GERMAN FAIRY TALES
Once upon a time a man went out to seek his fortune.
As he walked along, he came to a town and saw some boys teasing a mouse.
“Let the poor mouse go. I will pay you if you will let it go,” said the man.
He gave the boys a penny.
They let the mouse go, and it ran away.
After this the man went on till he came to another town.
There he saw some boys playing with a monkey.
They had hurt the poor beast so that he cried out with pain.
“Let the monkey go,” said the man. “I will pay you to let him go.”
So he gave the boys some money.
They let the monkey go, and the monkey ran away.
The man went on, and by and by he came to another town.
There he saw some boys trying to make a bear dance.
They had tied the bear with a rope and were beating him.
“Let the poor bear go,” said the man. “I will pay you to let him go.”
He gave the boys some money, and they let the poor beast go.
The bear, was glad to be free and walked off as fast as he could.
The man had spent all his money.
He had not a penny left.
He was hungry too, and could get nothing to eat.
Then the king’s men took him and put him into a great box.
They shut and fastened the lid, and threw the box into the water.
The man floated about in the water many days and thought he should never see the light again.
At last he heard something gnaw and scratch at the lid.
Then the lid flew open.
The box was on the shore, and there stood the bear, the monkey, and the mouse beside it.
They had helped him because he had helped them.
As they stood there, a round white stone rolled down to the water.
“This has come just in time,” said the bear. “It is a magic stone and will take its owner wherever he wishes to go.”
The man picked up the stone and wished he were in a castle with gardens around it.
All at once the castle and the gardens were there, and he was in the castle.
It was very beautiful.
Soon some merchants came by.
“See this fine castle,” said one to another. “There was never a castle here till now.”
The merchants went in and asked the man how he had built the castle so quickly.
“I did not do it,” said the man. “My magic stone built it.”
“Let us see the stone,” said the merchants.
The man showed them the stone.
Then the merchants showed him gold and silver and diamonds and other beautiful things, and said:
“We will give you all these if you will give us the stone.”
The things looked very beautiful to the man, so he took them and gave the stone to the merchants.
All at once he found himself again in the dark box on the water.
As soon as the bear, the monkey, and the mouse saw what had happened, they tried to help him.
But the lid was fastened more strongly than before.
They could not open it.
“We must have that stone again,” said the bear.
illus081So the three faithful beasts went back to the castle and found the merchants there.
The mouse looked under the door and said:
“The stone is fastened with a red ribbon under the looking-glass, and beside it are two great cats with eyes of fire.”
The bear and the monkey said:
“Wait till the men go to sleep. Then run quickly under the door, jump quickly up on the bed, scratch the nose of one of the men, and bite off one of his whiskers.”
The mouse did as he was told.
The merchant woke up and rubbed his nose. Then he said:
“Those cats are good for nothing. They let the mice in, and the mice eat up my very whiskers.”
So he drove the cats away.
The next night the mouse went in again. The merchants were asleep.
The mouse gnawed at the ribbon till it gave way, and the stone fell.
Then he rolled the stone out under the door.
The monkey took it and carried it down to the water.
“How shall we get out to the box?” asked the monkey.
“I will tell you,” said the bear. “Sit on my back and hold fast. Carry the stone in your mouth. The mouse will sit in my right ear, and I will swim out to the box.”
They did as the bear said, and were soon out in the water. No one said anything, and it was very still. The bear wanted to talk.
“How are you, Monkey?” he asked.
The monkey said nothing.
“Why don’t you talk to me?” asked the bear.
“Silly!” said the monkey. “How do you think I can talk when I have a stone in my mouth?”
As he said this, the stone rolled out into the water.
“Never mind,” said the bear. “The frogs will get it for us.”
So he asked the frogs to get it, and one of them brought it to him.
“Thank you,” said the bear. “That is what we need.”
Then the three faithful beasts broke open the great box.
They gave the stone to the man.
He took it and wished himself in the castle again, and wished the three faithful beasts with him.
At once they were in the castle.
The merchants were gone.
So the man and his three faithful beasts lived there ever after.