs finished. And so it continued; whatever he cut out in the evening was always finished the following morning. He now had a respectable income and with time became a wealthy man.

One evening shortly before Christmas, just before going to bed, and having already cut out a number of shoes, he said to his wife, “Why don’t we stay up tonight and see who is giving us this helping hand.”

His wife agreed to this and lit a candle. Then they hid themselves behind some clothes that were hanging in a corner of the room. At midnight two cute little naked men appeared. Sitting down at the workbench, they picked up the cut-out pieces and worked so unbelievable quickly and nimbly that the amazed shoemaker could not take his eyes from them. They did not stop until they had finished everything. They placed the completed shoes on the workbench, then quickly ran away.

The next morning the wife said, “The little men have made us wealthy. We must show them our thanks. They are running around with nothing on, freezing. Do you know what? I want to sew some shirts, jackets, undershirts, and trousers for them, and knit a pair of stockings for each of them, and you should make a pair of shoes for each of them.”

The husband said, “I agree,” and that evening, when everything was finished, they set the presents out instead of the unfinished work. Then they hid themselves in order to see what the little men would do. At midnight they came skipping up, intending to start work immediately. When they saw the little clothes instead of the cut-out leather, they at first seemed puzzled, but then delighted. They quickly put them on, then stroking the beautiful clothes on their bodies they sang:

 

Sind wir nicht Knaben glatt und fein?
Was sollen wir länger Schuster sein!
Are we not boys, neat and fine?
No longer cobblers shall we be!

Then they hopped and danced about, jumping over chairs and benches. Finally they danced out of the house. They never returned, but the shoemaker prospered, succeeding in everything that he did.

 

 II

Once upon a time there was a poor servant girl who was diligent and neat. Every day she swept out the house and shook the sweepings onto a large pile outside the door. One morning just as she was beginning her work she found a letter on the pile of sweepings. She could not read, so she stood her broom in the corner and took the letter to her employers. It was an invitation from the elves, asking the girl to serve as godmother at the baptism of one of their children.

At first the girl did not know what she should do, but finally they convinced her to accept. It would not be right, they said, to decline such an invitation.

Three elves came and led her to a hollow mountain where the little people lived. Everything there was small, but more ornate and splendid than can be described. The new mother was lying in a bed of ebony decorated with pearl buttons. The covers were embroidered with gold. The cradle was made of ivory, and the bathtub of gold. The girl stood in as godmother, and then wanted to go back home, but the elves asked her fervently to stay with them for three days. She agreed to do so, and the time passed pleasantly and joyfully. The little people did everything to make her happy.

Finally she wanted to return home. They filled her pockets with gold and led her outside the mountain. She arrived home. Wanting to begin her work, she picked up the broom that was still standing in the corner and started to sweep. Then some strange people came out of the house and asked her who she was and what she was doing there. It was not three days, as she thought, that she had spent in the mountain with the little men, but rather seven years. In the meantime her former employers had died.

 

 III

A mother had her child taken from the cradle by elves. In its place they laid a changeling with a thick head and staring eyes who would do nothing but eat and drink. In distress she went to a neighbor and asked for advice. The neighbor told her to carry the changeling into the kitchen, set it on the hearth, make a fire, and boil water in two eggshells. That should make the changeling laugh, and if he laughs it will be all over with him. The woman did everything just as her neighbor said. When she placed the eggshells filled with water over the fire, the blockhead said:

 

Nun bin ich so alt
Wie der Westerwald,
Und hab nicht gesehen,
Daß jemand in Schalen kocht.
Now I am as old
As the Western Wood,
But have never seen anyone
Cooking in shells.

And he began laughing about it. When he laughed, a band of little elves suddenly appeared. They brought the rightful child, set it on the hearth, and took the changeling away.

 

Like fairy tales? You’re going to love my new book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined! You can read the first chapter here! Follow this blog for more fairy tale updates every Wednesday and Saturday!

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Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Naughty Boy”

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Once upon a time there was an old poet-one of those good, honest old poets. One evening, as he was sitting quietly in his home, a terrible storm broke out-the rain poured down in torrents-but the old poet sat warm and cozy in his study, for a fire blazed brightly in his stove and roasting apples sizzled and hissed beside it.

“There won’t be a dry stitch on anybody out in this rain,” he told himself. You see, he was a very kindhearted old poet.

“Oh, please open the door for me! I’m so cold and wet!” cried a little child outside his house. Then it knocked at the door, while the rain poured down and the wind shook all the windows.

“Why, the poor little child!” cried the old poet as he hurried to open the door. Before him stood a naked little boy, with the water streaming down from his yellow hair! He was shivering, and would certainly have perished in the storm had he not been let in.

“You poor little fellow!” said the poet again, and took him by the hand. “Come in, and we’ll soon have you warmed up! I shall give you some wine and a roasted apple, for you’re such a pretty little boy.”

And he really was pretty! His eyes sparkled like two bright stars, and his hair hung in lovely curls, even though the water was still streaming from it. He looked like a little angel, but he was pale with the cold and shivering in every limb. In his hand he held a beautiful little bow-and-arrow set, but the bow had been ruined by the rain, and all the colors on the arrows had run together.

The old poet quickly sat down by the stove and took the little boy on his knee. He dried the child’s hair, rubbed the blue little hands vigorously, and heated some sweet wine for him. And pretty soon the little boy felt better; the roses came back to his cheeks, and he jumped down from the old man’s lap and danced around the old poet.

“You’re a cheerful boy,” laughed the old man. “What’s your name?”

“My name is Cupid,” was the reply. “Don’t you know me? There lies my bow, and I can certainly shoot with it, too. Look, the storm is over and the moon is shining!”

“Yes,” the old poet said, “but I’m afraid the rain has spoiled your bow.”

“That would be a shame,” replied the little boy as he looked the bow over carefully. “No, it’s already dry again, and the string is good and tight. No damage done. I guess I’ll try it.” Then he fitted an arrow to his bow, aimed it, and shot the good old poet right through the heart!

“Do you see now that my bow is not spoiled?” he said laughingly, and ran out of the house. Wasn’t he a naughty boy to shoot the good old poet who had been so kind to him, taken him into his warm room, and given him his delicious wine and his best apple?

The good poet lay on the floor and wept, because he really had been shot right through the heart. “What a naughty boy that Cupid is!” he cried. “I must warn all the good children, so that they will be careful and never play with him. Because he will certainly do them some harm!” So he warned all the good children, and they were very careful to keep away from that naughty Cupid.

But he is very clever and he tricks them all the time. When the students are going home from the lectures, he runs beside them, with a black coat on and a book under his arm. They don’t recognize him, but they take his arm, thinking he is a student, too, and then he sends his arrows into their hearts. And when the girls are in church to be confirmed, he is likely to catch them and shoot his darts into them. Yes, he is always after people!

In the theater he sits up in the big chandelier, burning so brightly that people think he’s a lamp, but they soon find out better. He runs about the king’s garden and on the rampart, and once he even shot your father and mother right through the heart! Just ask them, and you’ll hear what they say.

Yes, he’s a bad boy, this Cupid-you had better never have anything to do with him, for he is after all of you. And what do you think? A long time ago he even shot an arrow into your poor old grandmother! The wound has healed up, but she will never forget it.

Saucy Cupid! But now you know all about him, and what a naughty boy he is!

 

This is such a cute story, I hope you all enjoyed it! Want more fairy tales?  Follow this blog for updates every Wednesday and Saturday!

Rudyard Kipling’s “Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack”

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As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled

           Once, twice and again!

And a doe leaped up, and a doe leaped up

From the pond in the wood where the wild deer sup.

This I, scouting alone, beheld,

            Once, twice and again!

As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled

            Once, twice and again!

And a wolf stole back, and a wolf stole back

To carry the word to the waiting pack,

And we sought and we found and we bayed on his track

            Once, twice and again!

As the dawn was breaking the Wolf Pack yelled

            Once, twice and again!

Feet in the jungle that leave no mark!

Eyes that can see in the dark—the dark!

Tongue—give tongue to it! Hark! O hark!

            Once, twice and again!

For those of you who don’t already know, this poem is from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books. I thought a poem would be a nice change of pace and a great way to honor the great Maya Angelou (one of my favorite poets) who died today. 

Follow this blog for fairy tale/classic literature updates and information on my new book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined, every Wednesday and Saturday!

“The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined” Book Cover!

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Well, here it is folks! This is the cover for my new book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined (art by Amy Wong). It’s awesome, right? There’s more to it of course, but you’re going to have to wait until the paperback release to see the rest! Don’t forget that the e-book will be released on June 21st, 2014 (I’ll be sure to put up links as soon as it’s made available). In the mean time, you can read chapters 1-12 right here for free!

If you want to know more about The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined, follow this blog for updates every Wednesday and Saturday!

Classic Literature Facts: Jules Verne

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Most who know me personally know that my favorite book in the entire world is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. I’ve done extensive research for my fantasy/adventure novel series entitled The Prince of Prophecy (the first book in the series, Destined, is being released June 21st, 2014), but one of the authors I never really needed to research was Verne since he was born after the time period that my novels are set in. So, I decided to do a bit of “for fun” investigative work and find some interesting facts about one of my all-time famous authors, the late, great Jules Verne.

  1. Before writing novels, Verne wrote opera libretti.
  2. Verne was friends with two other great French authors, Alexandre Dumas (author of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers), and Victor Hugo (author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame). The older and more experienced Dumas and Hugo would often give Verne valuable writing advice.
  3. When Verne wrote about The Nautilus in his novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, electric-powered submarines didn’t exist. In fact, powered submarines wouldn’t exist until 25 years after the novel’s debut. in 1866, the first electric-powered submarine was named The Nautilus after Verne’s creation.
  4. Verne published 1 book a year for 40 years.
  5. in 1886, Verne was shot by his mentally ill nephew, Gaston, and, because he was shot in the leg, had to walk with a limp for the rest of his life.
  6. Verne based his novel Around the World in 80 Days on the true story of an American named George Francis Train who declared during his presidential campaign that he would travel around the world in 80 days or less. It took three tries, but Train eventually did manage to circle the world in under 80 days.
  7. Verne died of diabetes on March 24th, 1905.

If you like fairy tales and classic literature follow this blog for updates every Wednesday and Saturday!

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s “The Young Giant”

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A peasant had a son who was only as big as a thumb and did not grow any larger. In several years he did not grow even the width of a hair. One day the peasant wanted to go to the field and plow, and the little one said, “Father, I want to go out with you.”

“You want to go out with me?” said the father. “No, you have to stay here. There’s nothing that you could do to help me, and besides that you might get lost.” Then the thumbling began to cry and was not going to give the father any peace until he took him along. So the father put him in his pocket and carried him to the field, where he placed him in a fresh furrow.

While he was sitting there a large giant came over the mountain towards them. “Do you see that bogeyman?” said the father, in order to frighten the little one into being good. “He’s coming to get you.”

Now with his long legs the giant reached the furrow in only a few steps. With two fingers he carefully picked up the little thumbling, looked at him, then walked away with him without saying a word. The father stood there so frightened that he could not utter a sound. He believed that his child was lost, and that he would never see him again as long as he lived.

The giant took the child home and let him suckle at his breast, and the thumbling grew large and strong like a giant. After two years had passed, the old giant took him into the woods in order to test him.

He said, “Pull out a switch from over there.” The boy was so strong already that he pulled a young tree up by the roots. The giant thought that he could do better and took him back home and suckled him for two more years. When he took him into the woods to test him this time, he was so much stronger that he was able to pull up an old tree.

This was still not good enough for the giant, and he suckled him for yet another two years, took him into the woods, and said, “Now pull out a decent switch for once.” This time the boy pulled the thickest oak tree out of the ground. When it cracked the boy laughed.

