"Once upon a time there stood in the midst of a bleak moor, in the
north country, a certain village; all its inhabitants were
poor, for their fields were barren, and they had little
trade, but the poorest of them all were two brothers called
Scrub and Spare, who followed the cobbler's craft, and had
but one stall between them. It was a hut built of clay and
wattles. The door was low and always open, for there was no
window. The roof did not entirely keep out the rain, and the
only thing comfortable about it was a wide hearth, for which
the brothers could never find wood enough to make a
sufficient fire. There they worked in most brotherly
friendship, though with little encouragement.
"The people of that village were not extravagant
 in shoes, and better cobblers than Scrub and Spare might be
found. Spiteful people said there were no shoes so bad that
they would not be worse for their mending. Nevertheless
Scrub and Spare managed to live between their own trade, a
small barley field, and a cottage garden, till one unlucky
day when a new cobbler arrived in the village. He had lived
in the capital city of the kingdom, and, by his own account,
cobbled for the queen and the princesses. His awls were
sharp, his lasts were new; he set up his stall in a neat
cottage with two windows. The villagers soon found out that
one patch of his would outwear two of the brothers'. In
short, all the mending left Scrub and Spare, and went to the
new cobbler. The season had been wet and cold, their barley
did not ripen well, and the cabbages never half closed in
the garden. So the brothers were poor that winter, and when
Christmas came they had nothing to feast on but a barley
loaf, a piece of rusty bacon, and some small beer of their
own brewing. Worse than that, the snow was very deep, and
they could get no firewood. Their hut stood at the end of
the village, beyond it
 spread the bleak moor, now all white
and silent; but that moor had once been a forest, great
roots of old trees were still to be found in it, loosened
from the soil and laid bare by the winds and rains—one of
these, a rough, gnarled log, lay hard by their door, the
half of it above the snow, and Spare said to this brother——
" 'Shall we sit here cold on Christmas while the great root
lies yonder? Let us chop it up for firewood, the work will
make us warm.'
" 'No,' said Scrub; 'it's not right to chop wood on
Christmas; besides, that root is too hard to be broken with
" 'Hard or not we must have a fire,' replied Spare. 'Come,
brother, help me in with it. Poor as we are, there is nobody
in the village will have such a yule log as ours.'
"Scrub liked a little grandeur, and in hopes of having a
fine yule log, both brothers strained and strove with all
their might till, between pulling and pushing, the great old
root was safe on the hearth, and beginning to crackle and
blaze with the red embers. In high glee, the cobblers sat
 their beer and bacon. The door was shut, for there
was nothing but cold moonlight and snow outside; but the
hut, strewn with fir boughs, and ornamented with holly,
looked cheerful as the ruddy blaze flared up and rejoiced
" 'Long life and good fortune to ourselves brother!' said
Spare. 'I hope you will drink that toast, and may we never
have a worse fire on Christmas—but what is that?'
"Spare set down the drinking-horn, and the brothers listened
astonished, for out of the blazing root they heard, 'Cuckoo!
cuckoo!' as plain as ever the spring-bird's voice came over
the moor on a May morning.
" 'It is something bad,' said Scrub, terribly frightened.
" 'May be not,' said Spare; and out of the deep hole at the
side which the fire had not reached flew a large grey
cuckoo, and lit on the table before them. Much as the
cobblers had been surprised, they were still more so when it
" 'Good gentlemen, what season is this?'
" 'It's Christmas,' said Spare.
 " 'Then a merry Christmas to you!' said the cuckoo. 'I went
to sleep in the hollow of that old root one evening last
summer, and never woke till the heat of your fire made me
think it was summer again; but now since you have burned my
lodging, let me stay in your hut till the spring comes
round—I only want a hole to sleep in, and when I go on my
travels next summer be assured I will bring you some present
for your trouble.'
" 'Stay, and welcome,' said Spare, while Scrub sat wondering
if it were something bad or not; 'I'll make you a good warm
hole in the thatch. But you must be hungry after that long
sleep?—here is a slice of barley bread. Come help us to keep
"The cuckoo ate up the slice, drank water from the brown
jug, for he would take no beer, and flew into a snug hole
which Spare scooped for him in the thatch of the hut.
"Scrub said he was afraid it wouldn't be lucky; but as it
slept on, and the days passed he forgot his fears. So the
snow melted, the heavy rains came, the cold grew less, the
days lengthened, and one
 sunny morning the brothers were
awoke by the cuckoo shouting its own cry to let them know
the spring had come.
