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The Swineherd

from The Yellow Fairy Book





There was once a poor Prince. He possessed a kingdom which,
though small, was yet large enough for him to marry on, and
married he wished to be.

Now it was certainly a little audacious of him to venture to say
to the Emperor's daughter, 'Will you marry me?' But he did
venture to say so, for his name was known far and wide. There
were hundreds of princesses who would gladly have said 'Yes,' but
would she say the same?

Well, we shall see.

On the grave of the Prince's father grew a rose-tree, a very
beautiful rose-tree. It only bloomed every five years, and then
bore but a single rose, but oh, such a rose! Its scent was so
sweet that when you smelt it you forgot all your cares and
troubles. And he had also a nightingale which could sing as if
all the beautiful melodies in the world were shut up in its
little throat. This rose and this nightingale the Princess was
to have, and so they were both put into silver caskets and sent
to her.

The Emperor had them brought to him in the great hall, where the
Princess was playing 'Here comes a duke a-riding' with her
ladies-in-waiting. And when she caught sight of the big caskets
which contained the presents, she clapped her hands for joy.

'If only it were a little pussy cat!' she said. But the
rose-tree with the beautiful rose came out.

'But how prettily it is made!' said all the ladies-in-waiting.

'It is more than pretty,' said the Emperor, 'it is charming!'

But the Princess felt it, and then she almost began to cry.

'Ugh! Papa,' she said, 'it is not artificial, it is REAL!'

'Ugh!' said all the ladies-in-waiting, 'it is real!'

'Let us see first what is in the other casket before we begin to
be angry,' thought the Emperor, and there came out the
nightingale. It sang so beautifully that one could scarcely
utter a cross word against it.

'Superbe! charmant!' said the ladies-in-waiting, for they all
chattered French, each one worse than the other.

'How much the bird reminds me of the musical snuff-box of the
late Empress!' said an old courtier. 'Ah, yes, it is the same
tone, the same execution!'

'Yes,' said the Emperor; and then he wept like a little child.

'I hope that this, at least, is not real?' asked the Princess.

'Yes, it is a real bird,' said those who had brought it.

'Then let the bird fly away,' said the Princess; and she would
not on any account allow the Prince to come.

'But he was nothing daunted. He painted his face brown and
black, drew his cap well over his face, and knocked at the door.
'Good-day, Emperor,' he said. 'Can I get a place here as servant
in the castle?'

'Yes,' said the Emperor, 'but there are so many who ask for a
place that I don't know whether there will be one for you; but,
still, I will think of you. Stay, it has just occurred to me
that I want someone to look after the swine, for I have so very
many of them.'

And the Prince got the situation of Imperial Swineherd. He had a
wretched little room close to the pigsties; here he had to stay,
but the whole day he sat working, and when evening was come he
had made a pretty little pot. All round it were little bells,
and when the pot boiled they jingled most beautifully and played
the old tune--

'Where is Augustus dear?
Alas! he's not here, here, here!'

But the most wonderful thing was, that when one held one's finger
in the steam of the pot, then at once one could smell what dinner
was ready in any fire-place in the town. That was indeed
something quite different from the rose.

Now the Princess came walking past with all her ladies-in-
waiting, and when she heard the tune she stood still and her face
beamed with joy, for she also could play 'Where is Augustus
dear?'

It was the only tune she knew, but that she could play with one
finger.

'Why, that is what I play!' she said. 'He must be a most
accomplished Swineherd! Listen! Go down and ask him what the
instrument costs.'

And one of the ladies-in-waiting had to go down; but she put on
wooden clogs. 'What will you take for the pot?' asked the
lady-in-waiting.

'I will have ten kisses from the Princess,' answered the
Swineherd.

'Heaven forbid!' said the lady-in-waiting.

'Yes, I will sell it for nothing less,' replied the Swineherd.

'Well, what does he say?' asked the Princess.

'I really hardly like to tell you,' answered the lady-in-waiting.

'Oh, then you can whisper it to me.'