When the old giant saw this, he said, “That’s good enough. You’ve passed the test.” And he took him back to the field where he found him.

The father was plowing again, and the young giant walked up to him and said, “Father, see what a man your son has become.”

The peasant was frightened and said, “No, you are not my son. I don’t want you. Get away from me.”

“Of course I am your son. Just let me plow. I can do it just as well as you can, even better.”

“No, you are not my son. You can’t plow. Get away from me.” He was so afraid of the large man that he let go of the plow and walked to the edge of the field. The boy picked up the handle to plow, but he pushed so hard with his one hand that the plow sank deep into the earth. The peasant could not watch this, and called to him, “If you insist on plowing, then don’t push down so hard, or you will ruin the field.”

Then the boy unhitched the horses and pulled the plow himself, saying, “Go on home and tell mother that she should cook up a big plate of something to eat. In the meantime, I’ll tear around the field.”

The peasant went home and told his wife to fix something to eat, and she cooked up a large dinner, and the boy plowed the field: two full acres all by himself. Then he hitched himself to the harrow and harrowed the entire thing, pulling two harrows at the same time. When he was finished he went into the woods, pulled up two oak trees, laid them on his shoulders, then put a harrow on each end and a horse on each end as well, and carried the whole thing to his parents’ home like a bundle of straw.

When he walked into the farmyard, his mother did not recognize him and asked, “Who is this terrible large man?”

The peasant said, “That is our son.”

She said, “No, this could never be our son. We did not have such a large child. Ours was a little thing. Go away. We don’t want you.”

The boy said nothing. He pulled his horses into the stall, gave them oats and hay, and put everything in order. When he was finished he went into the house, sat down on the bench, and said, “Mother, I’d like to eat. Will it be ready soon?”

She said, “Yes,” and did not dare to contradict him. She brought in two very large plates, more than she and her husband could have eaten in an entire week. He ate it all and asked if they didn’t have more. “No,” she said. “That’s all that we have.”

“That was only a taste. I have to have more.”

Not daring to contradict him, she went out and filled a large hog cauldron and put it on the fire, and when it was done she brought it in.

“That’s a nice little bit,” he said, and ate the whole thing, but it still wasn’t enough to satisfy his hunger. Then he said, “Father, I see that I’ll never be full if I stay here with you. If you can get me an iron rod that is so strong I can’t break it against my knees, then I’ll go away again.”

The peasant was happy to hear this. He hitched his two horses to his wagon and drove to the blacksmith and got a rod so large and thick that the two horses could barely pull it. The boy held it against his knees and — crash! — he broke it in two like a bean pole, and threw it away. Then the peasant hitched up four horses and brought back a rod that was so large and thick that the four horses could barely pull it.

The son picked up this one as well, cracked it in two against his knee, tossed it aside, and said, “Father, this one is of no use to me. Hitch up more horses and get me a stronger staff.” So the father hitched up eight horses and fetched one so large and thick that the eight horses could barely pull it. When the son received this one, he broke a little piece from the top of it and said, “Father, I see that you can’t get me a proper staff, so I’ll just go away anyhow.”

So he went on his way, claiming to be a journeyman blacksmith. He came to a village where a smith lived who was a real cheapskate. He would never give anything to anyone, and always wanted everything for himself. The young giant walked into his smithy and asked him if he could use a journeyman.

“Yes,” answered the smith, looking at him and thinking what a strong fellow he was, someone who could really earn his keep. “What kind of wages do you want?”

“I don’t want any wages at all,” said the young giant. “But at the end of every two weeks when the other journeymen receive their pay, just let me hit you twice. And you’ll have to be able to take it.”

The cheapskate was only too happy with this arrangement, for he thought that it would save him a lot of money.

The next morning the new journeyman was to have the first turn at the anvil. The master brought out a glowing rod, and the young giant knocked it into two pieces with his first blow, at the same time driving the anvil so deep into the ground that they could not get it back out again. This made the cheapskate angry, and he said, “I can’t use you here. Your blows are too rough. What do you need for pay?”

The young giant said, “Just to give you a little kick, nothing more.” He lifted up his foot and gave him a kick that sent him flying over four loads of hay. Then he took the thickest iron rod from the smithy to use as a walking stick, and went on his way.

Sometime later he came to an estate and asked the overseer if he could use a chief farmhand.

“Yes,” said the overseer. “You look like a strong fellow who knows how to work. What kind of yearly wage do you want.”

The young giant replied that the only pay he wanted was to be able to give the overseer three blows, and that he would have to be able to stand them. The overseer was satisfied with this, for he too was a cheapskate.

The next morning the workers were supposed to go to work in the woods. The others were already up, but the young giant was still lying in bed. One of them shouted to him, “Get up now. It’s time to go to the woods, and you have to come along too.”

He replied, coarsely and sarcastically, “Go on without me. I’ll be finished before any of you.”

The others reported to the overseer that the new chief farmhand was still lying in bed and would not go to the woods with them. The overseer told them to wake him up again and tell him to harness the horses.

The young giant answered the same as before, “Go on without me. I’ll be finished before any of you.” He slept two more hours, then finally got out of bed, got two shovels full of peas from the barn, cooked them, ate them at his leisure, and when he had finished all this, he harnessed the horses and drove them to the woods. Just before the woods, the road passed through a hollow. He drove his wagon through the hollow, then halted the horses. He walked behind the wagon and piled up such a stack of trees and branches that no horse would ever be able to get through.

He had just arrived in the woods when he met the others on their way home with their loaded wagons. He said to them, “Drive on. I’ll be home before you are.”

He drove a little further into the woods, ripped two of the largest trees out of the ground, loaded them onto his wagon, and turned around. When he came to the pile of trees and branches, the others were just standing there, unable to get through.

He said, “See, if you had stayed with me, you could have gone straight home, and you’d be able to sleep an extra hour.”

He started to drive through, but his horses couldn’t make it, so he unhitched them and loaded them on top of the wagon. Then he took hold of the tongue and pulled the wagon through as easily as if it had been loaded with feathers. When he was on the other side \ he called out, “See, I got through before you did,” and he drove off, leaving them standing there. When he arrived at the farmyard he picked up a tree with one hand, showed it to the overseer, and said, “How is this for a measuring stick?”

Then the overseer said to his wife, “This chief farmhand is all right. Even when he sleeps in, he arrives home before the others.”

He worked for the overseer for one year. When the year had passed and the other workers received their wages, he said that it was also time for his payment. The overseer became frightened that he was going to have to receive his blows, and he asked him to spare him. If he would do so, the overseer himself would become chief farmhand, and the young giant could become overseer.

“No,” replied the young giant. “I do not want to be overseer. I am chief farmhand and will remain chief farmhand. I only want to deliver what was promised me.”

The overseer offered to give him anything that he asked for, but there was no way out. The chief farmhand insisted on the original agreement.

The overseer did not know what else to do, so he asked for an extension of two weeks, and then called all of his clerks together and asked for their advice. They thought for a long time, and finally concluded that no one was safe in the presence of the chief farmhand. He could strike a person dead just like one would crush a mosquito.

He should be told to climb into the well to clean it. Then they would roll the large millstones that were lying nearby into the well onto his head. After that he would never again see the light of day.

The overseer was delighted with this plan, and the chief farmhand agreed to climb into the well. As soon as he was at the bottom of the well, they rolled the largest millstone, in on top of him. Everyone thought that they had crushed his head, but he called out, “Chase the chickens away from the well. They are scratching in the sand, and throwing little grains into my eyes until I can’t see.”

The overseer called out, “Shoo! Shoo!” as though he were chasing the chickens away. When the chief farmhand was finished, he climbed out and said, “Look at this nice necklace.” He was wearing the millstone around his neck.

The chief farmhand wanted to collect his wages now, but the overseer asked for another extension of fourteen days. He summoned the clerks, and they advised him to send the farmhand to the haunted mill to grind grain during the night. No human had ever come from there alive. This advice pleased the overseer, and that same evening he summoned the farmhand and told him to haul eight bushels of grain to the mill and to grind it during the night. They were in need of the flour.

So the chief farmhand went to the loft and put two bushels of grain in his right pocket and two in his left pocket. Then he loaded four bushels of grain into a large sack which he carried over his shoulder. He took all this to the haunted mill.

The miller told him that during the daytime he could grind the grain very well, but at nighttime the mill was haunted and anyone who went inside during the night was found dead the next morning.

The farmhand said, “I will do all right. Just leave me alone and go to bed now.”

Then he went inside the mill and dumped out the grain. When it began to strike eleven he went into the sitting area and sat on a bench. He had just eaten a little when the door opened and a large table came inside. On the table were wine, roasted meat, and many good things to eat. Everything was by itself; no one had carried it in. Then the chairs moved themselves into place, but no person was there. Then suddenly he saw fingers handling the knives and forks and placing food onto the plates, but he could see nothing else. He was hungry, and he could see food, so he sat down and ate alongside the unseen ones, and everything tasted very good. When he was full, and the others had cleaned off their plates as well, suddenly all the lights were blown out. He heard this very distinctly.

Sitting there in total darkness, something gave him a slap in the face.

He said, “If you do that again, I’ll give the same thing back to you.”

He received a second slap, and he struck back. Thus it continued the entire night, but he was never afraid, always striking back fiercely. At daybreak everything ceased.

When the miller got up, he looked in on the farmhand to see how he was, and was amazed to see that he was still alive.

The farmhand said, “I received some slaps, but I also gave out some slaps, and had plenty to eat.”

The miller was delighted and said that the mill was now freed of its curse, and he offered him a large sum of money as a reward.

But the farmhand said, “I don’t want any money; I have enough.”

Then he loaded his flour onto his back and returned home. He told the overseer he had completed the task and now wanted the wages that they had agreed upon.

The overseer was beside himself with fear. Not knowing what else to do, he walked back and forth in his room until sweat dripped from his face. He opened the window for some fresh air. Before he knew what had happened, the young giant kicked him from behind. He flew so far through the air, that no one has seen him since.

Then the young giant turned to the overseer’s wife and said that she would have to receive the next blow. “No, I’d never be able to withstand it,” she said, and opened a window, because of the sweat dripping from her face. He gave her a kick as well, and being lighter, she flew even higher than her husband.

“Come to me,” he called to her.

“No, you come to me,” she called back. “I can’t come to you.”

And they soared through the air, neither of them able to get to the other one. I do not know if they are still soaring. But as for the young giant, he picked up his iron rod and went on his way.

I hope you all enjoyed The Young Giant, and since I did not post a fairy tale on Wednesday, like I should have I will be posting another fairy tale tidbit today! If you’re not already, follow this blog for fairy tale updates every Wednesday and Saturday!

Hans Christian Andersen’s “Thumbelina”

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There once was a woman who wanted so very much to have a tiny little child, but she did not know where to find one. So she went to an old witch, and she said:

“I have set my heart upon having a tiny little child. Please could you tell me where I can find one?”

“Why, that’s easily done,” said the witch. “Here’s a grain of barley for you, but it isn’t at all the sort of barley that farmers grow in their fields or that the chickens get to eat. Put it in a flower pot and you’ll see what you shall see.”

“Oh thank you!” the woman said. She gave the witch twelve pennies, and planted the barley seed as soon as she got home. It quickly grew into a fine large flower, which looked very much like a tulip. But the petals were folded tight, as though it were still a bud.

“This is such a pretty flower,” said the woman. She kissed its lovely red and yellow petals, and just as she kissed it the flower gave a loud pop! and flew open. It was a tulip, right enough, but on the green cushion in the middle of it sat a tiny girl. She was dainty and fair to see, but she was no taller than your thumb. So she was called Thumbelina.

