He had it proclaimed: "Whoever keeps watch three nights in my old castle shall have the princess as his wife."
Now there was a young fellow, poor by birth, who thought: "I will risk my life for that. I have nothing to lose, but much to win. It's not worth a second thought!"
So he he presented himself before the king and offered to keep watch in the castle for three nights.
"You may take something with you to the castle, but only things not alive," said the king.
"So I ask for a woodcarver's bench with a carving knife, a lathe, and a fire."
These things were taken into the old castle for him. He himself went inside as it was beginning to get dark. At first everything was quiet inside. He lit his fire, put the carving knife next to the woodcarver's bench, and sat down on the lathe.
Around midnight it started to get noisey -- first gently, then louder and louder: bif! baf! heyhey! holla ho! It got worse and worse, then it quieted down a little. Then a bone came down the chimney and stood up straight in front of him.
"Hey there!" shouted the boy. "Send some more. One isn't enough."
The noise started up again. Then another bone fell down, and another, and so on until there were nine.
"Now that's enough for a bowling game, but the balls are still missing. Come on!"
There was a terrible roar and two skulls fall down. He put them in the lathe and turned them round.
"Now you'll roll straight!"
Then he evened up the bones and set them up like bowling pins.
"Hey! Let's have some fun!"
Then came two big black cats came in. They walked around the fire, crying out: "Oh! Meow! We're freezing! We're freezing!"
"You fools, why are you screaming? Sit by the fire and get warm."
When the cats had warmed themselves, they said: "Comrade! we want to play cards with you."
"Yes," he answered, "but show me your paws. Your nails are so long that first I want to cut them off for you."
With that he grabbed them by their necks and lifted them onto the woodcarver's bench where he clamped them tight and struck them dead. Then he carried them out and threw them into a small pond just outside of the castle.
After putting them to rest he wanted to sit down by the fire and and warm himself. But then many black cats and dogs came from every corner. More and more of them came until that he could no longer hide. They cried out, then stepped on his fire and tore it apart, putting it out altogether.
Then he grabbed his carving knife and struck out at them.
"Away, you rabble!" and attacked them with the knife. Many of them ran away. He struck the others dead and carried them out into the pond.
Then he blew on a spark, brought the fire back to life again, and warmed himself.
After warming himself he felt tired, so he lay down in a big bed that was in the corner. He was about to fall asleep when the bed began to move around the whole castle.
"Not bad, but it could be better!" he said.
Then the bed sped off as if six horses were pulling it. It drove over thresholds and stairs. It jumped about hop! hop! then turned itself upside down with him underneath.
With that he threw blankets and pillows in the air and climbed out.
"Anyone who wants to can have the next ride!"
Then he lay down by the fire and slept until daybreak.
In the morning the king came, and when he saw the young lad lying there asleep, he thought he was dead. He said that he was sorry for the boy. These words awakened the boy. He got up when he saw the king, who asked him how things had gone during the night.
"Very well! The one had passed by, and the other two would pass by as well."
The other nights went the same way, for he now knew what to do, and on the fourth day the king's beautiful daughter was given to him.
Now when something had to be done, it was always the oldest son who had to do it. However, if the father asked him fetch anything when it was late, or even worse, at night, and if the way led through the churchyard or some other spooky place, he would always answer, "Oh, no, father, I won't go there. It makes me shudder!" For he was afraid.
In the evening by the fire when stories were told that made one's flesh creep, the listeners sometimes said, "Oh, that makes me shudder!" The youngest son would sit in a corner and listen with the others, but he could not imagine what they meant.
"They are always saying, 'It makes me shudder! It makes me shudder!' It does not make me shudder. That too must be a skill that I do not understand."
Now it happened that one day his father said to him, "Listen, you there in the corner. You are getting big and strong. You too will have to learn something by which you can earn your bread. See how your brother puts himself out, but there seems to be no hope for you."
"Well, father," he answered, "I do want to learn something. Indeed, if possible I would like to learn how to shudder. I don't understand that at all yet."
The oldest son laughed when he heard that, and thought to himself, "Dear God, what a dimwit that brother of mine is. Nothing will come of him as long as he lives. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree."
The father sighed, and answered him, "You may well learn to shudder, but you will not earn your bread by shuddering."
Soon afterward the sexton came to the house on a visit, and the father complained to him about his troubles, telling him how his younger son was so stupid in everything, that he knew nothing and was learning nothing. "Just think," he said, "when I asked him how he was going to earn his bread, he actually asked to learn to shudder."
"If there is nothing more than that," replied the sexton, "he can learn that with me. Just send him to me. I will plane off his rough edges."
The father agreed to do this, for he thought, "It will do the boy well."
So the sexton took him home with him, and he was to ring the church bell. A few days later the sexton awoke him at midnight and told him to get up, climb the church tower, and ring the bell.
"You will soon learn what it is to shudder," he thought. He secretly went there ahead of him. After the boy had reached the top of the tower, had turned around and was about to take hold of the bell rope, he saw a white figure standing on the steps opposite the sound hole.
"Who is there?" he shouted, but the figure gave no answer, neither moving nor stirring. "Answer me," shouted the boy, "or get out of here. You have no business here at night."
The sexton, however, remained standing there motionless so that the boy would think he was a ghost.
The boy shouted a second time, "What do you want here? Speak if you are an honest fellow, or I will throw you down the stairs."
The sexton thought, "He can't seriously mean that." He made not a sound and stood as if he were made of stone.
Then the boy shouted to him for the third time, and as that also was to no avail, he ran toward him and pushed the ghost down the stairs. It fell down ten steps and remained lying there in a corner. Then the boy rang the bell, went home, and without saying a word went to bed and fell asleep.
The sexton's wife waited a long time for her husband, but he did not come back. Finally she became frightened and woke up the boy, asking, "Don't you know where my husband is? He climbed up the tower before you did."
"No," replied the boy, "but someone was standing by the sound hole on the other side of the steps, and because he would neither give an answer nor go away, I took him for a thief and threw him down the steps. Go there and you will see if he was the one. I am sorry if he was."
The woman ran out and found her husband, who was lying in the corner moaning. He had broken his leg. She carried him down, and then crying loudly she hurried to the boy's father. "Your boy," she shouted, "has caused a great misfortune. He threw my husband down the steps, causing him to break his leg. Take the good-for-nothing out of our house."
The father was alarmed, and ran to the sexton's house, and scolded the boy. "What evil tricks are these? The devil must have prompted you to do them."
"Father," he replied, "do listen to me. I am completely innocent. He was standing there in the night like someone with evil intentions. I did not know who it was, and I warned him three times to speak or to go away."
"Oh," said the father, "I have experienced nothing but unhappiness with you. Get out of my sight. I do not want to look at you anymore."
"Yes, father, and gladly. Just wait until daylight, and I will go forth and learn how to shudder. Then I shall have a skill that will support me."
"Learn what you will," said the father. "It is all the same to me. Here are fifty talers for you. Take them and go into the wide world, but tell no one where you come from, or who your father is, because I am ashamed of you."
"Yes, father, I will do just as you wish. If that is all you want from me, I can easily remember it."
So at daybreak the boy put his fifty talers into his pocket, and went forth on the main road, continually saying to himself, "If only I could shudder! If only I could shudder!"
A man came up to him and heard this conversation that the boy was holding with himself, and when they had walked a little farther to where they could see the gallows, the man said to him, "Look, there is the tree where seven men got married to the rope maker's daughter, and are now learning how to fly. Sit down beneath it, and wait until night comes, and then you will learn how to shudder."
"If there is nothing more than that," answered the boy, "I can do it easily. But if I learn how to shudder that quickly, you shall have my fifty talers. Just come back to me tomorrow morning."
Then the boy went to the gallows, sat down beneath them, and waited until evening. Because he was cold, he made himself a fire. However, at midnight there came up such a cold wind that in spite of his fire he could not get warm. And as the wind pushed the hanged men against each other, causing them to move to and fro, he thought, "You are freezing down here next to the fire. Those guys up there must really be freezing and suffering." Feeling pity for them, he put up the ladder, and climbed up, untied them, one after the other, and then brought down all seven.
Then he stirred up the fire, blew into it, and set them all around it to warm themselves. But they just sat there without moving, and their clothes caught fire. So he said, "Be careful, or I will hang you up again."
The dead men, however, heard nothing and said nothing, and they let their rags continue to burn. This made him angry, and he said, "If you won't be careful, I can't help you. I don't want to burn up with you." So he hung them up again all in a row. Then he sat down by his fire and fell asleep.
The next morning the man came to him and wanted to have the fifty talers. He said, "Well, do you know how to shudder?"
"No," he answered. "Where would I have learned it? Those fellows up there did not open their mouths. They were so stupid that they let the few old rags which they had on their bodies catch fire."
Then the man saw that he would not be getting the fifty talers that day. He went away saying, "Never before have I met such a fellow."
The boy went on his way as well, and once more began muttering to himself, " Oh, if only I could shudder! Oh, if only I could shudder!"
A cart driver who was walking along behind him heard this and asked, "Who are you?"
"I don't know," replied the boy.
Then the cart driver asked, "Where do you come from?"
"I don't know."
"Who is your father?"
"I am not permitted to say."
"What are you always muttering to yourself?"
"Oh," replied the boy, "I want to be able shudder, but no one can teach me how."
"Stop that foolish chatter," said the cart driver. "Come, walk along with me, and I will see that I get a place for you."
The boy went with the cart driver, and that evening they came to an inn where they decided to spend the night. On entering the main room, the boy again said quite loudly, "If only I could shudder! If only I could shudder!"
Hearing this, the innkeeper laughed and said, "If that is your desire, there should be a good opportunity for you here."
"Oh, be quiet," said the innkeeper's wife. "Too many meddlesome people have already lost their lives. It would be a pity and a shame if his beautiful eyes would never again see the light of day."
But the boy said, "I want to learn to shudder, however difficult it may be. That is why I left home."
He gave the innkeeper no rest, until the latter told him that there was a haunted castle not far away where a person could very easily learn how to shudder, if he would just keep watch there for three nights. The king had promised that whoever would dare to do this could have his daughter in marriage, and she was the most beautiful maiden under the sun. Further, in the castle there were great treasures, guarded by evil spirits. These treasures would then be freed, and would make a poor man rich enough. Many had entered the castle, but no one had come out again.
The next morning the boy went to the king and said, "If it be allowed, I will keep watch three nights in the haunted castle."
The king looked at him, and because the boy pleased him, he said, "You may ask for three things to take into the castle with you, but they must be things that are not alive."
To this the boy replied, "Then I ask for a fire, a lathe, and a woodcarver's bench with a knife."
The king had all these things carried into the castle for him during the day. When night was approaching, the boy went inside and made himself a bright fire in one of the rooms, placed the woodcarver's bench and knife beside it, and sat down at the lathe.
"Oh, if only I could shudder!" he said. "But I won't learn it here either."
Towards midnight he decided to stir up his fire. He was just blowing into it when a cry suddenly came from one of the corners, "Au, meow! How cold we are!"
"You fools," he shouted, "what are you crying about? If you are cold, come and sit down by the fire and warm yourselves."
When he had said that, two large black cats came with a powerful leap and sat down on either side of him, looking at him savagely with their fiery eyes.
A little while later, after warming themselves, they said, "Comrade, shall we play a game of cards?"
"Why not?" he replied, "But first show me your paws."
So they stretched out their claws.
"Oh," he said, "what long nails you have. Wait. First I will have to trim them for you."
With that he seized them by their necks, put them on the woodcarver's bench, and tightened them into the vice by their feet. "I have been looking at your fingers," he said, "and my desire to play cards has disappeared," and he struck them dead and threw them out into the water.
After he had put these two to rest, he was about to sit down again by his fire, when from every side and every corner there came black cats and black dogs on red-hot chains. More and more of them appeared until he could no longer move. They shouted horribly, then jumped into his fire and pulled it apart, trying to put it out.
He quietly watched them for a little while, but finally it was too much for him, and he seized his carving knife, and cried, "Away with you, you villains!" and hacked away at them. Some of them ran away, the others he killed, and threw out into the pond. When he came back he blew into the embers of his fire until they flamed up again, and warmed himself.
As he thus sat there, his eyes would no longer stay open, and he wanted to fall asleep. Looking around, he saw a large bed in the corner. "That is just what I wanted," he said, and lay down in it. However, as he was about to shut his eyes, the bed began to move by itself, going throughout the whole castle.
"Good," he said, "but let's go faster."
Then the bed rolled on as if six horses were harnessed to it, over thresholds and stairways, up and down. But then suddenly, hop, hop, it tipped upside down and lay on him like a mountain. But he threw the covers and pillows into the air, climbed out, and said, "Now anyone who wants to may drive." Then he lay down by his fire, and slept until it was day.
In the morning the king came, and when he saw him lying there on the ground, he thought that the ghosts had killed him and that he was dead. Then said he, "It is indeed a pity to lose such a handsome person."
The boy heard this, got up, and said, "It hasn't come to that yet."
The king was astonished, but glad, and asked how he had fared.
"Very well," he replied. "One night is past. The two others will pass as well."
When he returned to the innkeeper, the latter looked astonished and said, "I did not think that I'd see you alive again. Did you learn how to shudder?"
"No," he said, "it is all in vain. If someone could only tell me how."
The second night he again went up to the old castle, sat down by the fire, and began his old song once more, "If only I could shudder!"
As midnight was approaching he heard a noise and commotion. At first it was soft, but then louder and louder. Then it was a little quiet, and finally, with a loud scream, half of a man came down the chimney and fell in front of him.
"Hey!" he shouted. "Another half belongs here. This is too little."
Then the noise began again. With roaring and howling the other half fell down as well.
"Wait," he said. "Let me blow on the fire and make it burn a little warmer for you."
When he had done that and looked around again. The two pieces had come together, and a hideous man was sitting in his place.
"That wasn't part of the wager," said the boy. "That bench is mine."
