: The Yellow Fairy Book

Far away in the country lay an old manor-house where lived an old

squire who had two sons. They thought themselves so clever, that

if they had known only half of what they did know, it would have

been quite enough. They both wanted to marry the King's

daughter, for she had proclaimed that she would have for her

husband the man who knew best how to choose his words.

Both prepared for the wooing a whole w
ek, which was the longest

time allowed them; but, after all, it was quite long enough, for

they both had preparatory knowledge, and everyone knows how

useful that is. One knew the whole Latin dictionary and also

three years' issue of the daily paper of the town off by heart,

so that he could repeat it all backwards or forwards as you

pleased. The other had worked at the laws of corporation, and

knew by heart what every member of the corporation ought to know,

so that he thought he could quite well speak on State matters and

give his opinion. He understood, besides this, how to embroider

braces with roses and other flowers, and scrolls, for he was very

ready with his fingers.

'I shall win the king's daughter!' they both cried.

Their old father gave each of them a fine horse; the one who knew

the dictionary and the daily paper by heart had a black horse,

while the other who was so clever at corporation law had a milk-

white one. Then they oiled the corners of their mouths so that

they might be able to speak more fluently. All the servants

stood in the courtyard and saw them mount their steeds, and here

by chance came the third brother; for the squire had three sons,

but nobody counted him with his brothers, for he was not so

learned as they were, and he was generally called


'Oh, oh!' said Blockhead-Hans. 'Where are you off to? You are

in your Sunday-best clothes!'

'We are going to Court, to woo the Princess! Don't you know what

is known throughout all the country side?' And they told him all

about it.

'Hurrah! I'll go to!' cried Blockhead-Hans; and the brothers

laughed at him and rode off.

'Dear father!' cried Blockhead-Hans, 'I must have a horse too.

What a desire for marriage has seized me! If she will have me,

she WILL have me, and if she won't have me, I will have her.'

'Stop that nonsense!' said the old man. 'I will not give you a

horse. YOU can't speak; YOU don't know how to choose your words.

Your brothers! Ah! they are very different lads!'

'Well,' said Blockhead-Hans, 'if I can't have a horse, I will

take the goat which is mine; he can carry me!'

And he did so. He sat astride on the goat, struck his heels into

its side, and went rattling down the high-road like a hurricane.

'Hoppetty hop! what a ride!' Here I come!' shouted Blockhead-

Hans, singing so that the echoes were roused far and near. But

his brothers were riding slowly in front. They were not

speaking, but they were thinking over all the good things they

were going to say, for everything had to be thought out.

'Hullo!' bawled Blockhead-Hans, 'here I am! Just look what I

found on the road!'--and he showed them a dead crow which he had

picked up.

'Blockhead!' said his brothers, 'what are you going to do with


'With the crow? I shall give it to the Princess!'

'Do so, certainly!' they said, laughing loudly and riding on.

'Slap! bang! here I am again! Look what I have just found!

You don't find such things every day on the road!' And the

brothers turned round to see what in the world he could have


'Blockhead!' said they, 'that is an old wooden shoe without the

top! Are you going to send that, too, to the Princess?'

'Of course I shall!' returned Blockhead-Hans; and the brothers

laughed and rode on a good way.

'Slap! bang! here I am!' cried Blockhead-Hans; 'better and

better--it is really famous!'

'What have you found now?' asked the brothers.

'Oh,' said Blockhead-Hans, 'it is really too good! How pleased

the Princess will be!'

'Why!' said the brothers, 'this is pure mud, straight from the


'Of course it is!' said Blockhead-Hans, 'and it is the best kind!

Look how it runs through one's fingers!' and, so saying, he

filled his pocket with the mud.

But the brothers rode on so fast that dust and sparks flew all

around, and they reached the gate of the town a good hour before

Blockhead-Hans. Here came the suitors numbered according to

their arrival, and they were ranged in rows, six in each row, and

they were so tightly packed that they could not move their arms.

This was a very good thing, for otherwise they would have torn

each other in pieces, merely because the one was in front of the


All the country people were standing round the King's throne, and

were crowded together in thick masses almost out of the windows

to see the Princess receive the suitors; and as each one came

into the room all his fine phrases went out like a candle!

'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Away! out with him!'

At last she came to the row in which the brother who knew the

dictionary by heart was, but he did not know it any longer; he

had quite forgotten it in the rank and file. And the floor

creaked, and the ceiling was all made of glass mirrors, so that

he saw himself standing on his head, and by each window were

standing three reporters and an editor; and each of them was

writing down what was said, to publish it in the paper that came

out and was sold at the street corners for a penny. It was

fearful, and they had made up the fire so hot that it was


'It is hot in here, isn't it!' said the suitor.

'Of course it is! My father is roasting young chickens to-day!'

said the Princess.

'Ahem!' There he stood like an idiot. He was not prepared for

such a speech; he did not know what to say, although he wanted to

say something witty. 'Ahem!'

'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Take him out!' and out

he had to go.

Now the other brother entered.

'How hot it is!' he said.

'Of course! We are roasting young chickens to-day!' remarked the


'How do you--um!' he said, and the reporters wrote down. 'How do


'It doesn't matter!' said the Princess. 'Take him out!'

Now Blockhead-Hans came in; he rode his goat right into the hall.

'I say! How roasting hot it is here!' said he.

'Of course! I am roasting young chickens to-day!' said the


'That's good!' replied Blockhead-Hans; 'then can I roast a crow

with them?'

'With the greatest of pleasure!' said the Princess; 'but have you

anything you can roast them in? for I have neither pot nor


'Oh, rather!' said Blockhead-Hans. 'Here is a cooking implement

with tin rings,' and he drew out the old wooden shoe, and laid

the crow in it.

'That is quite a meal!' said the Princess; 'but where shall we

get the soup from?'

'I've got that in my pocket!' said Blockhead-Hans. 'I have so

much that I can quite well throw some away!' and he poured some

mud out of his pocket.

'I like you!' said the Princess. 'You can answer, and you can

speak, and I will marry you; but do you know that every word

which we are saying and have said has been taken down and will be

in the paper to-morrow? By each window do you see there are

standing three reporters and an old editor, and this old editor

is the worst, for he doesn't understand anything!' but she only

said this to tease Blockhead-Hans. And the reporters giggled,

and each dropped a blot of ink on the floor.

'Ah! are those the great people?' said Blockhead-Hans. 'Then I

will give the editor the best!' So saying, he turned his pockets

inside out, and threw the mud right in his face.

'That was neatly done!' said the Princess. 'I couldn't have done

it; but I will soon learn how to!'

Blockhead-Hans became King, got a wife and a crown, and sat on

the throne; and this we have still damp from the newspaper of the

editor and the reporters--and they are not to be believed for a