A nicely polished walnut shell served as her cradle. Her mattress was made of the blue petals of violets, and a rose petal was pulled up to cover her. That was how she slept at night. In the daytime she played on a table where the woman put a plate surrounded with a wreath of flowers. Their stems lay in the water, on which there floated a large tulip petal. Thumbelina used the petal as a boat, and with a pair of white horsehairs for oars she could row clear across the plate-a charming sight. She could sing, too. Her voice was the softest and sweetest that anyone ever has heard.

One night as she lay in her cradle, a horrible toad hopped in through the window-one of the panes was broken. This big, ugly, slimy toad jumped right down on the table where Thumbelina was asleep under the red rose petal.

“Here’s a perfect wife for my son!” the toad exclaimed. She seized upon the walnut shell in which Thumbelina lay asleep, and hopped off with it, out the window and into the garden. A big broad stream ran through it, with a muddy marsh along its banks, and here the toad lived with her son. Ugh! he was just like his mother, slimy and horrible. “Co-ax, co-ax, brek-ek-eke-kex,” was all that he could say when he saw the graceful little girl in the walnut shell.

“Don’t speak so loud, or you will wake her up,” the old toad told him. “She might get away from us yet, for she is as light as a puff of swan’s-down. We must put her on one of the broad water lily leaves out in the stream. She is so small and light that it will be just like an island to her, and she can’t run away from us while we are making our best room under the mud ready for you two to live in.”

Many water lilies with broad green leaves grew in the stream, and it looked as if they were floating on the surface. The leaf which lay furthest from the bank was the largest of them all, and it was to this leaf that the old toad swam with the walnut shell which held Thumbelina.

The poor little thing woke up early next morning, and when she saw where she was she began to cry bitterly. There was water all around the big green leaf and there was no way at all for her to reach the shore. The old toad sat in the mud, decorating a room with green rushes and yellow water lilies, to have it looking its best for her new daughter-in-law. Then she and her ugly son swam out to the leaf on which Thumbelina was standing. They came for her pretty little bed, which they wanted to carry to the bridal chamber before they took her there.

The old toad curtsied deep in the water before her, and said:

“Meet my son. He is to be your husband, and you will share a delightful home in the mud.”

“Co-ax, co-ax, brek-ek-eke-kex,” was all that her son could say.

Then they took the pretty little bed and swam away with it. Left all alone on the green leaf, Thumbelina sat down and cried. She did not want to live in the slimy toad’s house, and she didn’t want to have the toad’s horrible son for her husband. The little fishes who swam in the water beneath her had seen the toad and heard what she had said. So up popped their heads to have a look at the little girl. No sooner had they seen her than they felt very sorry that anyone so pretty should have to go down to live with that hideous toad. No, that should never be! They gathered around the green stem which held the leaf where she was, and gnawed it in two with their teeth. Away went the leaf down the stream, and away went Thumbelina, far away where the toad could not catch her.

Thumbelina sailed past many a place, and when the little birds in the bushes saw her they sang, “What a darling little girl.” The leaf drifted further and further away with her, and so it was that Thumbelina became a traveler.

A lovely white butterfly kept fluttering around her, and at last alighted on the leaf, because he admired Thumbelina. She was a happy little girl again, now that the toad could not catch her. It was all very lovely as she floated along, and where the sun struck the water it looked like shining gold. Thumbelina undid her sash, tied one end of it to the butterfly, and made the other end fast to the leaf. It went much faster now, and Thumbelina went much faster too, for of course she was standing on it.

Just then, a big May-bug flew by and caught sight of her. Immediately he fastened his claws around her slender waist and flew with her up into a tree. Away went the green leaf down the stream, and away went the butterfly with it, for he was tied to the leaf and could not get loose.

My goodness! How frightened little Thumbelina was when the May-bug carried her up in the tree. But she was even more sorry for the nice white butterfly she had fastened to the leaf, because if he couldn’t free himself he would have to starve to death. But the May-bug wasn’t one to care about that. He sat her down on the largest green leaf of the tree, fed her honey from the flowers, and told her how pretty she was, considering that she didn’t look the least like a May-bug. After a while, all the other May-bugs who lived in the tree came to pay them a call. As they stared at Thumbelina, the lady May-bugs threw up their feelers and said:

“Why, she has only two legs-what a miserable sight!”

“She hasn’t any feelers,” one cried.

“She is pinched in at the waist-how shameful! She looks like a human being-how ugly she is!” said all of the female May-bugs.

Yet Thumbelina was as pretty as ever. Even the May-bug who had flown away with her knew that, but as every last one of them kept calling her ugly, he at length came to agree with them and would have nothing to do with her-she could go wherever she chose. They flew down out of the tree with her and left her on a daisy, where she sat and cried because she was so ugly that the May-bugs wouldn’t have anything to do with her.

Nevertheless, she was the loveliest little girl you can imagine, and as frail and fine as the petal of a rose.

All summer long, poor Thumbelina lived all alone in the woods. She wove herself a hammock of grass, and hung it under a big burdock leaf to keep off the rain. She took honey from the flowers for food, and drank the dew which she found on the leaves every morning. In this way the summer and fall went by. Then came the winter, the long, cold winter. All the birds who had sung so sweetly for her flew away. The trees and the flowers withered. The big burdock leaf under which she had lived shriveled up until nothing was left of it but a dry, yellow stalk. She was terribly cold, for her clothes had worn threadbare and she herself was so slender and frail. Poor Thumbelina, she would freeze to death! Snow began to fall, and every time a snowflake struck her it was as if she had been hit by a whole shovelful, for we are quite tall while she measured only an inch. She wrapped a withered leaf about her, but there was no warmth in it. She shivered with cold.

Near the edge of the woods where she now had arrived, was a large grain field, but the grain had been harvested long ago. Only the dry, bare stubble stuck out of the frozen ground. It was just as if she were lost in a vast forest, and oh how she shivered with cold! Then she came to the door of a field mouse, who had a little hole amidst the stubble. There this mouse lived, warm and cozy, with a whole store-room of grain, and a magnificent kitchen and pantry. Poor Thumbelina stood at the door, just like a beggar child, and pled for a little bit of barley, because she hadn’t had anything to eat for two days past.

“Why, you poor little thing,” said the field mouse, who turned out to be a kind-hearted old creature. “You must come into my warm room and share my dinner.” She took such a fancy to Thumbelina that she said, “If you care to, you may stay with me all winter, but you must keep my room tidy, and tell me stories, for I am very fond of them.” Thumbelina did as the kind old field mouse asked and she had a very good time of it.

“Soon we shall have a visitor,” the field mouse said. “Once every week my neighbor comes to see me, and he is even better off than I am. His rooms are large, and he wears such a beautiful black velvet coat. If you could only get him for a husband you would be well taken care of, but he can’t see anything. You must tell him the very best stories you know.”

Thumbelina did not like this suggestion. She would not even consider the neighbor, because he was a mole. He paid them a visit in his black velvet coat. The field mouse talked about how wealthy and wise he was, and how his home was more than twenty times larger than hers. But for all of his knowledge he cared nothing at all for the sun and the flowers. He had nothing good to say for them, and had never laid eyes on them. As

Thumbelina had to sing for him, she sang, “May-bug, May-bug, fly away home,” and “The Monk goes afield.” The mole fell in love with her sweet voice, but he didn’t say anything about it yet, for he was a most discreet fellow.

He had just dug a long tunnel through the ground from his house to theirs, and the field mouse and Thumbelina were invited to use it whenever they pleased, though he warned them not to be alarmed by the dead bird which lay in this passage. It was a complete bird, with feather and beak. It must have died quite recently, when winter set in, and it was buried right in the middle of the tunnel.

The mole took in his mouth a torch of decayed wood. In the darkness it glimmered like fire. He went ahead of them to light the way through the long, dark passage. When they came to where the dead bird lay, the mole put his broad nose to the ceiling and made a large hole through which daylight could fall. In the middle of the floor lay a dead swallow, with his lovely wings folded at his sides and his head tucked under his feathers. The poor bird must certainly have died of the cold. Thumbelina felt so sorry for him. She loved all the little birds who had sung and sweetly twittered to her all through the summer. But the mole gave the body a kick with his short stumps, and said, “Now he won’t be chirping any more. What a wretched thing it is to be born a little bird. Thank goodness none of my children can be a bird, who has nothing but his ‘chirp, chirp’, and must starve to death when winter comes along.”

“Yes, you are so right, you sensible man,” the field mouse agreed. “What good is all his chirp-chirping to a bird in the winter time, when he starves and freezes? But that’s considered very grand, I imagine.”

Thumbelina kept silent, but when the others turned their back on the bird she bent over, smoothed aside the feathers that hid the bird’s head, and kissed his closed eyes.

“Maybe it was he who sang so sweetly to me in the summertime,” she thought to herself. “What pleasure he gave me, the dear, pretty bird.”

The mole closed up the hole that let in the daylight, and then he took the ladies home. That night Thumbelina could not sleep a wink, so she got up and wove a fine large coverlet out of hay. She took it to the dead bird and spread it over him, so that he would lie warm in the cold earth. She tucked him in with some soft thistledown that she had found in the field mouse’s room.

“Good-by, you pretty little bird,” she said. “Good-by, and thank you for your sweet songs last summer, when the trees were all green and the sun shone so warmly upon us.” She laid her head on his breast, and it startled her to feel a soft thump, as if something were beating inside. This was the bird’s heart. He was not dead- he was only numb with cold, and now that he had been warmed he came to life again.

In the fall, all swallows fly off to warm countries, but if one of them starts too late he gets so cold that he drops down as if he were dead, and lies where he fell. And then the cold snow covers him.

Thumbelina was so frightened that she trembled, for the bird was so big, so enormous compared to her own inch of height. But she mustered her courage, tucked the cotton wool down closer around the poor bird, brought the mint leaf that covered her own bed, and spread it over the bird’s head.

The following night she tiptoed out to him again. He was alive now, but so weak that he could barely open his eyes for a moment to look at Thumbelina, who stood beside him with the piece of touchwood that was her only lantern.

“Thank you, pretty little child,” the sick swallow said. “I have been wonderfully warmed. Soon I shall get strong once more, and be able to fly again in the warm sunshine.”

“Oh,” she said, “It’s cold outside, it’s snowing, and freezing. You just stay in your warm bed and I’ll nurse you.”

Then she brought him some water in the petal of a flower. The swallow drank, and told her how he had hurt one of his wings in a thorn bush, and for that reason couldn’t fly as fast as the other swallows when they flew far, far away to the warm countries. Finally he had dropped to the ground. That was all he remembered, and he had no idea how he came to be where she found him.

The swallow stayed there all through the winter, and Thumbelina was kind to him and tended him with loving care. She didn’t say anything about this to the field mouse or to the mole, because they did not like the poor unfortunate swallow.

As soon as spring came and the sun warmed the earth, the swallow told Thumbelina it was time to say good-by. She reopened the hole that the mole had made in the ceiling, and the sun shone in splendor upon them. The swallow asked Thumbelina to go with him. She could sit on his back as they flew away through the green woods. But Thumbelina knew that it would make the old field mouse feel badly if she left like that, so she said:

“No, I cannot go.”

“Fare you well, fare you well, my good and pretty girl,” said the swallow, as he flew into the sunshine. Tears came into Thumbelina’s eyes as she watched him go, for she was so fond of the poor swallow.

“Chirp, chirp!” sang the bird, at he flew into the green woods.

Thumbelina felt very downcast. She was not permitted to go out in the warm sunshine. Moreover, the grain that was sown in the field above the field mouse’s house grew so tall that, to a poor little girl who was only an inch high, it was like a dense forest.

“You must work on your trousseau this summer,” the field mouse said, for their neighbor, that loathsome mole in his black velvet coat, had proposed to her. “You must have both woolens and linens, both bedding and wardrobe, when you become the mole’s wife.”

