The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES
Animal Sketches And Stories
Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon
BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS
CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES
FABLES FOR CHILDREN
FABLES FROM INDIA
FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS
FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
For Classes Ii. And Iii.
For Classes Iv. And V.
For Kindergarten And Class I.
FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
Good Little Henry
JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]
Jean De La Fontaine
King Alexander's Adventures
KINGS AND WARRIORS
LAND AND WATER FAIRIES
Lessons From Nature
LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG
MODERN FAIRY TALES
MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED
MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES
MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES
Myths And Legends
NEGLECT THE FIRE
ON POPULAR EDUCATION
PLACES AND FAMILIES
Poems Of Nature
RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)
RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"
RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE
ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY
Selections From The Bible
SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES
Some Children's Poets
Songs Of Life
STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS
STORIES FOR CHILDREN
STORIES for LITTLE BOYS
STORIES FROM BOTANY
STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN
STORIES FROM IRELAND
STORIES FROM PHYSICS
STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA
STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY
STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers
The Little Grey Mouse
THE OLD FAIRY TALES
The Princess Rosette
THE THREE HERMITS
THE TWO OLD MEN
UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES
VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES
WHAT MEN LIVE BY
WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO
The Battle Of The Birds
from The Lilac Fairy Book
There was to be a great battle between all the creatures of the
earth and the birds of the air. News of it went abroad, and the
son of the king of Tethertown said that when the battle was
fought he would be there to see it, and would bring back word who
was to be king. But in spite of that, he was almost too late, and
every fight had been fought save the last, which was between a
snake and a great black raven. Both struck hard, but in the end
the snake proved the stronger, and would have twisted himself
round the neck of the raven till he died had not the king's son
drawn his sword, and cut off the head of the snake at a single
blow. And when the raven beheld that his enemy was dead, he was
grateful, and said:
'For thy kindness to me this day, I will show thee a sight. So
come up now on the root of my two wings.' The king's son did as
he was bid, and before the raven stopped flying, they had passed
over seven bens and seven glens and seven mountain moors.
'Do you see that house yonder?' said the raven at last. 'Go
straight for it, for a sister of mine dwells there, and she will
make you right welcome. And if she asks, "Wert thou at the battle
of the birds?" answer that thou wert, and if she asks, "Didst
thou see my likeness?" answer that thou sawest it, but be sure
thou meetest me in the morning at this place.'
The king's son followed what the raven told him and that night he
had meat of each meat, and drink of each drink, warm water for
his feet, and a soft bed to lie in.
Thus it happened the next day, and the next, but on the fourth
meeting, instead of meeting the raven, in his place the king's
son found waiting for him the handsomest youth that ever was
seen, with a bundle in his hand.
'Is there a raven hereabouts?' asked the king's son, and the
'I am that raven, and I was delivered by thee from the spells
that bound me, and in reward thou wilt get this bundle. Go back
by the road thou camest, and lie as before, a night in each
house, but be careful not to unloose the bundle till thou art in
the place wherein thou wouldst most wish to dwell.'
Then the king's son set out, and thus it happened as it had
happened before, till he entered a thick wood near his father's
house. He had walked a long way and suddenly the bundle seemed to
grow heavier; first he put it down under a tree, and next he
thought he would look at it.
The string was easy to untie, and the king's son soon unfastened
the bundle. What was it he saw there? Why, a great castle with an
orchard all about it, and in the orchard fruit and flowers and
birds of very kind. It was all ready for him to dwell in, but
instead of being in the midst of the forest, he did wish he had
left the bundle unloosed till he had reached the green valley
close to his father's palace. Well, it was no use wishing, and
with a sigh he glanced up, and beheld a huge giant coming towards
'Bad is the place where thou hast built thy house, king's son,'
said the giant.
'True; it is not here that I wish to be,' answered the king's
'What reward wilt thou give me if I put it back in the bundle?'
asked the giant.
'What reward dost thou ask?' answered the king's son.
