: 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

little carriage.

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.