: STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA
: Boys And Girls Bookshelf
Once upon a time there was a King who had twelve sons. These sons did
not like to do useful things--they only liked to ride and to hunt in the
woods, and to do what pleased them.
One day the King said: "You shall each one go forth into the world to
seek a bride. But you must choose a bride who can do useful things--and,
to prove it, she must be able to gather the flax and spin and weave a
shirt all in one
day. If she cannot do this, I will not accept her as my
So the sons set out on their errands, each riding a beautiful horse, and
looking forward to having a great time out in the world while he hunted
for his bride.
But the youngest son, Boots, was not popular with the others. So they
"Boots shall not go with us. We will not have him along--he will not do
the things that we want to do."
So Boots drew rein on his horse, and the others rode out of sight.
Now, Boots was very unhappy when he was left alone in the woods, and he
got off his horse and sat down on a log to think. For he did not know
where to go to have the good times that his brothers had been talking
about, and he did not know where to seek a bride.
As he sat thinking, he heard a strange sound near him--a sound like
silver bells tinkling softly; or was it fairies laughing? Boots looked
all about him, but could see nothing.
"Here I am!" exclaimed a sweet little voice. And Boots looked down at
the grass at his feet, and there was the tiniest little creature smiling
up at him, swaying with the stem of a flower which waved in the slight
"Why are you so sad?" asked this tiny maiden.
"Oh," said Boots, "my father has sent me and my brothers forth into the
world to find brides, and my brothers have gone on and left me all alone
in the woods."
The little creature laughed right merrily.
"And suppose they have!" she cried. "The wood is the most beautiful
place in the world! And as for brides--you can find them there if you
but seek for them."
By this time Boots was down in the soft grass beside her.
"But my bride must be able to gather the flax, and spin and weave a
shirt, all in one day."
"Pauf!" exclaimed the little creature, "that is no great task."
Then she tapped a tiny wand twice on the flower stem, and a
spinning-wheel stood before her--such a tiny little spinning wheel! She
lifted the wand again, and the flax stem bent down, so that she gathered
its flower, and in a minute the spinning-wheel was twirling merrily. A
touch of the wand, and the loom was before her; then the thread was spun
into white cloth as fine as cobweb. Boots watched, fascinated. The
little creature next fashioned the cloth into a shirt--such a tiny
shirt--and never was one so fine seen in all the world before.
"You shall come with me to the palace--you shall be my bride!" exclaimed
The little creature smiled at him, and said: "I will go with you to the
palace, and I will be your bride, but I must go in my own way."
"You shall go in any way that you will!" said Boots.
So Doll-in-the-Grass touched the stem of the flower again, and her own
silver carriage came to her, drawn by two tiny white mice. And Boots
rode beside her, careful that his great horse should not crush the
The little mice traveled very fast, and it was not long before they
came to a stream. Now, the great horse could swim the stream without
difficulty; but when the mice plunged into it little Doll-in-the-Grass
and the silver carriage and all went under the water. Then Boots was
disconsolate, but as he stood, mourning, a beautiful maiden came up out
of the water, a maiden fairer than any in all the kingdom, and neither
smaller nor larger than any of them. And she smiled at Boots and said:
"You see how love can do great things."
And Boots caught her up on his horse before him and exclaimed: "Ah, love
can indeed do great things."
And so they rode home together. And of all the wives whom his brothers
won, none was so beautiful as Doll-in-the-Grass. And of all the shirts
that the wives spun, none was so fine or so soft as the one which
Doll-in-the-Grass gave to her father-in-law; and it had become a big
shirt--large enough for a man to wear--and was as soft as silk and as
fine as any cobweb could possibly be.
And the King loved her more than any of his other daughters-in-law, and
Boots more than any of his other sons; so he said they should live with
him in his palace, and by-and-by succeed him on the throne.