Jack My Hedgehog

: The Green Fairy Book

There was once a farmer who lived in great comfort. He had both

lands and money, but, though he was so well off, one thing was

wanting to complete his happiness; he had no children. Many and

many a time, when he met other farmers at the nearest market town,

they would teaze him, asking how it came about that he was

childless. At length he grew so angry that he exclaimed: 'I must

and will have a child of some sort or ki
d, even should it only be

a hedgehog!'

Not long after this his wife gave birth to a child, but though the

lower half of the little creature was a fine boy, from the waist

upwards it was a hedgehog, so that when his mother first saw him

she was quite frightened, and said to her husband, 'There now, you

have cursed the child yourself.' The farmer said, 'What's the use

of making a fuss? I suppose the creature must be christened, but I

don't see how we are to ask anyone to be sponsor to him, and what

are we to call him?'

'There is nothing we can possibly call him but Jack my Hedgehog,'

replied the wife.

So they took him to be christened, and the parson said: 'You'll

never be able to put that child in a decent bed on account of his

prickles.' Which was true, but they shook down some straw for him

behind the stove, and there he lay for eight years. His father

grew very tired of him and often wished him dead, but he did not

die, but lay on there year after year.

Now one day there was a big fair at the market town to which the

farmer meant to go, so he asked his wife what he should bring her

from it. 'Some meat and a couple of big loaves for the house,'

said she. Then he asked the maid what she wanted, and she said a

pair of slippers and some stockings. Lastly he said, 'Well, Jack

my Hedgehog, and what shall I bring you?'

'Daddy,' said he, 'do bring me a bagpipe.' When the farmer came

home he gave his wife and the maid the things they had asked for,

and then he went behind the stove and gave Jack my Hedgehog the


When Jack had got his bagpipes he said, 'Daddy, do go to the

smithy and have the house cock shod for me; then I'll ride off and

trouble you no more.' His father, who was delighted at the

prospect of getting rid of him, had the cock shod, and when it was

ready Jack my Hedgehog mounted on its back and rode off to the

forest, followed by all the pigs and asses which he had promised

to look after.

Having reached the forest he made the cock fly up to the top of a

very tall tree with him, and there he sat looking after his pigs

and donkeys, and he sat on and on for several years till he had

quite a big herd; but all this time his father knew nothing about


As he sat up in his tree he played away on his pipes and drew the

loveliest music from them. As he was playing one day a King, who

had lost his way, happened to pass close by, and hearing the music

he was much surprised, and sent one of his servants to find out

where it came from. The man peered about, but he could see nothing

but a little creature which looked like a cock with a hedgehog

sitting on it, perched up in a tree. The King desired the servant

to ask the strange creature why it sat there, and if it knew the

shortest way to his kingdom.

On this Jack my Hedgehog stepped down from his tree and said he

would undertake to show the King his way home if the King on his

part would give him his written promise to let him have whatever

first met him on his return.

The King thought to himself, 'That's easy enough to promise. The

creature won't understand a word about it, so I can just write

what I choose.'

So he took pen and ink and wrote something, and when he had done

Jack my Hedgehog pointed out the way and the King got safely home.

Now when the King's daughter saw her father returning in the

distance she was so delighted that she ran to meet him and threw

herself into his arms. Then the King remembered Jack my Hedgehog,

and he told his daughter how he had been obliged to give a written

promise to bestow whatever he first met when he got home on an

extraordinary creature which had shown him the way. The creature,

said he, rode on a cock as though it had been a horse, and it made

lovely music, but as it certainly could not read he had just

written that he would not give it anything at all. At this

the Princess was quite pleased, and said how cleverly her father

had managed, for that of course nothing would induce her to have

gone off with Jack my Hedgehog.

Meantime Jack minded his asses and pigs, sat aloft in his tree,

played his bagpipes, and was always merry and cheery. After a time

it so happened that another King, having lost his way, passed by

with his servants and escort, wondering how he could find his way

home, for the forest was very vast. He too heard the music, and

told one of his men to find out whence it came. The man came under

the tree, and looking up to the top there he saw Jack my Hedgehog

astride on the cock.

The servant asked Jack what he was doing up there. 'I'm minding my

pigs and donkeys; but what do you want?' was the reply. Then the

servant told him they had lost their way, and wanted some one to

show it them. Down came Jack my Hedgehog with his cock, and told

the old King he would show him the right way if he would solemnly

promise to give him the first thing he met in front of his royal


The King said 'Yes,' and gave Jack a written promise to that


Then Jack rode on in front pointing out the way, and the King

reached his own country in safety.