" 'Now I'm going on my travels,' said the bird, 'over the
world to tell men of the spring. There is no country where
trees bud or flowers bloom, that I will not cry in before
the year goes round. Give me another slice of barley bread
to keep me on my journey, and tell me what present I shall
bring you at the twelve-month's end.'
"Scrub would have been angry with his brother for cutting so
large a slice, their store of barley-meal being low; but his
mind was occupied with what present would be most prudent to
ask: at length a lucky thought struck him.
" 'Good master cuckoo,' said he, 'if a great traveller who
sees all the world like you, could know of any place where
diamonds or pearls were to be found, one of a tolerable size
brought in your beak would help such poor men as my brother
and I to provide something better than barley bread for your
" 'I know nothing of diamonds or pearls,'
 said the cuckoo;
'they are in the hearts of rocks and the sands of rivers. My
knowledge is only of that which grows on the earth. But
there are two trees hard by the well that lies at the
world's end—one of them is called the golden tree, for its
leaves are all of beaten gold: every winter they fall into
the well with a sound like scattered coin, and I know not
what becomes of them. As for the other, it is always green
like a laurel. Some call it the wise, and some the merry
tree. Its leaves never fall, but they that get one of them
keep a blithe heart in spite of all misfortunes, and can
make themselves as merry in a hut as in a palace.'
" 'Good master cuckoo, bring me a leaf off that tree!' cried
" 'Now, brother, don't be a fool!' said Scrub! 'think of the
leaves of beaten gold! Dear master cuckoo, bring me one of
"Before another word could be spoken, the cuckoo had flown
out of the open door, and was shouting its spring cry over
moor and meadow. The brothers were poorer than ever that
 nobody would send them a single shoe to mend. The new
cobbler said, in scorn, they should come to be his
apprentices; and Scrub and Spare would have left the village
but for their barley field, their cabbage garden, and a
certain maid called Fairfeather, whom both the cobblers had
courted for seven years without even knowing which she meant
"Sometimes Fairfeather seemed inclined to Scrub, sometimes
she smiled on Spare; but the brothers never disputed for
that. They sowed their barley, planted their cabbage, and
now that their trade was gone, worked in the rich villagers'
fields to make out a scanty living. So the seasons came and
passed: spring, summer, harvest, and winter followed each
other as they have done from the beginning. At the end of
the latter, Scrub and Spare had grown so poor and ragged
that Fairfeather thought them beneath her notice. Old
neighbours forgot to invite them to wedding feasts or
merrymaking; and they thought the cuckoo had forgotten them
too, when at daybreak, on the first of April, they heard a
 beak knocking at their door, and a voice crying——
" 'Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Let me in with my presents.'
"Spare ran to open the door, and in came the cuckoo,
carrying on one side of his bill a golden leaf larger than
that of any tree in the north country; and in the other, one
like that of the common laurel, only it had a fresher green.
" 'Here,' it said, giving the gold to Scrub and the green to
Spare, 'it is a long carriage from the world's end. Give me
a slice of barley bread, for I must tell the north country
that the spring has come.'
"Scrub did not grudge the thickness of that slice, though it
was cut from their last loaf. So much gold had never been in
the cobbler's hands before, and he could not help exulting
over his brother.
" 'See the wisdom of my choice!' he said, holding up the
large leaf of gold. 'As for yours, as good might be plucked
from any hedge. I wonder a sensible bird would carry the
like so far.'
 " 'Good master cobbler,' cried the cuckoo, finishing the
slice, 'your conclusions are more hasty than courteous. If
your brother be disappointed this time, I go on the same
journey every year, and for your hospitable entertainment
will think it no trouble to bring each of you whichever leaf
" 'Darling cuckoo!' cried Scrub, 'bring me a golden one'; and
Spare, looking up from the green leaf on which he gazed as
though it were a crown jewel, said——
" 'Be sure to bring me one from the merry tree,' and away
flew the cuckoo.
" 'This is the Feast of All Fools, and it ought to be your
birthday,' said Scrub. 'Did ever man fling away such an
opportunity of getting rich! Much good your merry leaves
will do in the midst of rags and poverty!' So he went on,
but Spare laughed at him, and answered with quaint old
proverbs concerning the cares that come with gold, till
Scrub, at length getting angry, vowed his brother was not
fit to live with a respectable man; and taking his lasts,
his awls, and his golden
 leaf, he left the wattle hut, and
went to tell the villagers.
