Read Children’s Literature Part 34

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The king’s son conducted her to the most honorable seat and afterwards took her out to dance with him. She danced so very gracefully that they all more and more admired her. A fine collation was served up, whereof the young prince ate not a morsel, so intently was he busied in gazing on her. She went and sat down by her sisters, showing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the oranges and citrons which the prince had presented her with; which very much surprised them, for they did not know her. While Cinderella was thus amusing her sisters, she heard the clock strike eleven and three quarters, whereupon she immediately made a courtesy to the company and hasted away as fast as she could.

Being got home, she ran to seek out her G.o.dmother; and having thanked her, she said she could not but heartily wish she might go next day to the ball, because the king’s son had desired her. As she was eagerly telling her G.o.dmother whatever had pa.s.sed at the ball, her two sisters knocked at the door, which Cinderella ran and opened. “How long you have stayed!” cried she, gaping, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as if she had been just awakened out of her sleep; she had not, however, any manner of inclination to sleep since they went from home.

“If thou hadst been at the ball,” said one of her sisters, “thou wouldest not have been tired with it. There came thither the finest princess, the most beautiful ever seen with mortal eyes. She showed us a thousand civilities and gave us oranges and citrons.” Cinderella seemed very indifferent in the matter; indeed, she asked them the name of the princess, but they told her they did not know it and that the king’s son was very uneasy on her account and would give all the world to know who she was.

At this Cinderella, smiling, replied, “She must then be very beautiful indeed! How happy have you been! Could not I see her? Ah! dear Miss Charlotte, do lend me your yellow suit of clothes, which you wear every day.”

“Ay, to be sure,” cried Miss Charlotte, “lend my clothes to such a dirty cinder-wench as thou art! Who’s the fool then?” Cinderella indeed expected some such answer and was very glad of the refusal, for she would have been sadly put to it if her sister had lent her what she asked for jestingly.

The next day the two sisters were at the ball, and so was Cinderella, but dressed more magnificently than before. The king’s son was always by her side and never ceased his compliments and amorous speeches to her; to whom all this was so far from being tiresome that she quite forgot what her G.o.dmother had recommended to her, so that she at last counted the clock striking twelve when she took it to be no more than eleven.

She then rose up and fled as nimble as a deer. The prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her gla.s.s slippers, which the prince took up most carefully. She got home, but quite out of breath, without coach or footmen, and in her old cinder clothes, having nothing left of all her finery but one of the little slippers, fellow to that she dropped. The guards at the palace gate were asked if they had not seen a princess go out. They said they had seen n.o.body go out but a young girl very meanly dressed, who had more the air of a poor country wench than a gentlewoman.

When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if they had been well diverted and if the fine lady had been there. They told her yes, but that she hurried away immediately when it struck twelve and with so much haste that she dropped one of her little gla.s.s slippers, the prettiest in the world, which the king’s son had taken up; that he had done nothing but look at her all the time of the ball, and that most certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful person who owned the little gla.s.s slipper.

What they said was very true, for a few days after, the king’s son caused to be proclaimed by sound of trumpets that he would marry her whose foot this slipper would just fit. They whom he employed began to try it on upon the princesses, then the d.u.c.h.esses, and all the court, but in vain. It was brought to the two sisters, who did all they possibly could to thrust their foot into the slipper, but they could not effect it. Cinderella, who saw all this and knew her slipper, said to them, laughing, “Let me see if it will not fit me!”

Her sisters burst out laughing and began to banter her. The gentleman who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at Cinderella, and finding her very handsome, said it was but just that she should try, and that he had orders to let every one make trial. He obliged Cinderella to sit down, and putting the slipper to her foot, he found it went in very easily and fitted her as if it had been made of wax. The astonishment her two sisters were in was excessively great, but still abundantly greater when Cinderella pulled out of her pocket the other slipper and put it on her foot. Thereupon in came her G.o.dmother, who having touched, with her wand, Cinderella’s clothes, made them richer and more magnificent than any of those she had before.