The man wanted to force him aside, but the boy would not let him, instead pushing him away with force, and then sitting down again in his own place.
Then still more men fell down, one after the other. They brought nine bones from dead men and two skulls, then set them up and bowled with them.
The boy wanted to play too and said, "Listen, can I bowl with you?"
"Yes, if you have money."
"Money enough," he answered, "but your bowling balls are not quite round." Then he took the skulls, put them in the lathe and turned them round.
"There, now they will roll better," he said. "Hey! This will be fun!"
He played with them and lost some of his money, but when the clock struck twelve, everything disappeared before his eyes. He lay down and peacefully fell asleep.
The next morning the king came to learn what had happened. "How did you do this time?" he asked.
"I went bowling," he answered, "and lost a few pennies."
"Did you shudder?"
"How?" he said. "I had great fun, but if I only knew how to shudder."
On the third night he sat down again on his bench and said quite sadly, "If only I could shudder!"
When it was late, six large men came in carrying a coffin. At this he said, "Aha, for certain that is my little cousin, who died a few days ago." Then he motioned with his finger and cried out, "Come, little cousin, come."
They put the coffin on the ground. He went up to it and took the lid off. A dead man lay inside. He felt his face, and it was cold as ice.
"Wait," he said, "I will warm you up a little." He went to the fire and warmed his own hand, then laid it on the dead man's face, but the dead man remained cold. Then he took him out, sat down by the fire, and laid him on his lap, rubbing the dead man's arms to get the blood circulating again.
When that did not help either, he thought to himself, "When two people lie in bed together, they keep each other warm." So he carried the dead man to the bed, put him under the covers, and lay down next to him. A little while later the dead man became warm too and began to move.
The boy said, "See, little cousin, I got you warm, didn't I?"
But the dead man cried out, "I am going to strangle you."
"What?" he said. "Is that my thanks? Get back into your coffin!" Then he picked him up, threw him inside, and shut the lid. Then the six men came and carried him away again.
"I cannot shudder," he said. "I won't learn it here as long as I live."
Then a man came in. He was larger than all others, and looked frightful. But he was old and had a long white beard.
"You wretch," he shouted, "you shall soon learn what it is to shudder, for you are about to die."
"Not so fast," answered the boy. "If I am to die, I will have to be there."
"I've got you," said the monster.
"Now, now, don't boast. I am just as strong as you are, and probably even stronger."
"We shall see," said the old man. "If you are stronger than I am, I shall let you go. Come, let's put it to the test."
Then the old man led him through dark passageways to a blacksmith's forge, took an ax, and with one blow drove one of the anvils into the ground.
"I can do better than that," said the boy, and went to the other anvil. The old man stood nearby, wanting to look on. His white beard hung down. The boy seized the ax and split the anvil with one blow, wedging the old man's beard in the crack.
"Now I have you," said the boy. "Now it is your turn to die." Then he seized an iron bar and beat the old man until he moaned and begged him to stop, promising that he would give him great riches. The boy pulled out the ax and released him. The old man led him back into the castle, and showed him three chests full of gold in a cellar.
"Of these," he said, "one is for the poor, the second one is for the king, and the third one is yours."
Meanwhile it struck twelve, and the spirit disappeared, leaving the boy standing in the dark. "I can find my own way out," he said. Feeling around, he found his way to the bedroom, and fell asleep by his fire.
The next morning the king came and said, "By now you must have learned how to shudder."
"No," he answered. "What is it? My dead cousin was here, and a bearded man came and showed me a large amount of money down below, but no one showed me how to shudder."
Then the king said, "You have redeemed the castle, and shall marry my daughter."
"That is all very well," said the boy, "but I still do not know how to shudder."
Then the gold was brought up, and the wedding celebrated, but however much the young king loved his wife, and however happy he was, he still was always saying, "If only I could shudder. If only I could shudder." With time this made her angry.
Her chambermaid said, "I can help. I know how he can learn to shudder."
She went out to the brook that flowed through the garden, and caught a whole bucketful of minnows. That night when the young king was asleep, his wife was to pull the covers off him and pour the bucketful of cold water and minnows onto him, so that the little fishes would wriggle all over him.
When she did this, he woke up crying out, "Oh, what is making me shudder? What is making me shudder, dear wife? Yes, now I know how to shudder."
If father wanted something done, he had to tell the older one, Matthes, because the the younger one, Hansel, did everything the wrong way. He broke the oil jug and the brandy bottle, or stayed away for an eternity.
Matthes, on the other hand, did everything well, he only had one fault: He was timid by nature. He was too easily frightened. He shuddered when he passed the churchyard in the evening; or when he saw a little mouse scurrying away; or when he heard a ghost story being told. He shuddered so much that he goosebumps like a rasp.
"Oh, oh, oh," he would complain. "That makes me shudder!"
His brother, stupid little Hansel, would just laught at him and say: "Hey, hey. How can that make you shudder? I'd like to be able to do that trick. I've never shuddered once in my whole lifetime. I really want to learn how to shudder!"
The father scolded Hansel: "You look like someone who wants to learn something! It's about time! You're just turning into a big, tough lout. Learning to shudder, you Hans Dunce. There's nothing there. It's not a skill that you can earn a grain of salt with. Do you know how to learn shudder? I'll bet that bet you're too stupid to do even that."
While the father and brother were still laughing at stupid Hansel, the neighbor sexton and schoolmaster came over to visit. He heard them laughing at Hansel, and was told that the boy would like to learn how to shudder.
"He could learn that from me!" said the sexton. "My schoolhouse is the most miserable wreck of a building in the whole town. I shudder all day long that it will collapse onto my head and kill all the hopeful rows of pupils at the same time. Send little Hansel over there to me. I have to teach lessons to a lot of stupid people, so I'll certainly be able to teach him how to shudder!"
The father was satisfied with this suggestion, and little Hansel followed the sexton into the old rickety schoolhouse. But nothing there made him shudder. It just didn't matter to him that the building was in danger of collapsing, just as it didn't matter to the mayor and the distinguished townspeople.
Then the sexton thought of another way to certainly make Hansel shudder. He told Hansel to ring the evening bell, but then the sexton secretly slipped up into the belfry ahead of him.
Hansel climbed the stairs and took hold of the bell-rope when he heard a dull moaning sound coming from the stairs. He looked around and saw a tall white veiled figure, rigid and unmoving.
"Who are you? What do you want?" asked Hansel, without shuddering in the slightest.
"I'm asking, who you are?" cried Hansel in a stronger voice.
"Don't you have a mouth, snowman? Once again: What do you want?"
Our sprightly little Hansel jumped at the figure like Casper attacks the devil in a puppet show. The figure wasn't expecting such a charge, and bang! Head over heals he tumbled down the stairs. And what kind of stairs? Stairs such as can only be found in old village church towers: worn-out, rotten, narrow, and full of centuries-old dust.
The ghost lay below, moaning and groaning. Hansel rang the bell for the evening prayers, vigorously swinging the bell-rope, as if nothing had just happened. Then he cheerfully climbed down the stairs and left the tower, locking the door behind him.
The sexton's wife didn't know where her husband was.
"Where is he?" she asked Hansel.
"Who?" asked Hansel.
"Him!" said the sexton's wife. "He went to the tower ahead of you."
"Oh!" said Hansel. "So that was him? There was a white creature standing by the stairs. He didn't want to answer my questions, so I pushed him down the stairs. He's still lying over there moaning."
"You devil!" cried the sexton's wife. She snatched the key from Hansel's hand and ran to the tower. Her husband was lying there in his bed sheet, and he had broken his leg.
Then it did not go well for Hansel. The sexton complained about him to his father, and he went wild and cried: "The boy is a good-for-nothing. Get out of my sight! Go away! Here's some money. Go and hang around anywhere you want. Don't let me see you here again. From you we have nothing but shame and disgrace and harm, you good-for-nothing!"
"Farewell, Hansel!" mocked Matthes. "Make sure that you learn how to shudder. I've heard that shuddering is fashionable now. People out there in the world are shuddering at all sorts of things, so you'll get your share of shuddering!"
Hansel went away, He had some money, and anyone who has money has no need to be afraid.
As he went on his way he often said to himself: "If only I could shudder. If only I could shudder!"
A man who was walking behind Hans heard this and said to him: "Look over there at the gallows. A nice group is company hanging there -- just seven of them, which -- as they say -- is a gallows full. Camp down there for the night and you'll learn to shudder."
"If that turns out to be true," said Hansel, "I'll give you all of my money tomorrow morning. You can come to me and get it, or you can stay here with me!"
"That I would be such a fool and staye with you under the gallows!" answered the man. "No, my good fellow. It will be much easier to learn to shudder if you are alone than if there two of us. Good night! I'll see you tomorrow morning!"
Hansel sat down under the gallows, and because it was cold, he lit a little fire, which shone brightly up toward the hanged men. The sharp wind moved their quivering bodies back and forth, back and forth.
Hansel called up to them: "You poor devils! You're freezing. You're quaking and quivering. Wait, I'll get you down You can warm yourselves by my fire."
And Hans, not lazy, found a gallows ladder, climbed up, untied the hanged men and put them by his fire, which he now made bigger. But they looked pitiful: green, yellow and pathetic, lightning-blue, and abominable. They move at all. The fire ate around them, and began to char their ragged and tattered clothes.
"Na?" said Hansel. "You're letting your clothes get burned up! Is that what you are saying 'Same old rags; same old rags!' Just wait! I'll come to your aid."
He took them, one by one, and hung them up again, wrapped himself in his cloak, stretched out by his fire, and fell asleep.
That's how the man from yesterday found him when he came to get the money. When he saw Hansel sleeping there so peacefully, he had little hope that might have learned to shudder overnight.
When Hansel woke up and told him what he had done, the man turned to go and said: "I didn't earn your money last night. You'll never learn to shudder."
Hansel went on and on his way, saying to himself: "It's such a pity that I can't learn how to shudder. I must be too stupid for that. Oh dear -- if only I could knew how to shudder."
This was heard by a carter who was walking along the same path.
He said to Hansel: "Hey! You know how to shudder? Just stop at the next inn. If you have any money, the innkeeper there will give you a terrifying bill. I am overwhelmed every time I had to stay there."
"We'll see!" said Hansel, thanked the carter, and walked towards the inn.
"What's up?" asked the innkeeper.
"I'd like to learn how to shudder," replied Hansel. "People on the road say it's easy to learn from you. You are so bad at adding up the bills!"
"Just wait!" thought the landlord. "I'll teach you something that will make you shudder."
Then he said to Hansel: "My dear journeyman, you have been told a lie. You cannot learn to to shudder here in my inn. I don't treat my guests like that. Some jester just lied to you. If you are concerned about shuddering, just go up to the old haunted castle, and see to it that you get the king's daughter for your wife. Her father has promised her to anyone who who rids the castle of its poltergeists. There you'll find something to shudder about, and get rich as well."
"I'll follow your advice," said Hansel.
The innkeeper spoke again: "You have to do more than just go up there. First you must ask the king's permission, and then you must stay up there for three nights. If you escape with your life, the princess is your wife."
"And if I don't make it out alive, what then?" asked Hansel,
The innkeeper laughed in his face and said: "I can tell you're a sly one. You would certainly have invented gunpowder if it hadn't already been invented!"
Hansel hurried to the king, asked permission, and received it.
Then the king said: "My son, you may also take three things with you, but nothing living."
Now, even in his youth, Hans had always loved to light a fire, to sit at a woodcarver's bench and sometimes at a lathe. He knew how to deal with such things. That's why he asked nothing more to take with him to the castle than a good fire-lighter, a woodcarver's bench, and a lathe, "so that I won't freeze," he said; "and I can pass the time."
These were given to Hans gladly. He settled down the old castle in a pretty room with a large fireplace. When night fell, Hansel lit a bright fire, which was warm and glowed beautifully.
Suddenly two coal-black cats came. They had eyes like green fire and screamed "Meow, meow, we're freezing!"
"If you are cold, warm up! Here is a fire!" said Hansel.
The cats did just that too, and then they said: "We're getting bored. We'd like to play cards: Skat or poker?"
"Poker for all I care," said Hansel, "if you brought cards with you."
The cats did indeed have a deck of cards, and they showed it to Hansel.
Then Hans saw that they had terrible claws on their black paws and said: "With all due respect, your mother hasn't cut your nails for a long time. Be ashamed of yourself. Come on, I'll trim them for you!"
He grabbed the cats and clamped their paws in the lathe. Then they bit him, and so he took his carving knife and cut off their heads, then threw their heads and bodies out of the window into the moat.
When he came back to the fire, a large dog was sitting there baring his teeth and having a fiery tongue hanging out at arm's length.
Hansel did not like this, so he took his carving knife again and shoved it between the dog's teeth down his throat. With that the dog's tongue fell out, and its upper head said goodbye to its lower part.
Hans finally that thought he could have some peace, and he wanted to enjoy it. There was a bed in the corner, so he lay down in it and covered himself. He hadn't fallen asleep yet when the bed started to move like a steam engine and drove around the whole castle: upstairs, downstairs, through halls and rooms.
Hansel said: "Look, now I can feel what it's like when the great gentlemen go for a ride. Drive on!"
The bed finally must have grown tired of driving abougt. It rolled back into Hansel's room, where the fire was still burning merrily. There it stood still, and Hansel fell asleep and slept like a dead man.
The next morning the king stood by his bed and said: "Well, that's what I call a good night's sleep. If only I could sleep so well! No king sleeps this well. I'm glad the boy is still alive and snoring. Hey you! Hansel!"
"Good morning, Mr. King! Are you here so early?" asked Hansel.
"I hope that you rested well!" said the king.
"Thank you. The same to you!" said Hansel.
"You can have breakfast and lunch downstairs at the innkeeper's on my account, but you'll be back up here this evening, if you want to." said the king.
"Of course," said Hansel. "It has to be three nights."