"They were astonished at the folly of Spare and charmed with
Scrub's good sense, particularly when he showed them the
golden leaf, and told that the cuckoo would bring him one
every spring. The new cobbler immediately took him into
partnership; the greatest people sent him their shoes to
mend; Fairfeather smiled graciously upon him, and in the
course of that summer they were married, with a grand
wedding feast, at which the whole village danced, except
Spare, who was not invited, because the bride could not bear
his low-mindedness, and his brother thought him a disgrace
to the family.
"Indeed, all who heard the story concluded that Spare must
be mad, and nobody would associate with him but a lame
tinker, a beggar boy, and a poor woman reputed to be a witch
because she was old and ugly. As for Scrub, he established
himself with Fairfeather in a cottage close by that of the
new cobbler, and quite as fine. There he mended shoes to
satis-  faction, had a scarlet coat for holidays,
and a fat goose for dinner every wedding-day. Fairfeather,
too, had a crimson gown and fine blue ribands; but neither
she nor Scrub were content, for to buy this grandeur the
golden leaf had to be broken and parted with piece by piece,
so the last morsel was gone before the cuckoo came with
"Spare lived on in the old hut, and worked in the cabbage
garden. (Scrub had got the barley field because he was the
eldest.) Every day his coat grew more ragged, and the hut
more weather-beaten; but people remarked that he never
looked sad nor sour; and the wonder was, that from the time
they began to keep his company, the tinker grew kinder to
the poor ass with which he travelled the country, the
beggar-boy kept out of mischief, and the old woman was never
cross to her cat or angry with the children.
"Every first of April the cuckoo came tapping at their doors
with the golden leaf to Scrub and the green to Spare.
Fairfeather would have entertained him nobly with wheaten
bread and honey, for she had some notion of persuading him
 two gold leaves instead of one; but the cuckoo flew
away to eat barley bread with Spare, saying he was not fit
company for fine people, and liked the old hut where he
slept so snugly from Christmas till Spring.
"Scrub spent the golden leaves, and Spare kept the merry
ones; and I know not how many years passed in this manner,
when a certain great lord, who owned that village came to
the neighbourhood. His castle stood on the moor. It was
ancient and strong, with high towers and a deep moat. All
the country, as far as one could see from the highest
turret, belonged to its lord; but he had not been there for
twenty years, and would not have come then, only he was
melancholy. The cause of his grief was that he had been
prime-minister at court, and in high favour, till somebody
told the crown-prince that he had spoken disrespectfully
concerning the turning out of his royal highness's toes, and
the king that he did not lay on taxes enough, whereon the
north country lord was turned out of office, and banished to
his own estate. There he lived for some weeks in
 very bad
temper. The servants said nothing would please him, and the
villagers put on their worst clothes lest he should raise
their rents; but one day in the harvest time his lordship
chanced to meet Spare gathering watercresses at a meadow
stream, and fell into talk with the cobbler.
"How it was nobody could tell, but from the hour of that
discourse the great lord cast away his melancholy: he forgot
his lost office and his court enemies, the king's taxes and
the crown-prince's toes, and went about with a noble train
hunting, fishing, and making merry in his hall, where all
travellers were entertained and all the poor were welcome.
This strange story spread through the north country, and
great company came to the cobbler's hut—rich men who had
lost their money, poor men who had lost their friends,
beauties who had grown old, wits who had gone out of
fashion, all came to talk with Spare, and whatever their
troubles had been, all went home merry. The rich gave him
presents, the poor gave him thanks. Spare's coat ceased to
be ragged, he had bacon
 with his cabbage, and the villagers
began to think there was some sense in him.
"By this time his fame had reached the capital city, and
even the court. There were a great many discontented people
there besides the king, who had lately fallen into ill-humour
because a neighbouring princess, with seven islands for her
dowry, would not marry his eldest son. So a royal messenger
was sent to Spare, with a velvet mantle, a diamond ring, and
a command that he should repair to court immediately.
A ROYAL MESSENGER WAS SENT TO SPARE
" 'To-morrow is the first of April,' said Spare, 'and I will
go with you two hours after sunrise.'