'The first boy thou hast when he is seven years old,' said the
'If I have a boy thou shalt get him,' answered the king's son,
and as he spoke the castle and the orchard were tied up in the
'Now take thy road, and I will take mine,' said the giant. 'And
if thou forgettest thy promise, I will remember it.'
Light of heart the king's son went on his road, till he came to
the green valley near his father's palace. Slowly he unloosed the
bundle, fearing lest he should find nothing but a heap of stones
or rags. But no! all was as it had been before, and as he opened
the castle door there stood within the most beautiful maiden that
ever was seen.
'Enter, king's son,' said she, 'all is ready, and we will be
married at once,' and so they were.
The maiden proved a good wife, and the king's son, now himself a
king, was so happy that he forgot all about the giant. Seven
years and a day had gone by, when one morning, while standing on
the ramparts, he beheld the giant striding towards the castle.
Then he remembered his promise, and remembered, too, that he had
told the queen nothing about it. Now he must tell her, and
perhaps she might help him in his trouble.
The queen listened in silence to his tale, and after he had
finished, she only said:
'Leave thou the matter between me and the giant,' and as she
spoke, the giant entered the hall and stood before them.
'Bring out your son,' cried he to the king, 'as you promised me
seven years and a day since.'
The king glanced at his wife, who nodded, so he answered:
'Let his mother first put him in order,' and the queen left the
hall, and took the cook's son and dressed him in the prince's
clothes, and led him up to the giant, who held his hand, and
together they went out along the road. They had not walked far
when the giant stopped and stretched out a stick to the boy.
'If your father had that stick, what would he do with it?' asked
'If my father had that stick, he would beat the dogs and cats
that steal the king's meat,' replied the boy.
'Thou art the cook's son!' cried the giant. 'Go home to thy
mother'; and turning his back he strode straight to the castle.
'If you seek to trick me this time, the highest stone will soon
be the lowest,' said he, and the king and queen trembled, but
they could not bear to give up their boy.
'The butler's son is the same age as ours,' whispered the queen;
'he will not know the difference,' and she took the child and
dressed him in the prince's clothes, and the giant let him away
along the road. Before they had gone far he stopped, and held out
'If thy father had that rod, what would he do with it?' asked the
'He would beat the dogs and cats that break the king's glasses,'
answered the boy.
'Thou art the son of the butler!' cried the giant. 'Go home to
thy mother'; and turning round he strode back angrily to the
'Bring out thy son at once,' roared he, 'or the stone that is
highest will be lowest,' and this time the real prince was
But though his parents wept bitterly and fancied the child was
suffering all kinds of dreadful things, the giant treated him
like his own son, though he never allowed him to see his
daughters. The boy grew to be a big boy, and one day the giant
told him that he would have to amuse himself alone for many
hours, as he had a journey to make. So the boy wandered to the
top of the castle, where he had never been before. There he
paused, for the sound of music broke upon his ears, and opening a
door near him, he beheld a girl sitting by the window, holding a
'Haste and begone, I see the giant close at hand,' she whispered
hurriedly, 'but when he is asleep, return hither, for I would
speak with thee.' And the prince did as he was bid, and when
midnight struck he crept back to the top of the castle.
'To-morrow,' said the girl, who was the giant's daughter, 'to-
morrow thou wilt get the choice of my two sisters to marry, but
thou must answer that thou wilt not take either, but only me.
This will anger him greatly, for he wishes to betroth me to the
son of the king of the Green City, whom I like not at all.'
Then they parted, and on the morrow, as the girl had said, the
giant called his three daughters to him, and likewise the young
prince to whom he spoke.
'Now, O son of the king of Tethertown, the time has come for us
to part. Choose one of my two elder daughters to wife, and thou
shalt take her to your father's house the day after the wedding.'
'Give me the youngest instead,' replied the youth, and the
giant's face darkened as he heard him.
'Three things must thou do first,' said he.
'Say on, I will do them,' replied the prince, and the giant left
the house, and bade him follow to the byre, where the cows were
'For a hundred years no man has swept this byre,' said the giant,
'but if by nightfall, when I reach home, thou has not cleaned it
so that a golden apple can roll through it from end to end, thy
blood shall pay for it.'