Thumbelina had to turn the spindle, and the field mouse hired four spiders to spin and weave for her day and night. The mole came to call every evening, and his favorite remark was that the sun, which now baked the earth as hard as a rock, would not be nearly so hot when summer was over. Yes, as soon as summer was past he would be marrying Thumbelina. But she was not at all happy about it, because she didn’t like the tedious mole the least bit. Every morning at sunrise and every evening at sunset, she would steal out the door. When the breeze blew the ears of grain apart she could catch glimpses of the blue sky. She could dream about how bright and fair it was out of doors, and how she wished she would see her dear swallow again. But he did not come back, for doubtless he was far away, flying about in the lovely green woods.

When fall arrived, Thumbelina’s whole trousseau was ready.

“Your wedding day is four weeks off,” the field mouse told her. But Thumbelina cried and declared that she would not have the tedious mole for a husband.

“Fiddlesticks,” said the field mouse. “Don’t you be obstinate, or I’ll bite you with my white teeth. Why, you’re getting a superb husband. The queen herself hasn’t a black velvet coat as fine as his. Both his kitchen and his cellar are well supplied. You ought to thank goodness that you are getting him.”

Then came the wedding day. The mole had come to take Thumbelina home with him, where she would have to live deep underground and never go out in the warm sunshine again, because he disliked it so. The poor little girl felt very sad that she had to say good-by to the glorious sun, which the field mouse had at least let her look out at through the doorway.

“Farewell, bright sun!” she said. With her arm stretched toward it she walked a little way from the field mouse’s home. The grain had been harvested, and only the dry stubble was left in the field. “Farewell. farewell!” she cried again, and flung her little arms around a small red flower that was still in bloom. “If you see my dear swallow, please give him my love.”

“Chirp, chirp! Chirp, chirp!” She suddenly heard a twittering over her head. She looked up and there was the swallow, just passing by. He was so glad to see Thumbelina although, when she told him how she hated to marry the mole and live deep underground where the sun never shone, she could not hold back her tears.

“Now that the cold winter is coming,” the swallow told her, “I shall fly far, far away to the warm countries. Won’t you come along with me? You can ride on my back. Just tie yourself on with your sash, and away we’ll fly, far from the ugly mole and his dark hole-far, far away, over the mountains to the warm countries where the sun shines so much fairer than here, to where it is always summer and there are always flowers. Please fly away with me, dear little Thumbelina, you who saved my life when I lay frozen in a dark hole in the earth.”

“Yes, I will go with you!” said Thumbelina. She sat on his back, put her feet on his outstretched wings, and fastened her sash to one of his strongest feathers. Then the swallow soared into the air over forests and over lakes, high up over the great mountains that are always capped with snow. When Thumbelina felt cold in the chill air, she crept under the bird’s warm feathers, with only her little head stuck out to watch all the wonderful sights below.

At length they came to the warm countries. There the sun shone far more brightly than it ever does here, and the sky seemed twice as high. Along the ditches and hedgerows grew marvelous green and blue grapes. Lemons and oranges hung in the woods. The air smelled sweetly of myrtle and thyme. By the wayside, the loveliest children ran hither and thither, playing with the brightly colored butterflies.

But the swallow flew on still farther, and it became more and more beautiful. Under magnificent green trees, on the shore of a blue lake there stood an ancient palace of dazzling white marble. The lofty pillars were wreathed with vines, and at the top of them many swallows had made their nests. One nest belonged to the swallow who carried Thumbelina.

“This is my home,” the swallow told her. “If you will choose one of those glorious flowers in bloom down below, I shall place you in it, and you will have all that your heart desires.”

“That will be lovely,” she cried, and clapped her tiny hands.

A great white marble pillar had fallen to the ground, where it lay in three broken pieces. Between these pieces grew the loveliest large white flowers. The swallow flew down with Thumbelina and put her on one of the large petals. How surprised she was to find in the center of the flower a little man, as shining and transparent as if he had been made of glass. On his head was the daintiest of little gold crowns, on his shoulders were the brightest shining wings, and he was not a bit bigger than Thumbelina. He was the spirit of the flower. In every flower there lived a small man or woman just like him, but he was the king over all of them.

“Oh, isn’t he handsome?” Thumbelina said softly to the swallow. The king was somewhat afraid of the swallow, which seemed a very giant of a bird to anyone as small as he. But when he saw Thumbelina he rejoiced, for she was the prettiest little girl he had ever laid eyes on. So he took off his golden crown and put it on her head. He asked if he might know her name, and he asked her to be his wife, which would make her queen over all the flowers. Here indeed was a different sort of husband from the toad’s son and the mole with his black velvet coat. So she said “Yes” to this charming king. From all the flowers trooped little ladies and gentlemen delightful to behold. Every one of them brought Thumbelina a present, but the best gift of all was a pair of wings that had belonged to a large silver fly. When these were made fast to her back, she too could flit from flower to flower. Everyone rejoiced, as the swallow perched above them in his nest and sang his very best songs for them. He was sad though, deep down in his heart, for he liked Thumbelina so much that he wanted never to part with her.

“You shall no longer be called Thumbelina,” the flower spirit told her. ” That name is too ugly for anyone as pretty as you are. We shall call you Maia.”

“Good-by, good-by,” said the swallow. He flew away again from the warm countries, back to far-away Denmark, where he had a little nest over the window of the man who can tell you fairy tales. To him the bird sang, “Chirp, chirp! Chirp, chirp!” and that’s how we heard the whole story.

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Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s “Tom Thumb’s Travels”

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A certain tailor had a son, who happened to be small, and no bigger than a Thumb, and on this account he was always called Tom Thumb. He had, however, some courage in him, and said to his father, “Father, I must and will go out into the world.” – “That’s right, my son,” said the old man, and took a long darning-needle and made a knob of sealing-wax on it at the candle, “and there is a sword for thee to take with thee on the way.” Then the little tailor wanted to have one more meal with them, and hopped into the kitchen to see what his lady mother had cooked for the last time. It was, however, just dished up, and the dish stood on the hearth. Then he said, “Mother, what is there to eat to-day?” – “See for thyself,” said his mother. So Tom Thumb jumped on to the hearth, and peeped into the dish, but as he stretched his neck in too far the steam from the food caught hold of him, and carried him up the chimney. He rode about in the air on the steam for a while, until at length he sank down to the ground again.

Now the little tailor was outside in the wide world, and he travelled about, and went to a master in his craft, but the food was not good enough for him. “Mistress, if you give us no better food,” said Tom Thumb, “I will go away, and early to-morrow morning I will write with chalk on the door of your house, ‘Too many potatoes, too little meat! Farewell, Mr Potato-King.'” – “What wouldst thou have forsooth, grasshopper?” said the mistress, and grew angry, and seized a dishcloth, and was just going to strike him; but my little tailor crept nimbly under a thimble, peeped out from beneath it, and put his tongue out at the mistress. She took up the thimble, and wanted to get hold of him, but little Tom Thumb hopped into the cloth, and while the mistress was opening it out and looking for him, he got into a crevice in the table. “Ho, ho, lady mistress,” cried he, and thrust his head out, and when she began to strike him he leapt down into the drawer. At last, however, she caught him and drove him out of the house.

The little tailor journeyed on and came to a great forest, and there he fell in with a band of robbers who had a design to steal the King’s treasure. When they saw the little tailor, they thought, “A little fellow like that can creep through a key-hole and serve as picklock to us.” – “Hollo,” cried one of them, “thou giant Goliath, wilt thou go to the treasure-chamber with us? Thou canst slip thyself in and throw out the money.” Tom Thumb reflected a while, and at length he said, “yes,” and went with them to the treasure-chamber. Then he looked at the doors above and below, to see if there was any crack in them. It was not long before he espied one which was broad enough to let him in. He was therefore about to get in at once, but one of the two sentries who stood before the door, observed him, and said to the other, “What an ugly spider is creeping there; I will kill it.” – “Let the poor creature alone,” said the other; “it has done thee no harm.” Then Tom Thumb got safely through the crevice into the treasure-chamber, opened the window beneath which the robbers were standing, and threw out to them one thaler after another.

When the little tailor was in the full swing of his work, he heard the King coming to inspect his treasure-chamber, and crept hastily into a hiding-place. The King noticed that several solid thalers were missing, but could not conceive who could have stolen them, for locks and bolts were in good condition, and all seemed well guarded. Then he went away again, and said to the sentries, “Be on the watch, some one is after the money.” When therefore Tom Thumb recommenced his labours, they heard the money moving, and a sound of klink, klink, klink. They ran swiftly in to seize the thief, but the little tailor, who heard them coming, was still swifter, and leapt into a corner and covered himself with a thaler, so that nothing could be seen of him, and at the same time he mocked the sentries and cried, “Here am I!” The sentries ran thither, but as they got there, he had already hopped into another corner under a thaler, and was crying, “Ho, ho, here am I!” The watchmen sprang there in haste, but Tom Thumb had long ago got into a third corner, and was crying, “Ho, ho, here am I!” And thus he made fools of them, and drove them so long round about the treasure-chamber that they were weary and went away. Then by degrees he threw all the thalers out, dispatching the last with all his might, then hopped nimbly upon it, and flew down with it through the window. The robbers paid him great compliments. “Thou art a valiant hero,” said they; “wilt thou be our captain?”

Tom Thumb, however, declined, and said he wanted to see the world first. They now divided the booty, but the little tailor only asked for a kreutzer because he could not carry more.

Then he once more buckled on his sword, bade the robbers goodbye, and took to the road. First, he went to work with some masters, but he had no liking for that, and at last he hired himself as man-servant in an inn. The maids, however, could not endure him, for he saw all they did secretly, without their seeing him, and he told their master and mistress what they had taken off the plates, and carried away out of the cellar, for themselves. Then said they, “Wait, and we will pay thee off!” and arranged with each other to play him a trick. Soon afterwards when one of the maids was mowing in the garden, and saw Tom Thumb jumping about and creeping up and down the plants, she mowed him up quickly with the grass, tied all in a great cloth, and secretly threw it to the cows. Now amongst them there was a great black one, who swallowed him down without hurting him. Down below, however, it pleased him ill, for it was quite dark, neither was any candle burning. When the cow was being milked he cried,

“Strip, strap, strull,
Will the pail soon be full?”

But the noise of the milking prevented his being understood. After this the master of the house came into the cow-byre and said, “That cow shall be killed to-morrow.” Then Tom Thumb was so alarmed that he cried out in a clear voice, “Let me out first, for I am shut up inside her.” The master heard that quite well, but did not know from whence the voice came. “Where art thou?” asked he. “In the black one,” answered T0m Thumb, but the master did not understand what that meant, and went out.

Next morning the cow was killed. Happily Tom Thumb did not meet with one blow at the cutting up and chopping; he got among the sausage-meat. And when the butcher came in and began his work, he cried out with all his might, “Don’t chop too deep, don’t chop too deep, I am amongst it.” No one heard this because of the noise of the chopping-knife. Now poor Tom Thumb was in trouble, but trouble sharpens the wits, and he sprang out so adroitly between the blows that none of them touched him, and he escaped with a whole skin. But still he could not get away, there was nothing for it but to let himself be thrust into a black-pudding with the bits of bacon. His quarters there were rather confined, and besides that he was hung up in the chimney to be smoked, and their time did hang terribly heavy on his hands.

At length in winter he was taken down again, as the black-pudding had to be set before a guest. When the hostess was cutting it in slices, he took care not to stretch out his head too far lest a bit of it should be cut off; at last he saw his opportunity, cleared a passage for himself, and jumped out.

