| Granny's Wonderful Chair|
|by Frances Browne|
|Seven fairy tales, set in an interesting framework in which are related the adventures of the little girl Snowflower and her magical chair at the court of King Winwealth. When Snow-flower, from her nook in the kitchen, said, "Chair of my grandmother, take me to the highest banquet hall," "instantly the chair marched in a grave and courtly fashion out of the kitchen, up the grand staircase, and into the highest hall." There it told the following stories to the king and queen, the fair lords and ladies, the many fairies, and notable people from other lands: The Christmas Cuckoo, The Lords of the White and Gray Castles, The Greedy Shepherd, The Story of Fairyfoot, The Story of Childe Charity, Sour and Civil, and The Story of Merrymind. Ages 7-10 |
 "Once upon a time there lived two noble lords in the east
country. Their lands lay between a broad river and an old
oak forest, whose size was so great that no man knew it. In
the midst of his land each lord had a stately castle; one
was built of the white freestone, the other of the grey
granite. So the one was called Lord of the White Castle, and
the other Lord of the Grey.
"There were no lords like them in all the east country for
nobleness and bounty. Their tenants lived in peace and
plenty; all strangers were hospitably entertained at their
castles; and every autumn they sent men with axes into the
forest to hew down the great trees, and chop them up into
firewood for the poor. Neither hedge nor ditch divided their
lands, but these lords never disputed.
 They had been friends
from their youth. Their ladies had died long ago, but the
Lord of the Grey Castle had a little son, and the Lord of
the White, a little daughter; and when they feasted in each
other's halls it was their custom to say, 'When our children
grow up they will marry, and have our castles and our lands,
and keep our friendship in memory.'
"So the lords and their little children, and tenants, lived
happily till one Michaelmas night, as they were all feasting
in the hall of the White Castle, there came a traveller to
the gate, who was welcomed and feasted as usual. He had seen
many strange sights and countries, and, like most people, he
liked to tell his travels. The lords were delighted with his
tales, as they sat round the fire drinking wine after
supper, and at length the Lord of the White Castle, who was
very curious, said:
" 'Good stranger, what was the greatest wonder you ever saw
in all your travels?'
" 'The most wonderful sight that ever I saw,' replied the
traveller, 'was at the end of yonder forest, where in an
ancient wooden house there sits
 an old woman weaving her own
hair into grey cloth on an old crazy loom. When she wants
more yarn she cuts off her own grey hair, and it grows so
quickly that though I saw it cut in the morning, it was out
of the door before noon. She told me it was her purpose to
sell the cloth, but none of all who came that way had yet
bought any, she asked so great a price; and, only the way is
so long and dangerous through that wide forest full of boars
and wolves, some rich lord like you might buy it for a
"All who heard this story were astonished; but when the
traveller had gone on his way the Lord of the White Castle
could neither eat nor sleep for wishing to see the old woman
that wove her own hair. At length he made up his mind to
explore the forest in search of her ancient house, and told
the Lord of the Grey Castle his intention. Being a prudent
man, this lord replied that travellers' tales were not always
to be trusted, and earnestly advised him against undertaking
such a long and dangerous journey, for few that went far
into that forest ever returned. However, when
 the curious
lord would go in spite of all, he vowed to bear him company
for friendship's sake, and they agreed to set out privately,
lest the other lords of the land might laugh at them. The
Lord of the White Castle had a steward who had served him
many years, and his name was Reckoning Robin. To him he
" 'I am going on a long journey with my friend. Be careful of
my goods, deal justly with my tenants, and above all things
be kind to my little daughter Loveleaves till my return';
and the steward answered:
" 'Be sure, my lord, I will.'
"The Lord of the Grey Castle also had a steward who had
served him many years, and his name was Wary Will. To him he
" 'I am going on a journey with my friend. Be careful of my
goods, deal justly with my tenants, and above all things be
kind to my little son Woodwender till my return'; and his
steward answered him:
" 'Be sure, my lord, I will.'
"So these lords kissed their children while
 they slept, and
set out each with his staff and mantle before sunrise
through the old oak forest. The children missed their
fathers, the tenants missed their lords. None but the
stewards could tell what had become of them; but seven
months wore away, and they did not come back. The lords had
thought their stewards faithful, because they served so well
under their eyes; but instead of that, both were proud and
crafty, and thinking that some evil had happened to their
masters, they set themselves to be lords in their room.
"Reckoning Robin had a son called Hardhold, and Wary Will, a
daughter called Drypenny. There was not a sulkier girl or
boy in the country, but their fathers resolved to make a
young lord and lady of them; so they took the silk clothes
which Woodwender and Loveleaves used to wear, to dress them,
clothing the lord's children in frieze and canvas. Their
garden flowers and ivory toys were given to Hardhold and
Drypenny; and at last the stewards' children sat at the
chief tables, and slept in the best chambers, while
 and Loveleaves were sent to herd the swine and
sleep on straw in the granary.
