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إدارة الموقع
منتديات الشروق أونلاين
منتديات الشروق أونلاين
تغريدات تويتر
  • ملف العضو
  • معلومات
الهامل الهامل
عضو مبتدئ
  • تاريخ التسجيل : 28-12-2008
  • المشاركات : 27
  • معدل تقييم المستوى :


  • الهامل الهامل is on a distinguished road
الهامل الهامل
عضو مبتدئ
قصص انجليزية
05-03-2014, 07:44 AM
قصص باللغة انجلزية

King Grisly-Beard

A great king of a land far away in the East had a daughter who was very beautiful, but so proud and haughty and conceited, that none of the princes who came to ask for her hand in marriage was good enough for her. All she ever did was make fun of them.
Once upon a time the king held a great feast and invited all her suitors. They all sat in a row, ranged according to their rank -- kings and princes and dukes and earls and counts and barons and knights. When the princess came in, as she passed by them, she had something spiteful to say to each one.
The first was too fat: 'He's as round as a tub,' she said.
The next was too tall: 'What a maypole!' she said.
The next was too short: 'What a dumpling!' she said.
The fourth was too pale, and she called him 'Wallface.'
The fifth was too red, so she called him 'Coxcomb.'
The sixth was not straight enough; so she said he was like a green stick that had been laid to dry over a baker's oven. She had some joke to crack about every one. But she laughed most of all at a good king who was there.
'Look at him,' she said; 'his beard is like an old mop; he shall be called Grisly-beard.' So the king got the nickname of Grisly-beard.
But the old king was very angry when he saw how his daughter behaved and how badly she treated all his guests. He vowed that, willing or unwilling, she would marry the first man that came to the door.
Two days later a travelling fiddler came by the castle. He began to play under the window and begged for money and when the king heard him, he said, 'Let him come in.'
So, they brought the dirty-looking fellow in and, when he had sung before the king and the princess, he begged for a gift.
The king said, 'You have sung so well that I will give you my daughter to take as your wife.'
The princess begged and prayed; but the king said, 'I have sworn to give you to the first man who came to the door, and I will keep my word.'
Words and tears were to no avail; the parson was sent for, and she was married to the fiddler.
< 2 >
When this was over, the king said, 'Now get ready to leave -- you must not stay here -- you must travel with your husband.'
So the fiddler left the castle, and took the princess with him.
Soon they came to a great wood.
'Pray,' she said, 'whose is this wood?'
'It belongs to King Grisly-beard,' he answered; 'hadst thou taken him, all would have been thine.'
'Ah! unlucky wretch that I am!' she sighed; 'would that I had married King Grisly-beard!'
Next they came to some fine meadows.
'Whose are these beautiful green meadows?' she said.
'They belong to King Grisly-beard, hadst thou taken him, they would all have been thine.'
'Ah! unlucky wretch that I am!' she said; 'would that I had married King Grisly-beard!'
Then they came to a great city. 'Whose is this noble city?' she said.
'It belongs to King Grisly-beard; hadst thou taken him, it would all have been thine.'
'Ah! wretch that I am!' she sighed; 'why did I not marry King Grisly-beard?'
'That is no business of mine,' said the fiddler, 'why should you wish for another husband? Am I not good enough for you?'
At last they came to a small cottage. 'What a paltry place!' she said; 'to whom does that little dirty hole belong?'
The fiddler said, 'That is your and my house, where we are to live.'
'Where are your servants?' she cried.
'What do we want with servants?' he said; 'you must do for yourself whatever is to be done. Now make the fire, and put on water and cook my supper, for I am very tired.'
But the princess knew nothing of making fires and cooking, and the fiddler was forced to help her.
When they had eaten a very scanty meal they went to bed; but the fiddler called her up very early in the morning to clean the house.
They lived like that for two days and when they had eaten up all there was in the cottage, the man said, 'Wife, we can't go on thus, spending money and earning nothing. You must learn to weave baskets.'
Then the fiddler went out and cut willows, and brought them home, and she began to weave; but it made her fingers very sore.
'I see this work won't do,' he said, 'try and spin; perhaps you will do that better.'
< 3 >
So she sat down and tried to spin; but the threads cut her tender fingers until the blood ran.
'See now,' said the fiddler, 'you are good for nothing; you can do no work. What a bargain I have got! However, I'll try and set up a trade in pots and pans, and you shall stand in the market and sell them.'
'Alas!' she sighed, 'if any of my father's court should pass by and see me standing in the market, how they will laugh at me!'
But her husband did not care about that, and said she would have to work if she did not want to die of hunger.
At first the trade went well because many people, seeing such a beautiful woman, went to buy her wares and paid their money without even thinking of taking away the goods. They lived on this as long as it lasted and then her husband bought a fresh lot of pots and pans, and she sat herself down with it in the corner of the market.
However, soon a drunken soldier soon came by and rode his horse against her stall and broke all her goods into a thousand pieces.
She began to cry, and did not know what to do. 'Ah! what will become of me?' she said; 'what will my husband say?' So she ran home and told him everything.
'Who would have thought you would have been so silly,' he said, 'as to put an earthenware stall in the corner of the market, where everybody passes? But let us have no more crying; I see you are not fit for this sort of work, so I have been to the king's palace, and asked if they did not want a kitchen-maid; and they say they will take you, and there you will have plenty to eat.'
So the princess became a kitchen-maid and helped the cook to do all the dirtiest work. She was allowed to carry home some of the meat that was left over, and they lived on that.
She had not been there long before she heard that the king's eldest son was passing by, on his way to get married. She went to one of the windows and looked out. Everything was ready and all the pomp and brightness of the court was there. Seeing it, she grieved bitterly for the pride and folly that had brought her so low. The servants gave her some of the rich meats and she put them into her basket to take home.
< 4 >
All of a sudden, as she was leaving, in came the king's son in his golden clothes. When he saw such a beautiful woman at the door, he took her by the hand and said she should be his partner in the dance. She trembled with fear because she saw that it was King Grisly-beard, who was making fun of her. However, he kept hold of her, and led her into the hall. As she entered, the cover of the basket came off, and the meats in it fell out. Everybody laughed and jeered at her and she was so ashamed that she wished she were a thousand feet deep in the earth. She sprang over to the door so that she could run away but on the steps King Grisly-beard overtook her, brought her back and said:
'Fear me not! I am the fiddler who has lived with you in the hut. I brought you there because I truly loved you. I am also the soldier that overset your stall. I have done all this only to cure you of your silly pride, and to show you the folly of your ill-treatment of me. Now it is all over: you have learnt wisdom, and it is time to hold our marriage feast.'
Then the chamberlains came and brought her the most beautiful robes. Her father and his whole court were already there, and they welcomed her home. Joy was in every face and every heart. The feast was grand; they danced and sang; everyone was merry; and I only wish that you and I had been there
.................................................. ............................
Mr Sticky

No one knew how Mr. Sticky got in the fish tank.
"He's very small," Mum said as she peered at the tiny water snail. "Just a black dot."
"He'll grow," said Abby and pulled her pyjama bottoms up again before she got into bed. They were always falling down.

