How Six Men Travelled Through The Wide World

: The Yellow Fairy Book

There was once upon a time a man who understood all sorts of

arts; he served in the war, and bore himself bravely and well;

but when the war was over, he got his discharge, and set out on

his travels with three farthings of his pay in his pocket.

'Wait,' he said; 'that does not please me; only let me find the

right people, and the King shall yet give me all the treasures of

his kingdom.' He strode angrily into the fo
est, and there he

saw a man standing who had uprooted six trees as if they were

straws. He said to him, 'Will you be my servant and travel with


'Yes,' he answered; 'but first of all I will take this little

bundle of sticks home to my mother,' and he took one of the trees

and wound it round the other five, raised the bundle on his

shoulders and bore it off. Then he came back and went with his

master, who said, 'We two ought to be able to travel through the

wide world!' And when they had gone a little way they came upon

a hunter, who was on his knees, his gun on his shoulder, aiming

at something. The master said to him, 'Hunter, what are you

aiming at?'

He answered, 'Two miles from this place sits a fly on a branch of

an oak; I want to shoot out its left eye.'

'Oh, go with me,' said the man; 'if we three are together we

shall easily travel through the wide world.'

The hunter agreed and went with him, and they came to seven

windmills whose sails were going round quite fast, and yet there

was not a breath of wind, nor was a leaf moving. The man said,

'I don't know what is turning those windmills; there is not the

slightest breeze blowing.' So he walked on with his servants,

and when they had gone two miles they saw a man sitting on a

tree, holding one of his nostrils and blowing out of the other.

'Fellow, what are you puffing at up there?' asked the man.

He replied, 'Two miles from this place are standing seven

windmills; see, I am blowing to drive them round.'

'Oh, go with me,' said the man; 'if we four are together we shall

easily travel through the wide world.'

So the blower got down and went with him, and after a time they

saw a man who was standing on one leg, and had unstrapped the

other and laid it near him. Then said the master, 'You have made

yourself very comfortable to rest!'

'I am a runner,' answered he; 'and so that I shall not go too

quickly, I have unstrapped one leg; when I run with two legs, I

go faster than a bird flies.'

'Oh, go with me; if we five are together, we shall easily travel

through the wide world.' So he went with him, and, not long

afterwards, they met a man who wore a little hat, but he had it

slouched over one ear.

'Manners, manners!' said the master to him; 'don't hang your hat

over one ear; you look like a madman!'

'I dare not,' said the other, 'for if I were to put my hat on

straight, there would come such a frost that the very birds in

the sky would freeze and fall dead on the earth.'

'Oh, go with me,' said the master; 'if we six are together, we

shall easily travel through the wide world.

Now the Six came to a town in which the King had proclaimed that

whoever should run with his daughter in a race, and win, should

become her husband; but if he lost, he must lose his head. This

was reported to the man who declared he would compete, 'but,' he

said, 'I shall let my servant run for me.'

The King replied, 'Then both your heads must be staked, and your

head and his must be guaranteed for the winner.'

When this was agreed upon and settled, the man strapped on the

runner's other leg, saying to him, 'Now be nimble, and see that

we win!' It was arranged that whoever should first bring water

out of a stream a long way off, should be the victor. Then the

runner got a pitcher, and the King's daughter another, and they

began to run at the same time; but in a moment, when the King's

daughter was only just a little way off, no spectator could see

the runner, and it seemed as if the wind had whistled past. In a

short time he reached the stream, filled his pitcher with water,

and turned round again. But, half way home, a great drowsiness

came over him; he put down his pitcher, lay down, and fell

asleep. He had, however, put a horse's skull which was lying on

the ground, for his pillow, so that he should not be too

comfortable and might soon wake up.

In the meantime the King's daughter, who could also run well, as

well as an ordinary man could, reached the stream, and hastened

back with her pitcher full of water. When she saw the runner

lying there asleep, she was delighted, and said, 'My enemy is

given into my hands!' She emptied his pitcher and ran on.

Everything now would have been lost, if by good luck the hunter

had not been standing on the castle tower and had seen everything

with his sharp eyes.

'Ah,' said he, 'the King's daughter shall not overreach us;' and,

loading his gun, he shot so cleverly, that he shot away the

horse's skull from under the runner's head, without its hurting

him. Then the runner awoke, jumped up, and saw that his pitcher

was empty and the King's daughter far ahead. But he did not lose

courage, and ran back to the stream with his pitcher, filled it

once more with water, and was home ten minutes before the King's

daughter arrived.

