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The Enchanted Watch

from The Green Fairy Book





Once upon a time there lived a rich man who had three sons. When
they grew up, he sent the eldest to travel and see the world, and
three years passed before his family saw him again. Then he
returned, magnificently dressed, and his father was so delighted
with his behaviour, that he gave a great feast in his honour, to
which all the relations and friends were invited.

When the rejoicings were ended, the second son begged leave of his
father to go in his turn to travel and mix with the world. The
father was enchanted at the request, and gave him plenty of money
for his expenses, saying, 'If you behave as well as your brother,
I will do honour to you as I did to him.' The young man promised
to do his best, and his conduct during three years was all that it
should be. Then he went home, and his father was so pleased with
him that his feast of welcome was even more splendid than the one
before.

The third brother, whose name was Jenik, or Johnnie, was
considered the most foolish of the three. He never did anything at
home except sit over the stove and dirty himself with the ashes;
but he also begged his father's leave to travel for three years.
'Go if you like, you idiot; but what good will it do you?'

The youth paid no heed to his father's observations as long as he
obtained permission to go. The father saw him depart with joy,
glad to get rid of him, and gave him a handsome sum of money for
his needs.

Once, as he was making one of his journeys, Jenik chanced to cross
a meadow where some shepherds were just about to kill a dog. He
entreated them to spare it, and to give it to him instead which
they willingly did, and he went on his way, followed by the dog. A
little further on he came upon a cat, which someone was going to
put to death. He implored its life, and the cat followed him.
Finally, in another place, he saved a serpent, which was also
handed over to him and now they made a party of four--the dog
behind Jenik, the cat behind the dog, and the serpent behind the
cat.

Then the serpent said to Jenik, 'Go wherever you see me go,' for
in the autumn, when all the serpents hide themselves in their
holes, this serpent was going in search of his king, who was king
of all the snakes.

Then he added: 'My king will scold me for my long absence,
everyone else is housed for the winter, and I am very late. I
shall have to tell him what danger I have been in, and how,
without your help, I should certainly have lost my life. The king
will ask what you would like in return, and be sure you beg for
the watch which hangs on the wall. It has all sorts of wonderful
properties, you only need to rub it to get whatever you like.'

No sooner said than done. Jenik became the master of the watch,
and the moment he got out he wished to put its virtues to the
proof. He was hungry, and thought it would be delightful to eat in
the meadow a loaf of new bread and a steak of good beef washed
down by a flask of wine, so he scratched the watch, and in an
instant it was all before him. Imagine his joy!

Evening soon came, and Jenik rubbed his watch, and thought it
would be very pleasant to have a room with a comfortable bed and a
good supper. In an instant they were all before him. After supper
he went to bed and slept till morning, as every honest man ought
to do. Then he set forth for his father's house, his mind dwelling
on the feast that would be awaiting him. But as he returned in the
same old clothes in which he went away, his father flew into a
great rage, and refused to do anything for him. Jenik went to his
old place near the stove, and dirtied himself in the ashes without
anybody minding.

The third day, feeling rather dull, he thought it would be nice to
see a three-story house filled with beautiful furniture, and with
vessels of silver and gold. So he rubbed the watch, and there it
all was. Jenik went to look for his father, and said to him: 'You
offered me no feast of welcome, but permit me to give one to you,
and come and let me show you my plate.'

The father was much astonished, and longed to know where his son
had got all this wealth. Jenik did not reply, but begged him to
invite all their relations and friends to a grand banquet.

So the father invited all the world, and everyone was amazed to
see such splendid things, so much plate, and so many fine dishes
on the table. After the first course Jenik prayed his father to
invite the King, and his daughter the Princess. He rubbed his
watch and wished for a carriage ornamented with gold and silver,
and drawn by six horses, with harness glittering with precious
stones. The father did not dare to sit in this gorgeous coach, but
went to the palace on foot. The King and his daughter were
immensely surprised with the beauty of the carriage, and mounted
the steps at once to go to Jenik's banquet. Then Jenik rubbed his
watch afresh, and wished that for six miles the way to the house
should be paved with marble. Who ever felt so astonished as the
King? Never had he travelled over such a gorgeous road.