All day long the youth toiled, but he might as well have tried to
empty the ocean. At length, when he was so tired he could hardly
move, the giant's youngest daughter stood in the doorway.
'Lay down thy weariness,' said she, and the king's son, thinking
he could only die once, sank on the floor at her bidding, and
fell sound asleep. When he woke the girl had disappeared, and the
byre was so clean that a golden apple could roll from end to end
of it. He jumped up in surprise, and at that moment in came the
'Hast thou cleaned the byre, king's son?' asked he.
'I have cleaned it,' answered he.
'Well, since thou wert so active to-day, to-morrow thou wilt
thatch this byre with a feather from every different bird, or
else thy blood shall pay for it,' and he went out.
Before the sun was up, the youth took his bow and his quiver and
set off to kill the birds. Off to the moor he went, but never a
bird was to be seen that day. At last he got so tired with
running to and fro that he gave up heart.
'There is but one death I can die,' thought he. Then at midday
came the giant's daughter.
'Thou art tired, king's son?' asked she.
'I am,' answered he; 'all these hours have I wandered, and there
fell but these two blackbirds, both of one colour.'
'Lay down thy weariness on the grass,' said she, and he did as
she bade him, and fell fast asleep.
When he woke the girl had disappeared, and he got up, and
returned to the byre. As he drew near, he rubbed his eyes hard,
thinking he was dreaming, for there it was, beautifully thatched,
just as the giant had wished. At the door of the house he met the
'Hast thou thatched the byre, king's son?'
'I have thatched it.'
'Well, since thou hast been so active to-day, I have something
else for thee! Beside the loch thou seest over yonder there grows
a fir tree. On the top of the fir tree is a magpie's nest, and in
the nest are five eggs. Thou wilt bring me those eggs for
breakfast, and if one is cracked or broken, thy blood shall pay
Before it was light next day, the king's son jumped out of bed
and ran down to the loch. The tree was not hard to find, for the
rising sun shone red on the trunk, which was five hundred feet
from the ground to its first branch. Time after time he walked
round it, trying to find some knots, however small, where he
could put his feet, but the bark was quite smooth, and he soon
saw that if he was to reach the top at all, it must be by
climbing up with his knees like a sailor. But then he was a
king's son and not a sailor, which made all the difference.
However, it was no use standing there staring at the fir, at
least he must try to do his best, and try he did till his hands
and knees were sore, for as soon as he had struggled up a few
feet, he slid back again. Once he climbed a little higher than
before, and hope rose in his heart, then down he came with such
force that his hands and knees smarted worse than ever.
'This is no time for stopping,' said the voice of the giant's
daughter, as he leant against the trunk to recover his breath.
'Alas! I am no sooner up than down,' answered he.
'Try once more,' said she, and she laid a finger against the tree
and bade him put his foot on it. Then she placed another finger a
little higher up, and so on till he reached the top, where the
magpie had built her nest.
'Make haste now with the nest,' she cried, 'for my father's
breath is burning my back,' and down he scrambled as fast as he
could, but the girl's little finger had caught in a branch at the
top, and she was obliged to leave it there. But she was too busy
to pay heed to this, for the sun was getting high over the hills.
'Listen to me,' she said. 'This night my two sisters and I will
be dressed in the same garments, and you will not know me. But
when my father says 'Go to thy wife, king's son,' come to the one
whose right hand has no little finger.'
So he went and gave the eggs to the giant, who nodded his head.
'Make ready for thy marriage,' cried he, 'for the wedding shall
take place this very night, and I will summon thy bride to greet
thee.' Then his three daughters were sent for, and they all
entered dressed in green silk of the same fashion, and with
golden circlets round their heads. The king's son looked from one
to another. Which was the youngest? Suddenly his eyes fell on the
hand of the middle one, and there was no little finger.
'Thou hast aimed well this time too,' said the giant, as the
king's son laid his hand on her shoulder, 'but perhaps we may
meet some other way'; and though he pretended to laugh, the bride
saw a gleam in his eye which warned her of danger.
