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Far, far away there is a fine country full of rocky mountains and crystal caves, rich in silvery streams and flowery gardens, where the sun is said never to set. There FANCY has been queen for a long, long time; and she is clothed in youth and beauty. For hundreds of years she has been showering blessings on her people with a free hand; and she is beloved by all.
But the queen has too great and good a heart to rest content with doing good in her own kingdom. Once she came to earth, for she had heard that there were men living there who passed their lives in sadness and toil. She brought them the fairest flowers and fruits her country produced; and ever since, men have been happy in their labor and mild in their gaiety. Her children too, not less beautiful and lovely than their royal mother, she sent forth to gladden the heart of mankind.
Now, it came to pass one day that FAIRY-TALE, the queen's elder daughter, returned from the earth. Her mother noticed that she was sad; yes, she had heard her sighing, and seen the tears trickle down her cheek, in secret.
“What is the matter with you, Fairy-tale ? " said the queen ; "you have been so sorrowful and downcast since your journey. Come, tell your mother what ails you?”
“Ah! dear mother,” replied Fairy-tale, “ I should certainly not have been silent so long, only I knew that our troubles were one."
“Tell me all, child,” said the beautiful queen; “ grief is a heavy burden, you know, which is too much for
but which two can easily bear between them.”
“ Then I will tell you, dear mother, as you wish it,” answered Fairy-tale. “ You know how I love the people of the earth; how glad I am to sit down with the poorest peasant at his cottage-door, to while away an hour with him, when work is over. Well, in former times, they used to greet me kindly, and shake hands with me when I came; and they followed me with smiles of delight when I went away ; but now, alas, it is so no more !"
"Poor little Fairy-tale !" said the queen, stroking her cheek, which was moist with a tear; “but perhaps this is only a whim of yours ?”
“Oh, no; I feel too sure of it,” answered Fairy-tale; " they do not love me any more.
I am met with cold looks wherever I go; they are not glad to see me anywhere
queen leant her forehead on her hand, and remained awhile in silent thought. And at last she remarked, “ How comes it, Fairy-tale, that the people below are so changed ?"
“Men have grown matter-of-fact, as they call it," answered Fairy-tale; “ they are just like tailors, always taking the measure of everything that comes from your kingdom. So if any one comes who is not quite to their taste, they begin to make a great noise, and beat him, and drive him away in disgrace. Ah! mother, there is not a spark more of love or hearty simplicity to be found. How
well off my little brothers, the Dreams, are; they skip so lightly and merrily down to the earth. They go to the people when asleep, and weave and paint them all sorts of pretty things that gladden the heart and please the eye !"
“ Your brothers are light of foot,” said the queen ; “and, after all, my dear, you have no reason to envy them; because they are not to blame for their good fortune.
“But I see very well, how all this is, — your spiteful aunt has been telling stories of us.”
“ Fashion, do you mean?” cried Fairy-tale. Surely that is impossible, for she always was so kind to us before !"
Oh, I know the meddlesome gossip,” replied the queen; “but try again, my dear child, in spite of her; one must never be tired of doing good.”
“Ah, mother, but if she shuts the door upon me outright, or if she tells naughty stories of me, so that men turn away their heads, and let me stand lonely and forsaken, 'what am I to do ?”
“ If the old ones," said the queen, are fooled over by the painted dame, and despise you, then make up to the young ! They are my favorites; to them I send my prettiest pictures by your brothers, the Dreams: yes, I have often floated down to them myself, and kissed and fondled and played romps with them.”
Oh, the dear children !” cried Fairy-tale, with a new hope. “Yes, so it shall be. I will make another trial with them.”
“Do so, darling child,” said the queen. " Go to them. Be sure you please the little ones, and then the old ones won't send you away."
ONE'S OWN CHILDREN ARE ALWAYS PRETTIEST.
A SPORTSMAN went out once into a wood to shoot, and he met a Snipe.
“Dear friend,” said the Snipe,“ don't shoot my children !” “How shall I know your children ?” asked the Sports
“ what are they like?” “ Oh!” said the Snipe, “mine are the prettiest children in all the wood.”
“Very well," said the Sportsman, “ I'll not shoot them; don't be afraid."
But for all that, when he came back, there he had a whole string of young snipes in his hand, which he had shot.
“Oh, oh!” said the Snipe, “why did you shoot my children after all ?”
“ What! these your children !” said the Sportsman ; 'why, I shot the ugliest I could find; that I did ! ”
“Woe is me !" said the Snipe ; " don't you know that everybody thinks his own children the prettiest ?”
Popular Tales from the Norse.
THE CAT ON THE DOVREFELL.* ONCE on a time there was a man up in Finnmark who had caught a great white bear, which he was going to take to the King of Denmark. Now it so fell out, that he came to the Dovrefell just about Christmas Eve. There he turned into a cottage where a man lived whose name was Halvor. He asked the man if he could get house-room there for his bear and himself.
“May I die of want, if what I say isn't true!” said the * Dovrefell (or-fjeld), a table-land, mountain ridge; 7487 ft.
man; “but we can't give any one house-room just now. Every Christmas Eve such a pack of Trolls come down upon us that we are forced to Ait; then, indeed, we haven't so much as a house over our own heads, to say nothing of lending one to any one else.”
“Oh,” said the man, “if that's all, you can very well lend me your house; my bear can lie under the stove, yonder, and I can sleep in the side room.”
Well, he begged so hard, that at last he got leave to stay. So the people of the house flitted out, and, before they went, everything was got ready for the Trolls. The tables were laid, and there was rich porridge, and fish boiled in butter, and sausages, and everything else that was nice, just as for any other feast.
So, when everything was ready, down came the Trolls. Some were big, and some were little ; some had long tails, and some had no tails at all; some too had long, long noses; and they ate and drank, and tasted everything. Just then one of the little Trolls caught sight of the White Bear, who lay under the stove; so he took a piece of sausage, and stuck it on a fork, and went and poked it up against the Bear's nose, screaming out, “Pussy, will you have some sausage ?"
Then the White Bear rose up and growled, and hunted the whole pack of them out of doors, both great and small.
THE THREE BILLY-GOATS GRUFF.
ONCE on a time there were three billy-goats, who were to go up to the hill-side to make themselves fat; and the name of all three was “Gruff.” On the way up, was a bridge over a burn they had to cross; and there was a Troll, with eyes as big as saucers, and a nose as long as a poker. Then came the youngest billy-goat, and trip-trap, trip-trap, went the bridge.