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How Six Men Travelled Through The Wide World

from The Yellow Fairy Book





There was once upon a time a man who understood all sorts of
arts; he served in the war, and bore himself bravely and well;
but when the war was over, he got his discharge, and set out on
his travels with three farthings of his pay in his pocket.
'Wait,' he said; 'that does not please me; only let me find the
right people, and the King shall yet give me all the treasures of
his kingdom.' He strode angrily into the forest, and there he
saw a man standing who had uprooted six trees as if they were
straws. He said to him, 'Will you be my servant and travel with
me?'

'Yes,' he answered; 'but first of all I will take this little
bundle of sticks home to my mother,' and he took one of the trees
and wound it round the other five, raised the bundle on his
shoulders and bore it off. Then he came back and went with his
master, who said, 'We two ought to be able to travel through the
wide world!' And when they had gone a little way they came upon
a hunter, who was on his knees, his gun on his shoulder, aiming
at something. The master said to him, 'Hunter, what are you
aiming at?'

He answered, 'Two miles from this place sits a fly on a branch of
an oak; I want to shoot out its left eye.'

'Oh, go with me,' said the man; 'if we three are together we
shall easily travel through the wide world.'

The hunter agreed and went with him, and they came to seven
windmills whose sails were going round quite fast, and yet there
was not a breath of wind, nor was a leaf moving. The man said,
'I don't know what is turning those windmills; there is not the
slightest breeze blowing.' So he walked on with his servants,
and when they had gone two miles they saw a man sitting on a
tree, holding one of his nostrils and blowing out of the other.

'Fellow, what are you puffing at up there?' asked the man.

He replied, 'Two miles from this place are standing seven
windmills; see, I am blowing to drive them round.'

'Oh, go with me,' said the man; 'if we four are together we shall
easily travel through the wide world.'

So the blower got down and went with him, and after a time they
saw a man who was standing on one leg, and had unstrapped the
other and laid it near him. Then said the master, 'You have made
yourself very comfortable to rest!'

'I am a runner,' answered he; 'and so that I shall not go too
quickly, I have unstrapped one leg; when I run with two legs, I
go faster than a bird flies.'

'Oh, go with me; if we five are together, we shall easily travel
through the wide world.' So he went with him, and, not long
afterwards, they met a man who wore a little hat, but he had it
slouched over one ear.

'Manners, manners!' said the master to him; 'don't hang your hat
over one ear; you look like a madman!'

'I dare not,' said the other, 'for if I were to put my hat on
straight, there would come such a frost that the very birds in
the sky would freeze and fall dead on the earth.'

'Oh, go with me,' said the master; 'if we six are together, we
shall easily travel through the wide world.

Now the Six came to a town in which the King had proclaimed that
whoever should run with his daughter in a race, and win, should
become her husband; but if he lost, he must lose his head. This
was reported to the man who declared he would compete, 'but,' he
said, 'I shall let my servant run for me.'

The King replied, 'Then both your heads must be staked, and your
head and his must be guaranteed for the winner.'

When this was agreed upon and settled, the man strapped on the
runner's other leg, saying to him, 'Now be nimble, and see that
we win!' It was arranged that whoever should first bring water
out of a stream a long way off, should be the victor. Then the
runner got a pitcher, and the King's daughter another, and they
began to run at the same time; but in a moment, when the King's
daughter was only just a little way off, no spectator could see
the runner, and it seemed as if the wind had whistled past. In a
short time he reached the stream, filled his pitcher with water,
and turned round again. But, half way home, a great drowsiness
came over him; he put down his pitcher, lay down, and fell
asleep. He had, however, put a horse's skull which was lying on
the ground, for his pillow, so that he should not be too
comfortable and might soon wake up.

In the meantime the King's daughter, who could also run well, as
well as an ordinary man could, reached the stream, and hastened
back with her pitcher full of water. When she saw the runner
lying there asleep, she was delighted, and said, 'My enemy is
given into my hands!' She emptied his pitcher and ran on.

Everything now would have been lost, if by good luck the hunter
had not been standing on the castle tower and had seen everything
with his sharp eyes.

'Ah,' said he, 'the King's daughter shall not overreach us;' and,
loading his gun, he shot so cleverly, that he shot away the
horse's skull from under the runner's head, without its hurting
him. Then the runner awoke, jumped up, and saw that his pitcher
was empty and the King's daughter far ahead. But he did not lose
courage, and ran back to the stream with his pitcher, filled it
once more with water, and was home ten minutes before the King's
daughter arrived.