"The poor children had no one to take their part. Every
morning at sunrise they were sent out—each with a barley
loaf and a bottle of sour milk, which was to serve them for
breakfast, dinner, and supper—to watch a great herd of swine
on a wide unfenced pasture hard by the forest. The grass was
scanty, and the swine were continually straying into the
wood in search of acorns; the children knew that if they
were lost the wicked stewards would punish them, and between
gathering and keeping the herds in order, they were readier
to sleep on the granary straw at night than ever they had
been within their own silken curtains. Still Woodwender and
Loveleaves helped and comforted each other, saying their
fathers would come back, or God would send them some
friends: so, in spite of swine-herding and hard living, they
looked blithe and handsome as ever; while Hardhold and
Drypenny grew crosser and uglier every day, notwithstanding
their fine clothes and the best of all things.
 "The crafty stewards did not like this. They thought their
children ought to look genteel, and Woodwender and
Loveleaves like young swineherds; so they sent them to a
wilder pasture, still nearer the forest, and gave them two
great black hogs, more unruly than all the rest, to keep.
One of these hogs belonged to Hardhold, and the other to
Drypenny. Every evening when they came home the stewards'
children used to come down and feed them, and it was their
delight to reckon up what price they would bring when
"One sultry day, about midsummer, Woodwender and Loveleaves
sat down in the shadow of a mossy rock: the swine grazed
about them more quietly than usual, and they plaited rushes
and talked to each other, till, as the sun was sloping down
the sky, Woodwender saw that the two great hogs were
missing. Thinking they must have gone to the forest, the
poor children ran to search for them. They heard the thrush
singing and the wood-doves calling; they saw the squirrels
leaping from bough to bough, and the great deer bounding
but though they searched for hours, no trace of the favourite
hogs could be seen. Loveleaves and Woodwender durst not go
home without them. Deeper and deeper they ran into the
forest, searching and calling, but all in vain; and when the
woods began to darken with the fall of evening, the children
feared they had lost their way.
THINKING THEY MUST HAVE GONE TO THE FOREST THE CHILDREN WENT IN SEARCH OF THEM.
"It was known that they never feared the forest, nor all the
boars and wolves that were in it; but being weary, they
wished for some place of shelter, and took a green path
through the trees, thinking it might lead to the dwelling of
some hermit or forester. A fairer way Woodwender and
Loveleaves had never walked. The grass was soft and mossy, a
hedge of wild roses and honeysuckle grew on either side, and
the red light of sunset streamed through the tall trees
above. On they went, and it led them straight to a great
open dell, covered with the loveliest flowers, bordered with
banks of wild strawberries, and all overshadowed by one
enormous oak, whose like had never been seen in grove or
forest. Its branches were as large as full-grown trees. Its
 trunk was wider than a country church, and its height like
that of a castle. There were mossy seats at its great root,
and when the tired children had gathered as many
strawberries as they cared for, they sat down on one, hard
by a small spring that bubbled up as clear as crystal. The
huge oak was covered with thick ivy in which thousands of
birds had their nests. Woodwender and Loveleaves watched
them flying home from all parts of the forest, and at last
they saw a lady coming by the same path which led them to
the dell. She wore a gown of russet colour; her yellow hair
was braided and bound with a crimson fillet. In her right
hand she carried a holly branch; but the most remarkable
part of her attire was a pair of long sleeves, as green as
the very grass.
" 'Who are you,' she said, 'that sit so late beside my well?'
and the children told her their story, how they had first
lost the hogs, then their way, and were afraid to go home to
the wicked stewards.
" 'Well,' said the lady, 'ye are the fairest swineherds that
ever came this way. Choose
 whether ye will go home and keep
hogs for Hardhold and Drypenny, or live in the free forest
" 'We will stay with you,' said the children, 'for we like
not keeping swine. Besides, our fathers went through this
forest, and we may meet them some day coming home.'
"While they spoke, the lady slipped her holly branch through
the ivy, as if it had been a key—presently a door opened in
the oak, and there was a fair house. The windows were of
rock crystal, but they could not be seen from without. The
walls and floor were covered with thick green moss, as soft as
velvet. There were low seats and a round table, vessels of
carved wood, a hearth inlaid with curious stones, an oven,
and a store chamber for provisions against the winter. When
they stepped in, the lady said:
" 'A hundred years have I lived here, and my name is Lady
Greensleeves. No friend or servant have I had except my
dwarf Corner, who comes to me at the end of harvest with his
handmill, his pannier, and his axe: with these he grinds
 the nuts, and gathers the berries, and cleaves the firewood, and
blithely we live all the winter. But Corner loves the frost
and fears the sun, and when the topmost boughs begin to bud,
he returns to his country far in the north, so I am lonely
in the summer time.'