When Hans got to the innkeeper, he was very surprised and asked: "Well? Still alive? But surely you learned to shudder last night?"
"Not at all!" replied Hansel.
Then the innkeeper himself began to shudder in front of Hansel.
Hansel took good advantage of the king's account and didn't worry at all about it.
When evening came he was up in the haunted castle again, and he lit his fire. Suddenly there was a rattling sound in the chimney, as if everything were breaking into a thousand pieces. Then a fellow fell down, but he was only half there.
"Well," said Hansel, "what's this supposed to be? There's still one half missing, one man and a half isn't company."
Hardly had Hans said that, but bang! the other half fell down into the middle of the fire.
Hansel took the two halves, threw them out of the fireplace into the living room, and put his fire back in order. As he managed to do it and looked around, the two halves had become a single fellow, but not a handsome one. He was sitting on Hansel's chair.
"Wait there!" yelled Hansel, "That's where I sit! Move on, or I'll cut you in half with my carving knife!"
Suddenly there was another rumble in the chimney: Skeleton bones and skulls rained down, and a few men of the most horrid appearance.
"Good evening gentlemen!" said Hansel. "You're real men, I'll put up with that. Perhaps you belong to the Schön family? Oh, what a pity there isn't a mirror in the room. How can I actually help you?"
The men looked at Hans with terrible looks. One took the skeleton bones, there were just nine of them, and set them up as bowling pins, the others took the skulls and rolled them toward the pins.
"I love to bowl!" said Hansel. "Won't you let me play too? Do you play board games or cards? For money?"
"Do you have money?" asked the men grimly.
"Oui!" said Hansel, and put his hand in his pocket and jingled.
"So bowl away!" shouted one of the men, handing him a skull.
"With all due respect, that's a crooked ball. Give it to me, I've got a lathe here. Let's turn it nice and round so that we can hit all nine."
So saying, he sat down, turned the skulls round. Then the game started. Hansel bowled well, but the men bowled even better, and Hansel lost some money.
Then the game started again. Hansel bowled and shouted with joy: "All nine!"
"No, twelve!" cried the men with muffled voices, and disappeared with bones and skulls, and the old clock on the castle tower struck twelve.
"Now what!" called Hansel. "Are those good manners? First they cheat me of my little money, and now that I'm winning they run away."
Then he lay down again in the bed, which remained quiet all day long, and he slept until the morning light.
"Today he will probably no longer be alive," said the king as he approached Hansel's room. "I don't hear him snoring like yesterday. It is probably all over with him."
But Hansel woke up very quickly and said: "I hope that you had a good rest, Your Majesty!"
"Likewise, thank you!" answered the king.
"How did it go last night?"
"Very well, thank you for asking, Mr. King!" replied Hansel. "Some kind of chimney sweeps came down the chimney, and we bowled with skeleton bones."
The king's skin shivered, and he said: "But that's really scary!"
"What is, Mr. King?" asked Hansel.
"Just that!" replied the king. "Well good luck for the third night!"
"It's really awful that I'll never learn to shudder!" said Hansel to himself when the third night came.
Suddenly there was a great commotion. Six men entered the room, they carried a coffin on a bier, put it in front of Hansel, and disappeared.
Hansel thought: "Who could be lying in there?" and opened the coffin.
There a body in there that was very stiff and freezing cold.
"Oh, he's freezing; he's stiff with frost," said Hansel. "I have to warm him up!"
He lifted the dead man out of the coffin and carried him to his fire, but the dead man remained cold."
"He'll have to go to bed; he'll warm up then."
He took him and laid him in the bed, and and he himself as well.
After a while the dead man got warm and woke up. He stretched out and said: "Who told you to disturb my peace? Now you shall die!"
"Don't be is such a hurry," said Hansel. He grabbed the man, threw him into the coffin, put the lid on it and quickly screwed it shut. Then the six men came back, picked up the casket, and carried it away.
Soon afterward a terrible giant with a great long beard entered. He cried out: "Worm! Now you must die! You must come with me!"
"I'm not going with you!" said Hansel. "I'm not available. I still have things to do, as you can see!"
Then he sat down at the lathe, and stepped on the treddle, and turned the spindle, and held the chisel to the wood.
The giant bent over the wheel and wanted to grab Hansel.
But suddenly he cried out loud: "Ow! Ow! My beard, my beard!"
The end of the beard had gotten caught under the cord that encircled the spindle. The rapid turning dragged his whole head after it.
Hansel jumped up and said: "Fellow, watch out! I'm going to twist off your big nose, twist out your eyes, and turn your thick head into a bowling ball, as sure as my name is Hansel!"
Then the giant spoke nicely, promising faithfully that if Hans should let him go, he would show him three chests of gold: one was for the king, the second was for the poor, and the third one for Hansel himself.
"Very well," said Hansel. "Take me to those chests, but until I get them, you stay locked in the spindle, and you must carry the lathe on your shoulders."
It was very uncomfortable to carry, the lathe on his shoulders, and his beard twisted around the spindle. The giant into another room and showed Hansel the chests of gold.
Meanwhile it struck twelve. The giant disappeared, and the lathe stood by itself.
Hansel though that the chests might disappear as well. He held them tight and called out: "Stop, stop!" and grabbed them and held them tight. Then he dragged them over to his room, whereupon he lay down to sleep, again without shuddering.
The next morning the king came and asked: "Well, you certainly had a pretty scary night, didn't you?"
"How so, Mr. King?" asked Hansel. I was given a chest full of gold, one for you too, and one for the poor. Does it have to be scary to get gold as a present?"
"You've done a great thing!" said the king. "Through your fearlessness you freed the castle from the poltergeists and forced the enchanted castle into the light. Furthermore, you shall have your reward and marry my daughter!"
"Much obliged, Mr. King!" said Hansel. "But it's a pity that I am getting married while I'm still so stupid that I haven't learned how to shudder."
"O my dear son and son-in-law!" replied the king. "Just get married, everything will work itself out. Many another man has not been able to do just that, and got married nonetheless. But afterward he shuddered so much that he couldn't get rid of the goosebumps."
"I just hope for the same thing, Mr. King!" exclaimed Hansel happily.
Soon thereafter a glorious wedding was celebrated. Hansel was very happy, very rich, and had a beautiful wife. Nonetheless he kept saying: "I don't know how long it will be until I learn how to shudder."
The young queen, Hansel's wife, said to herself: "Just wait, Hansel! You'll soon be shuddering."
She had a bucket of water with little gudgeons and minnows brought to her. While Hansel was sleeping she pulled the blanket off him and then threw the bucket of water and little fish over him.
"Brrr!" he jumped up, gasping from the cold. "I dreamed that I had fallen into the fish pond. Brrr! It gives me the creeps! It gives me the creeps! I have goosebumps like a carpenter's rasp! See, my dear wife? At last -- now I know how to shudder! Now I know how to shudder!"
Once upon a time there was a merry musician who played the flute masterfully. He earned his keep by traveling about the world, playing his flute in villages and towns. One evening he came to a tenant farm and spent the night there because he wouldn't have been able to reach the next village before nightfall. He was kindly received by the farmer, ate with him, and after the meal was over he played a few pieces.
When the musician had done this, he looked out of the window and, by the light of the moon, saw at a short distance an old castle which was lying partly in ruins.
"What is that old castle?" he asked the farmer. "And who owned it?"
The farmer said that many, many years ago a count had lived there who was very rich but also very stingy. He had greatly tormented his subjects and had never given alms to the poor. Out of stinginess he never married, and he finally died without an heir. His closest relatives wanted to take possession of any inheritance, but they could not find any money at all.
It was thus claimed that he must have buried the treasure, and that still today it may lie hidden in the old castle. Many people had gone into the old castle to seek the treasure, but none of them ever came out again. For this reason the authorities have forbidden entry into this old castle and have seriously warned everyone in the whole country about it.
The musician listened carefully, and when the farmer had finished his account, the musician said that he himself had a great desire to go into the castle, for he was courageous and knew no fear. The farmer begged him most urgently to spare his young life and not go into the castle. But begging and pleading didn't help. The musician was determined.
Finally two of the farmer's servants lit a pair of lanterns and accompanied the eager musician to the old castle. He sent them back with one of the lanterns, but he took the second one in his hand and boldly climbed a high flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs he came into a large hall with doors all around it. He opened the first door and went inside, where he sat down at an old-fashioned table. He put his lantern on it and played his flute.
The farmer, however, could not sleep the whole night for sheer worries. He often looked out of the window and was very happy whenever he heard his guest playing music over there. When the clock on the wall struck eleven and the flute stopped playing, he was terribly frightened, for he now believed that the ghost or the devil or whoever else lived in this castle had definitely wrung the neck of the good flute player. However, the musician had purposely stopped his flute playing without being afraid.
He finally got hungry because he hadn't eaten much at the farmer's. He paced up and down the room and looked around. Then he saw a pot full of uncooked lentils, and on another table stood a vessel full of water, one full of salt, and a bottle of wine. He quickly poured water over the lentils, salted them, made a fire in the stove because there was plenty of wood at hand. Then he made lentil soup for himself. While the lentils were cooking he drank the bottle of wine and then played the flute again.
When the lentils were cooked he pulled them from the fire, poured them into the bowl already on the table, and ate hungrily. Then he looked at his watch, and it was nearly eleven o'clock.
Suddenly the door opened, and two tall black men entered, carrying a bier on which a coffin stood. Without saying a word they placed the bier in front of the musician, who did not let himself to be disturbed while he was eating. Then they went out the door just as silently as they had come in.
After they had gone away, the musician quickly got up and opened the coffin. Lying inside was an old man, small and wizened, with gray hair and a gray beard. The lad was not afraid. He took the body out and put it by the stove. It had scarcely warmed up when it began to come to life. The musician then gave him lentils to eat, carefully tending the little man, even feeding him like a mother would her child.
Then the little man became very lively and spoke to him: "Follow me!"
The little man went ahead, and the lad took his lantern and fearlessly followed. The little man led him down a steep, dilapidated staircase until they both came to a deep, horrible vault.
A large pile of money was lying there.
The little man commanded the lad: "Divide this pile into two equal parts, but if anything is left over, I'll kill you!"
The lad just smiled, and then began to count the money back and forth between two large tables. In a short time he thus had divided the money into two equal parts. But in the end there was still one kreuzer left over. The musician considered this for a moment. He took out his pocketknife, placed the blade against the kreuzer, and chiseled it in two with a hammer that was lying nearby. He threw one half on the first file and the other half on the other pile.
Then little man became very cheerful and said: "You heavenly man, you have redeemed me! For a hundred years and until someone would succeed in dividing the money into two equal parts, I have had to guard the treasure, which I scraped together out of stinginess. No one has succeeded, and I had to strangle them all. One pile of money is now yours, but you must divide the rest among the poor. Divine man, you have redeemed me!"
With that the little man disappeared. The lad climbed back up stairs to his previous room, and then played merry little pieces on his flute.
The farmer was happy to hear him playing again. Early in the morning he went to the castle (because anyone was allowed inside during the day) and received the lad full of joy.
The lad told him the story, then he went down to his treasure. He did just as the little man had commanded and gave half to the poor.
He had the old castle torn down, and soon a new one stood on the previous spot, where the musician now lived as a rich man.
Hans did not care to go to school and learn some thing useful, like other children, but he was so clever that he at once understood all that he heard or saw. There was no end to his pranks and jokes, and his best amusement was to frighten people, while he himself could not be frightened by anything in the world, man or beast.
As Hans grew up his parents thought that the time had come to teach him some manners, and have him kept in check, if possible. Although his mother doted upon him, his father brought him to the deacon, asking that worthy man to polish his manners the best he could. Were the deacon only able to frighten him in some manner, the father thought he would at length improve, but if he went into the world without respect or regard for any one, or anything, he would never fare well. The deacon promised to do his best, and the boy soon was initiated into his new duties.
One evening, at a rather late hour, the deacon said to him: "You must ring the bell to-night; the ringer is drunk, and if you will do it I will give you eight pennies."
"All right," answered the boy, whereupon he trudged across the church-yard and ascended the stairway in the dark steeple, and as he thought it great fun to ring the bells, he pulled the rope so vigorously that the sound was heard throughout the seven adjoining townships. When the ringing was over, Hans descended the steps, but was stopped by a tall, white ghost which stood before him.
"If you are alive, speak! If you are dead, begone!" shouted Hans.
The ghost made no reply, but lifted its arm in a threatening manner. Hans now jumped forward, pushing the figure down the whole flight of steps. It rolled from one land ing to another, and remained lying in the cellar at the bottom of the staircase. The boy paid no fur ther attention to it, but went back to the deacon's house.
"Did you see any one?" asked his mistress.
"Yes," replied Hans, "a tall, white ghost came and threat ened me, but I ran against it and pushed it down the whole flight of steps."
"Dear me!" cried the deacon's wife; "I hope it was not hurt."
"I don't care," returned the boy, "whether it was or not."
She asked him, however, to follow her to the steeple, and, although Hans thought she was too tender hearted, he complied. When they reached the cellar, there lay the deacon at the bottom of the stair case with one leg broken, and there they found the white sheet which he had wrapped around himself when he wanted to appear as a ghost and frighten the boy.
They carried him home and put him to bed, but ever since that day the deacon carried a lame leg. He did not wish to have anything more to do with this reckless boy, but sent him home to his parents, who were very angry because their son had behaved so badly. His father now asked the minister to take him into his service.
"Yes; let him come," was the answer. "I shall manage to knock the foolishness out of his head, depend upon that."
Thus Hans came to serve the minister.
One Saturday evening, towards midnight, Hans was called out of bed by his master, who said to him: "My son, I forgot my Bible at the altar in the church last Sunday. Will you kindly go and bring it back with you, as I must use it tomorrow morning? I will give you twelve pennies for your trouble."
Hans arose, seized the key which was handed him by the minister, and went into the church. When he reached the altar he noticed the Bible which lay upon it; but a tall, dark figure of a man was bending over it, reading. It was an easy matter to this man to read in the dark, for his eyes gleamed like red fireballs.