'Look,' said he, 'I have only just exercised my legs; that was
nothing of a run.'

But the King was angry, and his daughter even more so, that she
should be carried away by a common, discharged soldier. They
consulted together how they could destroy both him and his
companions.

'Then,' said the King to her, 'I have found a way. Don't be
frightened; they shall not come home again.' He said to them,
'You must now make merry together, and eat and drink,' and he led
them into a room which had a floor of iron; the doors were also
of iron, and the windows were barred with iron. In the room was
a table spread with delicious food. The King said to them, 'Go
in and enjoy yourselves,' and as soon as they were inside he had
the doors shut and bolted. Then he made the cook come, and
ordered him to keep up a large fire under the room until the iron
was red-hot. The cook did so, and the Six sitting round the
table felt it grow very warm, and they thought this was because
of their good fare; but when the heat became still greater and
they wanted to go out, but found the doors and windows fastened,
then they knew that the King meant them harm and was trying to
suffocate them.

'But he shall not succeed,' cried he of the little hat, 'I will
make a frost come which shall make the fire ashamed and die out!'
So he put his hat on straight, and at once there came such a
frost that all the heat disappeared and the food on the dishes
began to freeze. When a couple of hours had passed, and the King
thought they must be quite dead from the heat, he had the doors
opened and went in himself to see.

But when the doors were opened, there stood all Six, alive and
well, saying they were glad they could come out to warm
themselves, for the great cold in the room had frozen all the
food hard in the dishes. Then the King went angrily to the cook,
and scolded him, and asked him why he had not done what he was
told.

But the cook answered, 'There is heat enough there; see for
yourself.' Then the King saw a huge fire burning under the iron
room, and understood that he could do no harm to the Six in this
way. The King now began again to think how he could free himself
from his unwelcome guests. He commanded the master to come
before him, and said, 'If you will take gold, and give up your
right to my daughter, you shall have as much as you like.'

'Oh, yes, your Majesty,' answered he, 'give me as much as my
servant can carry, and I will give up your daughter.'

The King was delighted, and the man said, 'I will come and fetch
it in fourteen days.'

Then he called all the tailors in the kingdom together, and made
them sit down for fourteen days sewing at a sack. When it was
finished, he made the strong man who had uprooted the trees take
the sack on his shoulder and go with him to the King. Then the
King said, 'What a powerful fellow that is, carrying that bale of
linen as large as a house on his shoulder!' and he was much
frightened, and thought 'What a lot of gold he will make away
with!' Then he had a ton of gold brought, which sixteen of the
strongest men had to carry; but the strong man seized it with one
hand, put it in the sack, saying, 'Why don't you bring me more?
That scarcely covers the bottom!' Then the King had to send
again and again to fetch his treasures, which the strong man
shoved into the sack, and the sack was only half full.

'Bring more,' he cried, 'these crumbs don't fill it.' So seven
thousand waggons of the gold of the whole kingdom were driven up;
these the strong man shoved into the sack, oxen and all.

'I will no longer be particular,' he said, 'and will take what
comes, so that the sack shall be full.'

When everything was put in and there was not yet enough, he said,
'I will make an end of this; it is easy to fasten a sack when it
is not full.' Then he threw it on his back and went with his
companions.

Now, when the King saw how a single man was carrying away the
wealth of the whole country he was very angry, and made his
cavalry mount and pursue the Six, and bring back the strong man
with the sack. Two regiments soon overtook them, and called to
them, 'You are prisoners! lay down the sack of gold or you shall
be cut down.'

'What do you say?' said the blower, 'we are prisoners? Before
that, you shall dance in the air!' And he held one nostril and
blew with the other at the two regiments; they were separated and
blown away in the blue sky over the mountains, one this way, and
the other that. A sergeant-major cried for mercy, saying he had
nine wounds, and was a brave fellow, and did not deserve this
disgrace. So the blower let him off, and he came down without
hurt. Then he said to him, 'Now go home to the King, and say
that if he sends any more cavalry I will blow them all into the
air.'

When the King received the message, he said, 'Let the fellows go;
they are bewitched.' Then the Six brought the treasure home,
shared it among themselves, and lived contentedly till the end of
their days.





Next: The Wizard King

Previous: The Crow



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