And now her two sisters found her to be that fine beautiful lady whom they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to beg pardon for all the ill treatment they had made her undergo. Cinderella took them up, and as she embraced them, cried that she forgave them with all her heart and desired them always to love her. She was conducted to the young prince, dressed as she was. He thought her more charming than ever, and a few days after, married her. Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two great lords of the court.


The hero of the next story is often known as Drakesbill, which easily becomes Bill Drake.

The version that follows is a translation from the French of Charles Marelles as given by Lang in his _Red Fairy Book_. It has a raciness not in those softened versions in which one friend gets into a pocket, another under a wing, and so on. The persistent energy of the little hero, his resourcefulness in difficulty, his loyal friends, the unexpected honor that comes as recognition of his success, the humor that pervades every character and incident, make this one of the most delightful of children’s stories.


Drakestail was very little, that is why he was called Drakestail; but tiny as he was he had brains, and he knew what he was about, for having begun with nothing he ended by ama.s.sing a hundred crowns. Now the king of the country, who was very extravagant and never kept any money, having heard that Drakestail had some, went one day in his own person to borrow his h.o.a.rd, and, my word, in those days Drakestail was not a little proud of having lent money to the king. But after the first and second year, seeing that he never even dreamed of paying the interest, he became uneasy, so much so that at last he resolved to go and see his majesty himself, and get repaid. So one fine morning Drakestail, very spruce and fresh, takes the road, singing: “Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?”

He had not gone far when he met friend Fox, on his rounds that way.

“Good-morning, neighbor,” says the friend; “where are you off to so early?”

“I am going to the king for what he owes me.”

“Oh! take me with thee!”

Drakestail said to himself: “One can’t have too many friends.” Aloud says he, “I will, but going on all fours you will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, get into my throat–go into my gizzard, and I will carry you.”

“Happy thought!” says friend Fox.

He takes bag and baggage, and, presto! is gone like a letter into the post.

And Drakestail is off again, all spruce and fresh, still singing: “Quack, quack, quack, when shall I have my money back?”

He had not gone far when he met his lady friend, Ladder, leaning on her wall.

“Good-morning, my duckling,” says the lady friend, “whither away so bold?”

“I am going to the king for what he owes me.”

“Oh! take me with thee!”

Drakestail said to himself: “One can’t have too many friends.” Aloud says he: “I will, but then with your wooden legs you will soon be tired.

Make yourself quite small, get into my throat–go into my gizzard, and I will carry you.”

“Happy thought!” says my friend Ladder, and nimble, bag and baggage, goes to keep company with friend Fox.

And “Quack, quack, quack,” Drakestail is off again, singing and spruce as before. A little further he meets his sweetheart, my friend River, wandering quietly in the sunshine.

“Thou, my cherub,” says she, “whither so lonesome, with arching tail, on this muddy road?”

“I am going to the king, you know, for what he owes me.”

“Oh! take me with thee!”

Drakestail said to himself: “One can’t have too many friends.” Aloud says he: “I will, but you who sleep while you walk will soon get tired.

Make yourself quite small, get into my throat–go into my gizzard, and I will carry you.”

“Ah! happy thought!” says my friend River.

She takes bag and baggage, and glou, glou, glou she takes her place between friend Fox and my friend Ladder.

And “Quack, quack, quack,” Drakestail is off again singing.

A little further on he meets comrade Wasp’s-nest, maneuvering his wasps.

“Well, good-morning, friend Drakestail,” said comrade Wasp’s-nest, “where are we bound for, so spruce and fresh?”

“I am going to the king for what he owes me.”

“Oh! take me with thee!”

Drakestail said to himself, “One can’t have too many friends.” Aloud says he: “I will, but then with your battalion to drag along, you will soon be tired. Make yourself quite small, go into my throat–get into my gizzard, and I will carry you.”

“By Jove! that’s a good idea!” says comrade Wasp’s-nest.

And left file! he takes the same road to join the others with all his party. There was not much room, but by closing up a bit they managed.

And Drakestail is off again singing.

He arrived thus at the capital, and threaded his way straight up the High Street, still running and singing, “Quack, quack, quack, when shall I get my money back?” to the great astonishment of the good folks, till he came to the king’s palace.

He strikes with the knocker: “Toc! toc!”

“Who is there?” asks the porter, putting his head out of the wicket.


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