"Excuse me," said Hans, snatching the book out of his hands.
Upon this he walked back to the door, locked it, and returned to the minister with the Bible and the key.
"Did you see anything remarkable?" asked his master.
"No," answered the boy. "Oh yes; there was a tall, dark man reading in the book, but I. merely said, 'Excuse me,' and seized it."
"Were you not frightened?" pursued his master.
"No," replied Hans; "why should I be frightened?"
"You had better return home," said the minister; " I can teach you nothing."
Hans returned home and told what had happened. His father became furious, and said that when he feared neither the living nor the dead he did not wish to keep him at home. The next morning, consequently, Hans was obliged to go away, in spite of the pleading and the tears of his mother, who was afraid that he might not be able to fight his way in the great world of which he knew nothing.
She followed him to the gate, kissed him, and said, with many tears, "God keep you, my poor boy!"
All the long day Hans pursued his way, and when it grew dark he walked into a church-yard, where weeping-willows could shield him until next morning. He lay down, but towards midnight he awoke and found an old man with a long beard bending over him. He carried a sickle in his right hand, and in his left an hour-glass.
"Are you not afraid," asked Death -- for he it was -- "to lie here alon?"
"No," returned the boy, "what should I be afraid of?"
"You seem to be a brave boy," observed Death. "Would you like to visit me?"
"Yes; where do you live?" answered Hans.
"Directly east of the church," explained his old friend; "where you see a light shine from the ground, you will find a hole. Descend through that, and come tomorrow night at this hour."
Hans promised, and Death parted from him.
He passed the following day in picking nuts about the church-yard and in the adjoining woods. When midnight came he entered the church-yard, and east of the church he found what seemed to be an open grave, through which a red glare was seen. As there was no rope or ladder, Hans resolutely jump ed into the opening. He fell a long distance, but landed safely on a soft meadow. A few steps away from him a door opened into a large building from which the same ruddy glare issued, and in the door way his old friend Death was standing, bidding him welcome.
When they came into the house Hans noticed that great numbers of lighted candles stood every where. There was a huge hall filled with them. Some were as tall as church-candles, others were of ordinary size, and there were some as small as those which are used for Christmas-trees. Some burned brightly, others feebly, and there were some which seemed ready to go out.
"Why do you burn all these candles?" inquired Hans.
"That is a part of my duty," replied the old man; "these are flames of the lives of all living beings. Whenever one goes out I must be on duty. You notice there are all sizes among them. Some are long yet, and some are short; some will soon have burned up, and they are the life flames of those who must soon die. There is not one light but will some day burn out."
"Where is my candle?" inquired Hans again.
Death showed him a tall and stately candle, which pleased the boy exceedingly. But when they came to look at his parents' candles, he found that of his father long and vigorous, while there was but little left of his mother's. He asked Death to be allowed to exchange them, and the request was granted. At length they arrived at an empty candlestick. The light was nearly extinguished; only a small spot of wax was left.
"This was once a large candle," said Death, "but now it is nearly burned up. Because it has burned in God's service, there is great power in this bit of wax."
He then told Hans how a king of a land far away had been paralyzed many years ago, and how he had promised his daughter's hand in marriage to the man who could cure him. The successful person was to receive one-half of the kingdom at once, and ascend the throne when he died.
"Go there at once," concluded Death; "take service at the palace. You will be told never to name the king, for he has issued an edict that he who does so must either cure him or be hanged. When you see the king call his name aloud, and when you are told to cure him rub him with this wax. Be careful and keep it well. And now good-bye."
Upon this Death conducted Hans to a door, which was opened and then closed behind him. He found himself in the church-yard at the very moment when the sun arose.
Hans now set out to find the land where the in valid king was living. All whom he asked told him that it was very far away. He walked on day and night, however, begging a bite of bread at the houses which he happened to pass.
When at length he had reached the palace, he walked in and offered his services. He was given a place among the grooms, and from the superintendent of the stables he received the warning never to name the king; if he did, he risked his life.
The sick king found pleasure in watching the watering of his horses; every day his easy-chair was rolled to one of the windows, from which he had a view of the courtyard, and where he could sit and watch all his beautiful animals.
One day, when Hans drove them to the fountain in the middle of the yard, he glanced towards the window, exclaiming: "Look, there is the king!"
The other grooms bid him be silent, but the king having heard his words sent for the superintendent, whom he scolded for not giving his servants better instructions.
"However," concluded he, "the law must be en forced. Bring the boy before me!"
When Hans was brought into the room the king said to him: "You know the law, and as you have dared, nevertheless, to utter my name, you must cure me, or lose your life. I suppose that death will be your fate, for you do not look wise enough to fulfil the other condition."
Hans said that he wished to do his best, at any rate. Producing his wax he commenced rubbing the fingers of the king's right hand, which had been lame for many years. The king at once was able to move his fingers, whereupon the whole arm was rubbed with good effect. The king bid Hans rub away the lameness from the remainder of his body; but the boy replied that this could not be done until they had agreed upon his reward for curing the king entirely. He desired to have it in writing, with the king's own signature attached.
The king, of course, must comply with his wishes, and as he felt quite generous he agreed, in writing, to give him the princess and one-half of the king dom at once, neither more nor less. The remainder of the kingdom Hans was to inherit after the king's death. When the agrement had been signed the boy rubbed with the wax all over his body, and thus the king became healthy and well again.
By virtue of the agreement Hans was now a prince, and could, of course, wear nothing but a prince's dress. As soon as he had put on his new clothes he was conducted to the princess, who liked him so well that she had -- as Hans had been expect ing all the time -- no objection to marrying him. Their wedding was then celebrated in a truly royal manner.
Hans at once received one-half of the land, and began to rule it. When he was well-established in his new position he returned in a stately manner, with his beautiful bride, to his old home. He found his mother, who was by that time a widow, alive, and she was both pleased with and proud of her great son. When Hans had presented one of their poor relatives with the farm, he returned, with his wife and mother, to his new home.
The old lady lived happily with her children. She witnessed both how Hans became king of the entire land when the old king had died, and how a number of sweet small princes and princesses learned, one after an other, to love their "dear grandma."
There was once a boy so courageous and spirited that his relations despaired of ever frightening him into obedience to their will, and took him to the parish priest to be brought up. But the priest could not subdue him in the least, though the boy never showed either obstinacy or ill temper towards him.
Once in the winter three dead bodies were brought to be buried, but as it was late in the afternoon they were put into the church till next day, when the priest would be able to bury them. In those days it was the custom to bury people without coffins, and only wrapped up in grave clothes. The priest ordered these three bodies to be laid a little distance apart, across the middle of the church.
After nightfall the priest said to the boy, "Run into the church and fetch me the book which I left on the altar."
With his usual willingness he ran into the church, which was quite dark, and halfway to the altar stumbled against something which lay on the floor, and fell down on his face. Not in the least alarmed, he got up again, and, after groping about, found that he had stumbled over one of the corpses, which he took in his arms and pushed into the side benches out of his way. He tumbled over the other two, and disposed of them in like manner.
Then, taking the book from the altar, he left the church, shut the door behind him, and gave the volume to the priest, who asked him if he had encountered anything extraordinary in the church.
"Not that I can remember," said the boy.
The priest asked again, "Did you not find three corpses lying across your passage?"
"Oh yes," replied he, "but what about them?"
"Did they not lie in your way?"
"Yes, but they did not hinder me."
The priest asked, "How did you get to the altar?"
The boy replied, "I stuck the good folk into the side benches, where they lie quietly enough."
The priest shook his head, but said nothing more that night.
Next morning he said to the boy, "You must leave me; I cannot keep near me any longer one who is shameless enough to break the repose of the dead."
The boy, nothing loth, bade farewell to the priest and his family, and wandered about some little time without a home.
Once he came to a cottage, where he slept the night, and there the people told him that the Bishop of Skálholt was just dead. So next day he went off to Skálholt, and arriving there in the evening, begged a night's lodging.
The people said to him, "You may have it and welcome, but you must take care of yourself."
"Why take care of myself so much?" asked the lad.
They told him that after the death of the bishop, no one could stay in the house after nightfall, as some ghost or goblin walked about there, and that on this account every one had to leave the place after twilight.
The boy answered, "Well and good; that will just suit me."
At twilight the people all left the place, taking leave of the boy, whom they did not expect to see again alive.
When they had all gone, the boy lighted a candle and examined every room in the house till he came to the kitchen, where he found large quantities of smoked mutton hung up to the rafters. So, as he had not tasted meat for some time, and had a capital appetite, he cut some of the dried mutton off with his knife, and placing a pot on the fire, which was still burning, cooked it.
When he had finished cutting up the meat, and had put the lid on the pot, he heard a voice from the top of the chimney, which said, "May I come down?"
The lad answered, "Yes, why not?"
Then there fell down on to the floor of the kitchen half a giant: head, arms, hands, and body, as far as the waist, and lay there motionless.
After this he heard another voice from the chimney, saying, "May I come down?"
"If you like," said the boy. "Why not?"
Accordingly down came another part of the giant, from the waist to the thighs, and lay on the floor motionless.
Then he heard a third voice from the same direction, which said, "May I come down?"
"Of course," he replied. "You must have something to stand upon."
So a huge pair of legs and feet came down and lay by the rest of the body, motionless.
After a bit the boy, finding this want of movement rather tedious, said, "Since you have contrived to get yourself all in, you had better get up and go away."
Upon this the pieces crept together, and the giant rose on his feet from the floor, and, without uttering a word, stalked out of the kitchen. The lad followed him, till they came to a large hall, in which stood a wooden chest. This chest the goblin opened, and the lad saw that it was full of money. Then the goblin took the money out in handfuls, and poured it like water over his head, till the floor was covered with heaps of it; and, having spent half the night thus, spent the other half in restoring the gold to the chest in the like manner.
The boy stood by and watched him filling the chest again, and gathering all the stray coins toge ther by sweeping his great arms violently over the floor, as if he dreaded to be interrupted before he could get them all in, which the lad fancied must be because the day was approaching.
When the goblin had shut up the coffer, he rushed past the lad as if to get out of the hall; but the latter said to him, "Do not be in too great a hurry."
"I must make haste," replied the other, "for the day is dawning."
But the boy took him by the sleeve and begged him to remain yet a little longer for friendship's sake.
At this the goblin waxed angry, and, clutching hold of the youth, said, "Now you shall delay me no longer."
But the latter clung tight to him, and slipped out of the way of every blow he dealt, and some time passed away in this kind of struggle. It happened, however, at last, that the giant turned his back to the open door, and the boy, seeing his chance, tripped him up and butted at him with his head, so that the other fell heavily backwards, half in and half out of the hall, and broke his spine upon the threshold. At the same moment the first ray of dawn struck his eyes through the open house door, and he instantly sank into the ground in two pieces, one each side of the door of the hall.
Then the courageous boy, though half dead from fatigue, made two crosses of wood and drove them into the ground where the two parts of the goblin had disappeared. This done, he fell asleep till, when the sun was well up, the people came back to Skálholt. They were amazed and rejoiced to find him still alive, ask ing him whether he had seen anything in the night.
"Nothing out of the common," he said.
So he stayed there all that day, both because he was tired, and because the people were loth to let him go.
In the evening, when the people began as usual to leave the place, he begged them to stay, assuring them that they would be troubled by neither ghost nor goblin. But in spite of his assurances they insisted upon going, though they left him this time without any fear for his safety. When they were gone, he went to bed and slept soundly till morning
On the return of the people he told them all about his struggle with the goblin, showed them the crosses he had set up, and the chestful of money in the hall, and assured them that they would never again be troubled at night, so need not leave the place. They thanked him most heartily for his spirit and courage, and asked him to name any reward he would like to receive, whether money or other precious things, inviting him, in addition, to remain with them as long as ever he chose.
He was grateful for their offers, but said, "I do not care for money, nor can I make up my mind to stay longer with you."
Next day he addressed himself to his journey, and no persuasion could induce him to remain at Skálholt. For he said, " I have no more business here, as you can now, without fear, live in the bishop's house. "
And taking leave of them all, he directed his steps northwards, into the wilderness.
For a long time nothing new befell him, until one day he came to a large cave, into which he entered. In a smaller cave within the other he found twelve beds, all in disorder and unmade. As it was yet early, he thought he could do no better than employ himself in making them, and having made them, threw himself on to the one nearest the entrance, covered himself up, and went to sleep.
After a little while he awoke and heard the voices of men talking in the cave, and wondering who had made the beds for them, saying that, whoever he was, they were much obliged to him for his pains. He saw, on looking out, that they were twelve armed men of noble aspect. When they had had supper, they came into the inner cave and eleven of them went to bed. But the twelfth man, whose bed was next to the entrance, found the boy in it, and calling to the others they rose and thanked the lad for having made their beds for them, and begged him to remain with them as their servant, for they said that they never found time to do any work for themselves, as they were compelled to go out every day at sunrise to fight their enemies, and never returned till night.
The lad asked them why they were forced to fight day after day? They answered that they had over and over again fought, and overcome their enemies, but that though they killed them overnight they always came to life again before morning, and would come to the cave and slay them all in their beds if they were not up and ready on the field at sunrise.
In the morning the cavemen went out fully armed, leaving the lad behind to look after the household work.
About noon he went in the same direction as the men had taken, in order to find out where the battlefield was, and as soon as he had espied it in the distance, ran back to the cave.
In the evening the warriors returned weary and dispirited, but were glad to find that the boy had arranged everything for them, so that they had nothing more to do than eat their supper and go to bed.
When they were all asleep, the boy wondered to himself how it could possibly come to pass that their enemies rose every night from the dead. So moved with curiosity was he, that as soon as he was sure that his companions were fast asleep he took what of their weapons and armour he found to fit him best, and stealing out of the cave, made off in the direction of the battlefield.