In the morning Abby jumped out of bed and switched on the light in her fish tank.
Gerry, the fat orange goldfish, was dozing inside the stone archway. Jaws was already awake, swimming along the front of the tank with his white tail floating and twitching. It took Abby a while to find Mr. Sticky because he was clinging to the glass near the bottom, right next to the gravel.
At school that day she wrote about the mysterious Mr. Sticky who was so small you could mistake him for a piece of gravel. Some of the girls in her class said he seemed an ideal pet for her and kept giggling about it.
That night Abby turned on the light to find Mr. Sticky clinging to the very tiniest, waviest tip of the pond weed. It was near the water filter so he was bobbing about in the air bubbles.
"That looks fun," Abby said. She tried to imagine what it must be like to have to hang on to things all day and decided it was probably very tiring. She fed the fish then lay on her bed and watched them chase each other round and round the archway. When they stopped Gerry began nibbling at the pond weed with his big pouty lips. He sucked Mr. Sticky into his mouth then blew him back out again in a stream of water. The snail floated down to the bottom of the tank among the coloured gravel.

"I think he's grown a bit," Abby told her Mum at breakfast the next day.
"Just as well if he's going to be gobbled up like that," her Mum said, trying to put on her coat and eat toast at the same time.
"But I don't want him to get too big or he won't be cute anymore. Small things are cute aren't they?"
"Yes they are. But big things can be cute too. Now hurry up, I'm going to miss my train."

At school that day, Abby drew an elephant. She needed two pieces of expensive paper to do both ends but the teacher didn't mind because she was pleased with the drawing and wanted it on the wall. They sellotaped them together, right across the elephant's middle. In the corner of the picture, Abby wrote her full name, Abigail, and drew tiny snails for the dots on the 'i's The teacher said that was very creative.
< 2 >
At the weekend they cleaned out the tank. "There's a lot of algae on the sides," Mum said. "I'm not sure Mr. Sticky's quite up to the job yet."
They scooped the fish out and put them in a bowl while they emptied some of the water. Mr. Sticky stayed out of the way, clinging to the glass while Mum used the special 'vacuum cleaner' to clean the gravel. Abby trimmed the new pieces of pond weed down to size and scrubbed the archway and the filter tube. Mum poured new water into the tank.
"Where's Mr. Sticky?" Abby asked.
"On the side," Mum said. She was busy concentrating on the water. "Don't worry I was careful."
Abby looked on all sides of the tank. There was no sign of the water snail.
"He's probably in the gravel then," her mum said. "Come on let's get this finished. I've got work to do." She plopped the fish back in the clean water where they swam round and round, looking puzzled.

That evening Abby went up to her bedroom to check the tank. The water had settled and looked lovely and clear but there was no sign of Mr. Sticky. She lay on her bed and did some exercises, stretching out her legs and feet and pointing her toes. Stretching was good for your muscles and made you look tall a model had said on the t.v. and she looked enormous. When Abby had finished, she kneeled down to have another look in the tank but there was still no sign of Mr. Sticky. She went downstairs.

Her mum was in the study surrounded by papers. She had her glasses on and her hair was all over the place where she'd been running her hands through it. She looked impatient when she saw Abby in the doorway and even more impatient when she heard the bad news.
"He'll turn up." was all she said. "Now off to bed Abby. I've got masses of work to catch up on."
Abby felt her face go hot and red. It always happened when she was angry or upset.
"You've hoovered him up haven't you," she said. You were in such a rush you hoovered him up."
"I have not. I was very careful. But he is extremely small."
"What's wrong with being small?"
< 3 >
"Nothing at all. But it makes things hard to find."
"Or notice," Abby said and ran from the room.

The door to the bedroom opened and Mum's face appeared around the crack. Abby tried to ignore her but it was hard when she walked over to the bed and sat next to her. She was holding her glasses in her hand. She waved them at Abby.
"These are my new pair," she said. "Extra powerful, for snail hunting." She smiled at Abby. Abby tried not to smile back.
"And I've got a magnifying glass," Abby suddenly remembered and rushed off to find it.
They sat beside each other on the floor. On their knees they shuffled around the tank, peering into the corners among the big pebbles, at the gravel and the pondweed.
"Ah ha!" Mum suddenly cried.
"What?" Abby moved her magnifying glass to where her mum was pointing.
There, tucked in the curve of the archway, perfectly hidden against the dark stone, sat Mr. Sticky. And right next to him was another water snail, even smaller than him.
"Mrs Sticky!" Abby breathed. "But where did she come from?"
"I'm beginning to suspect the pond weed don't you think?"
They both laughed and climbed into Abby's bed together, cuddling down under the duvet. It was cozy but a bit of a squeeze.
"Budge up," Mum said, giving Abby a push with her bottom.
"I can't, I'm already on the edge."
"My goodness you've grown then. When did that happen? You could have put an elephant in here last time we did this."
Abby put her head on her mum's chest and smiled.
.................................................. ..............
There were once a man and a woman who had long, in vain, wished for a child. At length it appeared that God was about to grant their desire.
These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world.
One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful rampion, and it looked so fresh and green that she longed for it. She quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable.
Her husband was alarmed, and asked: 'What ails you, dear wife?'
'Ah,' she replied, 'if I can't eat some of the rampion, which is in the garden behind our house, I shall die.'
The man, who loved her, thought: 'Sooner than let your wife die, bring her some of the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will.'
At twilight, he clambered down over the wall into the garden of the enchantress, hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife. She at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted so good to her - so very good, that the next day she longed for it three times as much as before.
If he was to have any rest, her husband knew he must once more descend into the garden. Therefore, in the gloom of evening, he let himself down again; but when he had clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the enchantress standing before him.
'How can you dare,' said she with angry look, 'descend into my garden and steal my rampion like a thief? You shall suffer for it!'
'Ah,' answered he, 'let mercy take the place of justice, I only made up my mind to do it out of necessity. My wife saw your rampion from the window, and felt such a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some to eat.'
< 2 >
The enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and said to him: 'If the case be as you say, I will allow you to take away with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one condition, you must give me the child which your wife will bring into the world; it shall be well treated, and I will care for it like a mother.'
The man in his terror consented to everything.
When the woman was brought to bed, the enchantress appeared at once, gave the child the name of Rapunzel, and took it away with her.
Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower in the middle of a forest. The tower had neither stairs nor door, but near the top was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried:

'Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.'