The little tailor, however, would not stay any longer in a house where he fared so ill, so at once set out on his journey again. But his liberty did not last long. In the open country he met with a fox who snapped him up in a fit of absence. “Hollo, Mr Fox,” cried the little tailor, “it is I who am sticking in your throat, set me at liberty again.” – “Thou art right,” answered the fox. “Thou art next to nothing for me, but if thou wilt promise me the fowls in thy father’s yard I will let thee go.” – “With all my heart,” replied Tom Thumb. “Thou shalt have all the cocks and hens, that I promise thee.” Then the fox let him go again, and himself carried him home. When the father once more saw his dear son, he willingly gave the fox all the fowls which he had. “For this I likewise bring thee a handsome bit of money,” said Tom Thumb, and gave his father the kreuzer which he earned on his travels.

“But why did the fox get the poor chickens to eat?” – “Oh, you goose, your father would surely love his child far more than the fowls in the yard!”

 

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Rudyard Kipling’s “Mowgli’s Brothers”

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Now Rann the Kite brings home the night
      That Mang the Bat sets free--
   The herds are shut in byre and hut
      For loosed till dawn are we.
   This is the hour of pride and power,
      Talon and tush and claw.
   Oh, hear the call!--Good hunting all
      That keep the Jungle Law!
   Night-Song in the Jungle

It was seven o’clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips. Mother Wolf lay with her big gray nose dropped across her four tumbling, squealing cubs, and the moon shone into the mouth of the cave where they all lived. “Augrh!” said Father Wolf. “It is time to hunt again.” He was going to spring down hill when a little shadow with a bushy tail crossed the threshold and whined: “Good luck go with you, O Chief of the Wolves. And good luck and strong white teeth go with noble children that they may never forget the hungry in this world.”

It was the jackal–Tabaqui, the Dish-licker–and the wolves of India despise Tabaqui because he runs about making mischief, and telling tales, and eating rags and pieces of leather from the village rubbish-heaps. But they are afraid of him too, because Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle, is apt to go mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and runs through the forest biting everything in his way. Even the tiger runs and hides when little Tabaqui goes mad, for madness is the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We call it hydrophobia, but they call it dewanee–the madness– and run.

“Enter, then, and look,” said Father Wolf stiffly, “but there is no food here.”

“For a wolf, no,” said Tabaqui, “but for so mean a person as myself a dry bone is a good feast. Who are we, the Gidur-log [the jackal people], to pick and choose?” He scuttled to the back of the cave, where he found the bone of a buck with some meat on it, and sat cracking the end merrily.

“All thanks for this good meal,” he said, licking his lips. “How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that the children of kings are men from the beginning.”

Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces. It pleased him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.

Tabaqui sat still, rejoicing in the mischief that he had made, and then he said spitefully:

“Shere Khan, the Big One, has shifted his hunting grounds. He will hunt among these hills for the next moon, so he has told me.”

Shere Khan was the tiger who lived near the Waingunga River, twenty miles away.

“He has no right!” Father Wolf began angrily–“By the Law of the Jungle he has no right to change his quarters without due warning. He will frighten every head of game within ten miles, and I–I have to kill for two, these days.”

“His mother did not call him Lungri [the Lame One] for nothing,” said Mother Wolf quietly. “He has been lame in one foot from his birth. That is why he has only killed cattle. Now the villagers of the Waingunga are angry with him, and he has come here to make our villagers angry. They will scour the jungle for him when he is far away, and we and our children must run when the grass is set alight. Indeed, we are very grateful to Shere Khan!”

“Shall I tell him of your gratitude?” said Tabaqui.

“Out!” snapped Father Wolf. “Out and hunt with thy master. Thou hast done harm enough for one night.”

“I go,” said Tabaqui quietly. “Ye can hear Shere Khan below in the thickets. I might have saved myself the message.”

Father Wolf listened, and below in the valley that ran down to a little river he heard the dry, angry, snarly, singsong whine of a tiger who has caught nothing and does not care if all the jungle knows it.

“The fool!” said Father Wolf. “To begin a night’s work with that noise! Does he think that our buck are like his fat Waingunga bullocks?”

“H’sh. It is neither bullock nor buck he hunts to-night,” said Mother Wolf. “It is Man.”

The whine had changed to a sort of humming purr that seemed to come from every quarter of the compass. It was the noise that bewilders woodcutters and gypsies sleeping in the open, and makes them run sometimes into the very mouth of the tiger.

“Man!” said Father Wolf, showing all his white teeth. “Faugh! Are there not enough beetles and frogs in the tanks that he must eat Man, and on our ground too!”

The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a reason, forbids every beast to eat Man except when he is killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting grounds of his pack or tribe. The real reason for this is that man-killing means, sooner or later, the arrival of white men on elephants, with guns, and hundreds of brown men with gongs and rockets and torches. Then everybody in the jungle suffers. The reason the beasts give among themselves is that Man is the weakest and most defenseless of all living things, and it is unsportsmanlike to touch him. They say too–and it is true –that man-eaters become mangy, and lose their teeth.

The purr grew louder, and ended in the full-throated “Aaarh!” of the tiger’s charge.

Then there was a howl–an untigerish howl–from Shere Khan. “He has missed,” said Mother Wolf. “What is it?”

Father Wolf ran out a few paces and heard Shere Khan muttering and mumbling savagely as he tumbled about in the scrub.

“The fool has had no more sense than to jump at a woodcutter’s campfire, and has burned his feet,” said Father Wolf with a grunt. “Tabaqui is with him.”

“Something is coming uphill,” said Mother Wolf, twitching one ear. “Get ready.”

The bushes rustled a little in the thicket, and Father Wolf dropped with his haunches under him, ready for his leap. Then, if you had been watching, you would have seen the most wonderful thing in the world–the wolf checked in mid-spring. He made his bound before he saw what it was he was jumping at, and then he tried to stop himself. The result was that he shot up straight into the air for four or five feet, landing almost where he left ground.

“Man!” he snapped. “A man’s cub. Look!”

Directly in front of him, holding on by a low branch, stood a naked brown baby who could just walk–as soft and as dimpled a little atom as ever came to a wolf’s cave at night. He looked up into Father Wolf’s face, and laughed.

“Is that a man’s cub?” said Mother Wolf. “I have never seen one. Bring it here.”

A Wolf accustomed to moving his own cubs can, if necessary, mouth an egg without breaking it, and though Father Wolf’s jaws closed right on the child’s back not a tooth even scratched the skin as he laid it down among the cubs.

“How little! How naked, and–how bold!” said Mother Wolf softly. The baby was pushing his way between the cubs to get close to the warm hide. “Ahai! He is taking his meal with the others. And so this is a man’s cub. Now, was there ever a wolf that could boast of a man’s cub among her children?”

“I have heard now and again of such a thing, but never in our Pack or in my time,” said Father Wolf. “He is altogether without hair, and I could kill him with a touch of my foot. But see, he looks up and is not afraid.”

The moonlight was blocked out of the mouth of the cave, for Shere Khan’s great square head and shoulders were thrust into the entrance. Tabaqui, behind him, was squeaking: “My lord, my lord, it went in here!”

“Shere Khan does us great honor,” said Father Wolf, but his eyes were very angry. “What does Shere Khan need?”

“My quarry. A man’s cub went this way,” said Shere Khan. “Its parents have run off. Give it to me.”

Shere Khan had jumped at a woodcutter’s campfire, as Father Wolf had said, and was furious from the pain of his burned feet. But Father Wolf knew that the mouth of the cave was too narrow for a tiger to come in by. Even where he was, Shere Khan’s shoulders and forepaws were cramped for want of room, as a man’s would be if he tried to fight in a barrel.

“The Wolves are a free people,” said Father Wolf. “They take orders from the Head of the Pack, and not from any striped cattle-killer. The man’s cub is ours–to kill if we choose.”

“Ye choose and ye do not choose! What talk is this of choosing? By the bull that I killed, am I to stand nosing into your dog’s den for my fair dues? It is I, Shere Khan, who speak!”

The tiger’s roar filled the cave with thunder. Mother Wolf shook herself clear of the cubs and sprang forward, her eyes, like two green moons in the darkness, facing the blazing eyes of Shere Khan.

“And it is I, Raksha [The Demon], who answers. The man’s cub is mine, Lungri–mine to me! He shall not be killed. He shall live to run with the Pack and to hunt with the Pack; and in the end, look you, hunter of little naked cubs–frog-eater– fish-killer–he shall hunt thee! Now get hence, or by the Sambhur that I killed (I eat no starved cattle), back thou goest to thy mother, burned beast of the jungle, lamer than ever thou camest into the world! Go!”

Father Wolf looked on amazed. He had almost forgotten the days when he won Mother Wolf in fair fight from five other wolves, when she ran in the Pack and was not called The Demon for compliment’s sake. Shere Khan might have faced Father Wolf, but he could not stand up against Mother Wolf, for he knew that where he was she had all the advantage of the ground, and would fight to the death. So he backed out of the cave mouth growling, and when he was clear he shouted:

“Each dog barks in his own yard! We will see what the Pack will say to this fostering of man-cubs. The cub is mine, and to my teeth he will come in the end, O bush-tailed thieves!”

Mother Wolf threw herself down panting among the cubs, and Father Wolf said to her gravely:

“Shere Khan speaks this much truth. The cub must be shown to the Pack. Wilt thou still keep him, Mother?”

“Keep him!” she gasped. “He came naked, by night, alone and very hungry; yet he was not afraid! Look, he has pushed one of my babes to one side already. And that lame butcher would have killed him and would have run off to the Waingunga while the villagers here hunted through all our lairs in revenge! Keep him? Assuredly I will keep him. Lie still, little frog. O thou Mowgli –for Mowgli the Frog I will call thee–the time will come when thou wilt hunt Shere Khan as he has hunted thee.”

“But what will our Pack say?” said Father Wolf.

The Law of the Jungle lays down very clearly that any wolf may, when he marries, withdraw from the Pack he belongs to. But as soon as his cubs are old enough to stand on their feet he must bring them to the Pack Council, which is generally held once a month at full moon, in order that the other wolves may identify them. After that inspection the cubs are free to run where they please, and until they have killed their first buck no excuse is accepted if a grown wolf of the Pack kills one of them. The punishment is death where the murderer can be found; and if you think for a minute you will see that this must be so.

Father Wolf waited till his cubs could run a little, and then on the night of the Pack Meeting took them and Mowgli and Mother Wolf to the Council Rock–a hilltop covered with stones and boulders where a hundred wolves could hide. Akela, the great gray Lone Wolf, who led all the Pack by strength and cunning, lay out at full length on his rock, and below him sat forty or more wolves of every size and color, from badger-colored veterans who could handle a buck alone to young black three-year-olds who thought they could. The Lone Wolf had led them for a year now. He had fallen twice into a wolf trap in his youth, and once he had been beaten and left for dead; so he knew the manners and customs of men. There was very little talking at the Rock. The cubs tumbled over each other in the center of the circle where their mothers and fathers sat, and now and again a senior wolf would go quietly up to a cub, look at him carefully, and return to his place on noiseless feet. Sometimes a mother would push her cub far out into the moonlight to be sure that he had not been overlooked. Akela from his rock would cry: “Ye know the Law–ye know the Law. Look well, O Wolves!” And the anxious mothers would take up the call: “Look–look well, O Wolves!”

At last–and Mother Wolf’s neck bristles lifted as the time came–Father Wolf pushed “Mowgli the Frog,” as they called him, into the center, where he sat laughing and playing with some pebbles that glistened in the moonlight.

Akela never raised his head from his paws, but went on with the monotonous cry: “Look well!” A muffled roar came up from behind the rocks–the voice of Shere Khan crying: “The cub is mine. Give him to me. What have the Free People to do with a man’s cub?” Akela never even twitched his ears. All he said was: “Look well, O Wolves! What have the Free People to do with the orders of any save the Free People? Look well!”

