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The king was never tired of
embracing his wife. Then the bird departed and the king and his wife
and children lived together in peace.




[Illustration: The Girl and the Frog]

THE LANGUAGE OF ANIMALS


There was once a man who had a son named Jack, who was very simple in
mind and backward in his thought. So his father sent him away to
school so that he might learn something; and after a year he came back
from school.

"Well, Jack," said his father, "what have you learnt at school?"

And Jack said, "I know what dogs mean when they bark."

"That's not much," said his father. "You must go to school again."

So he sent him to school for another year, and when he came back he
asked him what he had learnt.

"Well, father," said the boy, "when frogs croak I know what they
mean."

"You must learn more than that," said the father, and sent him once
more to school.

And when he returned, after another year, he asked him once more what
he had learnt.

"I know all the birds say when they twitter and chirp, caw and coo,
gobble and cluck."

"Well I must say," said the father, "that does not seem much for three
years' schooling. But let us see if you have learnt your lessons
properly. What does that bird say just above our heads in the tree
there?"

Jack listened for some time but did not say anything.

"Well, Jack, what is it?" asked his father.

"I don't like to say, father."

"I don't believe you know or else you would say. Whatever it is I
shall not mind."

Then the boy said, "The bird kept on saying as clear as could be, 'the
time is not so far away when Jack's father will offer him water on
bended knees for him to wash his hands; and his mother shall offer him
a towel to wipe them with.'"

Thereupon the father grew very angry at Jack and his love for him
changed to hatred, and one day he spoke to a robber and promised him
much money if he would take Jack away into the forest and kill him
there and bring back his heart to show that he had done what he had
promised. But instead of doing this the robber told Jack all about it
and advised him to flee away, while the robber took back to Jack's
father the heart of a deer saying that it was Jack's. Then Jack
travelled on and on till one night he stopped at a castle on the way;
and while they were all supping together in the castle hall the dogs
in the court-yard began barking and baying. And Jack went up to the
lord of the castle and said, "There will be an attack upon the castle
to-night."

"How do you know that?" asked the lord.

"The dogs say so," said Jack.

At that the lord and his men laughed, but never-the-less put an extra
guard around the castle that night, and, sure enough, the attack was
made, which was easily beaten off because the men were prepared. So
the lord gave Jack a great reward for warning him, and he went on his
way with a fellow traveller who had heard him warn the lord.

Soon afterwards they arrived at another castle in which the lord's
daughter was lying sick unto death; and a great reward had been
offered to him that should cure her. Now Jack had been listening to
the frogs as they were croaking in the moat which surrounded the
castle. So Jack went to the lord of the castle and said, "I know what
ails your daughter."

"What is it," asked the lord.

"She has dropped the holy wafer from her mouth and it has been
swallowed by one of the frogs in the moat."

"How do you know that?" said the lord.

"I heard the frogs say so."

At first the lord would not believe it; but in order to save his
daughter's life he got Jack to point out the frog who was boasting of
what he had swallowed, and, catching it, found what Jack had said was
true. The frog was caught and killed, the wafer got back, and the girl
recovered. So the lord gave Jack the reward which was promised, and he
went on further with his companion and with another guest of the
castle who had heard what Jack had said and done.

So Jack, with his two companions, travelled on towards Rome, the city
of cities where dwelt the Pope, in those days the head of all
Christendom. And as they were resting by the roadside Jack said to his
companions, "Who would have thought it? One of us is going to be the
Pope of Rome."

And his comrades asked him how he knew.

And he said, "The birds above in the tree have said so."

And his comrades at first laughed at him, but then remembered that
what he had said before of the barking of dogs and of the croaking of
frogs had turned out to be true.

[Illustration: The Pope is Elected]

Now when they arrived at Rome they found that the Pope had just died
and that they were about to select his successor. And it was decided
that all the people should pass under an arch whereon was a bell and
two doves, and he upon whose shoulders the doves should alight, and
for whom the bell should ring as he passed under the arch was to be
the next Pope. And when Jack and his companions came near the arch
they all remembered his prophecy and wondered which of the three
should receive the signs. And his first comrade passed under the arch
and nothing happened, and then the second and nothing happened, but
when Jack went through the doves descended and alighted upon his
shoulder and the bell began to toll. So Jack was made Pope of all
Christendom, and he took the name of Pope Sylvester.

