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THERE was once a poor Prince, who had a kingdom. His kingdom was small, but still large enough to marry upon; and he wished to marry.
His name was renowned far and wide; and there were a hundred Princesses who would have answered "Yes!" and "Thank you kindly!" if he had asked them. But he wanted to marry the Emperor's daughter.
It happened that where the Prince's father lay buried there grew a rose-tree, -- a most beautiful rose-tree, which blossomed only once in every five years, and even then bore only one flower, but that was a rose! It was so sweet that whoever breathed its scent forgot all cares and sorrows.
And further, the Prince had a nightingale, who could sing in such a manner that it seemed as though all sweet melodies dwelt in her little throat. So he put the rose and the nightingale into large silver caskets, and sent them to the Princess.
The Emperor had them brought into a large hall, where the Princess was playing at "Visiting" with the ladies of the court; and when she saw the caskets with the presents, she clapped her hands for joy.
"Oh, I do hope it is a little pussy-cat!" said she but the rose-tree with its beautiful rose came to view.
"Oh, how prettily it is made!" said ail the court ladies.
"It is more than pretty," said the Emperor; "it is charming!"
But the Princess touched it, and was almost ready to cry.
"Fie, Papa," said she, "it is not made at all, it is natural!"
"Let us see what is in the other casquet, before we get into a bad humour," said the Emperor. So the nightingale came forth, and sang so delightfully that at first no one could say anything ill-humoured of her.
"Superbe! charmant!" exclaimed the ladies; for they all used to chatter French, each one worse than her neighbour.
"How much the bird reminds me of the musical box that belonged to our blessed Empress," said an old knight. "Oh yes! these are the same tones, the same execution."
"Yes! yes!" said the Emperor, and he wept at the remembrance. "I will still hope that it is not a real bird," said the Princess. "Yes, it is a real bird," said those who had brought it. "Well, then, let it fly," said the Princess; and she refused to see the Prince.
However, he was not to be discouraged; he daubed his face over brown and black, pulled his cap over his ears, and knocked at the door.
"Good-day to my lord the Emperor!" said he. "Can I have employment at the palace?"
"Why, yes," said the Emperor, "I want someone to take care of the pigs, for we have a great many of them."
So the Prince was appointed "Imperial Swine-herd". He had a dirty little room close by the pig-sty; and there he sat the whole day, and worked. By the evening, he had made a pretty little kitchen-pot. Little bells were hung all round it; and when the pot was boiling, these bells tinkled in the most charming manner, and played the old melody:
"Ah! my dearest Augustine,
All is gone, gone, gone!"
But what was still more curious, whoever held his finger in the steam of the kitchen-pot immediately smelt all the dishes that were cooking on every hearth in the city.
Now the Princess happened to walk that way; and when she heard the tune, she stood quite still, and seemed pleased; for it was the only piece she knew, and she played it with one finger.
"Why, there is my piece!" said the Princess. "That swineherd must have been well educated! Go in and ask him the price of the instrument."
So one of the ladies ran in; but she drew on wooden slippers first.
"What will you take for the kitchen-pot?" said the lady.
"Ten kisses from the Princess," said the swineherd.
"He is an impudent fellow!" said the Princess when she heard this, and she walked on. But when she had gone a little way, the bells tinkled so prettily that she had to stop.
"Stay," said the Princess. "Ask him if he will have ten kisses from the ladies of my court."
"No, thank you!" said the swineherd, "ten kisses from the Princess, or I keep the kitchen-pot myself."
"That must not be either!" said the Princess; "but do you all stand before me that no one may see us."
So the court ladies placed themselves in front of her, and spread out their dresses -- the swineherd got ten kisses, and the Princess the kitchen-pot.
That was delightful! the pot was boiling the whole evening, and the whole of the following day. They knew perfectly well what was cooking at every fire throughout the city, from the chamberlain's to the cobbler's; the court ladies danced, and clapped their hands.
The swineherd let not a day pass without working at something. He at last constructed a rattle, which, when it was swung round, played all the waltzes and jig-tunes which have ever been heard.
"Ah, that is superbe!" said the Princess when she passed by. "I have never heard prettier compositions! Go in and ask him the price of the instrument; but mind, he shall have no more kisses!"
"He will have a hundred kisses from the Princess!'' said the lady who had been to ask.
"I think he is not in his right senses!" said the Princess, and walked on; but when she had gone a little way, she stopped again. "One must encourage art," said she. "I am the Emperor's daughter. Tell him he shall, as yesterday, have ten kisses from me, and may take the rest from the ladies of the court."
"Oh! -- but we should not like that at all!" said they.
"What are you muttering?" asked the Princess. "If I can kiss him, surely you can!" So the ladies were obliged to go to him again. "A hundred kisses from the Princess!" said he.
"Stand round!" said she; and all the ladies stood round her whilst the kissing was going on.
"What can be the reason for such a crowd close by the pig-sty?" said the Emperor, who happened just then to step out on the balcony; he rubbed his eyes and put on his spectacles. "They are the ladies of the court; I must go down and see what they are about!"
The ladies were so much engrossed with counting the kisses that they did not perceive the Emperor. He rose on his tiptoes.
"What is all this?" said he, when he saw what was going on, and he boxed the Princess's ears, just as the swineherd was taking the eighty-sixth kiss.
"March out!" said the Emperor, for he was very angry; and both Princess and swineherd were thrust out of the city.
The Princess wept, the swineherd scolded, and the rain poured down.
"Alas! unhappy creature that I am!" said the Princess. "If I had but married the handsome young Prince! ah, how unfortunate I am!"
The swineherd went behind a tree, washed the dirt from his face, threw off his old clothes, and stepped forth in his princely robes; he looked so noble that the Princess could not help bowing before him.
"I have come to despise you," said he. "You would not have an honourable Prince! you could not prize the rose and the nightingale, but you were ready to kiss the swineherd for the sake of a trumpery plaything. You are rightly served."
He then went back to his own little kingdom, and shut the door of his palace in her face. Now she might well sing:
"Ah! my dearest Augustine,
All is gone, gone, gone!"