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress, she unfastened her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed up by it.
After a year or two, it came to pass that the king's son rode through the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and listened. It was Rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound. The king's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.
Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried:

'Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.'

Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress climbed up to her.
'If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I too will try my fortune,' said he, and the next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried:
< 3 >
'Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.'

Immediately the hair fell down and the king's son climbed up.
At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her; but the king's son began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to see her. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought: 'He will love me more than old Dame Gothel does'; and she said yes, and laid her hand in his.
She said: 'I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down. Bring with you a skein of silk every time that you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will descend, and you will take me on your horse.'
They agreed that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day. The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once Rapunzel said to her: 'Tell me, Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than the young king's son - he is with me in a moment.'
'Ah! you wicked child,' cried the enchantress. 'What do I hear you say! I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me!'
In her anger she clutched Rapunzel's beautiful tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she took poor Rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great grief and misery.
On the same day that she cast out Rapunzel, however, the enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to the hook of the window, and when the king's son came and cried:

'Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your hair to me.'

she let the hair down. The king's son ascended, but instead of finding his dearest Rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed at him with wicked and venomous looks.
< 4 >
'Aha!' she cried mockingly, 'you would fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest; the cat has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well. Rapunzel is lost to you; you will never see her again.'
The king's son was beside himself with pain, and in his despair he leapt down from the tower. He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes.
He wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did naught but lament and weep over the loss of his dearest wife. Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at length came to the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins to which she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness. He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it, and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.
.................................................. ...............
The Dragon Rock
This story begins with Once Upon A Time, because the best stories do, of course.
So, Once Upon A Time, and imagine if you can, a steep sided valley cluttered with giant, spiky green pine trees and thick, green grass that reaches to the top of your socks so that when you run, you have to bring your knees up high, like running through water. Wildflowers spread their sweet heady perfume along the gentle breezes and bees hum musically to themselves as they cheerily collect flower pollen.
People are very happy here and they work hard, keeping their houses spick and span and their children's faces clean.
This particular summer had been very hot and dry, making the lean farm dogs sleepy and still. Farmers whistled lazily to themselves and would stand and stare into the distance, trying to remember what it was that they were supposed to be doing. By two o'clock in the afternoon, the town would be in a haze of slumber, with grandmas nodding off over their knitting and farmers snoozing in the haystacks. It was very, very hot.
No matter how hot the day, however, the children would always play in the gentle, rolling meadows. With wide brimmed hats and skin slippery with sun block, they chittered and chattered like sparrows, as they frolicked in their favourite spot.
Now, their favourite spot is very important to this story because in this particular spot is a large, long, scaly rock that looks amazingly similar to a sleeping dragon.
The children knew it was a dragon.
The grown ups knew it was a dragon.
The dogs and cats and birds knew it was a dragon.
But nobody was scared because it never, ever moved.
The boys and girls would clamber all over it, poking sticks at it and hanging wet gumboots on its ears but it didn't mind in the least. The men folk would sometimes chop firewood on its zigzagged tail because it was just the right height and the Ladies Weaving Group often spun sheep fleece on its spikes.
Often on a cool night, when the stars were twinkling brightly in a velvet sky and the children peacefully asleep, the grown ups would settle for the evening with a mug of steaming cocoa in a soft cushioned armchair. Then the stories about How The Dragon Got There began. Nobody knew for sure, there were many different versions depending on which family told the tale, but one thing that everybody agreed on, was this:
< 2 >
In Times of Trouble
The Dragon will Wake
And Free the Village
By making a Lake
This little poem was etched into everybody's minds and sometimes appeared on tea towels and grandma's embroidery.
The days went by slowly, quietly and most importantly, without any rain. There had been no rain in the valley for as long as the children could remember. The wells were starting to bring up muddy brown water and clothes had to be washed in yesterday's dishwater. The lawns had faded to a crisp biscuit colour and the flowers drooped their beautiful heads. Even the trees seemed to hang their branches like weary arms. The valley turned browner and drier and thirstier, every hot, baking day.
The townsfolk grew worried and would murmur to each other when passing with much shaking of heads and tut tuts. They would look upwards searching for rain clouds in the blue, clear sky, but none ever came.
"The tale of the Dragon cannot be true," said old Mrs Greywhistle, the shopkeeper.
"It hasn't moved an inch, I swear," replied her customer, tapping an angry foot.
It was now too hot for the children to play out in the direct sun and they would gather under the shade of the trees, digging holes in the dust and snapping brittle twigs.
"The Dragon will help us soon," said one child.
"He must do Something," agreed another.
"I'm sure he will."
They all nodded in agreement.
A week went by with no change, the people struggling along as best they could. Some were getting cross at the Dragon and would cast angry, sideways looks at it when passing. The villagers were becoming skinny eyed and sullen.

Meanwhile, the children had a plan.
Quickly and quietly, they moved invisibly around town, picking and plucking at the fading flowers. With outstretched arms and bouquets up to their chins, they rustled over to where the giant rock lay, as still as ever.
The boys and girls placed bunches of flowers around the Dragon in a big circle. They scattered petals around its head and over its nose, then danced around and around it, skipping and chanting the rhyme that they all knew so well.
In Times of Trouble
The Dragon Will Wake
And Save the Village
By making a Lake.
The searing heat made them dizzy and fuzzy and finally they all fell in a sprawling heap at the bottom of the mound. They looked up at the rock.
< 3 >
Nothing happened.

A dry wind lazily picked up some flower heads and swirled them around. The air was thick with pollen and perfume. A stony grey nostril twitched.
"I saw something," cried the youngest boy.
They stared intently.
An ear swiveled like a periscope.
The ground began to rumble.
"Look out! Run!Run!"

The children scampered in all directions, shrieking and squealing, arms pumping with excitement.
The rumbling grew and grew.
The Dragon raised its sleepy head. It got onto its front feet and sat like a dog. It stood up and stretched, arching its long scaly back like a sleek tabby cat. It blinked and looked around with big kind, long lashed eyes.
And then its nostrils twitched and quivered again.
The older folk were alerted by the screams and shrieks. The ladies held up their long skirts to run and the men rolled their sleeves up and soon the whole town stood together in a tight huddle at the foot of the hill, staring up at the large beast with mouths held open.
The noise erupted from the Dragon.
The families gripped each other tighter and shut their eyes.
The sneeze blasted from the Dragon like a rocket, throwing it back fifty paces, causing a whirlwind of dust and dirt.