"The messenger lodged all night at the castle, and the
cuckoo came at sunrise with the merry leaf.
" 'Court is a fine place,' he said when the cobbler told him
he was going; 'but I cannot come there, they would lay
snares and catch me; so be careful of the leaves I have
brought you, and give me a farewell slice of barley bread.'
"Spare was sorry to part with the cuckoo, little as he had
of his company; but he gave him a slice
 which would have
broken Scrub's heart in former times, it was so thick and
large; and having sewed up the leaves in the lining of his
leathern doublet, he set out with the messenger on his way to
"His coming caused great surprise there. Everybody wondered
what the king could see in such a common-looking man; but
scarce had his majesty conversed with him half an hour, when
the princess and her seven islands were forgotten, and
orders given that a feast for all comers should be spread in
the banquet hall. The princess of the blood, the great lords
and ladies, ministers of state, and judges of the land,
after that discoursed with Spare, and the more they talked
the lighter grew their hearts, so that such changes had
never been seen at court. The lords forgot their spites and
the ladies their envies, the princes and ministers made
friends among themselves, and the judges showed no favour.
"As for Spare, he had a chamber assigned him in the palace,
and a seat at the king's table; one sent him rich robes and
another costly jewels; but in the midst of all his grandeur
he still wore the
 leathern doublet, which the palace
servants thought remarkably mean. One day the king's
attention being drawn to it by the chief page, his majesty
inquired why Spare didn't give it to a beggar? But the
" 'High and mighty monarch, this doublet was with me before
silk and velvet came—I find it easier to wear than the court
cut; moreover, it serves to keep me humble, by recalling the
days when it was my holiday garment.'
"The king thought this a wise speech, and commanded that no
one should find fault with the leathern doublet. So things
went, till tidings of his brother's good fortune reached
Scrub in the moorland cottage on another first of April,
when the cuckoo came with two golden leaves, because he had
none to carry for Spare.
" 'Think of that!' said Fairfeather. 'Here we are spending
our lives in this humdrum place, and Spare making his
fortune at court with two or three paltry green leaves! What
would they say to our golden ones? Let us pack up and make
our way to the king's palace; I'm sure he will make
 you a
lord and me a lady of honour, not to speak of all the fine
clothes and presents we shall have.'
"Scrub thought this excellent reasoning, and their packing
up began: but it was soon found that the cottage contained
few things fit for carrying to court. Fairfeather could not
think of her wooden bowls, spoons, and trenchers being seen
there. Scrub considered his lasts and awls better left
behind, as without them, he concluded, no one would suspect
him of being a cobbler. So putting on their holiday clothes,
Fairfeather took her looking-glass and Scrub his drinking-horn,
which happened to have a very thin rim of silver, and
each carrying a golden leaf carefully wrapped up that none
might see it till they reached the palace, the pair set out
in great expectation.
"How far Scrub and Fairfeather journeyed I cannot say, but
when the sun was high and warm at noon, they came into a
wood both tired and hungry.
" 'If I had known it was so far to court,' said Scrub, 'I
would have brought the end of that barley loaf which we left
in the cupboard.'
 " 'Husband,' said Fairfeather, 'you shouldn't have such mean
thoughts: how could one eat barley bread on the way to a
palace? Let us rest ourselves under this tree, and look at
our golden leaves to see if they are safe.' In looking at
the leaves, and talking of their fine prospects, Scrub and
Fairfeather did not perceive that a very thin old woman had
slipped from behind the tree, with a long staff in her hand
and a great wallet by her side.
" 'Noble lord and lady,' she said, 'for I know ye are such by
your voices, though my eyes are dim and my hearing none of
the sharpest, will ye condescend to tell me where I may find
some water to mix a bottle of mead which I carry in my
wallet, because it is too strong for me?'
"As the old woman spoke, she pulled out a large wooden
bottle such as shepherds used in the ancient times, corked
with leaves rolled together, and having a small wooden cup
hanging from its handle.
" 'Perhaps ye will do me the favour to taste,' she said. 'It
is only made of the best honey. I
 have also cream cheese,
and a wheaten loaf here, if such honourable persons as you
would eat the like.'