When Jenik heard the wheels of the carriage, he rubbed his watch
and wished for a still more beautiful house, four stories high,
and hung with gold, silver, and damask; filled with wonderful
tables, covered with dishes such as no king had ever eaten before.
The King, the Queen, and the Princess were speechless with
surprise. Never had they seen such a splendid palace, nor such a
high feast! At dessert the King asked Jenik's father to give him
the young man for a son-in-law. No sooner said than done! The
marriage took place at once, and the King returned to his own
palace, and left Jenik with his wife in the enchanted house.

Now Jenik was not a very clever man, and at the end of a very
short time he began to bore his wife. She inquired how he managed
to build palaces and to get so many precious things. He told her
all about the watch, and she never rested till she had stolen the
precious talisman. One night she took the watch, rubbed it, and
wished for a carriage drawn by four horses; and in this carriage
she at once set out for her father's palace. There she called to
her own attendants, bade them follow her into the carriage, and
drove straight to the sea-side. Then she rubbed her watch, and
wished that the sea might be crossed by a bridge, and that a
magnificent palace might arise in the middle of the sea. No sooner
said than done. The Princess entered the house, rubbed her watch,
and in an instant the bridge was gone.

Left alone, Jenik felt very miserable. His father, mother, and
brothers, and, indeed, everybody else, all laughed at him. Nothing
remained to him but the cat and dog whose lives he had once saved.
He took them with him and went far away, for he could no longer
live with his family. He reached at last a great desert, and saw
some crows flying towards a mountain. One of them was a long way
behind, and when he arrived his brothers inquired what had made
him so late. 'Winter is here,' they said, 'and it is time to fly
to other countries.' He told them that he had seen in the middle
of the sea the most wonderful house that ever was built.

On hearing this, Jenik at once concluded that this must be the
hiding-place of his wife. So he proceeded directly to the shore
with his dog and his cat. When he arrived on the beach, he said to
the dog: 'You are an excellent swimmer, and you, little one, are
very light; jump on the dog's back and he will take you to the
palace. Once there, he will hide himself near the door, and you
must steal secretly in and try to get hold of my watch.'

No sooner said than done. The two animals crossed the sea; the dog
hid near the house, and the cat stole into the chamber. The
Princess recognised him, and guessed why he had come; and she took
the watch down to the cellar and locked it in a box. But the cat
wriggled its way into the cellar, and the moment the Princess
turned her back, he scratched and scratched till he had made a
hole in the box. Then he took the watch between his teeth, and
waited quietly till the Princess came back. Scarcely had she
opened the door when the cat was outside, and the watch into the
bargain.

The cat was no sooner beyond the gates than she said to the dog:

'We are going to cross the sea; be very careful not to speak to
me.'

The dog laid this to heart and said nothing; but when they
approached the shore he could not help asking, 'Have you got the
watch?'

The cat did not answer--he was afraid that he might let the
talisman fall. When they touched the shore the dog repeated his
question.

'Yes,' said the cat.

And the watch fell into the sea. Then our two friends began each
to accuse the other, and both looked sorrowfully at the place
where their treasure had fallen in. Suddenly a fish appeared near
the edge of the sea. The cat seized it, and thought it would make
them a good supper.

'I have nine little children,' cried the fish. 'Spare the father
of a family!'

'Granted,' replied the cat; 'but on condition that you find our
watch.'

The fish executed his commission, and they brought the treasure
back to their master. Jenik rubbed the watch and wished that the
palace, with the Princess and all its inhabitants, should be
swallowed up in the sea. No sooner said than done. Jenik returned
to his parents, and he and his watch, his cat and his dog, lived
together happily to the end of their days.





Next: Rosanella

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