The second blast split open the dry earth, sending explosions of soil and tree roots high into the sky like missiles, and something else too ...

The people heard the sound but couldn't recognize it at first for it had been such a long time since their ears had heard such tinkling melody. As their eyes widened in wonder, their smiles turned into grins and then yahoos and hoorahs.

Water, cold, clear spring water, oozed, then trickled, then roared out of the hole, down the hillside and along the valley floor.

The torrent knocked over a farmer's haystack, but he didn't care.
The river carried away the schoolteacher's bike shed but she cared not a jot. It even demolished the Ladies Bowling Club changing rooms but they howled with laughter and slapped their thighs. When the flood sent pools of water out towards the golf course, filling up sixteen of the nineteen holes, the men just hooted and whistled and threw their caps up in the air.
< 4 >
What used to be a dirty, brown dust bowl, now gleamed and glistened in the sunlight, sending playful waves and ripples across the lake and inviting all to share.

"HMMMMM," sighed the Dragon sleepily, and showing his perfect movie star teeth. "Seeing as I'm awake ..."
And he lumbered forward with surprising grace and style and disappeared into the cool dark water with a small wave of a claw and flick of his tail.

They never saw him again.

After the families had restored and rebuilt the village, and set up sailing clubs for the children, and scuba diving for the grandparents, they erected a bandstand and monument in the spot where the Dragon used to lay. Every year to mark the occasion, they would bring garlands of flowers and herbs and arrange them in a big circle. The children would have the day off school, for it was known as 'Water Dragon Day' and wearing the dragon masks that they had been working on all week, would skip and clap and sing.

The Dragon helped Us
As We said He would Do
Hooray for The Dragon
Achoo, Achoo, ACHOOOO!

And that is the end of the story
.................................................. .................................
The Frog Prince
One fine evening a young princess put on her bonnet and clogs, and went out to take a walk by herself in a wood; and when she came to a cool spring of water with a rose in the middle of it, she sat herself down to rest a while. Now she had a golden ball in her hand, which was her favourite plaything; and she was always tossing it up into the air, and catching it again as it fell.
After a time she threw it up so high that she missed catching it as it fell; and the ball bounded away, and rolled along on the ground, until at last it fell down into the spring. The princess looked into the spring after her ball, but it was very deep, so deep that she could not see the bottom of it. She began to cry, and said, 'Alas! if I could only get my ball again, I would give all my fine clothes and jewels, and everything that I have in the world.'
Whilst she was speaking, a frog put its head out of the water, and said, 'Princess, why do you weep so bitterly?'
'Alas!' said she, 'what can you do for me, you nasty frog? My golden ball has fallen into the spring.'
The frog said, 'I do not want your pearls, and jewels, and fine clothes; but if you will love me, and let me live with you and eat from off your golden plate, and sleep on your bed, I will bring you your ball again.'
'What nonsense,' thought the princess, 'this silly frog is talking! He can never even get out of the spring to visit me, though he may be able to get my ball for me, and therefore I will tell him he shall have what he asks.'
So she said to the frog, 'Well, if you will bring me my ball, I will do all you ask.'
Then the frog put his head down, and dived deep under the water; and after a little while he came up again, with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the edge of the spring.
As soon as the young princess saw her ball, she ran to pick it up; and she was so overjoyed to have it in her hand again, that she never thought of the frog, but ran home with it as fast as she could.
< 2 >
The frog called after her, 'Stay, princess, and take me with you as you said,'
But she did not stop to hear a word.
The next day, just as the princess had sat down to dinner, she heard a strange noise - tap, tap - plash, plash - as if something was coming up the marble staircase, and soon afterwards there was a gentle knock at the door, and a little voice cried out and said:

'Open the door, my princess dear,
Open the door to thy true love here!
And mind the words that thou and I said
By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.'

Then the princess ran to the door and opened it, and there she saw the frog, whom she had quite forgotten. At this sight she was sadly frightened, and shutting the door as fast as she could came back to her seat.
The king, her father, seeing that something had frightened her, asked her what was the matter.
'There is a nasty frog,' said she, 'at the door, that lifted my ball for me out of the spring this morning. I told him that he should live with me here, thinking that he could never get out of the spring; but there he is at the door, and he wants to come in.'
While she was speaking the frog knocked again at the door, and said:

'Open the door, my princess dear,
Open the door to thy true love here!
And mind the words that thou and I said
By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.'

Then the king said to the young princess, 'As you have given your word you must keep it; so go and let him in.'
She did so, and the frog hopped into the room, and then straight on - tap, tap - plash, plash - from the bottom of the room to the top, till he came up close to the table where the princess sat.
'Pray lift me upon chair,' said he to the princess, 'and let me sit next to you.'
As soon as she had done this, the frog said, 'Put your plate nearer to me, that I may eat out of it.'
This she did, and when he had eaten as much as he could, he said, 'Now I am tired; carry me upstairs, and put me into your bed.' And the princess, though very unwilling, took him up in her hand, and put him upon the pillow of her own bed, where he slept all night long.
< 3 >
As soon as it was light the frog jumped up, hopped downstairs, and went out of the house.
'Now, then,' thought the princess, 'at last he is gone, and I shall be troubled with him no more.'
But she was mistaken; for when night came again she heard the same tapping at the door; and the frog came once more, and said:

'Open the door, my princess dear,
Open the door to thy true love here!
And mind the words that thou and I said
By the fountain cool, in the greenwood shade.'

And when the princess opened the door the frog came in, and slept upon her pillow as before, till the morning broke. And the third night he did the same. But when the princess awoke on the following morning she was astonished to see, instead of the frog, a handsome prince, gazing on her with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen and standing at the head of her bed.
He told her that he had been enchanted by a spiteful fairy, who had changed him into a frog; and that he had been fated so to abide till some princess should take him out of the spring, and let him eat from her plate, and sleep upon her bed for three nights.
'You,' said the prince, 'have broken his cruel charm, and now I have nothing to wish for but that you should go with me into my father's kingdom, where I will marry you, and love you as long as you live.'
The young princess, you may be sure, was not long in saying 'Yes' to all this; and as they spoke a brightly coloured coach drove up, with eight beautiful horses, decked with plumes of feathers and a golden harness; and behind the coach rode the prince's servant, faithful Heinrich, who had bewailed the misfortunes of his dear master during his enchantment so long and so bitterly, that his heart had well-nigh burst.
They then took leave of the king, and got into the coach with eight horses, and all set out, full of joy and merriment, for the prince's kingdom, which they reached safely; and there they lived happily a great many years.
.................................................. ...........
Tish Farrell