There was a chorus of deep growls, and a young wolf in his fourth year flung back Shere Khan’s question to Akela: “What have the Free People to do with a man’s cub?” Now, the Law of the Jungle lays down that if there is any dispute as to the right of a cub to be accepted by the Pack, he must be spoken for by at least two members of the Pack who are not his father and mother.

“Who speaks for this cub?” said Akela. “Among the Free People who speaks?” There was no answer and Mother Wolf got ready for what she knew would be her last fight, if things came to fighting.

Then the only other creature who is allowed at the Pack Council–Baloo, the sleepy brown bear who teaches the wolf cubs the Law of the Jungle: old Baloo, who can come and go where he pleases because he eats only nuts and roots and honey–rose upon his hind quarters and grunted.

“The man’s cub–the man’s cub?” he said. “I speak for the man’s cub. There is no harm in a man’s cub. I have no gift of words, but I speak the truth. Let him run with the Pack, and be entered with the others. I myself will teach him.”

“We need yet another,” said Akela. “Baloo has spoken, and he is our teacher for the young cubs. Who speaks besides Baloo?”

A black shadow dropped down into the circle. It was Bagheera the Black Panther, inky black all over, but with the panther markings showing up in certain lights like the pattern of watered silk. Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down.

“O Akela, and ye the Free People,” he purred, “I have no right in your assembly, but the Law of the Jungle says that if there is a doubt which is not a killing matter in regard to a new cub, the life of that cub may be bought at a price. And the Law does not say who may or may not pay that price. Am I right?”

“Good! Good!” said the young wolves, who are always hungry. “Listen to Bagheera. The cub can be bought for a price. It is the Law.”

“Knowing that I have no right to speak here, I ask your leave.”

“Speak then,” cried twenty voices.

“To kill a naked cub is shame. Besides, he may make better sport for you when he is grown. Baloo has spoken in his behalf. Now to Baloo’s word I will add one bull, and a fat one, newly killed, not half a mile from here, if ye will accept the man’s cub according to the Law. Is it difficult?”

There was a clamor of scores of voices, saying: “What matter? He will die in the winter rains. He will scorch in the sun. What harm can a naked frog do us? Let him run with the Pack. Where is the bull, Bagheera? Let him be accepted.” And then came Akela’s deep bay, crying: “Look well–look well, O Wolves!”

Mowgli was still deeply interested in the pebbles, and he did not notice when the wolves came and looked at him one by one. At last they all went down the hill for the dead bull, and only Akela, Bagheera, Baloo, and Mowgli’s own wolves were left. Shere Khan roared still in the night, for he was very angry that Mowgli had not been handed over to him.

“Ay, roar well,” said Bagheera, under his whiskers, “for the time will come when this naked thing will make thee roar to another tune, or I know nothing of man.”

“It was well done,” said Akela. “Men and their cubs are very wise. He may be a help in time.”

“Truly, a help in time of need; for none can hope to lead the Pack forever,” said Bagheera.

Akela said nothing. He was thinking of the time that comes to every leader of every pack when his strength goes from him and he gets feebler and feebler, till at last he is killed by the wolves and a new leader comes up–to be killed in his turn.

“Take him away,” he said to Father Wolf, “and train him as befits one of the Free People.”

And that is how Mowgli was entered into the Seeonee Wolf Pack for the price of a bull and on Baloo’s good word.

Now you must be content to skip ten or eleven whole years, and only guess at all the wonderful life that Mowgli led among the wolves, because if it were written out it would fill ever so many books. He grew up with the cubs, though they, of course, were grown wolves almost before he was a child. And Father Wolf taught him his business, and the meaning of things in the jungle, till every rustle in the grass, every breath of the warm night air, every note of the owls above his head, every scratch of a bat’s claws as it roosted for a while in a tree, and every splash of every little fish jumping in a pool meant just as much to him as the work of his office means to a business man. When he was not learning he sat out in the sun and slept, and ate and went to sleep again. When he felt dirty or hot he swam in the forest pools; and when he wanted honey (Baloo told him that honey and nuts were just as pleasant to eat as raw meat) he climbed up for it, and that Bagheera showed him how to do. Bagheera would lie out on a branch and call, “Come along, Little Brother,” and at first Mowgli would cling like the sloth, but afterward he would fling himself through the branches almost as boldly as the gray ape. He took his place at the Council Rock, too, when the Pack met, and there he discovered that if he stared hard at any wolf, the wolf would be forced to drop his eyes, and so he used to stare for fun. At other times he would pick the long thorns out of the pads of his friends, for wolves suffer terribly from thorns and burs in their coats. He would go down the hillside into the cultivated lands by night, and look very curiously at the villagers in their huts, but he had a mistrust of men because Bagheera showed him a square box with a drop gate so cunningly hidden in the jungle that he nearly walked into it, and told him that it was a trap. He loved better than anything else to go with Bagheera into the dark warm heart of the forest, to sleep all through the drowsy day, and at night see how Bagheera did his killing. Bagheera killed right and left as he felt hungry, and so did Mowgli–with one exception. As soon as he was old enough to understand things, Bagheera told him that he must never touch cattle because he had been bought into the Pack at the price of a bull’s life. “All the jungle is thine,” said Bagheera, “and thou canst kill everything that thou art strong enough to kill; but for the sake of the bull that bought thee thou must never kill or eat any cattle young or old. That is the Law of the Jungle.” Mowgli obeyed faithfully.

And he grew and grew strong as a boy must grow who does not know that he is learning any lessons, and who has nothing in the world to think of except things to eat.

Mother Wolf told him once or twice that Shere Khan was not a creature to be trusted, and that some day he must kill Shere Khan. But though a young wolf would have remembered that advice every hour, Mowgli forgot it because he was only a boy–though he would have called himself a wolf if he had been able to speak in any human tongue.

Shere Khan was always crossing his path in the jungle, for as Akela grew older and feebler the lame tiger had come to be great friends with the younger wolves of the Pack, who followed him for scraps, a thing Akela would never have allowed if he had dared to push his authority to the proper bounds. Then Shere Khan would flatter them and wonder that such fine young hunters were content to be led by a dying wolf and a man’s cub. “They tell me,” Shere Khan would say, “that at Council ye dare not look him between the eyes.” And the young wolves would growl and bristle.

Bagheera, who had eyes and ears everywhere, knew something of this, and once or twice he told Mowgli in so many words that Shere Khan would kill him some day. Mowgli would laugh and answer: “I have the Pack and I have thee; and Baloo, though he is so lazy, might strike a blow or two for my sake. Why should I be afraid?”

It was one very warm day that a new notion came to Bagheera– born of something that he had heard. Perhaps Ikki the Porcupine had told him; but he said to Mowgli when they were deep in the jungle, as the boy lay with his head on Bagheera’s beautiful black skin, “Little Brother, how often have I told thee that Shere Khan is thy enemy?”

“As many times as there are nuts on that palm,” said Mowgli, who, naturally, could not count. “What of it? I am sleepy, Bagheera, and Shere Khan is all long tail and loud talk–like Mao, the Peacock.”

“But this is no time for sleeping. Baloo knows it; I know it; the Pack know it; and even the foolish, foolish deer know. Tabaqui has told thee too.”

“Ho! ho!” said Mowgli. “Tabaqui came to me not long ago with some rude talk that I was a naked man’s cub and not fit to dig pig-nuts. But I caught Tabaqui by the tail and swung him twice against a palm-tree to teach him better manners.”

“That was foolishness, for though Tabaqui is a mischief-maker, he would have told thee of something that concerned thee closely. Open those eyes, Little Brother. Shere Khan dare not kill thee in the jungle. But remember, Akela is very old, and soon the day comes when he cannot kill his buck, and then he will be leader no more. Many of the wolves that looked thee over when thou wast brought to the Council first are old too, and the young wolves believe, as Shere Khan has taught them, that a man-cub has no place with the Pack. In a little time thou wilt be a man.”

“And what is a man that he should not run with his brothers?” said Mowgli. “I was born in the jungle. I have obeyed the Law of the Jungle, and there is no wolf of ours from whose paws I have not pulled a thorn. Surely they are my brothers!”

Bagheera stretched himself at full length and half shut his eyes. “Little Brother,” said he, “feel under my jaw.”

Mowgli put up his strong brown hand, and just under Bagheera’s silky chin, where the giant rolling muscles were all hid by the glossy hair, he came upon a little bald spot.

“There is no one in the jungle that knows that I, Bagheera, carry that mark–the mark of the collar; and yet, Little Brother, I was born among men, and it was among men that my mother died–in the cages of the king’s palace at Oodeypore. It was because of this that I paid the price for thee at the Council when thou wast a little naked cub. Yes, I too was born among men. I had never seen the jungle. They fed me behind bars from an iron pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera–the Panther– and no man’s plaything, and I broke the silly lock with one blow of my paw and came away. And because I had learned the ways of men, I became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan. Is it not so?”

“Yes,” said Mowgli, “all the jungle fear Bagheera–all except Mowgli.”

“Oh, thou art a man’s cub,” said the Black Panther very tenderly. “And even as I returned to my jungle, so thou must go back to men at last–to the men who are thy brothers–if thou art not killed in the Council.”

“But why–but why should any wish to kill me?” said Mowgli.

“Look at me,” said Bagheera. And Mowgli looked at him steadily between the eyes. The big panther turned his head away in half a minute.

“That is why,” he said, shifting his paw on the leaves. “Not even I can look thee between the eyes, and I was born among men, and I love thee, Little Brother. The others they hate thee because their eyes cannot meet thine; because thou art wise; because thou hast pulled out thorns from their feet–because thou art a man.”

“I did not know these things,” said Mowgli sullenly, and he frowned under his heavy black eyebrows.

“What is the Law of the Jungle? Strike first and then give tongue. By thy very carelessness they know that thou art a man. But be wise. It is in my heart that when Akela misses his next kill–and at each hunt it costs him more to pin the buck–the Pack will turn against him and against thee. They will hold a jungle Council at the Rock, and then–and then–I have it!” said Bagheera, leaping up. “Go thou down quickly to the men’s huts in the valley, and take some of the Red Flower which they grow there, so that when the time comes thou mayest have even a stronger friend than I or Baloo or those of the Pack that love thee. Get the Red Flower.”

By Red Flower Bagheera meant fire, only no creature in the jungle will call fire by its proper name. Every beast lives in deadly fear of it, and invents a hundred ways of describing it.

“The Red Flower?” said Mowgli. “That grows outside their huts in the twilight. I will get some.”

“There speaks the man’s cub,” said Bagheera proudly. “Remember that it grows in little pots. Get one swiftly, and keep it by thee for time of need.”

“Good!” said Mowgli. “I go. But art thou sure, O my Bagheera”–he slipped his arm around the splendid neck and looked deep into the big eyes–“art thou sure that all this is Shere Khan’s doing?”

“By the Broken Lock that freed me, I am sure, Little Brother.”

“Then, by the Bull that bought me, I will pay Shere Khan full tale for this, and it may be a little over,” said Mowgli, and he bounded away.

“That is a man. That is all a man,” said Bagheera to himself, lying down again. “Oh, Shere Khan, never was a blacker hunting than that frog-hunt of thine ten years ago!”

Mowgli was far and far through the forest, running hard, and his heart was hot in him. He came to the cave as the evening mist rose, and drew breath, and looked down the valley. The cubs were out, but Mother Wolf, at the back of the cave, knew by his breathing that something was troubling her frog.

“What is it, Son?” she said.

“Some bat’s chatter of Shere Khan,” he called back. “I hunt among the plowed fields tonight,” and he plunged downward through the bushes, to the stream at the bottom of the valley. There he checked, for he heard the yell of the Pack hunting, heard the bellow of a hunted Sambhur, and the snort as the buck turned at bay. Then there were wicked, bitter howls from the young wolves: “Akela! Akela! Let the Lone Wolf show his strength. Room for the leader of the Pack! Spring, Akela!”