The wedding took place that very night, and the hall was filled
with giants and gentlemen, and they danced till the house shook
from top to bottom. At last everyone grew tired, and the guests
went away, and the king's son and his bride were left alone.
'If we stay here till dawn my father will kill thee,' she
whispered, 'but thou art my husband and I will save thee, as I
did before,' and she cut an apple into nine pieces, and put two
pieces at the head of the bed, and two pieces at the foot, and
two pieces at the door of the kitchen, and two at the big door,
and one outside the house. And when this was done, and she heard
the giant snoring, she and the king's son crept out softly and
stole across to the stable, where she led out the blue-grey mare
and jumped on its back, and her husband mounted behind her. Not
long after, the giant awoke.
'Are you asleep?' asked he.
'Not yet,' answered the apple at the head of the bed, and the
giant turned over, and soon was snoring as loudly as before. By
and bye he called again.
'Are you asleep?'
'Not yet,' said the apple at the foot of the bed, and the giant
was satisfied. After a while, he called a third time, 'Are you
'Not yet,' replied the apple in the kitchen, but when in a few
minutes, he put the question for the fourth time and received an
answer from the apple outside the house door, he guessed what had
happened, and ran to the room to look for himself.
The bed was cold and empty!
'My father's breath is burning my back,' cried the girl, 'put thy
hand into the ear of the mare, and whatever thou findest there,
throw it behind thee.' And in the mare's ear there was a twig of
sloe tree, and as he threw it behind him there sprung up twenty
miles of thornwood so thick that scarce a weasel could go through
it. And the giant, who was striding headlong forwards, got caught
in it, and it pulled his hair and beard.
'This is one of my daughter's tricks,' he said to himself, 'but
if I had my big axe and my wood-knife, I would not be long making
a way through this,' and off he went home and brought back the
axe and the wood-knife.
It took him but a short time to cut a road through the
blackthorn, and then he laid the axe and the knife under a tree.
'I will leave them there till I return,' he murmured to himself,
but a hoodie crow, which was sitting on a branch above, heard
'If thou leavest them,' said the hoodie, 'we will steal them.'
'You will,' answered the giant, 'and I must take them home.' So
he took them home, and started afresh on his journey.
'My father's breath is burning my back,' cried the girl at
midday. 'Put thy finger in the mare's ear and throw behind thee
whatever thou findest in it,' and the king's son found a splinter
of grey stone, and threw it behind him, and in a twinkling twenty
miles of solid rock lay between them and the giant.
'My daughter's tricks are the hardest things that ever met me,'
said the giant, 'but if I had my lever and my crowbar, I would
not be long in making my way through this rock also,' but as he
had got them, he had to go home and fetch them. Then it took him
but a short time to hew his way through the rock.
'I will leave the tools here,' he murmured aloud when he had
'If thou leavest them, we will steal them,' said a hoodie who was
perched on a stone above him, and the giant answered:
'Steal them if thou wilt; there is no time to go back.'
'My father's breath is burning my back,' cried the girl; 'look in
the mare's ear, king's son, or we are lost,' and he looked, and
found a tiny bladder full of water, which he threw behind him,
and it became a great lock. And the giant, who was striding on so
fast, could not stop himself, and he walked right into the middle
and was drowned.
The blue-grey mare galloped on like the wind, and the next day
the king's son came in sight of his father's house.
'Get down and go in,' said the bride, 'and tell them that thou
hast married me. But take heed that neither man nor beast kiss
thee, for then thou wilt cease to remember me at all.'
'I will do thy bidding,' answered he, and left her at the gate.
All who met him bade him welcome, and he charged his father and
mother not to kiss him, but as he greeted them his old greyhound
leapt on his neck, and kissed him on the mouth. And after that he
did not remember the giant's daughter.
All that day she sat on a well which was near the gate, waiting,
waiting, but the king's son never came. In the darkness she
climbed up into an oak tree that shadowed the well, and there she
lay all night, waiting, waiting.