There was nothing at first to be seen there but corpses and trunkless heads, so he waited a little time to see what would happen. About dawn he perceived a mound near him open of itself, and an old woman in a blue cloak come out with a glass phial in her hand. He noticed her go up to a dead warrior, and having picked up his head, smear his neck with some ointment out of the phial and place the head and trunk together. Instantly the warrior stood erect, a living man.
The hag repeated this to two or three, until the boy seeing now the secret of the thing, rushed up to her and stabbed her to death as well as the men she had raised, who were yet stupid and heavy as if after sleep. Then taking the phial, he tried whether he could revive the corpses with the ointment, and found on experiment that he could do so successfully. So he amused himself for a while in reviving the men and killing them again, till, at sunrise, his companions arrived on the field.
They were mightily astonished to see him there, and told him that they had missed him as well as some of their weapons and armour; but they were rejoiced to find their enemies lying dead on the field instead of being alive and awaiting them in battle array, and asked the lad how he had got the idea of thus going at night to the battlefield, and what he had done.
He told them all that had passed, showed them the phial of ointment, and, in order to prove its power, smeared, the neck of one of the corpses, who at once rose to his feet, but was instantly killed again by the cavemen. They thanked the boy heartily for the service he had rendered them, and begged him to remain among them, offering him at the same time money for his work.
He declared that he was quite willing, paid or unpaid, to stay with them, as long as they liked to keep him. The cavemen were well pleased with his answer, and having embraced the lad, set to work to strip their enemies of their weapons: made a heap of them with the old woman on the top, and burned them; and then, going into the mound, appropriated to themselves all the treasures they found there.
After this they proposed the game of killing each other, to try how it was to die, as they could restore one another to life again. So they killed each other, but by smearing themselves with the ointment, they at once returned to life.
Now this was great sport for a while.
But once, when they had cut off the head of the lad, they put it on again wrongside before. And as the lad saw himself behind, he became as if mad with fright, and begged the men to release him by all means from such a painful sight.
But when the cave-folk had run to him and, cutting off his head, placed it on all right again. He came back to his full senses, and was as fearless as ever before.
The boy lived with them ever afterwards, and no more stories are told about him.
A poor widow had a son who was so courageous that not even the devil's mother would have frightened him, and therefore he was named in his childhood Jack Dreadnought. His mother was in continual terror lest something dreadful might happen to her son, as he was so plucky, nay foolhardy, and determined to use all possible means to teach him to fear. For this reason she sent him to the clergy man of the village as "mendicant," and requested the minister to use all his knowledge in trying to teach her son to ?ear.
The clergyman left nothing untried to make the boy frightened; he told him all sorts of ghostly and horrible tales, but these, instead of frightening the lad, made him only more anxious to make the acquaintance of ghosts similar to those mentioned in the tales.
The clergyman thereupon hit upon the idea of introducing some sham ghosts in order to break Jack Dreadnought's intrepidity. He fixed upon the three nights before Christmas; on these nights the lad had to go to ring the bells at midnight in the tower that stood at the very end of the village, and the clergyman thought that he could find some opportunity of frightening Jack. He took an old cassock and stuffed it with straw and placed it before the tower door with one hand on the handle. Midnight came and Jack went to ring the bells and discovered the dummy in the cassock.
"Who are you?" he called out, but received no reply. "Very well," said the boy, "if you won't answer I will tell you this, that if you don't clear off from that door I'll kick you in the stomach that you will turn twelve somersaults."
As there was no reply, Jack in his rage took hold of the dummy's collar and threw him on the ground with such violence that it rolled away three fathoms, and then, as if nothing had happened, went up into the tower, rang the bells, and went home.
The clergyman, as his first experiment did not succeed, made two dummies the next day, which were exactly alike; one he placed in the same position as before at the door of the tower, the other near the bell ropes. At midnight Jack again went to ring the bells and, as before, made short work of the first dummy; as he did not receive any reply he took him by the collar and threw him on the ground.
When he went up into the tower and saw that the rope was held by another, he thought it was the first one, and thus addressed him, "Well, my friend, you've come here, have you? You hadn't enough with the first fall? Answer me or I will dash you on the ground so that you will not be able to get up again," and as the dummy did not reply Jack took it by the throat and pitched it from the window of the tower, and it whizzed through the air.
The clergyman had had two unsuccessful experiments but he had great confidence in the third. He made three dummies this time, two were placed as before and the third he stood on the bell so that it might prevent it ringing. Jack Dreadnought dealt with the two first dummies as on the previous night, but as he was about to ring, to his astonishment, he discovered the dummy on the bell; he was not frightened, but when he saw that it would not come down, after a polite request, took it angrily by one leg and pitched it through the window like a cat.
The clergyman had now come to the conclusion that he was unable to teach Jack fear, and now commenced to plan how he might get rid of him.
The next morning he called him, and thus spoke to him: "Jack, you are a fine courageous fellow; go, take my grey horse, and as much provisions as you think will last you three days, and go into the world and follow your nose; do not stop all day, but take up your night quarter wherever darkness finds you. Do this for three days, and settle. down where you spend the third night, and you will be prosperous."
The clergyman thought that Jack would perish on the way; but we shall see whether he did. Jack started off the first day, and in the evening came to a narrow, round timber hut, which was rather high, and he decided to sleep there. As he found it empty he made a fire in its centre and commenced to fry some bacon; all of a sudden he felt something dripping, he looked up and saw something like a human form dangling in the air.
"Well, upon my word," shouted he, "the devil won't leave me alone even here. Get down from there, will you, or do you expect me to take you down?"
No reply came, and Jack, with a clever jump, caught hold of one of his legs, and brought it down, but the head was torn off and fell down. Only then he discovered that it was a hanged man, but he did not think much of it, and stayed there all night.
He travelled the whole of the next day; in the evening he reached an inn and asked for a room, and received in reply that they had an empty room on the upper floor, the only one vacant; but that no one could sleep there, as the place was haunted.
"What!" shouted Jack; "Oh! I know those ghosts; let me have a dish of good food, a mouthful of good wine, and a burning candle in the upper room, and I will sleep there. I swear by Beelzebub that the ghosts will come no more!"
The innkeeper tried to dissuade Jack froin his foolhardy attempt, but he would not give way. He was shown into the room; it was a large apartment on the upper floor. Jack placed the lighted candle in the middle; a dishful of food and a jug of wine by the side of it; and settled down in a chair, waiting for the awful ghosts. No sooner had the clock struck midnight than, all of a sudden, a fearful chorus of animal noises was to be heard, like the howling of dogs, neighing of horses, bellowing of cattle, roaring of wild beasts, bleating of sheep and of goats, and also crying, laughing, and clanking of chains.
Jack was quite delighted with the nocturnal concert; but, all of a sudden a big skull rolled in through the door and stopped by the side of the dish. Jack stared at it, and, instead of the skull, he saw an old monk standing before him with long heavy chains.
"Good evening, brother friar!" shouted Jack, "pray have supper with me."
"I'm going from here," said the friar, "and I want you to come too; I will show you something."
"With pleasure," replied Jack. "Will you lead the way, you devil, or you reverend gentleman?"
There upon Jack followed the friar with the lighted candle. When they arrived at the stairs the friar insisted upon his going first, but Jack would not; and the friar was obliged to lead the way. Next they came to a narrow landing at the top of the cellar stairs. Here, again, the friar invited him to go first, but he would not; and so the apparition had to go first. But, as, soon as he went down a few steps, Jack gave the friar such a push with such dexterity that he went head over heels down the steps and broke his neck.
In the morning the innkeeper had the friar buried. He made Jack a handsome present, and the latter continued his journey. Jack Dreadnought rode the whole next day, and in the evening again came to an inn, where he could not get any room except up stairs, where no one else would sleep, on account of ghostly visitors. Jack took the room and was again enjoying his supper in the centre, when the old clock struck midnight.
The same sort of music struck his ear as on the previous night, and, amid a great crash, a human hand dropped from the ceiling to near his dish. Jack, in cold blood, took up the hand and threw it behind the door. Another hand fell and went the same way. Now a leg came, and this, too, went behind the door. Then came its fellow, which was soon despatched to the rest. At last a big skull dropped right into the middle of the dish and broke it.
Jack got into a rage, and threw the skull violently behind the door; and, on looking back, he found, instead of the limbs, an immense ghost standing behind the door, whom Jack at once taxed with the damage done to the dish, demanding payment.
The ghost replied, "Very well; I will pay for it, if you come with me." Jack consented, and they went off together; as before, he always insisted on the ghost going first. They came to a long winding staircase, and down into a huge cellar. Jack opened his eyes and mouth wide when he found in the cellar three vats full of gold, six vats of silver, and twelve vats of copper coins.
Then the ghost said to him, "There, choose a vat full of coins for your dish, and take it whenever you like."
But Jack, how ever, did not touch the money, but replied, " Not I; do you suppose that I will carry that money? Whoever brought it here, let him take it away."
"Well done," replied the ghost. I see I've found my man at last. Had you touched the treasure you would have died a sudden death; but now, since you are such a fine courageous fellow, the like of whom I have never seen before, settle down in this place and use the treasure in peace; nobody will ever disturb or haunt you any more."
After these words the ghost disappeared. Jack became the owner of the immense treasure, and married the innkeeper's only daughter, who was very pretty, and lives with her to this day, if he has not died since, enjoying life and spending the money he found in the vats in the cellar.
They were sitting together on a winter's evening, when a storm suddenly sprang up, and the wind blew the door open. The woman started and shivered, and glanced over her shoulder as if she half expected to see some horrible thing behind her.
"Go and shut the door," she said hastily to her son, "I feel frightened."
"Frightened?" repeated the boy. "What does it feel like to be frightened?"
"Well -- just frightened," answered the mother. "A fear of something, you hardly know what, takes hold of you."
"It must be very odd to feel like that," replied the boy. "I will go through the world and seek fear till I find it."
And the next morning, before his mother was out of bed, he had left the forest behind him.
After walking for some hours he reached a mountain, which he began to climb. Near the top, in a wild and rocky spot, he came upon a band of fierce robbers, sitting round a fire.
The boy, who was cold and tired, was delighted to see the bright flames, so he went up to them and said, "Good greeting to you, sirs," and wriggled himself in between the men, till his feet almost touched the burning logs.
The robbers stopped drinking and eyed him curiously, and at last the captain spoke: "No caravan of armed men would dare to come here, even the very birds shun our camp, and who are you to venture in so boldly?"
"Oh, I have left my mother"s house in search of fear. Perhaps you can show it to me?"
"Fear is wherever we are," answered the captain.
"But where?" asked the boy, looking round. "I see nothing."
"Take this pot and some flour and butter and sugar over to the churchyard which lies down there, and bake us a cake for supper," replied the robber.
And the boy, who was by this time quite warm, jumped up cheerfully, and slinging the pot over his arm, ran down the hill. When he got to the churchyard he collected some sticks and made a fire; then he filled the pot with water from a little stream close by, and mixing the flour and butter and sugar together, he set the cake on to cook. It was not long before it grew crisp and brown, and then the boy lifted it from the pot and placed it on a stone, while he put out the fire.
At that moment a hand was stretched from a grave, and a voice said: "Is that cake for me?"
"Do you think I am going to give to the dead the food of the living?" replied the boy, with a laugh.
And giving the hand a tap with his spoon, and picking up the cake, he went up the mountain side, whistling merrily.
"Well, have you found fear?" asked the robbers when he held out the cake to the captain.
"No; was it there?" answered the boy. "I saw nothing but a hand which came from a grave, and belonged to someone who wanted my cake, but I just rapped the fingers with my spoon, and said it was not for him, and then the hand vanished. Oh, how nice the fire is!"
And he flung himself on his knees before it, and so did not notice the glances of surprise cast by the robbers at each other.
"There is another chance for you," said one at length. "On the other side of the mountain lies a deep pool; go to that, and perhaps you may meet fear on the way."
"I hope so, indeed," answered the boy. And he set out at once.
He soon beheld the waters of the pool gleaming in the moonlight, and as he drew near he saw a tall swing standing just over it, and in the swing a child was seated, weeping bitterly.
"That is a strange place for a swing," thought the boy; "but I wonder what he is crying about."
And he was hurrying on towards the child, when a maiden ran up and spoke to him. "I want to lift my little brother from the swing," cried she, "but it is so high above me, that I cannot reach. If you will get closer to the edge of the pool, and let me mount on your shoulder, I think I can reach him."
"Willingly," replied the boy, and in an instant the girl had climbed to his shoulders. But instead of lifting the child from the swing, as she could easily have done, she pressed her feet so firmly on each side of the youth's neck, that he felt that in another minute he would be choked, or else fall into the water beneath him. So, gathering up all his strength, he gave a mighty heave, and threw the girl backwards. As she touched the ground a bracelet fell from her arm, and this the youth picked up.
"I may as well keep it as a remembrance of all the queer things that have happened to me since I left home," he said to himself, and turning to look for the child, he saw that both it and the swing had vanished, and that the first streaks of dawn were in the sky.
With the bracelet on his arm, the youth started for a little town which was situated in the plain on the further side of the mountain, and as, hungry and thirsty, he entered its principal street, a Jew stopped him.
"Where did you get that bracelet?" asked the Jew. "It belongs to me."
"No, it is mine," replied the boy.
"It is not. Give it to me at once, or it will be the worse for you!" cried the Jew.
"Let us go before a judge, and tell him our stories," said the boy. "If he decides in your favour, you shall have it; if in mine, I will keep it!"
To this the Jew agreed, and the two went together to the great hall, in which the kadi was administering justice. He listened very carefully to what each had to say, and then pronounced his verdict. Neither of the two claimants had proved his right to the bracelet, therefore it must remain in the possession of the judge till its fellow was brought before him.
When they heard this, the Jew and the boy looked at each other, and their eyes said: "Where are we to go to find the other one?"
But as they knew there was no use in disputing the decision, they bowed low and left the hall of audience.