The Lone Wolf must have sprung and missed his hold, for Mowgli heard the snap of his teeth and then a yelp as the Sambhur knocked him over with his forefoot.

He did not wait for anything more, but dashed on; and the yells grew fainter behind him as he ran into the croplands where the villagers lived.

“Bagheera spoke truth,” he panted, as he nestled down in some cattle fodder by the window of a hut. “To-morrow is one day both for Akela and for me.”

Then he pressed his face close to the window and watched the fire on the hearth. He saw the husbandman’s wife get up and feed it in the night with black lumps. And when the morning came and the mists were all white and cold, he saw the man’s child pick up a wicker pot plastered inside with earth, fill it with lumps of red-hot charcoal, put it under his blanket, and go out to tend the cows in the byre.

“Is that all?” said Mowgli. “If a cub can do it, there is nothing to fear.” So he strode round the corner and met the boy, took the pot from his hand, and disappeared into the mist while the boy howled with fear.

“They are very like me,” said Mowgli, blowing into the pot as he had seen the woman do. “This thing will die if I do not give it things to eat”; and he dropped twigs and dried bark on the red stuff. Halfway up the hill he met Bagheera with the morning dew shining like moonstones on his coat.

“Akela has missed,” said the Panther. “They would have killed him last night, but they needed thee also. They were looking for thee on the hill.”

“I was among the plowed lands. I am ready. See!” Mowgli held up the fire-pot.

“Good! Now, I have seen men thrust a dry branch into that stuff, and presently the Red Flower blossomed at the end of it. Art thou not afraid?”

“No. Why should I fear? I remember now–if it is not a dream–how, before I was a Wolf, I lay beside the Red Flower, and it was warm and pleasant.”

All that day Mowgli sat in the cave tending his fire pot and dipping dry branches into it to see how they looked. He found a branch that satisfied him, and in the evening when Tabaqui came to the cave and told him rudely enough that he was wanted at the Council Rock, he laughed till Tabaqui ran away. Then Mowgli went to the Council, still laughing.

Akela the Lone Wolf lay by the side of his rock as a sign that the leadership of the Pack was open, and Shere Khan with his following of scrap-fed wolves walked to and fro openly being flattered. Bagheera lay close to Mowgli, and the fire pot was between Mowgli’s knees. When they were all gathered together, Shere Khan began to speak–a thing he would never have dared to do when Akela was in his prime.

“He has no right,” whispered Bagheera. “Say so. He is a dog’s son. He will be frightened.”

Mowgli sprang to his feet. “Free People,” he cried, “does Shere Khan lead the Pack? What has a tiger to do with our leadership?”

“Seeing that the leadership is yet open, and being asked to speak–” Shere Khan began.

“By whom?” said Mowgli. “Are we all jackals, to fawn on this cattle butcher? The leadership of the Pack is with the Pack alone.”

There were yells of “Silence, thou man’s cub!” “Let him speak. He has kept our Law”; and at last the seniors of the Pack thundered: “Let the Dead Wolf speak.” When a leader of the Pack has missed his kill, he is called the Dead Wolf as long as he lives, which is not long.

Akela raised his old head wearily:–

“Free People, and ye too, jackals of Shere Khan, for twelve seasons I have led ye to and from the kill, and in all that time not one has been trapped or maimed. Now I have missed my kill. Ye know how that plot was made. Ye know how ye brought me up to an untried buck to make my weakness known. It was cleverly done. Your right is to kill me here on the Council Rock, now. Therefore, I ask, who comes to make an end of the Lone Wolf? For it is my right, by the Law of the Jungle, that ye come one by one.”

There was a long hush, for no single wolf cared to fight Akela to the death. Then Shere Khan roared: “Bah! What have we to do with this toothless fool? He is doomed to die! It is the man-cub who has lived too long. Free People, he was my meat from the first. Give him to me. I am weary of this man-wolf folly. He has troubled the jungle for ten seasons. Give me the man-cub, or I will hunt here always, and not give you one bone. He is a man, a man’s child, and from the marrow of my bones I hate him!”

Then more than half the Pack yelled: “A man! A man! What has a man to do with us? Let him go to his own place.”

“And turn all the people of the villages against us?” clamored Shere Khan. “No, give him to me. He is a man, and none of us can look him between the eyes.”

Akela lifted his head again and said, “He has eaten our food. He has slept with us. He has driven game for us. He has broken no word of the Law of the Jungle.”

“Also, I paid for him with a bull when he was accepted. The worth of a bull is little, but Bagheera’s honor is something that he will perhaps fight for,” said Bagheera in his gentlest voice.

“A bull paid ten years ago!” the Pack snarled. “What do we care for bones ten years old?”

“Or for a pledge?” said Bagheera, his white teeth bared under his lip. “Well are ye called the Free People!”

“No man’s cub can run with the people of the jungle,” howled Shere Khan. “Give him to me!”

“He is our brother in all but blood,” Akela went on, “and ye would kill him here! In truth, I have lived too long. Some of ye are eaters of cattle, and of others I have heard that, under Shere Khan’s teaching, ye go by dark night and snatch children from the villager’s doorstep. Therefore I know ye to be cowards, and it is to cowards I speak. It is certain that I must die, and my life is of no worth, or I would offer that in the man-cub’s place. But for the sake of the Honor of the Pack,–a little matter that by being without a leader ye have forgotten,–I promise that if ye let the man-cub go to his own place, I will not, when my time comes to die, bare one tooth against ye. I will die without fighting. That will at least save the Pack three lives. More I cannot do; but if ye will, I can save ye the shame that comes of killing a brother against whom there is no fault–a brother spoken for and bought into the Pack according to the Law of the Jungle.”

“He is a man–a man–a man!” snarled the Pack. And most of the wolves began to gather round Shere Khan, whose tail was beginning to switch.

“Now the business is in thy hands,” said Bagheera to Mowgli. “We can do no more except fight.”

Mowgli stood upright–the fire pot in his hands. Then he stretched out his arms, and yawned in the face of the Council; but he was furious with rage and sorrow, for, wolflike, the wolves had never told him how they hated him. “Listen you!” he cried. “There is no need for this dog’s jabber. Ye have told me so often tonight that I am a man (and indeed I would have been a wolf with you to my life’s end) that I feel your words are true. So I do not call ye my brothers any more, but sag [dogs], as a man should. What ye will do, and what ye will not do, is not yours to say. That matter is with me; and that we may see the matter more plainly, I, the man, have brought here a little of the Red Flower which ye, dogs, fear.”

He flung the fire pot on the ground, and some of the red coals lit a tuft of dried moss that flared up, as all the Council drew back in terror before the leaping flames.

Mowgli thrust his dead branch into the fire till the twigs lit and crackled, and whirled it above his head among the cowering wolves.

“Thou art the master,” said Bagheera in an undertone. “Save Akela from the death. He was ever thy friend.”

Akela, the grim old wolf who had never asked for mercy in his life, gave one piteous look at Mowgli as the boy stood all naked, his long black hair tossing over his shoulders in the light of the blazing branch that made the shadows jump and quiver.

“Good!” said Mowgli, staring round slowly. “I see that ye are dogs. I go from you to my own people–if they be my own people. The jungle is shut to me, and I must forget your talk and your companionship. But I will be more merciful than ye are. Because I was all but your brother in blood, I promise that when I am a man among men I will not betray ye to men as ye have betrayed me.” He kicked the fire with his foot, and the sparks flew up. “There shall be no war between any of us in the Pack. But here is a debt to pay before I go.” He strode forward to where Shere Khan sat blinking stupidly at the flames, and caught him by the tuft on his chin. Bagheera followed in case of accidents. “Up, dog!” Mowgli cried. “Up, when a man speaks, or I will set that coat ablaze!”

Shere Khan’s ears lay flat back on his head, and he shut his eyes, for the blazing branch was very near.

“This cattle-killer said he would kill me in the Council because he had not killed me when I was a cub. Thus and thus, then, do we beat dogs when we are men. Stir a whisker, Lungri, and I ram the Red Flower down thy gullet!” He beat Shere Khan over the head with the branch, and the tiger whimpered and whined in an agony of fear.

“Pah! Singed jungle cat–go now! But remember when next I come to the Council Rock, as a man should come, it will be with Shere Khan’s hide on my head. For the rest, Akela goes free to live as he pleases. Ye will not kill him, because that is not my will. Nor do I think that ye will sit here any longer, lolling out your tongues as though ye were somebodies, instead of dogs whom I drive out–thus! Go!” The fire was burning furiously at the end of the branch, and Mowgli struck right and left round the circle, and the wolves ran howling with the sparks burning their fur. At last there were only Akela, Bagheera, and perhaps ten wolves that had taken Mowgli’s part. Then something began to hurt Mowgli inside him, as he had never been hurt in his life before, and he caught his breath and sobbed, and the tears ran down his face.

“What is it? What is it?” he said. “I do not wish to leave the jungle, and I do not know what this is. Am I dying, Bagheera?”

“No, Little Brother. That is only tears such as men use,” said Bagheera. “Now I know thou art a man, and a man’s cub no longer. The jungle is shut indeed to thee henceforward. Let them fall, Mowgli. They are only tears.” So Mowgli sat and cried as though his heart would break; and he had never cried in all his life before.

“Now,” he said, “I will go to men. But first I must say farewell to my mother.” And he went to the cave where she lived with Father Wolf, and he cried on her coat, while the four cubs howled miserably.

“Ye will not forget me?” said Mowgli.

“Never while we can follow a trail,” said the cubs. “Come to the foot of the hill when thou art a man, and we will talk to thee; and we will come into the croplands to play with thee by night.”

“Come soon!” said Father Wolf. “Oh, wise little frog, come again soon; for we be old, thy mother and I.”

“Come soon,” said Mother Wolf, “little naked son of mine. For, listen, child of man, I loved thee more than ever I loved my cubs.”

“I will surely come,” said Mowgli. “And when I come it will be to lay out Shere Khan’s hide upon the Council Rock. Do not forget me! Tell them in the jungle never to forget me!”

The dawn was beginning to break when Mowgli went down the hillside alone, to meet those mysterious things that are called men.

I decided to switch it up today with a story from The Jungle Books. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to Grimm’s and HCA really soon. I also plan on putting up some stories from The Arabian Nights eventually. I hope you enjoyed Mowgli’s Brothers and  follow this blog (if you’re not already) for more folk tales/fairy tales and updates on my new book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I: Destined (launching June 21st)! I update this blog every Wednesday and Saturday so be sure to check back here for new posts!

Hans Christian Andersen’s “Little Ida’s Flowers”

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“MY poor flowers are quite dead,” said little Ida. “They were so pretty last evening, but now every leaf has withered and drooped. Why do they do that?” she asked the student who sat on the sofa.

She was very fond of him because he told such good stories and could cut such amusing figures out of paper-hearts with dancing ladies inside them, flowers of all sorts, and castles with doors that you could open and close. He was a rollicking fellow.

“Why do my flowers look so ill today?” she asked him again, and showed him her withered bouquet.

“Don’t you know what’s the matter with them?” the student said. “They were at the ball last night, that’s why they can scarcely hold up their heads.”

“Flowers can’t dance,” said little Ida.

“Oh, indeed they can,” said the student. “As soon as it gets dark and we go to sleep, they frolic about in a fine fashion. Almost every night they give a ball.”

“Can’t children go to the ball?”

“Little daisies can go. So can lilies of the valley.”

“Where do the prettiest flowers dance?” Ida asked.

“Haven’t you often visited the beautiful flower garden just outside of town, around the castle where the King lives in the summertime? You remember-the place where swans swim close when you offer them bread crumbs. Believe me! that’s where the prettiest flowers dance.”