After a while the new Pope went upon his travels and came to the town
where his father dwelt. And there was a great banquet held, to which
Jack's father and mother were invited at his request. And when they
came he ordered his servants to give to his father the basin of water,
and to his mother the towel, wherewith the Pope would wash his hands
after dinner. Now this was, in those days, a great honour, and people
wondered why Jack's father and mother should be so honoured. But after
Jack's father had offered him the basin of water, and his mother the
towel, Jack said to them, "Do you not know me, mother? Do you not know
me, father?" and made himself known to them and reminded his father of
what the bird had said. So he forgave his father and took him and his
mother to live with him ever afterwards.

[Illustration]




THE THREE SOLDIERS


Once upon a time three soldiers returned from the wars; one was a
sergeant, one was a corporal, and the third was a simple private. One
night they were caught in a forest and made a fire up to sleep by; and
the sergeant had to do sentry-go. While he was walking up and down an
old woman, bent double, came up to him and said:

"Please, sir, may I warm myself by your fire?"

"Why, certainly, mother, you are welcome to all the warmth you can
get."

So the old woman sat by the fire for a time, and when she had got
thoroughly warmed she said to the sergeant:

"Thank you, soldier; here is something for your trouble." And she
handed him a purse, which seemed to have nothing in it.

"Oh, thank you, marm," said the sergeant, "but I wouldn't deprive you
of it, especially as there is nothing in it."

"That may be so now," said the old woman, "but take it in your hand
and turn it upside-down, and while you hold it like that gold
pieces will come pouring out of it."

[Illustration: _The Magic Purse_]

He took it, and, sure enough, whenever he held it up out came the gold
pieces. So he thanked her very much, and off she went.

Next night the corporal had to play sentry, and the old woman came up
to him and asked to sit by the side of the fire.

"Certainly, marm," said he, "and welcome you are. I have known what it
is to shiver in my bones."

So the old woman sat by the fire for a time, and when she was leaving
gave the corporal a tablecloth.

Said he, "Thank you, marm, kindly, but we soldiers rarely use
tablecloths when we are eating our vittles."

"Yes, but this gives you vittles to eat," said the old woman.
"Whenever you put this over a table or on the ground and call out 'Be
covered!' the finest dinner you could eat at once comes upon it."

"If that is so," said the corporal, "I'll take it and thank you
kindly." And with that the old woman departed, and the corporal woke
up his comrades and called out: "Tablecloth be covered!" And, sure
enough, the finest dinner you could imagine appeared upon the cloth.

Next night the private marched up and down doing sentry-go, when the
old woman appeared again and asked to sit by the fire.

"Surely," said the private, "you're as welcome as my own mother would
be."

And after she had sat some time by the fire she got up and said:

"Thank you kindly, sir; I hope this will pay you for your trouble."
And she gave him a whistle.

"And what's this for?" said the private. "I can't play on the
whistle."

"But you can blow it," said she, "and whenever you blow it out will
come a regiment of armed men that will do whatever you tell them."

And with that the old woman departed, and they never saw her more.

So the three soldiers travelled on till they came to a city where
there was a princess, who was so proud of her card playing that she
had agreed to marry any one who could beat her at cards. Now the
sergeant was also very proud of his card playing, and he thought he
would try his luck with the princess. So when he went up to the palace
he offered to play a game with her, but she said to him:

"What are your stakes? If I lose I have to marry you. But if you lose
what do you lose?"

So the sergeant said: "I'll stake my purse."

"Why, what's a purse with nothing in it!" said the princess.

"There may be nothing in it now," said the sergeant, "but see here,"
and he turned the purse upside-down and put his hand under it, and it
kept on dropping gold pieces into his hand as long as he held it
upside-down.

So the princess agreed to play for the purse. But she had arranged a
mirror at the back of his head in which she could see all his cards.
And so she won easily, and he had to give up the purse.

But this princess was so charming that the sergeant had fallen in love
with her, and when he went back to his comrades he asked the corporal
to lend him his tablecloth.



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