The Hare Who Would Not Be King

Nothing stirred on the African plains. The sun glared down and Hare crept inside the cool hollow of a baobab tree for his afternoon nap.
Suddenly he was wide awake. There was a boom, boom, booming in his ears. And it was getting closer. Hare peeped out from the tree nervously. Across the clearing the bushes snapped and parted, and out loomed a huge gray shape.
"Oh it's you!" said Hare irritably. "How can a fellow sleep with all your racket?"
The rhinoceros squinted down at him short-sightedly.
"Greetings!" he bellowed in his slow way. "Tembo the elephant has sent me to fetch you to the waterhole. He's going to tell us who our new king will be. All the animals have voted."
"Oh fiddlesticks!" cried Hare rudely. "What do I want with a new king? He'll bully us from morning till night and make our lives miserable."
"Don't you want to see who's been chosen? asked Rhino.
"I know already," snapped Hare. "It will be that sly old lion, Kali. He has bribed all the other animals and promised not to eat their children if only they will vote for him."
Rhino didn't seem to believe Hare, and in the end Hare said,
"Oh very well, I'll come. But you'll see I'm right."

The sun was setting as Hare and Rhino reached the water-hole. All the animals had gathered there - giraffes, hippos, antelope, buffalo, warthogs, zebras, aardvarks, hyenas, mongooses, storks and weaver birds. When Tembo the elephant saw that everyone was there, he threw up his trunk and trumpeted. "Animals of the plains, I am proud to tell you that Kali the lion will be our new king. It is a wise choice, my friends."
The animals cheered. But Hare only sighed. "They'll soon see what a horrible mistake they've made."
Out on a rocky ledge above the water-hole strode Kali. He stared down at all his subjects and there was a wicked glint in his eye.
"You've made me your king," he growled, "and so now you'll serve me!" And then he roared until the animals trembled.
"My first decree is that you must build a palace to shade my royal fur from the hot sun," said Kali. "I want it here beside the water-hole and I want it by sunset tomorrow.
< 2 >
"My second decree is that every day you must bring me an animal for my supper. A king can't do his own hunting."
The animals nodded gloomily.
"And my third decree is, if you don't do as I say, I'll eat the lot of you!"
The animals now turned to one another in horror. They had thought a king would be wise and protect them. But Kali only wanted to bully and eat them. As darkness fell, the unhappy animals slunk away into the bush.

But at dawn they were back at the waterhole, hurrying to build Kali's palace. There was much to do and little time.
All through the heat of the day the animals lugged and labored. Elephants lifted tree trunks for the pillars, crocodiles brought mud for the walls, giraffes collected grasses that weaver birds wove for the roof. None dared stop for a moment. Only hare did nothing. He hid inside a tussock of oat grass and watched as the fine thatched house rose up beside the water-hole.
The sun was just beginning to set as the weaver birds tied off the last knots in the soaring thatched roof. No sooner had they finished than Kali appeared. He prowled up and down his new kingdom swishing his tail while his subjects watched uneasily.
"This is what I call a palace," he roared at last.
The animals gave a sigh of relief. But all too soon, for in the next breath the lion snarled, "But where's my supper? My belly's rumbling. Bring me a juicy warthog."
As soon as he heard this, Hare sneaked off home to his hollow in the baobab tree. "Didn't I tell them?" he said to himself. "Didn't I say that making Kali king would mean big trouble? And would anyone listen?"
And so it was that every day afterwards one of the animals was chosen to be Kali's supper. One day it was an impala. Another it was a zebra. Next it was a gazelle.
One day though it was Hare's turn. Tembo caught him unawares as he was grazing on the plains. The great elephant seized him in his trunk and carried him kicking and screaming to Kali's palace.
"It's not fair!" shrieked Hare. "I didn't even vote for Kali. I told you it was a bad idea to have a king."
< 3 >
But Tembo wouldn't listen. He was thinking of his own children. They would be safe, but only if he could find other animals for Kali to gobble up.
Outside Kali's palace Hare stood shaking and cringing. He had to think of something fast. "Maybe I can escape by jumping in the water-hole," he said. But when he looked down and saw his own reflection shivering on the pool's surface, he stopped in his tracks. Already Kali had spotted him.

"Come inside, Hare!" roared the lion. "I can't wait to eat the only one who didn't vote for me."
But Hare didn't move. He felt braver now and he called back, "But Majesty," he wheedled. "I am very confused. I can see two kings. Please tell me, which of you is to eat me?"
"TWO KINGS!" snapped Kali angrily. "What do you mean two kings?" In one bound he was breathing down on Hare.
"Well, there's you Majesty," stammered Hare, "and there's that other one down there." Hare pointed down into the water-hole.
Kali looked and Kali saw. What - another lion?

"I'll have no rivals!" cried the cruel one, and at once he leaped on the other lion. Down into the pool sank Kali as he tried to grab his enemy. Soon the waters closed over him, and he was gone.
"You've killed our king," said Tembo the elephant in amazement.
"No I didn't," said Hare. "Anyone could see that he jumped into the water-hole all by himself. Besides, you didn't think I was going to stand here and be eaten did you? That would be as foolish as choosing a bully for a king!" And with that he ran away, before anyone else could think of eating him.
"Whew! That WAS a close shave," said Hare from the safety of his baobab tree. "But I'll bet those silly animals will send old rhino round to ask ME to be the king. Some people never learn."
And so it happened. Just as Hare was dropping off to sleep, there was a boom, boom, booming across the plains. "Oh no!" he sighed. "Why am I always right?" He flattened his ears, closed his eyes tighter and pretended to snore. "Anyone can see I'm much too busy to be king. Much, much too busy..."
.................................................. ...........................................
The Tale Of Princess Laughing Dove
Once there was a man, neither young nor old, and his name was Wainaina. He lived alone on his farm at the forest edge, in the house he had built himself. The house was small but that did not matter, for whenever Wainaina opened his door, or drew back his curtain he could see the blue peaks of Mount Kenya. Up they rose like church spires and whenever Wainaina saw them, his spirits soared too - high in the blue.
"I'm lucky to be alive," he'd say. But then he would sigh, "If only I had a wife to share this with."
A wife indeed! So why couldn't Wainaina find himself a good woman when the countryside was alive with good women? And why, when a village girl caught his eye, did she walk straight on by, before he'd said hello? This was what he asked himself, day in day out, as he sowed and hoed and tended his crops.
"Perhaps," said Wainaina. "I haven't the heart for it."