"Scrub and Fairfeather became very condescending after this
speech. They were now sure that there must be some appearance of
nobility about them; besides, they were very hungry, and
having hastily wrapped up the golden leaves, they assured
the old woman they were not at all proud, notwithstanding
the lands and castles they had left behind them in the north
country, and would willingly help to lighten the wallet. The
old woman could scarcely be persuaded to sit down for pure
humility, but at length she did, and before the wallet was
half empty, Scrub and Fairfeather firmly believed that there must
be something remarkably noble-looking about them. This was
not entirely owing to her ingenious discourse. The old woman
was a wood-witch; her name was Buttertongue; and all her
time was spent in making mead, which, being boiled with
curious herbs and spells, had the power of making all who
drank it fall asleep and dream with their eyes open.
 She had
two dwarfs of sons; one was named Spy, and the other Pounce.
Wherever their mother went they were not far behind; and
whoever tasted her mead was sure to be robbed by the dwarfs.
"Scrub and Fairfeather sat leaning against the old tree. The
cobbler had a lump of cheese in his hand; his wife held fast
a hunch of bread. Their eyes and mouths were both open, but
they were dreaming of great grandeur at court, when the old
woman raised her shrill voice:
" 'What ho, my sons! come here
and carry home the harvest.'
"No sooner had she spoken, than the two little dwarfs darted
out of the neighbouring thicket.
" 'Idle boys!' cried the mother, 'what have ye done to-day to
help our living?'
" 'I have been to the city,' said Spy, 'and could see
nothing. These are hard times for us—everybody minds their
business so contentedly since that cobbler came; but here is
a leathern doublet which his page threw out of the window;
it's of no use, but I brought it to let you see I was
 not idle.' And he tossed down Spare's doublet, with the merry
leaves in it, which he had carried like a bundle on his
"To explain how Spy came by it, I must tell you that the
forest was not far from the great city where Spare lived in
such high esteem. All things had gone well with the cobbler
till the king thought that it was quite unbecoming to see
such a worthy man without a servant. His majesty, therefore,
to let all men understand his royal favour toward Spare,
appointed one of his own pages to wait upon him. The name of
this youth was Tinseltoes, and, though he was the seventh of
the king's pages, nobody in all court had grander notions.
Nothing could please him that had not gold or silver about
it, and his grandmother feared he would hang himself for
being appointed page to a cobbler. As for Spare, if anything
could have troubled him, this token of his majesty's
kindness would have done it.
"The honest man had been so used to serve himself that the
page was always in the way, but his merry leaves came to his
assistance; and, to
 the great surprise of his grandmother,
Tinseltoes took wonderfully to the new service. Some said it
was because Spare gave him nothing to do but play at bowls
all day on the palace-green. Yet one thing grieved the heart
of Tinseltoes, and that was his master's leathern doublet;
but for it he was persuaded people would never remember that
Spare had been a cobbler, and the page took a deal of pains
to let him see how unfashionable it was at court; but Spare
answered Tinseltoes as he had done the king, and at last,
finding nothing better would do, the page got up one fine
morning earlier than his master, and tossed the leathern
doublet out of the back window into a certain lane where Spy
found it, and brought it to his mother.
DWARF NAMED SPY STOLE THE DOUBLET AND RAN OFF TO HIS MOTHER IN THE WOOD
" 'That nasty thing!' said the old woman; 'where is the good
"By this time, Pounce had taken everything of value from
Scrub and Fairfeather—the looking-glass, the silver-rimmed
horn, the husband's scarlet coat, the wife's gay mantle,
and, above all, the golden leaves, which so rejoiced old
Buttertongue and her sons, that they threw the leathern
 doublet over the sleeping cobbler for a jest, and went off
to their hut in the heart of the forest.
"The sun was going down when Scrub and Fairfeather awoke
from dreaming that they had been made a lord and a lady, and
sat clothed in silk and velvet, feasting with the king in
his palace-hall. It was a great disappointment to find their
golden leaves and all their best things gone. Scrub tore his
hair, and vowed to take the old woman's life, while
Fairfeather lamented sore; but Scrub, feeling cold for want
of his coat, put on the leathern doublet without asking or
caring whence it came.
"Scarcely was it buttoned on when a change came over him; he
addressed such merry discourse to Fairfeather, that, instead
of lamentations, she made the wood ring with laughter. Both
busied themselves in getting up a hut of boughs, in which
Scrub kindled a fire with a flint and steel, which, together
with his pipe, he had brought unknown to Fairfeather, who
had told him the like was never heard of at court. Then they
found a pheasant's nest at the root of an old oak, made a
 meal of roasted eggs, and went to sleep on a heap of long
green grass which they had gathered, with nightingales
singing all night long in the old trees about them. So it
happened that Scrub and Fairfeather stayed day after day in
the forest, making their hut larger and more comfortable
against the winter, living on wild birds' eggs and berries,
and never thinking of their lost golden leaves, or their
journey to court.