Wandering he knew not whither, the youth found himself on the seashore. At a little distance was a ship which had struck on a hidden rock, and was rapidly sinking, while on deck the crew were gathered, with faces white as death, shrieking and wringing their hands.
"Have you met with fear?" shouted the boy.
And the answer came above the noise of the waves: "Oh, help! help! We are drowning!"
Then the boy flung off his clothes, and swam to the ship, where many hands were held out to draw him on board.
"The ship is tossed hither and thither, and will soon be sucked down," cried the crew again. "Death is very near, and we are frightened!"
"Give me a rope," said the boy in reply, and he took it, and made it safe round his body at one end, and to the mast at the other, and sprang into the sea.
Down he went, down, down, down, till at last his feet touched the bottom, and he stood up and looked about him. There, sure enough, a sea-maiden with a wicked face was tugging hard at a chain which she had fastened to the ship with a grappling iron, and was dragging it bit by bit beneath the waves.
Seizing her arms in both his hands, he forced her to drop the chain, and the ship above remaining steady, the sailors were able gently to float her off the rock. Then taking a rusty knife from a heap of seaweed at his feet, he cut the rope round his waist and fastened the sea-maiden firmly to a stone, so that she could do no more mischief, and bidding her farewell, he swam back to the beach, where his clothes were still lying.
The youth dressed himself quickly and walked on till he came to a beautiful shady garden filled with flowers, and with a clear little stream running through. The day was hot, and he was tired, so he entered the gate, and seated himself under a clump of bushes covered with sweet-smelling red blossoms, and it was not long before he fell asleep.
Suddenly a rush of wings and a cool breeze awakened him, and raising his head cautiously, he saw three doves plunging into the stream. They splashed joyfully about, and shook themselves, and then dived to the bottom of a deep pool. When they appeared again they were no longer three doves, but three beautiful damsels, bearing between them a table made of mother of pearl. On this they placed drinking cups fashioned from pink and green shells, and one of the maidens filled a cup from a crystal goblet, and was raising it to her mouth, when her sister stopped her.
"To whose health do you drink?" asked she.
"To the youth who prepared the cake, and rapped my hand with the spoon when I stretched it out of the earth," answered the maiden, "and was never afraid as other men were! But to whose health do you drink?"
"To the youth on whose shoulders I climbed at the edge of the pool, and who threw me off with such a jerk, that I lay unconscious on the ground for hours," replied the second. "But you, my sister," added she, turning to the third girl, "to whom do you drink?"
"Down in the sea I took hold of a ship and shook it and pulled it till it would soon have been lost," said she. And as she spoke she looked quite different from what she had done with the chain in her hands, seeking to work mischief. "But a youth came, and freed the ship and bound me to a rock. To his health I drink," and they all three lifted their cups and drank silently.
As they put their cups down, the youth appeared before them.
"Here am I, the youth whose health you have drunk; and now give me the bracelet that matches a jewelled band which of a surety fell from the arm of one of you. A Jew tried to take it from me, but I would not let him have it, and he dragged me before the kadi, who kept my bracelet till I could show him its fellow. And I have been wandering hither and thither in search of it, and that is how I have found myself in such strange places."
"Come with us, then," said the maidens, and they led him down a passage into a hall, out of which opened many chambers, each one of greater splendour than the last. From a shelf heaped up with gold and jewels the eldest sister took a bracelet, which in every way was exactly like the one which was in the judge's keeping, and fastened it to the youth's arm.
"Go at once and show this to the kadi," said she, "and he will give you the fellow to it."
"I shall never forget you," answered the youth, "but it may be long before we meet again, for I shall never rest till I have found fear."
Then he went his way, and won the bracelet from the kadi. After this, he again set forth in his quest of fear.
On and on walked the youth, but fear never crossed his path, and one day he entered a large town, where all the streets and squares were so full of people, he could hardly pass between them.
"Why are all these crowds gathered together?" he asked of a man who stood next him.
"The ruler of this country is dead," was the reply, "and as he had no children, it is needful to choose a successor. Therefore each morning one of the sacred pigeons is let loose from the tower yonder, and on whomsoever the bird shall perch, that man is our king. In a few minutes the pigeon will fly. Wait and see what happens."
Every eye was fixed on the tall tower which stood in the centre of the chief square, and the moment that the sun was seen to stand straight over it, a door was opened and a beautiful pigeon, gleaming with pink and grey, blue and green, came rushing through the air. Onward it flew, onward, onward, till at length it rested on the head of the boy.
Then a great shout arose: "The king! the king!" but as he listened to the cries, a vision, swifter than lightning, flashed across his brain. He saw himself seated on a throne, spending his life trying, and never succeeding, to make poor people rich; miserable people happy; bad people good; never doing anything he wished to do, not able even to marry the girl that he loved.
"No! no!" he shrieked, hiding his face in his hands; but the crowds who heard him thought he was overcome by the grandeur that awaited him, and paid no heed.
"Well, to make quite sure, let fly more pigeons," said they, but each pigeon followed where the first had led, and the cries arose louder than ever: "The king! the king!"
And as the young man heard, a cold shiver, that he knew not the meaning of, ran through him.
"This is fear whom you have so long sought," whispered a voice, which seemed to reach his ears alone. And the youth bowed his head as the vision once more flashed before his eyes, and he accepted his doom, and made ready to pass his life with fear beside him.
In the suburbs of a certain city there was a mosque in which none could sleep a night and live. Some said it was haunted by malevolent fairies; others, that it was under the baneful influence of a magic spell; some proposed to put up a notice warning people not to sleep there, and others advised that the door should be kept locked.
At last a stranger came to that city and desired to sleep in the mosque, saying that he did not fear to risk his life, as the life of the body was naught, and God has said, "Wish for death if you are sincere." [Koran, ii, 88]
The men of the city warned him again and again of the danger, and rebuked him for his foolhardiness, reminding him that not improbably Satan was tempting him to his own destruction, as he tempted the men of Mecca at the battle of Bedr. [Koran, viii, 50]
The stranger, however, would not be dissuaded, but persisted in his purpose of sleeping in the mosque. He said that he was as one of the devoted agents of the Ismailians, who were always ready to sacrifice their lives at the bidding of their chiefs, and that the terrors of death did not appal him any more than the noise of a little drum beaten by a boy to scare away birds could appal the great drum-bearing camel that used to march at the head of King Mahmud's army.
Accordingly, he slept in the mosque, and at midnight he was awakened by a terrible voice, as of one about to attack him. But instead of being dismayed, he bethought himself of the text "Assault them with thy horsemen and thy footmen" [Koranxvii, 66], and confronted his unseen foe, challenging him to show himself and stand to his arms.
At these words the spell was dissipated, and showers of gold fell on all sides, which the brave hero proceeded to appropriate.
The girl stood at the courtyard gate, and when the boy came back from town, a white figure was standing at the gate.
He came up close and said: "What are you standing here for? Go away and let me go into the house!"
But when the maid won't let him pass, he said: "Shove off, or I'll hit you on the neck with the jug, until you've had enough!"
This frightened the girl, and she ran away.
Then the boy went in to the priest, and the priest asked: "Well, what did you see on the way home?"
He replied: "I didn't see anything unusual, but but a white fellow was standing here at the courtyard gate. I was about to hit him on the neck with the beer jug, but then he ran away."
The next day the priest sent the boy away again and had the girl put on white clothes again and ordered her to stand in the gate and this time not to run away. When the boy came home, look, there was someone standing at the gate.
"Are you standing here again?" he cried, get away or I'll hit you with the jug on the neck until you've had enough!"
But the girl did not budge, and so he struck and killed her.
Then he went in to the priest, and the priest asked him: "Where did you leave the jug of beer?"
He answered: "I saw the white fellow standing at the gate again, so I hit him on the neck with the jug. The jug broke, and I killed the white fellow."
The priest was startled. He went out and quietly buried the maid.
Another time he sent the boy to spend the night in the chapel in the churchyard. The boy took two chairs, a bottle of brandy, a deck of cards, and a candle with him. He sat down on one of the chairs as though he were in a chapel service. When night fell he heard something scratching behind the altar. It was a dead man.
Then the boy said: "Come over here. Let's play a little game and have a drink."
The dead man came to him. They played together, and the dead man lost the game. At the stroke of twelve the dead man disappeared. The boy fell asleep in his chair and slept until morning. Then he got up and went home. The next evening the priest sent the boy back to the chapel, and this time he took another chair with him and sat down again in the one chair.
Again he heard something scraping behind the altar, and he said: "Come over here. Let's play a little game and have a drink!"
Then two dead men came and played. But the two dead men lost, and at the stroke of twelve they disappeared. The boy fell asleep again and went home in the morning.
The next evening he took four chairs with him, sat down, and as he sat there he heard something scraping behind the altar again.
He said: "Come over here. Let's play a little game and have a drink!"
Three dead men came to him. After they had been playing for a good while the boy looked at his watch. It would soon be time for the dead men to disappear.
Then he tore the hats off the three of them and said: "Now you must pay me for the three nights, you for the two nights, and you for the one night."
One of the dead men said: "In the churchyard there is a bag full of money. You can have it for the three nights."
The second one said: "Under the cross there is a kettle full of money. You can have it for the two nights."
And the third one said: "There is a bone in the churchyard, and you can take it. It will be payment enough for the one night. If you see something frightening, you only have to shake the bone at it, and the horror will leave you alone."
The boy said to them: "You go and fetch the things yourselves. You'll not get your hats back until I have these things."
So they went, and the first one brought the moneybag, the second the kettle of money, and the third the bone. The boy gave them their hats back, and they disappeared. Then he fell asleep in his chair.
The next morning the priest came by while he was still sleeping peacefully. The priest wanted to see what he was doing. The kettle cauldron full of money was standing next to the boy, and the priest wanted to fill his pockets with the money.
The boy woke up and shouted: "Hands off! That's my money!"
And then the priest had to back off.
When the priest saw that the boy could not be taught to be afraid, he sent him back to his father. He said that he had no more means of teaching him. The father should do with him what he liked.
Back at home, the boy gave his father the kettle full of money, but he kept the moneybag and the bone for himself.
He then went into a forest and in the evening he found a hut there and went inside. There was a stove in the hut, so he lit a fire and sat there stoking it.
After a little while a coffin was thrown into the room toward him. The boy cut away the coffin boards and used them to feed the fire. He placed the dead man, who was quite stiff, by the fire. When the dead man grew warm, he fell over.
The boy said to him: "Why don't stay standing up the way that I put you?" He raised the dead man up again, but he fell down again.
The boy said again: "Why don't stay standing up the way that I put you?"
He raise him up again, and again the dead man fell down.
This time he gave him one behind the ears, saying: " Why don't stay standing up the way that I put you?"
The next evening the boy came to another hut. There he climbed onto the stove and wanted to sleep the night there. However, a devil's wedding came in and started to dance. He saw a girl there. She was very beautiful, and he wanted to pull her away from the others.
The next evening he lay down on the stove again, and the devil's wedding came again. This time he did pull the beautiful girl away from the others.
The devils said: "Give the beautiful girl back to us! We have to dance!"
He replied: "You have enough girls and can dance."
He did not give the girl back to them.
Then the devils let worms come at him from all sides, but he shook the bone, and all the worms all went away.
Then the girl said to him: "Don't give me back to the devils tomorrow tomorrow night or the night after tomorrow, and everything will be fine."
The next evening, when the devil's wedding came again, he caught the girl again and kept her to himself.
Devils said, "Give us the girl!"
He replied: "You have enough girls, and you can dance."
They let the worms come at him again, but he shook the bone, and all the worms disappeared.
And the girl said to him, "Keep me with you one more night!"
The next evening he caught her again and did not give her to the devils.
The devils said: "Give us the girl! We have to dance!"
He replied: "You have enough girls, and you can dance."
Thus he had taken her away from the devils for three nights, and so she was redeemed, and he married her.
There was a great forest there, which turned into an army. The dead man who had been thrown into the coffin was a king. And they all lived gloriously and in joy, and they are still alive if they have not died.
There was once a minister who spent his whole time in trying to find a servant who would undertake to ring the church bells at midnight, in addition to all his other duties.
Of course it was not everyone who cared to get up in the middle of the night, when he had been working hard all day; still, a good many had agreed to do it. But the strange thing was that no sooner had the servant set forth to perform his task than he disappeared, as if the earth had swallowed him up. No bells were rung, and no ringer ever came back.
The minister did his best to keep the matter secret, but it leaked out for all that, and the end of it was that no one would enter his service. Indeed, there were even those who whispered that the minister himself had murdered the missing men!
It was to no purpose that Sunday after Sunday the minister gave out from his pulpit that double wages would be paid to anyone that would fulfil the sacred duty of ringing the bells of the church. No one took the slightest notice of any offer he might make, and the poor man was in despair, when one day, as he was standing at his house door, a youth known in the village as Clever Hans came up to him.
"I am tired of living with a miser who will not give me enough to eat and drink," said he, "and I am ready to do all you want."
"Very good, my son," replied the minister, "you shall have the chance of proving your courage this very night. Tomorrow we will settle what your wages are to be."
Hans was quite content with this proposal, and went straight into the kitchen to begin his work, not knowing that his new master was quite as stingy as his old one. In the hope that his presence might be a restraint upon them, the minister used to sit at the table during his servants' meals, and would exhort them to drink much and often, thinking that they would not be able to eat as well, and beef was dearer than beer. But in Hans he had met his match, and the minister soon found to his cost that in his case at any rate a full cup did not mean an empty plate.
About an hour before midnight, Hans entered the church and locked the door behind him, but what was his surprise when, in place of the darkness and silence he expected, he found the church brilliantly lighted, and a crowd of people sitting round a table playing cards. Hans felt no fear at this strange sight, or was prudent enough to hide it if he did, and, going up to the table, sat down amongst the players.
One of them looked up and asked, "My friend, what are you doing here?"