But that wasn't it. The truth was this. Wainaina was not a handsome man, nor even plain. He had grown up downright ugly. And he did not know - because the little shard of mirror that he used when shaving only showed his chin. Nor did his village fellows say, not wanting to hurt the good man's feelings. Poor Wainaina. And though he tried not to make a tragedy out of being wifeless, sometimes his spirits hardly soared at all when he saw the great mountain.
"Life has its ups and downs," he said.
Then one morning as he was dressing for work, he heard a tap tapping at his window. When he pulled back he curtain there was a laughing dove sitting on the sill, cooing and bobbing at its reflection in the glass.
"Ah," said Wainaina gently. "You think you've found a mate. Poor bird."
At the sound of his voice the bird flew off, but for the rest of the day Wainaina thought of it.
"So," he said. "I am not the only one without a love."
Later, when Wainaina was stretching his back from a day's hard digging, an idea crept into his mind:
"You've earned a rest Wainaina. Why not walk down to the stream?"
And why not indeed? It was a bosky place with mossy roots and green arches. Clear mountain water gurgled by smooth rocks where blue dragonflies danced.
< 2 >
"Mmmmm," said Wainaina when he came to the water. "It is so peaceful here."
But not for long. Suddenly from the overhanging branch of a mugumo tree came the oh-cook cook-oo-oo of a laughing dove. Wainaina looked up: was it the one he'd seen earlier. The bird bobbed and cooed and seemed to catch his eye. Then it flew off down the path and perched in a flame tree. Oh-cook cook-oo-oo.

Wainaina followed - which was when he heard the tumble of laughter that out-sang any dove. He pushed through the reeds to the water's edge: who could be making those sweet, sweet sounds?
Wainaina soon saw. Across the stream a young woman was gathering her washing from the bank where it had been drying. She was laughing at the yellow butterflies that had settled on her wrap. And though Wainaina had come silently, she glanced back at once, coyly smiling over her shoulder. Then she arched her neck in the most beguiling way.
His heart missed a beat. And why? She was just a woman like any other, a little plump perhaps. In fact, she rather reminded him of the dove. He waded into the stream,
"Don't go," he said. The woman lodged the wash bucket on her hip. "And why shouldn't I?"
"Because I--I want--I want to pay you my respects." Wainaina fumbled. So much conversation and all at once. Perhaps it meant he had a chance...?
"Well begin," said the woman, bowing her head to one side as the dove had done.
And so Wainaina did, and this is how he found his love; and this is where he met his love again and again in the weeks that followed. She said her name was Njeri, but Wainaina having a fanciful streak, said
"No. Never! You are Princess Laughing Dove," which only made her laugh the more.

Then one day as Wainaina was weeding his crops he decided to ask Njeri to marry him. For wasn't it the best time for a man to take a wife - his maize store full to bursting, his beans and pumpkins fattening in the field? He dropped his hoe and ran down to the stream, but then he thought,
"What if she refuses me?" and for a long time he hid in the reeds, screwing up his courage.
< 3 >
But as he crouched beside the stream, he saw his face reflected in a pool.
At first he didn't realise, but then the pain. He couldn't stop the cry,
"Am I really so ugly?"
"Oh much worse," came the laughing voice of Princess Laughing Dove from across the stream.
"Which means you won't marry me!" Wainaina wailed.
"Well not if you don't ask me...."
"But I'm so ugly. That's why no girl would speak with me..."
"Then they were foolish..."
"You have a good heart, Wainaina. It's all that counts."

So Njeri, Princess Laughing Dove, married Wainaina and went to live in his house on the edge of the forest. Each morning they woke to the blue spires of Mount Kenya. Each night they went to bed happy with their day's work. And when one day Njeri told Wainaina there would soon be a child, he thought he would burst with joy. He told everyone he met, the mountain too:
"A child coming! Just think. I must work harder."

But as it turned out, the day the baby came saw an end to Wainaina's joy. The birth was hard and by the time he brought the doctor to the house, Njeri was dead, and the newborn howling like the wind off mountain snows. Wainaina's own howls soon brought the villagers to his door, and when he saw their silent staring faces he thought his heart would break.
"Now what will I do? Who but Princess Laughing Dove would love an ugly man like me?"
The village wives hung their heads, for secretly they had envied Njeri her good hearted, industrious man. And when they had helped to bury her down near the flame tree, they picked up the baby and told Wainaina,
"We will care for the child between us, until you come for it." The grieving man barely nodded: what did he know of babies when he had lost his only love?
So Wainaina's black times began. He went back to his house and there he stayed. The blackness in his heart seeped into every bone - as an ink blot spreads its stain across a page. He could do nothing. He could think of nothing, except the pain of losing Njeri. Days turned to weeks, one month, two...
Then one night as he sat sleepless in his chair he heard her laughter. Somewhere near. Out into the moonlight he ran,
< 4 >
"Princess Laughing Dove, you've come back!"
But there was no-one there; only the dead leaves of his neglected maize rustling in the breeze. Wainaina fell in the dirt and wept.

"I am going mad," he cried. "And it's because I have nothing to remember her by." For grief had shut all thought of the child from his mind.
Now Wainaina tore at the maize stems till they were nothing but straw. The pale shreds flew up in the wind, and good riddance to them: what use were crops?
But no sooner said than an idea flitted through his mind. Quickly he gathered up the straw and ran back to the house - where he lit the lamp and unsheathed his knife. He wasn't a craftsman, not by any means, but with some loving care this was a thing he might do.
So all through the night Wainaina worked: tying, trimming, plaiting, moulding. And when the first streaks of day showed through the curtain, he blew out the lamp, hung the fruit of his labours in the window and slept as he had not slept for many nights.
And he didn't wake - until the sun was pouring through his window, lighting up the straw dove that hung there.
"Why you're beautiful!" said Wainaina to his creation, and while he stirred his porridge on the stove he chatted to the bird just as he had once chatted with Njeri.
"Must clear the maize field today. The rains will soon be here." And
"That dead tree by the stream. It's time I chopped it for the fire."
All the same, Wainaina did not eat the porridge he had made, nor go to work. He just sat in his chair and talked to the straw bird. Somehow the talking eased the ache in his heart for Njeri. Dear dove!