"By this discourse the children saw how welcome they were.
Lady Greensleeves gave them deer's milk and cakes of
nut-flour, and soft green moss to sleep on; and they forgot
all their troubles, the wicked stewards, and the straying
swine. Early in the morning a troop of does came to be
milked, fairies brought flowers and birds brought berries, to
show Lady Greensleeves what had bloomed and ripened. She
taught the children to make cheese of the does' milk, and
wine of the wood-berries. She showed them the stores of honey
which wild bees had made, and left in hollow trees, the
rarest plants of the forest, and the herbs that made all its
"All that summer Woodwender and Loveleaves lived with her in
the great oak-tree, free from toil and care; and the
children would have been happy
 but they could hear no
tidings of their fathers. At last the leaves began to fade,
and the flowers to fall; Lady Greensleeves said that Corner
was coming; and one moonlight night she heaped sticks on the
fire, and set her door open, when Woodwender and Loveleaves
were going to sleep, saying she expected some old friends to
tell her the news of the forest.
"Loveleaves was not quite so curious as her father, the Lord
of the White Castle: but she kept awake to see what would
happen, and terribly frightened the little girl was when in
walked a great brown bear.
" 'Good-evening, lady,' said the bear.
" 'Good-evening, bear,' said Lady Greensleeves. 'What is the
news in your neighbourhood?'
" 'Not much,' said the bear; 'only the fawns are growing very
cunning—one can't catch above three in a day.'
" 'That's bad news,' said Lady Greensleeves; and immediately
in walked a great wildcat.
" 'Good-evening, lady,' said the cat.
 " 'Good-evening, cat,' said Lady Greensleeves. 'What is the
news in your neighbourhood?'
" 'Not much,' said the cat; 'only the birds are growing very
plentiful—it is not worth one's while to catch them.'
" 'That's good news,' said Lady Greensleeves; and in flew a
great black raven.
" 'Good-evening, lady,' said the raven.
" 'Good-evening, raven,' said Lady Greensleeves. 'What is the
news in your neighbourhood?'
" 'Not much,' said the raven; 'only in a hundred years or so
we shall be very genteel and private—the trees will be so
" 'How is that?' said Lady Greensleeves.
LADY GREENSLEEVES TALKS WITH THE RAVEN
" 'Oh!' said the raven, 'have you not heard how the king of
the forest fairies laid a spell on two noble lords, who were
travelling through his dominions to see the old woman that
weaves her own hair? They had thinned his oaks every year
cutting firewood for the poor: so the king met them in the
likeness of a hunter, and asked them to drink out of his
oaken goblet, because the day was
 warm; and when the two
lords drank, they forgot their lands and their tenants,
their castles and their children, and minded nothing in all
this world but the planting of acorns, which they do day and
night, by the power of the spell, in the heart of the forest,
and will never cease till some one makes them pause in their
work before the sun sets, and then the spell will be
" 'Ah!' said Lady Greensleeves, 'he is a great prince, that
king of the forest fairies; and there is worse work in the
world than planting acorns.'
"Soon after, the bear, the cat, and the raven bade Lady
Greensleeves good-night. She closed the door, put out the
light, and went to sleep on the soft moss as usual.
"In the morning Loveleaves told Woodwender what she had
heard, and they went to Lady Greensleeves where she milked
the does, and said:
" 'We heard what the raven told last night,
and we know the two lords are our fathers: tell us how the
spell may be broken!'
" 'I fear the king of the forest fairies,' said Lady
Greensleeves, 'because I live here alone,
 and have no friend
but my dwarf Corner; but I will tell you what you may do. At
the end of the path which leads from this dell turn your
faces to the north, and you will find a narrow way sprinkled
over with black feathers—keep that path, no matter how it
winds, and it will lead you straight to the ravens'
neighbourhood, where you will find your fathers planting
acorns under the forest trees. Watch till the sun is near
setting, and tell them the most wonderful things you know to
make them forget their work; but be sure to tell nothing but
truth, and drink nothing but running water, or you will fall
into the power of the fairy king.'
"The children thanked her for this good counsel. She packed
up cakes and cheese for them in a bag of woven grass, and
they soon found the narrow way sprinkled over with black
feathers. It was very long, and wound through the thick
trees in so many circles that the children were often weary,
and sat down to rest.
When the night came, they found a mossy hollow in the trunk
of an old tree, where they laid themselves down, and slept
 summer night—for Woodwender and Loveleaves never
feared the forest. So they went, eating their cakes and
cheese when they were hungry, drinking from the running
stream, and sleeping in the hollow trees, till on the
evening of the seventh day they came into the ravens'
neighbourhood. The tall trees were laden with nests and black
with ravens. There was nothing to be heard but continual
cawing; and in a great opening where the oaks grew thinnest,
the children saw their own fathers busy planting acorns.