Hans gazed at him for a moment, then laughed and answered, "Well, if anybody has a right to put that question, it is I! And if do not put it, it will certainly be wiser for you not to do so!"
Then he picked up some cards, and played with the unknown men as if he had known them all his life. The luck was on his side, and soon the money of the other gamblers found its way from their pockets into his. On the stroke of midnight the cock crew, and in an instant lights, table, cards, and people all had vanished, and Hans was left alone.
He groped about for some time, till he found the staircase in the tower, and then began to feel his way up the steps.
On the first landing a glimmer of light came through a slit in the wall, and he saw a tiny man sitting there, without a head.
"Ho! ho! my little fellow, what are you doing there?" asked Hans, and, without waiting for an answer, gave him a kick which sent him flying down the stairs.
Then he climbed higher still, and finding as he went dumb watchers sitting on every landing, treated them as he had done the first.
At last he reached the top, and as he paused for a moment to look round him he saw another headless man cowering in the very bell itself, waiting till Hans should seize the bell-pull in order to strike him a blow with the clapper, which would soon have made an end of him.
"Stop, my little friend!" cried Hans. "That is not part of the bargain! Perhaps you saw how your comrades walked down stairs, and you are going after them. But as you are in the highest place you shall make a more dignified exit, and follow them through the window!"
With these words he began to climb the ladder, in order to take the little man from the bell and carry out his threat.
At this the dwarf cried out imploringly, "Oh, brother! spare my life, and I promise that neither I nor my comrades will ever trouble you any more. I am small and weak, but who knows whether some day I shall not be able to reward you."
"You wretched little shrimp," replied Hans, "a great deal of good your gratitude is likely to do me! But as I happen to be feeling in a cheerful mood tonight I will let you have your life. But take care how you come across me again, or you may not escape so easily!"
The headless man thanked him humbly, slid hastily down the bell rope, and ran down the steps of the tower as if he had left a fire behind him.
Then Hans began to ring lustily.
When the minister heard the sound of the midnight bells he wondered greatly, but rejoiced that he had at last found some one to whom he could trust this duty. Hans rang the bells for some time, then went to the hay-loft, and fell fast asleep.
Now it was the custom of the minister to get up very early, and to go round to make sure that the men were all at their work. This morning everyone was in his place except Hans, and no one knew anything about him. Nine o'clock came, and no Hans, but when eleven struck the minister began to fear that he had vanished like the ringers who had gone before him. When, however, the servants all gathered round the table for dinner, Hans at last made his appearance stretching himself and yawning.
"Where have you been all this time?" asked the minister.
"Asleep," said Hans.
"Asleep!" exclaimed the minister in astonishment. "You don't mean to tell me that you can go on sleeping till mid-day?"
"That is exactly what I do mean," replied Hans. "If one works in the night one must sleep in the day, just as if one works in the day one sleeps in the night. If you can find somebody else to ring the bells at midnight I am ready to begin work at dawn; but if you want me to ring them I must go on sleeping till noon at the very earliest."
The minister tried to argue the point with him, but at length the following agreement was come to. Hans was to give up the ringing, and was to work like the rest from sunrise to sunset, with the exception of an hour after breakfast and an hour after dinner, when he might go to sleep.
"But, of course," added the minister carelessly, "it may happen now and then, especially in winter, when the days are short, that you will have to work a little longer, to get something finished."
"Not at all!" answered Hans. "Unless I were to leave off work earlier in summer, I will not do a stroke more than I have promised, and that is from dawn to dark; so you know what you have to expect."
A few weeks later the minister was asked to attend a christening in the neighbouring town. He bade Hans come with him, but, as the town was only a few hours' ride from where he lived, the minister was much surprised to see Hans come forth laden with a bag containing food.
"What are you taking that for?" asked the minister. "We shall be there before dark."
"Who knows?" replied Hans. "Many things may happen to delay our journey, and I need not remind you of our contract that the moment the sun sets I cease to be your servant. If we don't reach the town while it is still daylight I shall leave you to shift for yourself."
The minister thought he was joking, and made no further remark. But when they had left the village behind them, and had ridden a few miles, they found that snow had fallen during the night, and had been blown by the wind into drifts. This hindered their progress, and by the time they had entered the thick wood which lay between them and their destination the sun was already touching the tops of the trees. The horses ploughed their way slowly through the deep soft snow and as they went Hans kept turning to look at the sun, which lay at their backs.
"Is there anything behind you?" asked the minister. "Or what is it you are always turning round for? "
"I turn round because I have no eyes in the back of my neck," said Hans.
"Cease talking nonsense," replied the minister, "and give all your mind to getting us to the town before nightfall."
Hans did not answer, but rode on steadily, though every now and then he cast a glance over his shoulder.
When they arrived in the middle of the wood the sun sank altogether. Then Hans reined up his horse, took his knapsack, and jumped out of the sledge.
"What are you doing? Are you mad?" asked the minister, but Hans answered quietly, "The sun is set and my work is over, and I am going to camp here for the night."
In vain the master prayed and threatened, and promised Hans a large reward if he would only drive him on. The young man was not to be moved.
"Are you not ashamed to urge me to break my word? " said he. "If you want to reach the town tonight you must go alone. The hour of my freedom has struck, and I cannot go with you."
"My good Hans," entreated the minister, " I really ought not to leave you here. Consider what danger you would be in! Yonder, as you see, a gallows is set up, and two evil-doers are hanging on it. You could not possibly sleep with such ghastly neighbours."
"Why not?" asked Hans. "Those gallows birds hang high in the air, and my camp will be on the ground; we shall have nothing to do with each other."
As he spoke, he turned his back on the minister, and went his way.
There was no help for it, and the minister had to push on by himself, if he expected to arrive in time for the christening. His friends were much surprised to see him drive up without a coachman, and thought some accident had happened. But when he told them of his conversation with Hans they did not know which was the most foolish, master or man.
It would have mattered little to Hans had he known what they were saying or thinking of him. He satisfied his hunger with the food he had in his knapsack, lit his pipe, pitched his tent under the boughs of a tree, wrapped himself in his furs, and went sound asleep.
After some hours, he was awakened by a sudden noise, and sat up and looked about him. The moon was shining brightly above his head, and close by stood two headless dwarfs, talking angrily.
At the sight of Hans the little dwarfs cried out: "It is he! It is he!" and one of them stepping nearer exclaimed, "Ah, my old friend! it is a lucky chance that has brought us here. My bones still ache from my fall down the steps of the tower. I dare say you have not forgotten that night! Now it is the turn of your bones. Hi! comrades, make haste! make haste!"
Like a swarm of midges, a host of tiny headless creatures seemed to spring straight out of the ground, and every one was armed with a club. Although they were so small, yet there were such numbers of them and they struck so hard that even a strong man could do nothing against them. Hans thought his last hour was come, when just as the fight was at the hottest another little dwarf arrived on the scene.
"Hold, comrades!" he shouted, turning to the attacking party. "This man once did me a service, and I am his debtor. When I was in his power he granted me my life. And even if he did throw you downstairs, well, a warm bath soon cured your bruises, so you must just forgive him and go quietly home."
The headless dwarfs listened to his words and disappeared as suddenly, as they had come. As soon as Hans recovered himself a little he looked at his rescuer, and saw he was the dwarf he had found seated in the church bell.
"Ah!" said the dwarf, seating himself quietly under the tree. "You laughed at me when I told you that some day I might do you a good turn. Now you see I was right, and perhaps you will learn for the future not to despise any creature, however small."
"I thank you from my heart," answered Hans. "My bones are still sore from their blows, and had it not been for you I should indeed have fared badly."
"I have almost paid rny debt," went on the little man, "but as you have suffered already, I will do more, and give you a piece of information. You need not remain any longer in the service of that stingy minister, but when you get home tomorrow go at once to the north corner of the church, and there you will find a large stone built into the wall, but not cemented like the rest. The day after tomorrow the moon is full, and at midnight you must go to the spot and get the stone out of the wall with a pickaxe. Under the stone lies a great treasure, which has been hidden there in time of war. Besides church plate, you will find bags of money, which have been lying in this place for over a hundred years, and no one knows to whom it all belongs. A third of this money you must give to the poor, but the rest you may keep for yourself."
As he finished, the cocks in the village crowed, and the little man was nowhere to be seen. Hans found that his limbs no longer pained him, and lay for some time thinking of the hidden treasure. Towards morning he fell asleep.
The sun was high in the heavens when his master returned from the town.
"Hans," said he, "what a fool you were not to come with me yesterday! I was well feasted and entertained, and I have money in my pocket into the bargain," he went on, rattling some coins while he spoke, to make Hans understand how much he had lost.
"Ah, sir," replied Hans calmly, "in order to have gained so much money you must have lain awake all night, but I have earned a hundred times that amount while I was sleeping soundly."
"How did you manage that?" asked the minister eagerly, but Hans answered, "It is only fools who boast of their farthings; wise men take care to hide their crowns."
They drove home, and Hans neglected none of his duties, but put up the horses and gave them their food before going to the church corner, where he found the loose stone, exactly in the place described by the dwarf. Then he returned to his work.
The first night of the full moon, when the whole village was asleep, he stole out, armed with a pickaxe, and with much difficulty succeeded in dislodging the stone from its place. Sure enough, there was the hole, and in the hole lay the treasure, exactly as the little man had said.
The following Sunday he handed over the third part to the village poor, and informed the minister that he wished to break his bond of service. As, however, he did not claim any wages, the minister made no objections, but allowed him to do as he wished. So Hans went his way, bought himself a large house, and married a young wife, and lived happily and prosperously to the end of his days.
It was the custom at that time when a person died for people to watch the dead person's grave in turn, one after another; for there used to be destroyers going about stealing the corpses.
When the mother of Carrol and Lawrence died, Carrol said to Lawrence "You say that nothing ever made you afraid yet, but I'll make a bet with you that you haven't courage to watch your mother's tomb tonight."
"I'll make a bet with you that I have," said Lawrence.
When the darkness of the night was coming, Lawrence put on his sword and went to the burying-ground. He sat down on a tombstone near his mother's grave till it was far in the night and sleep was coming upon him.
Then he saw a big black thing coming to him, and when it came near him he saw that it was a head without a body that was in it. He drew the sword to give it a blow if it should come any nearer, but it didn't come. Lawrence remained looking at it until the light of the day was coming, then the head-without-body went, and Lawrence came home.
Carrol asked him, did he see any thing in the graveyard.
"I did," said Lawrence, and my mother's body would be gone, but that I was guarding it."
"Was it dead or alive, the person you saw?" said Carrol.
"I don't know was it dead or alive," said Lawrence. "There was nothing in it but a head without a body."
"Weren't you afraid?" says Carrol.
"Indeed I wasn't," said Lawrence. Don't you know that nothing in the world ever put fear on me?"
"I'll bet again with you that you haven't the courage to watch tonight again," says Carrol.
"I would make that bet with you," said Lawrence, but that there is a night's sleep wanting to me. Go yourself tonight."
"I wouldn't go to the graveyard tonight if I were to get the riches of the world," says Carrol.
"Unless you go your mother's body will be gone in the morning," says Lawrence.
"If only you watch tonight and to morrow night, I never will ask of you to do a turn of work as long as you will be alive," said Carrol, "but I think there is fear on you."
"To show you that there's no fear on me," said Lawrence, "I will watch."
He went to sleep, and when the evening came he rose up, put on his sword, and went to the graveyard. He sat on a tombstone near his mother's grave. About the middle of the night he heard a great sound coming. A big black thing came as far as the grave and began rooting up the clay. Lawrence drew back his sword, and with one blow he made two halves of the big black thing, and with the second blow he made two halves of each half, and he saw it no more.
Lawrence went home in the morning, and Carrol asked him did he see anything.
"I did," said Lawrence, "and only that I was there my mother's body would be gone."
"Is it the head-without-body that came again?" said Carrol.
"It was not, but a big black thing, and it was digging up my mother's grave until I made two halves of it."
Lawrence slept that day, and when the evening came he rose up, put on his sword, and went to the churchyard. He sat down on a tombstone until it was the middle of the night. Then he saw a thing as white as snow and as hateful as sin; it had a man's head; on it, and teeth as long as a flax-carder.
Lawrence drew back the sword and was going to deal it a blow, when it said "Hold your hand; you have saved your mother's body, and there is not man in Ireland as brave as you. There is great riches waiting for you if you go looking for it."
Lawrence went home, and Carrol asked him did he see anything.
"I did," said Lawrence, and but that I was there my mother's body would be gone, but there's no fear of.it now."
In the morning, the day on the morrow, Lawrence said to Carrol, "Give me my share of money, and I'll go on a journey, until I have a look round the country."
Carrol gave him the money, and he went walking. He went on until he came to a large town. He went into the house of a baker to get bread. The baker began talking to him, and asked him how far he was going.
"I am going looking for something that will put fear on me," said Lawrence.
"Have you much money?" said the baker.
"I have a half-hundred pounds," said Lawrence.
"I'll bet another half-hundred with you that there will be fear on you if you go to the place that I'll bid you," says the baker.
"I'll take your bet," said Lawrence, if only the place is not too far away from me."
"It's not a mile from the place where you're standing," said the baker. Wait here till the night comes, and then go to the graveyard, and as a sign that you were in it, bring me the goblet that is upon the altar of the old church (cill) that is in the graveyard.
When the baker made the bet he was certain that he would win, for there was a ghost in the churchyard, and nobody went into it for forty years before that whom he did not kill.
When the darkness of the night came, Lawrence put on his sword and went to the to the burying-ground. He came to the door of the churchyard and struck it with his sword. The door opened, and there came out a great black ram, and two horns on him as long as flails. Lawrence gave him a blow, and he went out of sight, leaving him up to the two ankles in blood. Lawrence went into the old church, got the goblet, came back to the baker's house, gave him the goblet, and got the bet.
Then the baker asked him did he see anything in the churchyard.