Then some days later, as dawn broke on Mount Kenya, turning the ice peaks pink, there was a tap tapping at Wainaina's window. Out on the sill was a real laughing dove - oh-cook cook-oo-oo. It bobbed and bowed and puffed out its breast before the straw dove. At first Wainaina was flattered that a living bird should woo his dove. But as he persisted, Wainaina grew angry. He ran outside and waved his arms like a windmill,
"Off with you. Can't you see she's all I have?"
< 5 >
But the next morning the dove was back. He flew at the window again and again as if to break the glass and free the straw one; and only when he fell exhausted to the ground was Wainaina sorry.
"What would Princess Laughing Dove think of my good heart now?" he said sadly. So he took down his dove and put it near the fallen one.
"See my friend. She isn't real." The laughing dove only blinked his black bead eyes. Oh-cook cook-oo-oo.
Just then a gust of wind caught up the straw bird, tossing it high in the sky where, to Wainaina's astonishment it began to flap its maize leaf wings, began to soar through the blue, a real laughing dove with her suitor flying after. Wainaina could only stare, for who would believe such a thing? And yet his dove was gone, there was no doubting it. Grief filled his heart once more, and it was then he heard Njeri's voice ringing in his head,
"Life goes on Wainaina. Remember!"
Wainaina gasped - a bolt of lightning through his heart.
"The child! How could I forget?" And he ran, fleet as a reedbuck to the village.
"Where is my child? I want my child."
The women who had taken the baby months before greeted him.

"It's time you came, Wainaina. Your daughter grows bigger every day. Eating us out of house and home, and us with children of our own to feed." They scolded Wainaina roundly, though secretly they were glad to seem him back amongst the living.
And what were a few cross words to Wainaina - with a brand new spark in his heart? A daughter indeed!
"She won't mind my ugly mug. Not if I love her well."
So he thanked the women and took the child at once. There was something he must do.
Back at his house, Wainaina held up the baby to the mountain.
"See, here's the child I told you of." And to his girl he said, "Now aren't we lucky to be alive." The baby cooed obligingly. The father stared and stared.
"So. I have a little Miss Laughing Dove on my hands! And with her mother's lovely looks. That's good," said Wainaina. "Very good."
It was not long after this that a pair of laughing doves came to nest in the flame tree by the stream. Whether they were his doves Wainaina could not say. But what he did say was this, "Life goes on - oh-cook cook-oo-oo."
.................................................. .................................................
The Tidy Drawer
One Saturday morning Abby's Mum came upstairs to see Abby in her bedroom. Or tried to. There was so much mess on the floor she could only poke her head around the door. Abby sat in the middle of it all reading a book.
"What a tip," Mum said. "You need to have a clear up in here."
"Why?" Abby asked.
"Why?" Mum repeated. "Because things get broken or lost when they're all willy-nilly like this. Come on, have a tidy up now."
"But I'm very busy," Abby argued, "and it's boring on my own. Can't you help me?"
"No I can't, I'm busy too. But I'll give you extra pocket money if you do a good job."

When Mum came back later all the toys and clothes and books had disappeared.
"I'm impressed," said Mum. "But I'll inspect it properly later."
"It was easy," said Abby. "Can I have my extra pocket money now?"
"All right. Get it out of my change purse. It's in the kitchen tidy drawer."

In the kitchen Abby went over to the dresser and pulled open the tidy drawer. She hunted for the purse.
"Any luck?" Mum asked.
Abby shook her head.
"It must be lurking at the bottom," Mum said. "Let's have a proper look."
She pulled the drawer out and carried it over to the table. Abby kneeled up on a chair to look inside. There were lots of boring things like staplers and string but there were lots of interesting things as well.
"What's this?" Abby asked, holding up a plastic bottle full of red liquid. Mum laughed.
"Fake blood, from a Hallowe'en party years ago. Your Dad and I took you to that, dressed up as a baby vampire. You were really scary."
"I don't remember that."
Abby carried on looking through the drawer. She found some vampire teeth, white face paint, plastic witchy nails and hair gel. Mum pulled out a glittery hair band. It had springs with wobbly balls on the top that flashed disco colours. She put it on her head while she carried on looking through the drawer. Abby found some sparkly hair elastics to match the hair band. She made her Mum put lots of little bunches all over her head so she looked really silly.
"I remember this," Abby said as she pulled out a plastic bag. "This is from my pirate party." Inside there was a black, false moustache and some big gold earrings.
< 2 >
She peeled the sticky backing off the false moustache and stuck it on Mum's top lip then found a paint brush in the drawer and painted a fierce red scar down her cheek using the fake blood. Mum clipped on the pirate earrings.
"Come here," Mum said and smeared white face paint all over Abby's face. She dribbled the fake blood so it looked as if it was coming out of Abby's eyes and mouth. She put gel all over Abby's hair and made it stand up into weird, pointy shapes. Abby put in the vampire teeth and slipped on the witchy fingers. She made scary noises at Wow-Wow the cat. He ignored her and carried on washing himself on the seat next to her.
"Wotch thish?" Abby asked, holding up a flat rubbery thing. It was hard to speak through the vampire teeth.
"It's a whoopee cushion," Mum said. "You blow it up and sit on it. It makes rude noises." She blew it up and gave it to Abby.
Suddenly there was a knock at the back door. A voice called out. "Hello, it's only me. I've let myself in."
It was their nosy neighbour, Mrs Hislop. She was always interfering and complaining.
Mrs Hislop entered the kitchen. Her mouth dropped open.
"We're jush wooking for the change pursh," Abby explained.
"Yes, well, er," Mrs Hislop said, "I just wanted a word about your fence. Some of it's blown down on my side."
At that moment Abby sat on the whoopee cushion and let out an enormous, rude noise. Wow-Wow jumped off his seat and ran away.
"Well!" said Mrs. Hislop and hurried from the room and out of the house.
When the door banged shut Abby and Mum burst out laughing until Mum's moustache hung on by a whisker and Abby's vampire teeth dropped out.
Abby came to sit on her Mum's knee.
"It's fun doing this together," she said.
"Maybe. But we still haven't found the change purse." They both looked at the enormous heap of things spread over the kitchen table.
"Well, you know things will get lost, or broken, when they're all willy nilly," Abby said.
"You cheeky monkey!" Mum laughed. "But what shall I do with it all?"
"I know, it's easy," Abby said and began to scoop everything off the table into her arms. She dumped it all back in the kitchen drawer.
< 3 >
Mum looked at her suspiciously.
"Let's go and inspect your bedroom shall we."
Abby followed her upstairs and into her bedroom. Wow-Wow was sitting in front of her fish tank looking hungrily at the goldfish. He dashed under the bed when he saw Mum and Abby. Mum kneeled down and lifted the bed cover to get him out. Underneath were heaps of Abby's toys, books, tapes, clothes and shoes, empty plastic cups and wrappers and a half-eaten sandwich on a plate.
"Abby! What's all this?"
"It's my tidy drawer," Abby said. She wrapped her arms around her Mum and gave her a kiss. "Let's sort this one out together now."
.................................................. ................................................
The Twelve Dancing Princesses