"In the meantime Spare had got up and missed his doublet.
Tinseltoes, of course, said he knew nothing about it. The
whole palace was searched, and every servant questioned,
till all the court wondered why such a fuss was made about
an old leathern doublet. That very day things came back to
their old fashion. Quarrels began among lords, and
jealousies among the ladies. The king said his subjects did
not pay him half enough taxes, the queen wanted more jewels,
the servants took to their old bickerings and got up some
new ones. Spare found himself getting wonderfully dull, and
very much out of place: nobles began to ask what business a
cobbler had at the king's
 table, and his majesty ordered the
palace chronicles to be searched for a precedent. The
cobbler was too wise to tell all he had lost with that
doublet, but being by this time somewhat familiar with court
customs, he proclaimed a reward of fifty gold pieces to any
who would bring him news concerning it.
"Scarcely was this made known in the city, when the gates
and outer courts of the palace were filled by men, women,
and children, some bringing leathern doublets of every cut
and colour; some with tales of what they had heard and seen
in their walks about the neighbourhood; and so much news
concerning all sorts of great people came out of these
stores, that the lords and ladies ran to the king with
complaints of Spare as a speaker of slander; and his
majesty, being now satisfied that there was no example in
all the palace records of such a retainer, issued a decree
banishing the cobbler for ever from court, and
confiscating all his goods in favour of Tinseltoes.
"That royal edict was scarcely published before the page was
in full possession of his rich chamber,
 his costly garments,
and all the presents the courtiers had given him; while Spare,
having no longer the fifty pieces of gold to give, was glad
to make his escape out of the back window, for fear of the
nobles, who vowed to be revenged on him, and the crowd, who
were prepared to stone him for cheating them about his
"The window from which Spare let himself down with a strong
rope, was that from which Tinseltoes had tossed the doublet,
and as the cobbler came down late in the twilight, a poor
woodman, with a heavy load of fagots, stopped and stared at
him in great astonishment.
" 'What's the matter, friend?' said Spare. 'Did you never see
a man coming down from a back window before?'
" 'Why,' said the woodman, 'the last morning I passed here a
leathern doublet came out of that very window, and I'll be
bound you are the owner of it.'
" 'That I am, friend,' said the cobbler. 'Can you tell me
which way that doublet went?'
" 'As I walked on,' said the woodman,
 dwarf, called Spy,
bundled it up and ran off to his mother in the forest.'
" 'Honest friend,' said Spare, taking off the last of his
fine clothes (a grass-green mantle edged with gold), 'I'll
give you this if you will follow the dwarf, and bring me
back my doublet.'
" 'It would not be good to carry fagots in,' said the
woodman. 'But if you want back your doublet, the road to the
forest lies at the end of this lane,' and he trudged away.
"Determined to find his doublet, and sure that neither crowd
nor courtiers could catch him in the forest, Spare went on
his way, and was soon among the tall trees; but neither hut
nor dwarf could he see. Moreover, the night came on; the
wood was dark and tangled, but here and there the moon shone
through its alleys, the great owls flitted about, and the
nightingales sang. So he went on, hoping to find some place
of shelter. At last the red light of a fire, gleaming
through a thicket, led him to the door of a low hut. It
stood half open, as if there was nothing to fear, and within
he saw his brother Scrub snoring loudly on a bed of grass,
 at the foot of which lay his own leathern doublet; while
Fairfeather, in a kirtle made of plaited rushes, sat
roasting pheasants' eggs by the fire.
" 'Good-evening, mistress,' said Spare, stepping in.
"The blaze shone on him, but so changed was her
brother-in-law with his court-life, that Fairfeather did not
know him, and she answered far more courteously than was her
" 'Good-evening, master. Whence come ye so late? but speak
low, for my good man has sorely tired himself cleaving wood,
and is taking a sleep, as you see, before supper.'
" 'A good rest to him,' said Spare, perceiving he was not
known. 'I come from the court for a day's hunting, and have
lost my way in the forest.'