'Look,' said he, 'I have only just exercised my legs; that was

nothing of a run.'

But the King was angry, and his daughter even more so, that she

should be carried away by a common, discharged soldier. They

consulted together how they could destroy both him and his


'Then,' said the King to her, 'I have found a way. Don't be

frightened; they shall not come home again.' He said to them,

'You must now make merry together, and eat and drink,' and he led

them into a room which had a floor of iron; the doors were also

of iron, and the windows were barred with iron. In the room was

a table spread with delicious food. The King said to them, 'Go

in and enjoy yourselves,' and as soon as they were inside he had

the doors shut and bolted. Then he made the cook come, and

ordered him to keep up a large fire under the room until the iron

was red-hot. The cook did so, and the Six sitting round the

table felt it grow very warm, and they thought this was because

of their good fare; but when the heat became still greater and

they wanted to go out, but found the doors and windows fastened,

then they knew that the King meant them harm and was trying to

suffocate them.

'But he shall not succeed,' cried he of the little hat, 'I will

make a frost come which shall make the fire ashamed and die out!'

So he put his hat on straight, and at once there came such a

frost that all the heat disappeared and the food on the dishes

began to freeze. When a couple of hours had passed, and the King

thought they must be quite dead from the heat, he had the doors

opened and went in himself to see.

But when the doors were opened, there stood all Six, alive and

well, saying they were glad they could come out to warm

themselves, for the great cold in the room had frozen all the

food hard in the dishes. Then the King went angrily to the cook,

and scolded him, and asked him why he had not done what he was


But the cook answered, 'There is heat enough there; see for

yourself.' Then the King saw a huge fire burning under the iron

room, and understood that he could do no harm to the Six in this

way. The King now began again to think how he could free himself

from his unwelcome guests. He commanded the master to come

before him, and said, 'If you will take gold, and give up your

right to my daughter, you shall have as much as you like.'

'Oh, yes, your Majesty,' answered he, 'give me as much as my

servant can carry, and I will give up your daughter.'

The King was delighted, and the man said, 'I will come and fetch

it in fourteen days.'

Then he called all the tailors in the kingdom together, and made

them sit down for fourteen days sewing at a sack. When it was

finished, he made the strong man who had uprooted the trees take

the sack on his shoulder and go with him to the King. Then the

King said, 'What a powerful fellow that is, carrying that bale of

linen as large as a house on his shoulder!' and he was much

frightened, and thought 'What a lot of gold he will make away

with!' Then he had a ton of gold brought, which sixteen of the

strongest men had to carry; but the strong man seized it with one

hand, put it in the sack, saying, 'Why don't you bring me more?

That scarcely covers the bottom!' Then the King had to send

again and again to fetch his treasures, which the strong man

shoved into the sack, and the sack was only half full.

'Bring more,' he cried, 'these crumbs don't fill it.' So seven

thousand waggons of the gold of the whole kingdom were driven up;

these the strong man shoved into the sack, oxen and all.

'I will no longer be particular,' he said, 'and will take what

comes, so that the sack shall be full.'

When everything was put in and there was not yet enough, he said,

'I will make an end of this; it is easy to fasten a sack when it

is not full.' Then he threw it on his back and went with his


Now, when the King saw how a single man was carrying away the

wealth of the whole country he was very angry, and made his

cavalry mount and pursue the Six, and bring back the strong man

with the sack. Two regiments soon overtook them, and called to

them, 'You are prisoners! lay down the sack of gold or you shall

be cut down.'

'What do you say?' said the blower, 'we are prisoners? Before

that, you shall dance in the air!' And he held one nostril and

blew with the other at the two regiments; they were separated and

blown away in the blue sky over the mountains, one this way, and

the other that. A sergeant-major cried for mercy, saying he had

nine wounds, and was a brave fellow, and did not deserve this

disgrace. So the blower let him off, and he came down without

hurt. Then he said to him, 'Now go home to the King, and say

that if he sends any more cavalry I will blow them all into the


When the King received the message, he said, 'Let the fellows go;

they are bewitched.' Then the Six brought the treasure home,

shared it among themselves, and lived contentedly till the end of

their days.