Now he had an only daughter who was extremely beautiful, and who,

delighted at her father's return, ran to meet him, threw her arms

round his neck and kissed him heartily. Then she asked where he

had been wandering so long, and he told her how he had lost his

way and might never have reached home at all but for a strange

creature, half-man, half-hedgehog, which rode a cock and sat up in

a tree making lovely music, and which had shown him the right way.

He also told her how he had been obliged to pledge his word to

give the creature the first thing which met him outside his castle

gate, and he felt very sad at the thought that she had been the

first thing to meet him.

But the Princess comforted him, and said she should be quite

willing to go with Jack my Hedgehog whenever he came to fetch her,

because of the great love she bore to her dear old father.

Jack my Hedgehog continued to herd his pigs, and they increased in

number till there were so many that the forest seemed full of

them. So he made up his mind to live there no longer, and sent a

message to his father telling him to have all the stables and

outhouses in the village cleared, as he was going to bring such an

enormous herd that all who would might kill what they chose. His

father was much vexed at this news, for he thought Jack had died

long ago. Jack my Hedgehog mounted his cock, and driving his pigs

before him into the village, he let every one kill as many as they

chose, and such a hacking and hewing of pork went on as you might

have heard for miles off.

Then said Jack, 'Daddy, let the blacksmith shoe my cock once more;

then I'll ride off, and I promise you I'll never come back again

as long as I live.' So the father had the cock shod, and rejoiced

at the idea of getting rid of his son.

Then Jack my Hedgehog set off for the first kingdom, and there the

King had given strict orders that if anyone should be seen riding

a cock and carrying a bagpipe he was to be chased away and shot

at, and on no account to be allowed to enter the palace. So when

Jack my Hedgehog rode up the guards charged him with their

bayonets, but he put spurs to his cock, flew up over the gate

right to the King's windows, let himself down on the sill, and

called out that if he was not given what had been promised him,

both the King and his daughter should pay for it with their lives.

Then the King coaxed and entreated his daughter to go with Jack

and so save both their lives.

The Princess dressed herself all in white, and her father gave her

a coach with six horses and servants in gorgeous liveries and

quantities of money. She stepped into the coach, and Jack my

Hedgehog with his cock and pipes took his place beside her. They

both took leave, and the King fully expected never to set eyes on

them again. But matters turned out very differently from what he

had expected, for when they had got a certain distance from the

town Jack tore all the Princess's smart clothes off her, and

pricked her all over with his bristles, saying: 'That's what you

get for treachery. Now go back, I'll have no more to say to you.'

And with that he hunted her home, and she felt she had been

disgraced and put to shame till her life's end.

Then Jack my Hedgehog rode on with his cock and bagpipes to the

country of the second King to whom he had shown the way. Now this

King had given orders that, in the event of Jack's coming the

guards were to present arms, the people to cheer, and he was to be

conducted in triumph to the royal palace.

When the King's daughter saw Jack my Hedgehog, she was a good deal

startled, for he certainly was very peculiar looking; but after

all she considered that she had given her word and it couldn't be

helped. So she made Jack welcome and they were betrothed to each

other, and at dinner he sat next her at the royal table, and they

ate and drank together.

When they retired to rest the Princess feared lest Jack should

kiss her because of his prickles, but he told her not to be

alarmed as no harm should befall her. Then he begged the old King

to place a watch of four men just outside his bedroom door, and to

desire them to make a big fire. When he was about to lie down in

bed he would creep out of his hedgehog skin, and leave it lying at

the bedside; then the men must rush in, throw the skin into the

fire, and stand by till it was entirely burnt up.

And so it was, for when it struck eleven, Jack my Hedgehog went to

his room, took off his skin and left it at the foot of the bed.

The men rushed in, quickly seized the skin and threw it on the

fire, and directly it was all burnt Jack was released from his

enchantment and lay in his bed a man from head to foot, but quite

black as though he had been severely scorched.

The King sent off for his physician in ordinary, who washed Jack

all over with various essences and salves, so that he became white

and was a remarkably handsome young man. When the King's daughter

saw him she was greatly pleased, and next day the marriage

ceremony was performed, and the old King bestowed his kingdom on

Jack my Hedgehog.

After some years Jack and his wife went to visit his father, but

the farmer did not recognize him, and declared he had no son; he

had had one, but that one was born with bristles like a hedgehog,

and had gone off into the wide world. Then Jack told his story,

and his old father rejoiced and returned to live with him in his