On the morrow, at midday, the wife of a shoemaker who dwelt near
the well went to draw water for her husband to drink, and she saw
the shadow of the girl in the tree, and thought it was her own
'How handsome I am, to be sure,' said she, gazing into the well,
and as she stopped to behold herself better, the jug struck
against the stones and broke in pieces, and she was forced to
return to her husband without the water, and this angered him.
'Thou hast turned crazy,' said he in wrath. 'Go thou, my
daughter, and fetch me a drink,' and the girl went, and the same
thing befell her as had befallen her mother.
'Where is the water?' asked the shoemaker, when she came back,
and as she held nothing save the handle of the jug he went to the
well himself. He too saw the reflection of the woman in the tree,
but looked up to discover whence it came, and there above him sat
the most beautiful woman in the world.
'Come down,' he said, 'for a while thou canst stay in my house,'
and glad enough the girl was to come.
Now the king of the country was about to marry, and the young men
about the court thronged the shoemaker's shop to buy fine shoes
to wear at the wedding.
'Thou hast a pretty daughter,' said they when they beheld the
girl sitting at work.
'Pretty she is,' answered the shoemaker, 'but no daughter of
'I would give a hundred pounds to marry her,' said one.
'And I,' 'And I,' cried the others.
'That is no business of mine,' answered the shoemaker, and the
young men bade him ask her if she would choose one of them for a
husband, and to tell them on the morrow. Then the shoemaker asked
her, and the girl said that she would marry the one who would
bring his purse with him. So the shoemaker hurried to the youth
who had first spoken, and he came back, and after giving the
shoemaker a hundred pounds for his news, he sought the girl, who
was waiting for him.
'Is it thou?' inquired she. 'I am thirsty, give me a drink from
the well that is yonder.' And he poured out the water, but he
could not move from the place where he was; and there he stayed
till many hours had passed by.
'Take away that foolish boy,' cried the girl to the shoemaker at
last, 'I am tired of him,' and then suddenly he was able to walk,
and betook himself to his home, but he did not tell the others
what had happened to him.
Next day there arrived one of the other young men, and in the
evening, when the shoemaker had gone out and they were alone, she
said to him, 'See if the latch is on the door.' The young man
hastened to do her bidding, but as soon as he touched the latch,
his fingers stuck to it, and there he had to stay for many hours,
till the shoemaker came back, and the girl let him go. Hanging
his head, he went home, but he told no one what had befallen him.
Then was the turn of the third man, and his foot remained
fastened to the floor, till the girl unloosed it. And thankfully,
he ran off, and was not seen looking behind him.
'Take the purse of gold,' said the girl to the shoemaker, 'I have
no need of it, and it will better thee.' And the shoemaker took
it and told the girl he must carry the shoes for the wedding up
to the castle.
'I would fain get a sight of the king's son before he marries,'
'Come with me, then,' answered he; 'the servants are all my
friends, and they will let you stand in the passage down which
the king's son will pass, and all the company too.'
Up they went to the castle, and when the young men saw the girl
standing there, they led her into the hall where the banquet was
laid out and poured her out some wine. She was just raising the
glass to drink when a flame went up out of it, and out of the
flame sprang two pigeons, one of gold and one of silver. They
flew round and round the head of the girl, when three grains of
barley fell on the floor, and the silver pigeon dived down, and
'If thou hadst remembered how I cleaned the byre, thou wouldst
have given me my share,' cooed the golden pigeon, and as he spoke
three more grains fell, and the silver pigeon ate them as before.
'If thou hadst remembered how I thatched the byre, thou wouldst
have given me my share,' cooed the golden pigeon again; and as he
spoke three more grains fell, and for the third time they were
eaten by the silver pigeon.
'If thou hadst remembered how I got the magpie's nest, thou
wouldst have given me my share,' cooed the golden pigeon.
Then the king's son understood that they had come to remind him
of what he had forgotten, and his lost memory came back, and he
knew his wife, and kissed her. But as the preparations had been
made, it seemed a pity to waste them, so they were married a
second time, and sat down to the wedding feast.
From 'Tales of the West Highlands.'
Next: The Lady Of The Fountain
Previous: The Castle Of Kerglas