The Giants And The Herd-boy

: The Yellow Fairy Book

From the Bukowniaer. Von Wliolocki.

There was once upon a time a poor boy who had neither father nor

mother. In order to gain a living he looked after the sheep of a

great Lord. Day and night he spent out in the open fields, and

only when it was very wet and stormy did he take refuge in a

little hut on the edge of a big forest. Now one night, when he

was sitting on the grass beside his flocks, he hear
not very far

from him the sound as of some one crying. He rose up and

followed the direction of the noise. To his dismay and

astonishment he found a Giant lying at the entrance of the wood;

he was about to run off as fast as his legs could carry him, when

the Giant called out: 'Don't be afraid, I won't harm you. On the

contrary, I will reward you handsomely if you will bind up my

foot. I hurt it when I was trying to root up an oak-tree.' The

Herd-boy took off his shirt, and bound up the Giant's wounded

foot with it. Then the Giant rose up and said, 'Now come and I

will reward you. We are going to celebrate a marriage to-day,

and I promise you we shall have plenty of fun. Come and enjoy

yourself, but in order that my brothers mayn't see you, put this

band round your waist and then you'll be invisible.' With these

words he handed the Herd-boy a belt, and walking on in front he

led him to a fountain where hundreds of Giants and Giantesses

were assembled preparing to hold a wedding. They danced and

played different games till midnight; then one of the Giants tore

up a plant by its roots, and all the Giants and Giantesses made

themselves so thin that they disappeared into the earth through

the hole made by the uprooting of the plant. The wounded Giant

remained behind to the last and called out, 'Herd-boy, where are

you?' 'Here I am, close to you,' was the reply. 'Touch me,' said

the Giant, 'so that you too may come with us under ground.' The

Herd-boy did as he was told, and before he could have believed it

possible he found himself in a big hall, where even the walls

were made of pure gold. Then to his astonishment he saw that the

hall was furnished with the tables and chairs that belonged to

his master. In a few minutes the company began to eat and drink.

The banquet was a very gorgeous one, and the poor youth fell to

and ate and drank lustily. When he had eaten and drunk as much

as he could he thought to himself, 'Why shouldn't I put a loaf of

bread in my pocket? I shall be glad of it to-morrow.' So he

seized a loaf when no one was looking and stowed it away under

his tunic. No sooner had he done so than the wounded Giant

limped up to him and whispered softly, 'Herd-boy, where are you?'

'Here I am,' replied the youth. 'Then hold on to me,' said the

Giant, 'so that I may lead you up above again.' So the Herd-boy

held on to the Giant, and in a few moments he found himself on

the earth once more, but the Giant had vanished. The Herd-boy

returned to his sheep, and took off the invisible belt which he

hid carefully in his bag.

The next morning the lad felt hungry, and thought he would cut

off a piece of the loaf he had carried away from the Giants'

wedding feast, and eat it. But although he tried with all his

might, he couldn't cut off the smallest piece. Then in despair

he bit the loaf, and what was his astonishment when a piece of

gold fell out of his mouth and rolled at his feet. He bit the

bread a second and third time, and each time a piece of gold fell

out of his mouth; but the bread remained untouched. The Herd-boy

was very much delighted over his stroke of good fortune, and,

hiding the magic loaf in his bag, he hurried off to the nearest

village to buy himself something to eat, and then returned to his


Now the Lord whose sheep the Herd-boy looked after had a very

lovely daughter, who always smiled and nodded to the youth when

she walked with her father in his fields. For a long time the

Herd-boy had made up his mind to prepare a surprise for this

beautiful creature on her birthday. So when the day approached

he put on his invisible belt, took a sack of gold pieces with

him, and slipping into her room in the middle of the night, he

placed the bag of gold beside her bed and returned to his sheep.

The girl's joy was great, and so was her parents' next day when

they found the sack full of gold pieces. The Herd-boy was so

pleased to think what pleasure he had given that the next night

he placed another bag of gold beside the girl's bed. And this he

continued to do for seven nights, and the girl and her parents

made up their minds that it must be a good Fairy who brought the

gold every night. But one night they determined to watch, and

see from their hiding place who the bringer of the sack of gold

really was.

On the eighth night a fearful storm of wind and rain came on

while the Herd-boy was on his way to bring the beautiful girl

another bag of gold. Then for the first time he noticed, just as

he reached his master's house, that he had forgotten the belt

which made him invisible. He didn't like the idea of going back

to his hut in the wind and wet, so he just stepped as he was into

the girl's room, laid the sack of gold beside her, and was

turning to leave the room, when his master confronted him and

said, 'You young rogue, so you were going to steal the gold that

a good Fairy brings every night, were you?' The Herd-boy was so

taken aback by his words, that he stood trembling before him, and

did not dare to explain his presence. Then his master spoke.

'As you have hitherto always behaved well in my service I will

not send you to prison; but leave your place instantly and never

let me see your face again.' So the Herd-boy went back to his

hut, and taking his loaf and belt with him, he went to the

nearest town. There he bought himself some fine clothes, and a

beautiful coach with four horses, hired two servants, and drove

back to his master. You may imagine how astonished he was to see

his Herd-boy returning to him in this manner! Then the youth

told him of the piece of good luck that had befallen him, and

asked him for the hand of his beautiful daughter. This was

readily granted, and the two lived in peace and happiness to the

end of their lives.