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JACK THE DULLARD
AR in the interior of the country lay an old baronial
hall, and in it lived an old proprietor, who had two
sons, which two young men thought themselves too clever
by half. The wanted to go out and woo the King's
daughter; for she had publicly announced that she would
choose for her husband that youth who could arrange his
The two geniuses prepared themselves for eight days
before-hand—this was the longest time that could
be granted them; but it was enough, for they had had
much preparatory information, and everybody knows how
useful that is. One of them knew the whole Latin
dictionary by heart, and the City Advertiser three
years; and so well, that he could say it all either
backwards or forwards. The other was deeply read in the
corporation laws, and knew by heart what every
corporation ought to know; and, accordingly, he thought
he could talk of affairs of state, and put his spoke in
the wheel in the council. And he knew one thing more;
he could embroider braces with roses and other flowers,
and with arabesques, for he was a tasty, light-fingered
"I shall win the Princess!" So cried both of them.
Their old papa gave to each a handsome horse. The youth
who knew the dictionary and newspaper by heart had a
black horse, and he who knew all about the corporation
laws received a milk-white steed. Then they rubbed the
corners of their mouths with fish oil, so that they
might become very smooth and glib. All the servants
stood below in the courtyard, and looked on while they
mounted their horses; and just by chance the third son
came up; for there were three sons, but nobody counted
the third with his brothers because he was not so
learned as they, and indeed he was generally known as
"Jack the Dullard."
"Hallo!" said Jack the Dullard, "where are you going
there in your Sunday clothes?"
We're going to the King's court, as suitors to the
 daughter. Don't you know the announcement that has been
made all through the country?" And they told him all
"My word! I'll be in it too!" said Jack the Dullard;
and his two brothers burst out laughing at him and rode away.
"Father," said Jack, "I must have a horse too. I do
feel so desperately inclined to marry! If she accepts
me, she accepts me; and if she won't have me, I'll have
her; but she shall be mine!"
"Don't talk nonsense," replied the father. "You shall
have no horse from me. You don't know how to
speak—you can't arrange your words. Your
brothers, now, they are statesmen."
"Well," quoth Jack the Dullard, "if I can't have a
horse, I'll take the billy-goat, who belongs to me, and
he can carry me very well!"
And so said, so done. He mounted the billy-goat,
pressed his heels into its sides, and galloped down the
high streets like a hurricane.
"Hei, houp! that was a ride! Here I come!" shouted Jack
the Dullard, and he sang till his voice echoed far and
But his brothers rode slowly on in advance of him. They
spoke not a word, for they were thinking about the fine
extempore speeches they would have to bring out, and
these had to be cleverly prepared and learned
"Hallo!" shouted Jack the Dullard. "Here am I! Look
what I have found on the high road."
And he showed them what it was, and it was a dead crow.
"Dullard!" exclaimed the brothers, "what are you going
to do with that?"
"With the crow? why, I am going to give it to the
"Yes, do so," said they; and they laughed, and rode on.
"Hallo, here I am again! Just see what I have found
now; you don't find that on the high road every day!"
And the brothers turned round to see what he could have
 "Dullard!" they cried, "that is only an old woman's
shoe, and the upper part is missing into the bargain;
are you going to give that also to the Princess?"
"Most certainly I shall," replied Jack the Dullard; and
again the brothers laughed and rode on, and thus they
got far in advance of him; but --
"Hallo—hop rara!" and there was Jack the Dullard
again. "It is getting better and better," he cried.
"Hurrah! it is quite famous."
"Why, what have you found this time?" inquired the
"O," said Jack the Dullard, "I can hardly tell you. How
glad the Princess will be!"
"Bah!" said the brothers; "that is nothing but clay out
of the ditch."
"Yes, certainly it is," said Jack the Dullard; "and
clay of the finest sort. See, it is so wet, it runs
through one's fingers." And he filled his pocket with
But his brothers galloped on till the sparks flew, and
consequently they arrived a full hour earlier at the
town gate than could Jack. Now at the gate each suitor
was provided with a number, and all were placed in rows
immediately on their arrival, six in each row, and so
closely packed together that they could not move their
arms; and that was a prudent arrangement, for they
would certainly have come to blows, had they been able,
merely because one of them stood before the other.
All the inhabitiants of the country road about stood in
great crowds around the castle, almost under the very
windows, to see the Princess receive the suitors; and
as each stepped into the hall, his power of speech went
"Good for nothing!" said the King's daughter; "out with
Now they came for that brother who knew the dictionary
by heart; but he did not know it now; he had absolutely
forgotten it altogether; and the boards seemed to
reecho with his footsteps, and the ceiling of the hall
was made of looking-glass, so that he saw himself
standing on his head; and
 every one of them was writing down every single word
that was uttered, so that it might be printed into the
newspapers, and sold for a penny at the street corners.
It was a terrible ordeal, and they had, moreover, made
such a fire in the stove that the fire seemed quite
"It is dreadfully hot here!" observed the first
"Yes," replied the Princess,"my father is going to
roast young pullets to-day."
"Baa!" there he stood like a baa-lamb. He had not been
prepared for a speech of this kind, and had not a word
to say, though he intended to say something witty.
"Good for nothing!" said the Princess; "off with him!"
And he was obliged to go accordingly.
And now the second brother came in.
"It is terribly warm here!" he observed.
"Yes, we're roasting pullets to-day," replied the
"What—what were you—were you pleased to
ob—ob"—stammered he—and all the
clerks wroted down, "pleased to ob" --
"Good for nothing!" said the Princess. "Away with him!"
Now came the turn of Jack the Dullard. He rode into the
hall on his goat.
"Well, it's almost abominably hot here."
"Yes, because I'm roasting young pullets," replied the
"Ah, that's lucky!" exclaimed Jack the Dullard, "for I
suppose you'll let me roast my crow at the same time?"
"With the greatest pleasure," said the Princess. "But
have you anything you can roast it in?" for I have
neither pot nor pan."
"Certainly I have!" said Jack. "Here's a cooking
utensil with a tin handle."
And he brought out the old wooden shoe, and put the
crow into it.
"Well, that is a famous dish!" said the
Princess. "But what shall we do for sauce?"
"O, I have that in my pocket," said Jack: "I have so
much of it that I can afford to throw some away;" and
poured some of the clay out of his pocket.
 "I like that!" said the Princess. "You can give an
answer, and you have something to say for yourself, and
so you shall be my huisband. But are you aware that
every word we speak is being taken down, and will be
published in the paper to-morrow? Look yonder and you
will see in every window three clerks and a head
clerk; and the old head clerk is the worst of all, for
he can't understand anything."
But she only said this to frighten Jack the Dullard;
and the clerks gave a great crow of delight, and each
one spurted a blot out of his pen on to the floor.
"O, those are the gentlemen, are they?" said Jack;
"then I will give the best I have to the head clerk."
And he turned out his pockets, and flung the wet clay
full in the head clerk's face.
"That was very cleverly done," cried the Princess. "I
couldn't have done that; but I shall learn in time."
And so Jack the Dullard was made a king, and received a
crown and a wife, and sat upon a throne. And we read
this in the official report of the head clerk, but that
is not altogether to be trusted.