The Golden Crab





'Prinz Krebs,' from Griechische Mahrchen. Schmidt.



Once upon a time there was a fisherman who had a wife and three

children. Every morning he used to go out fishing, and whatever

fish he caught he sold to the King. One day, among the other

fishes, he caught a golden crab. When he came home he put all

the fishes together into a great dish, but he kept the Crab

separate because it shone so beautifully, and placed it upon a

high shelf in the cupboard. Now while the old woman, his wife,

was cleaning the fish, and had tucked up her gown so that her

feet were visible, she suddenly heard a voice, which said:



'Let down, let down thy petticoat

That lets thy feet be seen.'



She turned round in surprise, and then she saw the little

creature, the Golden Crab.



'What! You can speak, can you, you ridiculous crab?' she said,

for she was not quite pleased at the Crab's remarks. Then she

took him up and placed him on a dish.



When her husband came home and they sat down to dinner, they

presently heard the Crab's little voice saying, 'Give me some

too.' They were all very much surprised, but they gave him

something to eat. When the old man came to take away the plate

which had contained the Crab's dinner, he found it full of gold,

and as the same thing happened every day he soon became very fond

of the Crab.



One day the Crab said to the fisherman's wife, 'Go to the King

and tell him I wish to marry his younger daughter.'



The old woman went accordingly, and laid the matter before the

King, who laughed a little at the notion of his daughter marrying

a crab, but did not decline the proposal altogether, because he

was a prudent monarch, and knew that the Crab was likely to be a

prince in disguise. He said, therefore, to the fisherman's wife,

'Go, old woman, and tell the Crab I will give him my daughter if

by to-morrow morning he can build a wall in front of my castle

much higher than my tower, upon which all the flowers of the

world must grow and bloom.'



The fisherman's wife went home and gave this message.



Then the Crab gave her a golden rod, and said, 'Go and strike

with this rod three times upon the ground on the place which the

King showed you, and to-morrow morning the wall will be there.'



The old woman did so and went away again.



The next morning, when the King awoke, what do you think he saw?

The wall stood there before his eyes, exactly as he had bespoken

it!



Then the old woman went back to the King and said to him, 'Your

Majesty's orders have been fulfilled.'



'That is all very well,' said the King, 'but I cannot give away

my daughter until there stands in front of my palace a garden in

which there are three fountains, of which the first must play

gold, the second diamonds, and the third brilliants.'



So the old woman had to strike again three times upon the ground

with the rod, and the next morning the garden was there. The

King now gave his consent, and the wedding was fixed for the very

next day.



Then the Crab said to the old fisherman, 'Now take this rod; go

and knock with it on a certain mountain; then a black man will

come out and ask you what you wish for. Answer him thus: ''Your

master, the King, has sent me to tell you that you must send him

his golden garment that is like the sun.'' Make him give you,

besides, the queenly robes of gold and precious stones which are

like the flowery meadows, and bring them both to me. And bring

me also the golden cushion.'





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