Once upon a time there lived a king who was deeply in love with a princess, but she could not marry anyone, because she was under an enchantment. So the King set out to seek a fairy, and asked what he could do to win the Princess's love. ... Read more of Prince Hyacinth And The Dear Little Princess at Children Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational
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The Husband Of The Rat's Daughter

from The Brown Fairy Book





Once upon a time there lived in Japan a rat and his wife who came of an
old and noble race, and had one daughter, the loveliest girl in all the
rat world. Her parents were very proud of her, and spared no pains to
teach her all she ought to know. There was not another young lady in the
whole town who was as clever as she was in gnawing through the hardest
wood, or who could drop from such a height on to a bed, or run away so
fast if anyone was heard coming. Great attention, too, was paid to her
personal appearance, and her skin shone like satin, while her teeth were
as white as pearls, and beautifully pointed.

Of course, with all these advantages, her parents expected her to make a
brilliant marriage, and, as she grew up, they began to look round for a
suitable husband.

But here a difficulty arose. The father was a rat from the tip of his
nose to the end of his tail, outside as well as in, and desired that his
daughter should wed among her own people. She had no lack of lovers, but
her father's secret hopes rested on a fine young rat, with moustaches
which almost swept the ground, whose family was still nobler and more
ancient than his own. Unluckily, the mother had other views for her
precious child. She was one of those people who always despise their
own family and surroundings, and take pleasure in thinking that they
themselves are made of finer material than the rest of the world. 'HER
daughter should never marry a mere rat,' she declared, holding her head
high. 'With her beauty and talents she had a right to look for someone a
little better than THAT.'

So she talked, as mothers will, to anyone that would listen to her. What
the girl thought about the matter nobody knew or cared--it was not the
fashion in the rat world.

Many were the quarrels which the old rat and his wife had upon the
subject, and sometimes they bore on their faces certain marks which
looked as if they had not kept to words only.

'Reach up to the stars is MY motto,' cried the lady one day, when she
was in a greater passion than usual. 'My daughter's beauty places her
higher than anything upon earth,' she cried; 'and I am certainly not
going to accept a son-in-law who is beneath her.'

'Better offer her in marriage to the sun,' answered her husband
impatiently. 'As far as I know there is nothing greater than he.'

'Well, I WAS thinking of it,' replied the wife, 'and as you are of the
same mind, we will pay him a visit to-morrow.'

So the next morning, the two rats, having spent hours in making
themselves smart, set out to see the sun, leading their daughter between
them.

The journey took some time, but at length they came to the golden palace
where the sun lived.

'Noble king,' began the mother, 'behold our daughter! She is so
beautiful that she is above everything in the whole world. Naturally, we
wish for a son-in-law who, on his side, is greater than all. Therefore
we have come to you.'

'I feel very much flattered,' replied the sun, who was so busy that he
had not the least wish to marry anybody. 'You do me great honour by your
proposal. Only, in one point you are mistaken, and it would be wrong of
me to take advantage of your ignorance. There is something greater
than I am, and that is the cloud. Look!' And as he spoke a cloud spread
itself over the sun's face, blotting out his rays.

'Oh, well, we will speak to the cloud,' said the mother. And turning to
the cloud she repeated her proposal.

'Indeed I am unworthy of anything so charming,' answered the cloud; 'but
you make a mistake again in what you say. There is one thing that is
even more powerful than I, and that is the wind. Ah, here he comes, you
can see for yourself.'

And she DID see, for catching up the cloud as he passed, he threw it on
the other side of the sky. Then, tumbling father, mother and daughter
down to the earth again, he paused for a moment beside them, his foot on
an old wall.

When she had recovered her breath, the mother began her little speech
once more.

'The wall is the proper husband for your daughter,' answered the wind,
whose home consisted of a cave, which he only visited when he was not
rushing about elsewhere; 'you can see for yourself that he is greater
than I, for he has power to stop me in my flight.' And the mother, who
did not trouble to conceal her wishes, turned at once to the wall.

Then something happened which was quite unexpected by everyone.

'I won't marry that ugly old wall, which is as old as my grandfather,'
sobbed the girl, who had not uttered one word all this time. 'I would
have married the sun, or the cloud, or the wind, because it was my duty,
although I love the handsome young rat, and him only. But that horrid
old wall--I would sooner die!'

And the wall, rather hurt in his feelings, declared that he had no claim
to be the husband of so beautiful a girl.

'It is quite true,' he said, 'that I can stop the wind who can part the
clouds who can cover the sun; but there is someone who can do more than
all these, and that is the rat. It is the rat who passes through me, and
can reduce me to powder, simply with his teeth. If, therefore, you want
a son-in-law who is greater than the whole world, seek him among the
rats.'

'Ah, what did I tell you?' cried the father. And his wife, though for
the moment angry at being beaten, soon thought that a rat son-in-law was
what she had always desired.

So all three returned happily home, and the wedding was celebrated three
days after.





Next: The Mermaid And The Boy

Previous: The Wicked Wolverine



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