There was a king who had twelve beautiful daughters. They slept in twelve beds all in one room and when they went to bed, the doors were shut and locked up. However, every morning their shoes were found to be quite worn through as if they had been danced in all night. Nobody could find out how it happened, or where the princesses had been.
So the king made it known to all the land that if any person could discover the secret and find out where it was that the princesses danced in the night, he would have the one he liked best to take as his wife, and would be king after his death. But whoever tried and did not succeed, after three days and nights, they would be put to death.
A king's son soon came. He was well entertained, and in the evening was taken to the chamber next to the one where the princesses lay in their twelve beds. There he was to sit and watch where they went to dance; and, in order that nothing could happen without him hearing it, the door of his chamber was left open. But the king's son soon fell asleep; and when he awoke in the morning he found that the princesses had all been dancing, for the soles of their shoes were full of holes.
The same thing happened the second and third night and so the king ordered his head to be cut off.
After him came several others; but they all had the same luck, and all lost their lives in the same way.
Now it happened that an old soldier, who had been wounded in battle and could fight no longer, passed through the country where this king reigned, and as he was travelling through a wood, he met an old woman, who asked him where he was going.
'I hardly know where I am going, or what I had better do,' said the soldier; 'but I think I would like to find out where it is that the princesses dance, and then in time I might be a king.'
'Well,' said the old woman, 'that is not a very hard task: only take care not to drink any of the wine which one of the princesses will bring to you in the evening; and as soon as she leaves you pretend to be fast asleep.'
< 2 >
Then she gave him a cloak, and said, 'As soon as you put that on you will become invisible, and you will then be able to follow the princesses wherever they go.' When the soldier heard all this good advice, he was determined to try his luck, so he went to the king, and said he was willing to undertake the task.
He was as well received as the others had been, and the king ordered fine royal robes to be given him; and when the evening came he was led to the outer chamber.
Just as he was going to lie down, the eldest of the princesses brought him a cup of wine; but the soldier threw it all away secretly, taking care not to drink a drop. Then he laid himself down on his bed, and in a little while began to snore very loudly as if he was fast asleep.
When the twelve princesses heard this they laughed heartily; and the eldest said, 'This fellow too might have done a wiser thing than lose his life in this way!' Then they rose and opened their drawers and boxes, and took out all their fine clothes, and dressed themselves at the mirror, and skipped about as if they were eager to begin dancing.
But the youngest said, 'I don't know why it is, but while you are so happy I feel very uneasy; I am sure some mischance will befall us.'
'You simpleton,' said the eldest, 'you are always afraid; have you forgotten how many kings' sons have already watched in vain? And as for this soldier, even if I had not given him his sleeping draught, he would have slept soundly enough.'
When they were all ready, they went and looked at the soldier; but he snored on, and did not stir hand or foot: so they thought they were quite safe.
Then the eldest went up to her own bed and clapped her hands, and the bed sank into the floor and a trap-door flew open. The soldier saw them going down through the trap-door one after another, the eldest leading the way; and thinking he had no time to lose, he jumped up, put on the cloak which the old woman had given him, and followed them.
However, in the middle of the stairs he trod on the gown of the youngest princess, and she cried out to her sisters, 'All is not right; someone took hold of my gown.'
< 3 >
'You silly creature!' said the eldest, 'it is nothing but a nail in the wall.'
Down they all went, and at the bottom they found themselves in a most delightful grove of trees; and the leaves were all of silver, and glittered and sparkled beautifully. The soldier wished to take away some token of the place; so he broke off a little branch, and there came a loud noise from the tree. Then the youngest daughter said again, 'I am sure all is not right -- did not you hear that noise? That never happened before.'
But the eldest said, 'It is only our princes, who are shouting for joy at our approach.'
They came to another grove of trees, where all the leaves were of gold; and afterwards to a third, where the leaves were all glittering diamonds. And the soldier broke a branch from each; and every time there was a loud noise, which made the youngest sister tremble with fear. But the eldest still said it was only the princes, who were crying for joy.
They went on till they came to a great lake; and at the side of the lake there lay twelve little boats with twelve handsome princes in them, who seemed to be waiting there for the princesses.
One of the princesses went into each boat, and the soldier stepped into the same boat as the youngest. As they were rowing over the lake, the prince who was in the boat with the youngest princess and the soldier said, 'I do not know why it is, but though I am rowing with all my might we do not get on so fast as usual, and I am quite tired: the boat seems very heavy today.'
'It is only the heat of the weather,' said the princess, 'I am very warm, too.'
On the other side of the lake stood a fine, illuminated castle from which came the merry music of horns and trumpets. There they all landed, and went into the castle, and each prince danced with his princess; and the soldier, who was still invisible, danced with them too. When any of the princesses had a cup of wine set by her, he drank it all up, so that when she put the cup to her mouth it was empty. At this, too, the youngest sister was terribly frightened, but the eldest always silenced her.
< 4 >
They danced on till three o'clock in the morning, and then all their shoes were worn out, so that they were obliged to leave. The princes rowed them back again over the lake (but this time the soldier placed himself in the boat with the eldest princess); and on the opposite shore they took leave of each other, the princesses promising to come again the next night.
When they came to the stairs, the soldier ran on before the princesses, and laid himself down. And as the twelve, tired sisters slowly came up, they heard him snoring in his bed and they said, 'Now all is quite safe'. Then they undressed themselves, put away their fine clothes, pulled off their shoes, and went to bed.
In the morning the soldier said nothing about what had happened, but determined to see more of this strange adventure, and went again on the second and third nights. Everything happened just as before: the princesses danced till their shoes were worn to pieces, and then returned home. On the third night the soldier carried away one of the golden cups as a token of where he had been.
As soon as the time came when he was to declare the secret, he was taken before the king with the three branches and the golden cup; and the twelve princesses stood listening behind the door to hear what he would say.
The king asked him. 'Where do my twelve daughters dance at night?'
The soldier answered, 'With twelve princes in a castle underground.' And then he told the king all that had happened, and showed him the three branches and the golden cup which he had brought with him.
The king called for the princesses, and asked them whether what the soldier said was true and when they saw that they were discovered, and that it was of no use to deny what had happened, they confessed it all.
So the king asked the soldier which of the princesses he would choose for his wife; and he answered, 'I am not very young, so I will have the eldest.' -- and they were married that very day, and the soldier was chosen to be the king's heir.
التعديل الأخير تم بواسطة الهامل الهامل ; 05-03-2014 الساعة 07:49 AM
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  • تاريخ التسجيل : 12-09-2009
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أبو طارق17
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رد: قصص انجلزية
06-02-2015, 08:24 AM
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