“Yesterday I was there with my mother,” said Ida, “but there wasn’t a leaf on the trees, or a flower left. Where are they? Last summer I saw ever so many.”

“They are inside the castle, of course,” said the student. “Confidentially, just as soon as the King comes back to town with all of his court, the flowers run from the garden into the castle and enjoy themselves. You should see them. The two loveliest roses climb up on the throne, where they are the king and the queen. All the red coxcombs line up on either side, to stand and bow like grooms of the bedchamber. Then all the best dressed flowers come, and the grand ball starts. The blue violets are the naval cadets. Their partners, whom they call ‘Miss,’ are hyacinths and crocuses. The tulips and tiger lilies are the old chaperones, who see to it that the dancing is done well and that everyone behaves properly.”

“But”, said little Ida, “doesn’t anybody punish the flowers for dancing in the King’s own castle?”

“Nobody knows a thing about it,” said the student. “To be sure, there’s the old castle keeper, who is there to watch over things. Sometimes he comes in the night with his enormous bunch of keys. But as soon as the flowers hear the keys jangle they keep quiet, and hide, with only their heads peeking out from behind the curtains. Then the old castle keeper says, ‘I smell flowers in here.’ But he can’t see any.”

“What fun!” little Ida clapped her hands. “But couldn’t I see the flowers either?”

“Oh easily,” said the student. “The very next time you go there, remember to peep in the windows. There you will see them, as I did today. A tall yellow lily lay stretched on the sofa, pretending to be a lady-in-waiting.”

Can the flowers who live in the botanical gardens visit the castle? Can they go that far?”

“Why certainly. They can fly all the way if it suits them. Haven’t you seen lovely butterflies-white, yellow, and red ones? They almost look like flowers, and that’s really what they used to be. They are flowers, who have jumped up off their stems, high into the air. They beat the air with their petals, as though these were little wings, and so they manage to fly. If they behave themselves nicely, they get permission to fly all day long, instead of having to go home and sit on their stems. In time their petals turn into real wings. You’ve seen them yourself. However, it’s quite possible that the botanical garden flowers have never been to the King’s castle and don’t know anything about the fun that goes on there almost every night. Therefore I’ll tell you how to arrange a surprise for the botanical professor. You know the one I mean-he lives quite near here. Well, the next time you go to the garden, tell one of his flowers that they are having a great ball in the castle. One flower will tell the others, and off they’ll fly. When the professor comes out in the garden not one flower will he find, and where they’ve all gone he will never be able to guess.”

“How can a flower tell the others?” You know flowers can’t speak.”

“They can’t speak,” the student agreed, “but they can signal. Haven’t you noticed that whenever the breeze blows the flowers nod to one another, and make signs with their leaves. Why, it’s as plain as talk.”

“Can the professor understand their signs?”

“Certainly he can. One morning he came into his garden and saw a big stinging nettle leaf signaling to a glorious red carnation, ‘You are so beautiful, and I love you so much.’ But the professor didn’t like that kind of thing, so he slapped the nettle’s leaves, for they are its fingers. He was stung so badly that he hasn’t laid hands on a stinging nettle since.”

“Oh, how jolly!” little Ida laughed.

“How can anyone stuff a child’s head with such nonsense?” said the prosy councilor, who had come to call and sit on the sofa too. He didn’t like the student a bit. He always grumbled when he saw the student cut out those strange, amusing pictures-sometimes a man hanging from the gallows and holding a heart in his hand to show that he had stolen people’s hearts away; sometimes an old witch riding a broomstick and balancing her husband on her nose. The councilor highly disapproved of those, and he would say as he said now, ” How can anyone stuff a child’s head with such nonsense-such stupid fantasy?”

But to little Ida, what the student told her about flowers was marvelously amusing, and she kept right on thinking about it. Her flowers couldn’t hold their heads up, because they were tired out from dancing all night. Why they must be ill. She took them to where she kept her toys on a nice little table, with a whole drawer full of pretty things. Her doll, Sophie, lay asleep in the doll’s bed, but little Ida told her:

“Sophie, you’ll really have to get up, and be satisfied to sleep in the drawer tonight, because my poor flowers are ill. Maybe, if I let them sleep in your bed tonight, they will get well again.”

When she took the doll up, Sophie looked as cross as could be, and didn’t say a word. She was sulky because she couldn’t keep her own bed.

Ida put the flowers to bed, and tucked the little covers around them. She told them to be good and lie still, while she made them some tea, so that they would get well and be up and about tomorrow. She carefully drew the curtains around the little bed, so the morning sun would not shine in their faces.

All evening long she kept thinking of what the student had said, before she climbed into bed herself. She peeped through the window curtains at the fine potted plants that belonged to her mother-hyacinths and tulips, too. She whispered very softly, “I know you are going to the ball tonight.”

But the flowers pretended not to understand her. They didn’t move a leaf. But little Ida knew all about them.

After she was in bed, she lay there for a long while thinking how pleasant it must be to see the flowers dance in the King’s castle. “Were my flowers really there?” she wondered. Then she fell asleep. When she woke up again in the night, she had been dreaming of the flowers, and of the student, and of the prosy councilor who had scolded him and had said it was all silly nonsense. It was very still in the bedroom where Ida was. The night lamp glowed on the table, and Ida’s mother and father were asleep.

“Are my flowers still asleep in Sophie’s bed?” Ida wondered. “That’s what I’d like to know.”

She lifted herself a little higher on her pillow, and looked towards the door which stood half open. In there were her flowers and all her toys. She listened, and it seemed to her that someone was playing the piano, very softly and more beautifully than she had ever heard it played.

“I’m perfectly sure that those flowers are all dancing,” she said to herself. “Oh, my goodness, wouldn’t I love to see them.” But she did not dare get up, because that might awaken her father and mother.

“I do wish the flowers would come in here!” she thought. But they didn’t. The music kept playing, and it sounded so lovely that she couldn’t stay in bed another minute. She tiptoed to the door, and peeped into the next room. Oh, how funny-what a sight she saw there!

No night lamp burned in the next room, but it was well lighted just the same. The moonlight streamed through the window, upon the middle of the floor, and it was almost as bright as day. The hyacinths and the tulips lined up in two long rows across the floor. Not one was left by the window. The flowerpots stood there empty, while the flowers danced gracefully around the room, making a complete chain and holding each other by their long green leaves as they swung around.

At the piano sat a tall yellow lily. Little Ida remembered it from last summer, because the student had sad, “Doesn’t that lily look just like Miss Line?” Everyone had laughed at the time, but now little Ida noticed that there was a most striking resemblance. When the lily played it had the very same mannerisms as the young lady, sometimes bending its long, yellow face to one side, sometimes to the other, and nodding in time with the lovely music.

No one suspected that little Ida was there. She saw a nimble blue crocus jump up on the table where her toys were, go straight to the doll’s bed, and throw back the curtains. The sick flowers lay there, but they got up at once, and nodded down to the others that they also wanted to dance. The old chimney-sweep doll, whose lower lip was broken, rose and made a bow to the pretty flowers. They looked quite themselves again as they jumped down to join the others and have a good time.

It seemed as if something clattered off the table. Little Ida looked, and saw that the birch wand, that had been left over from Mardigras time, was jumping down as if he thought he were a flower too. The wand did cut quite a flowery figure, with his paper rosettes and, to top him off, a little wax figure who had a broad trimmed hat just like the one that the councilor wore.

The wand skipped about on his three red wooden legs, and stamped them as hard as he could, for he was dancing the mazurka. The flowers could not dance it, because they were too light to stamp as he did.

All of a sudden, the wax figure grew tall and important. He whirled around to the paper flowers beside him, and said, “How can anyone stuff a child’s head with such nonsense-such stupid fantasy?” At that moment he was a perfect image of the big-hatted councilor, just as sallow and quite as cross. But the paper flowers hit back. They struck his thin shanks until he crumpled up into a very small wax manikin. The change was so ridiculous that little Ida could not keep from laughing.

Wherever the sceptered wand danced the councilor had to dance too, whether he made himself tall and important or remained a little wax figure in a big black hat. The real flowers put in a kind word for him, especially those who had lain ill in the doll’s bed, and the birch wand let him rest.

Just then they heard a loud knocking in the drawer where Ida’s doll, Sophie, lay with the other toys. The chimney-sweep rushed to the edge of the table, lay flat on his stomach and managed to pull the drawer out a little way. Sophie sat up and looked around her, most surprised.

“Why, they are having a ball!” she said “Why hasn’t somebody told me about it?”

“Won’t you dance with me?” the chimney-sweep asked her.

“A fine partner you’d be!” she said, and turned her back on him.

She sat on the edge of the drawer, hoping one of the flowers would ask her to dance, but not one of them did, She coughed, “Hm, hm, hm!” and still not one of them asked her. To make matters worse, the chimney-sweep had gone off dancing by himself, which he did pretty well.

As none of the flowers paid the least attention to Sophie, she let herself tumble from the drawer to the floor with a bang. Now the flowers all came running to ask, “Did you hurt yourself?” They were very polite to her, especially those who had slept in her bed. But she wasn’t hurt a bit. Ida’s flowers thanked her for the use of her nice bed, and treated her well. They took her out in the middle of the floor, where the moon shone, and danced with her while all the other flowers made a circle around them. Sophie wasn’t at all cross now. She said they might keep her bed. She didn’t in the least mind sleeping in the drawer.

But the flowers said, “Thank you, no. We can’t live long enough to keep your bed. Tomorrow we shall be dead. Tell little Ida to bury us in the garden, next to her canary bird’s grave. Then we shall come up again next summer, more beautiful than ever.”

“Oh, you mustn’t die,” Sophie said, and kissed all the flowers.

Then the drawing room door opened, and many more splendid flowers tripped in. Ida couldn’t imagine where they had come from, unless – why, they must have come straight from the King’s castle. First came two magnificent roses, wearing little gold crowns. These were the king and the queen. Then. Then came charming gillyflowers and carnations, who greeted everybody. They brought the musicians along. Large poppies and peonies blew upon pea pods until they were red in the face. Blue hyacinths and little snowdrops tinkled their bells. It was such funny music. Many other flowers followed them, and they all danced together, blue violets with pink primroses, and daisies with the lilies of the valley.

All the flowers kissed one another, and that was very pretty to look at. When the time came to say good night, little Ida sneaked back to bed too, where she dreamed of all she had seen.

As soon as it was morning, she hurried to her little table to see if her flowers were still there. She threw back the curtain around the bed. Yes, they were there, but they were even more faded than yesterday. Sophie was lying in the drawer where Ida had put her. She looked quite sleepy.

“Do you remember what you were to tell me?” little Ida asked.

But Sophie just looked stupid, and didn’t say one word.

“You are no good at all,” Ida told her. “And to think how nice they were to you, and how all of them danced with you.”

She opened a little pasteboard box, nicely decorated with pictures of birds, and laid the dead flowers in it.

“This will be your pretty coffin,” she told them. “When my cousins from Norway come to visit us, they will help me bury you in the garden, so that you may come up again next summer and be more beautiful than ever.”

Her Norwegian cousins were two pleasant boys named Jonas and Adolph. Their father had given them two new crossbows, which they brought with them for Ida to see. She told them how her poor flowers had died, and they got permission to hold a funeral. The boys marched first, with their crossbows on their shoulders. Little Ida followed, with her dead flowers in their nice box. In the garden they dug a little grave. Ida first kissed the flowers, and then she closed the box and laid it in the earth. Adolph and Jonas shot their crossbows over the grave, for they had no guns or cannons.

Can’t get enough fairy tales? For more fairy tales and information on my new book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. I Destined, follow this blog (I update it every Wednesday and Saturday)!