"I saw a big black ram with long horns on him," said Lawrence, "and I gave him a blow which drew as much blood out of him as would swim a boat; sure he must be dead by this time."
In the morning, the day on the morrow, the baker and a lot of people went to the graveyard and they saw the blood of the black ram at the door. They went to the priest and told him that the black ram was banished out of the churchyard.
The priest did not believe them, because the churchyard was shut up forty years before that on account of the ghost that was in it, and neither priest nor friar could banish him. The priest came with them to the door of the church yard, and when he saw the blood he took courage and sent for Lawrence, and heard the story from his own mouth. Then he sent for his blessing materials, and desired the people to come in till he read mass for them. The priest went in, and Lawrence and the people after him, and he read mass without the big black ram coming as he used to do.
The priest was greatly rejoiced, and gave Lawrence another fifty pounds.
On the morning of the next day Lawrence went on his way. He travelled the whole day without seeing a a house. About the hour of midnight he came to a great lonely valley, and he saw a large gathering of people looking at two men hurling.
Lawrence stood looking at them, as there was a bright light from the moon. It was the good people that were in it, and it was not long until one of them struck a blow on the ball and sent it into Lawrence's breast. He put his hand in after the ball to draw it out, and what was there in it but the head of a man.
When Lawrence got a hold of it, it began screeching, and at last it asked Lawrence, "Are you not afraid?"
"Indeed I am not," said Lawrence, and no sooner was the word spoken than both head and people disappeared, and he was left in the glen alone by himself.
He journeyed until he came to another town, and when he ate and drank enough, he went out on the road, and was walking until he came to a great house on the side of the road. As the night was closing in, he went in to try if he could get lodging.
There was a young man at the door who said to him, "How far are you going, or what are you in search of?"
"I do not know how far I am going, but I am in search of something that will put fear on me," said Lawrence.
"You have not far to go, then," said the young man. '"If you stop in that big house on the other side of the road there will be fear put on you before morning, and I'll give you twenty pounds into the bargain.
"I'll stop in it," said Lawrence.
The young man went with him, opened the door, and brought him into a large room in the bottom of the house, and said to him, "Put down fire for yourself and I'll send you plenty to eat and drink."
He put down a fire for himself, and there came a girl to him and brought him everything that he wanted.
He went on very well, until the hour of midnight came, and then he heard a great sound over his head, and it was not long until a stallion and a bull came in and commenced to fight. Lawrence never put to them nor from them, and when they were tired fighting they went out. Lawrence went to sleep, and he never awoke until the young man came in in the morning, and he was surprised when he saw Lawrence alive.
He asked him had he seen anything.
"I saw a stallion and a bull fighting hard for about two hours," said Lawrence.
"And weren't you afraid?" said the young man.
"I was not," says Lawrence.
"If you wait tonight again, I'll give you another twenty pounds," says the young man.
"I'll wait, and welcome," says Lawrence.
The second night, about ten o'clock, Lawrence was going to sleep, when two black rams came in and began fighting hard. Lawrence neither put to them nor from them, and when twelve o'clock struck they went out.
The young man came in the morning and asked him did he see anything last night.
"I saw two black rams fighting," said Lawrence.
"Were you afraid at all?" said the young man.
"I was not," said Lawrence.
"Wait tonight, and I'll give you another twenty pounds," says the young man.
"All right," says Lawrence.
The third night he was falling asleep, when there came in a gray old man and said to him, "You are the best hero in Ireland. I died twenty years ago, and all that time I have been in search of a man like you. Come with me now till I show you your riches. I told you when you were watching your mother's grave that there was great riches waiting for you."
He took Lawrence to a chamber under ground, and showed him a large pot filled with gold, and said to him, "You will have all that if you give twenty pounds to Mary Kerrigan the widow, and get her forgiveness for me for a wrong I did her. Then buy this house, marry my daughter, and you will be happy and rich as long as you live."
The next morning the young man came to Lawrence and asked him did he see anything last night.
"I did," said Lawrence, and it's certain that there will be a ghost always in it, but nothing in the world would frighten me; I'll buy the house and the land round it, if you like."
"I'll ask no price for the house, but I won't part with the land under a thousand pounds, and I'm sure you haven't that much."
"I have more than would buy all the land and all the herds you have," said Lawrence.
When the young man heard that Lawrence was so rich, he invited him to come to dinner. Lawrence went with him, and when the dead man's daughter saw him she fell in love with him.
Lawrence went to the house of Mary Kerrigan and gave her twenty pounds, and got her forgiveness for the dead man. Then he married the young man's sister and spent a happy life.
He died as he lived, without there being fear on him.
The son accepted the wager, and on the following night went down into the bone-house.
In the meantime the father had told a man to hide himself in the bone-house, and watch the boy.
When the boy got down amongst the bones, he picked up a skull.
Then the man who had hidden himself said, "Don't take that, for that's my mother's skull."
So the boy threw it down, and picked up another skull, when the man said, "Don't take that, for that's my grandmother's."
So the boy threw that down, and picked another up, but the man said, "And that's my grandfather's."
Then the boy shouted, "Why, they're all thy mother's, or thy grandmother's; but I've come for a skull, and I'll have one."
So the boy picked one up and ran home to his father, and won the wager.
So the farmer he up and say "Never you mind, my girl will go down to the public and bring us up another bottle."
But the night was very dark so his friends they say, "Surelie she'll be afeard to go out such a dark night by herself all alone."
But he say "No, she won't, for she's afeared of nothing that's alive nor dead."
So she went and she brought 'em back their licker, and his friends they say it was a wery funny thing she shewd be so bold.
But the farmer he say "That's nuthin at all for she'd go any where day or night for she ain't afeared of nothing that's alive or dead."
And he offered to bet a golden guinea that none of 'em could name a thing she would not dew. So one of 'em agreed to take the bet and they were to meet the same day as it might be next week and he was to set her her task.
Meanwhile he goes to the old passon and he borrows the key of the church and then he goes to the old sexton and right-sided it with him for half the guinea to go into the church and hide himself in the dead house so that he was to frighten the Dauntless Girl when she came.
So when they all met together at the farmer's he say "This is what the Dauntless Girl won't dew -- she won't go into the church alone at midnight and go to the dead house and bring back a skull bone."
But she made no trouble about it and up and went down to the church all along of herself and she opened the door of the dead house and she picked up a skull bone.
Then the old sexton from behind the door he muffled out "Let that be, that's my mother's skull bone."
So she put it down and picked up another.
Then the old sexton he muffled out again "Let that be that's my father's skull bone."
So she put that down tew and took up still another and she say out loud for she'd lost her temper, "Father or mother, sister or brother, I must hev a skull bone and that's my last word," and so she up and walked out with it and she locked the door of the dead house behind her and she come home and she put the skull bone on the table and she say "There's your skull bone, master," and she was for going back to her work.
But him as had made the bet he up and say "Didn't yew hear nothing, Mary?"
"Yes," she say, "some fule of a ghost called out to me, 'Let be that's my father's skull bone and let be that's my mother's skull bone,' but I told him right straight ' that father or mother, sister or brother, I must hev a skull bone, so I tuk it and here t'be and then as I was goin' away arter I had locked the door I heard the old ghost a hallering and shrieking like mad."
Then him as had made the bet was rarely upset, for he guessed it was the old sexton a hallerin' about for fear of being locked up all alone in the dead-house. And so it was for when they ran down to let him out they found him lying stone dead on his face a dead-o-fright.
And it sarved him right to try and terrify a poor mawther. But her master he gave her the golden guinea he had won.
A little while after down in Suffolk there was a squire and his mother, a very old lady and she died and was buried. But she would not rest and kept on coming into the house "specially at meals."
Sometimes you could see all of her, sometimes not all, but you'd see a knife and fork get up off the table and play about where her hands should be. Now this upset the servants so much that they would not stop, and the squire was sadly put to, to know what he should do.
One day he heard of the Dauntless Girl, tree villages off, who was feared at nowt. So he rode over and told her all about it, and asked her if she would come as servant, and she said she paid no regard to ghosts so she would come, but that it ought to be considered in her wages. And so it was and she went back with the squire. First thing she did was to allus lay a place regular for the ghost at meals and took great care not to put the knife and fork criss cross way. And she used to hand her the vegetables and the rest just as if she were real.
And would say "Peppaw, mum, or salt, mum, as it might be."
This fared to please the old ghost, but nothing come of it till squire had to go up to London on some law business.
Next day the Dauntless Girl was down on her knees a-cleaning the parlour grate when she noticed a thin thing push in through the door, which was just ajar and open out wide when it got into the room, till she turned out to be the old ghost.
Then the ghost, she up and spoke for the first time and she say, "Mary, are you afeared of me?" and the girl say, "No, mum, I've no call to be afeared of yew, for yew are dead and I'm alive," which fairly flummoxed the old ghost, but she went on and say "Mary, will yew come down into the cellar along o' me -- yew musent bring a light but I'll shine enow to light yew."
So they went down the cellar steps and she shone like an old lantern, and when they got down she pointed out to some loose tiles and said "Pick yew up those tiles."
So she did and there were tew bags of gold, one a big 'un and one a little 'un, and she said "Mary, that big bag's for your master and that little bag's for yew, for you are a dauntless girl and desarve it."
Then off went the old ghost and never was seen no more and the Dauntless Girl she had a main o' trouble to find her way up in the dark out of the cellar.
Then in tree days ' time, back there came the squire and he said "Morning, Mary, hae yew seen anything of my mother since I've been away?" and she said "Iss, sir, that I hev, and if yew ain't afraid of coming down into the cellar along o' me I'll show yew some thing."
And he larfed and said he wornt afraid if she wornt for the Dauntless Girl wor a very pretty girl.
So they lit a candle and went down and she opened up the tiles and she say there are the tew bags of gold, the little one is for yew and the big ' un is for me.
And he say "Lor!" for he thought his mother might have given him the big one (and so she had), but he took what he could.
And the Dauntless Girl she ollus afterwards crossed the knives and forks to keep the ghost from telling what she had done. But arter a while the squire thort it all over and he married the Dauntless Girl, so arter all he got both bags of gold, and he used to stick-lick her whensoever he got drunk. And I think she desarved it for deceiving the old ghost.
The challenge was accepted , and on a given night he started. Two of the men were to go and see that he did the job, and they hid themselves in the bone-house.
At the stroke of twelve he entered and took up a head , when a voice said, "Put that down! That's mine."
He did put it down, and took up another, when the voice again said, "Put that down! That's mine!"
"What?" he replied, "Did you have two heads? Then I'll have one of them."
And so he won his wager.
Finally some one set up a sign-board which said, "Any one who will go to this house and stay over night can have the house and all that is in it."
A poor boy came along and read it. "I will go," said he, and he went at sunset. He found all he wanted and went to work to cook his supper. Just as he was ready to eat it he heard a voice from the top of the chimney. He looked up and saw a leg.
The leg said, "I am going to drop."
"I don't keer," said the boy, "jes' so's you don' drap in my soup."
The leg jumped down on a chair, and another leg came and said, "I am going to drop."
"I don't keer," said the boy, "so you don' drap in my soup."
One after another, all the members of a man came down in this way.
The little boy said, "Will you have some supper? Will you have some supper?"
They gave him no answer.
"Oh," said the little boy, "I save my supper and manners, too."
He ate his supper and made up his bed.
"Will you have some bedroom? Will you have some bedroom? " said the little boy.
"Oh," said the little boy, "I save my bedroom and my manners, too," and he went to bed.
Soon after he went to bed the legs pulled him under the house and showed him a chest of money.
The little boy grew rich and married.
Once there was a man, an' he wanted a place to lodge jus' fur the night, him an' his friends. So the man saw a little light 'tween the trees, an' he followed the light. It led him to a little house way back in the woods. It was an old man standin' in the door.
The man says, "Say, Mister, have you got a place where I can lodge all night?''
He says, "There's a little house back there, but it's haunted. If you can stay in it, all right."
He says, ''I can stay any place the devil can stay."
So he says, "Come on, fellers, we've got a good place!"
So the man says, ''We can have a nice game of cards here too."
They all got around the table, an' had jus' finished a game of cards, when one man looked up, an' a pair of legs came down.
He said, ''Come on, let's go!"
The other men said, ''Let's stay here an' see what the end of it is.''
So they played a second game, an' a body came down. An' they kep' on playin', an' two arms came down.
The other man says, "How much longer you goin' to stay here?"'
He said, ''Don't be so scared! Nothin' ain't goin' to bother you."
He says, "I'm right here; if anything bothers you, it will bother me too."
Then the head come down. The man that was standin' in the middle of the floor said, "Well, what are yer doin' playin' cards in my house?"
So they all got up from the table, lef' everything they had, an' ran to the man's house.
The man says, ''What's the matter, fellers?''
The men say, "We can't stay in that place."
The man says, "Well, you said you could live anywhere the devil was.''
They say, "I know, but I can't live there."
Come along a woman with three children. She met a man.
"Could I stay all night at your house?''
Three miles from here he had a house.
''You're welcome to go. If you stay all night and tell me in the morning, I give you the house. You'll see things. You can't stay there."
Gave her a light, a flat lamp with a rag put in it. She found dat house just like people had left it. She fed de children. After a while something made a fuss. She kept a-readin' de Bible. Do' came open, a man came in. Looked as if he was wrapped in a sheet.
''In the name of the Father, the Son, an' the Holy Ghost, what do you want here?" She said dat three times.
Then he spoke. "You light your light sufficient an' go with me in the cellar. You take a knife an' a fork. Do what I tell you, an' I'll 'pear no more."
He showed her what to stick de knife at, an' what to stick de fork.
"Next morning you 'quire for de three brothers an' sister, an' go in an' find dis fork an' knife sticking up in de cellar. You'll find a pot of money, an' divide it up wit dese people. I'll pear no more."
De man who owned de house give her de place.
My mammy said her mammy knowed it was so, an' told her about it.
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Revised August 14, 2022.