'He is disobliging!' said the Princess, and went away. But she
had only gone a few steps when the bells rang out so prettily--

'Where is Augustus dear?
Alas! he's not here, here, here.'

'Listen!' said the Princess. 'Ask him whether he will take ten
kisses from my ladies-in-waiting.'

'No, thank you,' said the Swineherd. 'Ten kisses from the
Princess, or else I keep my pot.'

'That is very tiresome!' said the Princess. 'But you must put
yourselves in front of me, so that no one can see.'

And the ladies-in-waiting placed themselves in front and then
spread out their dresses; so the Swineherd got his ten kisses,
and she got the pot.

What happiness that was! The whole night and the whole day the
pot was made to boil; there was not a fire-place in the whole
town where they did not know what was being cooked, whether it
was at the chancellor's or at the shoemaker's.

The ladies-in-waiting danced and clapped their hands.

'We know who is going to have soup and pancakes; we know who is
going to have porridge and sausages--isn't it interesting?'

'Yes, very interesting!' said the first lady-in-waiting.

'But don't say anything about it, for I am the Emperor's
daughter.'

'Oh, no, of course we won't!' said everyone.

The Swineherd--that is to say, the Prince (though they did not
know he was anything but a true Swineherd)--let no day pass
without making something, and one day he made a rattle which,
when it was turned round, played all the waltzes, galops, and
polkas which had ever been known since the world began.

'But that is superbe!' said the Princess as she passed by. 'I
have never heard a more beautiful composition. Listen! Go down
and ask him what this instrument costs; but I won't kiss him
again.'

'He wants a hundred kisses from the Princess,' said the
lady-in-waiting who had gone down to ask him.

'I believe he is mad!' said the Princess, and then she went on;
but she had only gone a few steps when she stopped.

'One ought to encourage art,' she said. 'I am the Emperor's
daughter! Tell him he shall have, as before, ten kisses; the
rest he can take from my ladies-in-waiting.'

'But we don't at all like being kissed by him,' said the
ladies-in-waiting.

'That's nonsense,' said the Princess; 'and if I can kiss him, you
can too. Besides, remember that I give you board and lodging.'

So the ladies-in-waiting had to go down to him again.

'A hundred kisses from the Princess,' said he, 'or each keeps his
own.'

'Put yourselves in front of us,' she said then; and so all the
ladies-in-waiting put themselves in front, and he began to kiss
the Princess.

'What can that commotion be by the pigsties?' asked the Emperor,
who was standing on the balcony. He rubbed his eyes and put on
his spectacles. 'Why those are the ladies-in-waiting playing
their games; I must go down to them.'

So he took off his shoes, which were shoes though he had trodden
them down into slippers. What a hurry he was in, to be sure!

As soon as he came into the yard he walked very softly, and the
ladies-in-waiting were so busy counting the kisses and seeing
fair play that they never noticed the Emperor. He stood on
tiptoe.

'What is that?' he said, when he saw the kissing; and then he
threw one of his slippers at their heads just as the Swineherd
was taking his eighty-sixth kiss.

'Be off with you!' said the Emperor, for he was very angry. And
the Princess and the Swineherd were driven out of the empire.

Then she stood still and wept; the Swineherd was scolding, and
the rain was streaming down.

'Alas, what an unhappy creature I am!' sobbed the Princess.

'If only I had taken the beautiful Prince! Alas, how unfortunate
I am!'

And the Swineherd went behind a tree, washed the black and brown
off his face, threw away his old clothes, and then stepped
forward in his splendid dress, looking so beautiful that the
Princess was obliged to courtesy.

'I now come to this. I despise you!' he said. 'You would have
nothing to do with a noble Prince; you did not understand the
rose or the nightingale, but you could kiss the Swineherd for the
sake of a toy. This is what you get for it!' And he went into
his kingdom and shut the door in her face, and she had to stay
outside singing--

'Where's my Augustus dear?
Alas! he's not here, here, here!





Next: How To Tell A True Princess

Previous: Prince Ring



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