" 'Sit down and have a share of our supper,' said
Fairfeather, 'I will put some more eggs in the ashes; and
tell me the news of court—I used to think of it long ago
when I was young and foolish.'
" 'Did you never go there?' said the cobbler. 'So fair a dame
as you would make the ladies marvel.'
 " 'You are pleased to flatter,' said Fairfeather; 'but my
husband has a brother there, and we left our moorland
village to try our fortune also. An old woman enticed us
with fair words and strong drink at the entrance of this
forest, where we fell asleep and dreamt of great things; but
when we woke, everything had been robbed from us—my
looking-glass, my scarlet cloak, my husband's Sunday coat;
and, in place of all, the robbers left him that old leathern
doublet, which he has worn ever since, and never was so
merry in all his life, though we live in this poor hut.'
" 'It is a shabby doublet, that,' said Spare, taking up the
garment, and seeing that it was his own, for the merry
leaves were still sewed in its lining. 'It would be good for
hunting in, however—your husband would be glad to part with
it, I dare say, in exchange for this handsome cloak'; and he
pulled off the green mantle and buttoned on the doublet,
much to Fairfeather's delight, who ran and shook Scrub,
" 'Husband! husband! rise and see what a good bargain I have
 "Scrub gave one closing snore, and muttered something about
the root being hard; but he rubbed his eyes, gazed up at his
brother, and said:
" 'Spare, is that really you? How did you like the court, and
have you made your fortune?'
" 'That I have, brother,' said Spare, 'in getting back my own
good leathern doublet. Come, let us eat eggs, and rest
ourselves here this night. In the morning we will return to
our own old hut, at the end of the moorland village where
the Christmas Cuckoo will come and bring us leaves.'
" 'Scrub and Fairfeather agreed. So in the morning they all
returned, and found the old hut little the worse for wear
and weather. The neighbours came about them to ask the news
of court, and see if they had made their fortune. Everybody
was astonished to find the three poorer than ever, but
somehow they liked to go back to the hut. Spare brought out
the lasts and awls he had hidden in a corner; Scrub and he
began their old trade, and the whole north country found out
that there never were such cobblers.
"They mended the shoes of lords and ladies
 as well as the
common people; everybody was satisfied. Their custom
increased from day to day, and all that were disappointed,
discontented, or unlucky, came to the hut as in old times,
before Spare went to court.
"The rich brought them presents, the poor did them service.
The hut itself changed, no one knew how. Flowering
honeysuckle grew over its roof; red and white roses grew
thick about its door. Moreover, the Christmas Cuckoo always
came on the first of April, bringing three leaves of the
merry tree—for Scrub and Fairfeather would have no more
golden ones. So it was with them when I last heard the news
of the north country."
"What a summer-house that hut would make for me, mamma!"
said the Princess Greedalind.
"We must have it brought here bodily," said Queen Wantall;
but the chair was silent, and a lady and two noble squires,
clad in russet-coloured satin and yellow buskins, the like of
which had never been seen at that court, rose up and said:
"That's our story."
 "I have not heard such a tale," said King Winwealth, "since
my brother Wisewit went from me, and was lost in the forest.
Redheels, the seventh of my pages, go and bring this little
maid a pair of scarlet shoes with golden buckles."
The seventh page immediately brought from the royal store a
pair of scarlet satin shoes with buckles of gold. Snowflower
never had seen the like before, and joyfully thanking the
king, she dropped a courtesy, seated herself and said: "Chair
of my grandmother, take me to the worst kitchen."
Immediately the chair marched away as it came, to the
admiration of that noble company.
The little girl was allowed to sleep on some straw at the
kitchen fire that night. Next day they gave her ale with the
scraps the cook threw away. The feast went on with great
music and splendour, and the people clamoured without; but in
the evening King Winwealth again fell into low spirits, and
the royal command was told to Snowflower by the
chief-scullion, that she and her chair should go to the
highest banquet hall, for his majesty wished to hear another
 When Snowflower had washed her face, and dusted her chair,
she went up seated as before, only that she had on the
scarlet shoes. Queen Wantall and her daughter looked more
spiteful than ever, but some of the company graciously
noticed Snowflower's courtesy, and were pleased when she
laid down her head, saying, "Chair of my grandmother, tell
me a story."
"Listen," said the clear voice from under the cushion, "to
the story of Lady Greensleeves."