Each lord had on the velvet mantle in which he left his
castle, but it was worn to rags with rough work in the
forest. Their hair and beards had grown long; their hands
were soiled with earth; each had an old wooden spade, and on
all sides lay heaps of acorns. The children called them by
their names, and ran to kiss them, each saying:—'Dear father,
come back to your castle and your people!' but the lords
" 'We know of no castles and no people. There is nothing in
all this world but oak-trees and acorns.'
 "Woodwender and Loveleaves told them of all their former
state in vain—nothing would make them pause for a minute: so
the poor children first sat down and cried, and then slept
on the cold grass, for the sun set, and the lords worked on.
When they awoke it was broad day; Woodwender cheered up
his friend, saying:—'We are hungry, and there are still two
cakes in the bag, let us share one of them—who knows but
something may happen?'
"So they divided the cake, and ran to
the lords, saying: 'Dear fathers, eat with us'; but the lords
" 'There is no use for meat or drink. Let us plant our
"Loveleaves and Woodwender sat down, and ate that cake in
great sorrow. When they had finished, both went to a stream
hard by, and began to drink the clear water with a large
acorn shell; and as they drank there came through the oaks a
gay young hunter, his mantle was green as the grass; about
his neck there hung a crystal bugle, and in his hand he
carried a huge oaken goblet,
 carved with flowers and leaves,
and rimmed with crystal. Up to the brim it was filled with
milk, on which the rich cream floated; and as the hunter
came near, he said: 'Fair children, leave that muddy water,
and come and drink with me;' but Woodwender and Loveleaves
" 'Thanks, good hunter; but we have promised to drink nothing
but running water.'
Still the hunter came nearer with his goblet, saying:
" 'The water is foul: it may do for swineherds and
woodcutters, but not for such fair children as you. Tell me,
are you not the children of mighty kings? Were you not
reared in palaces?' But the boy and girl answered him:
" 'No: we were reared in castles, and are the children of
yonder lords; tell us how the spell that is upon them may be
broken!' and immediately the hunter turned from them with an
angry look, poured out the milk upon the ground, and went
away with his empty goblet.
"Loveleaves and Woodwender were sorry to see the rich cream
spilled, but they remembered Lady Greensleeves' warning, and
 could do no better, each got a withered branch
and began to help the lords, scratching up the ground with
the sharp end, and planting acorns; but their fathers took
no notice of them, nor all that they could say; and when the
sun grew warm at noon, they went again to drink at the
running stream. Then there came through the oaks another
hunter, older than the first, and clothed in yellow; about
his neck there hung a silver bugle, and in his hand he
carried an oaken goblet, carved with leaves and fruit, rimmed
with silver, and filled with mead to the brim. This hunter
also asked them to drink, told them the stream was full of
frogs, and asked them if they were not a young prince and
princess dwelling in the woods for their pleasure? but when
Woodwender and Loveleaves answered as before:—'We
have promised to drink only running water, and are the children
of yonder lords: tell us how the spell may be broken!'—he
turned from them with an angry look, poured out the mead,
and went his way.
"All that afternoon the children worked beside their
fathers, planting acorns with the withered
 branches; but the
lords would mind neither them nor their words. And when the
evening drew near they were very hungry; so the children
divided their last cake, and when no persuasion would make
the lords eat with them, they went to the banks of the
stream, and began to eat and drink, though their hearts were
"The sun was getting low, and the ravens were coming home to
their nests in the high trees; but one, that seemed old and
weary, alighted near them to drink at the stream. As they
ate the raven lingered, and picked up the small crumbs that
" 'Friend,' said Loveleaves, 'this raven is surely
hungry; let us give it a little bit, though it is our last
"Woodwender agreed, and each gave a bit to the raven; but
its great bill finished the morsels in a moment, and hopping
nearer, it looked them in the face by turns.
" 'The poor raven is still hungry,' said Woodwender, and he
gave it another bit. When that was gobbled, it came to
Loveleaves, who gave it a
 bit too, and so on till the raven
had eaten the whole of their last cake.
" 'Well,' said Woodwender, 'at least, we can have a drink.'
But as they stooped to the water, there came through the
oaks another hunter, older than the last, and clothed in
scarlet; about his neck there hung a golden bugle, and in
his hand he carried a huge oaken goblet, carved with ears of
corn and clusters of grapes, rimmed with gold, and filled to
the brim with wine. He also said:
" 'Leave this muddy water, and drink with me. It is full of
toads, and not fit for such fair children. Surely ye are
from fairyland, and were reared in its queen's palace!' But
the children said:
" 'We will drink nothing but this water, and yonder lords are
our fathers: tell us how the spell may be broken!' And the
hunter turned from them with an angry look, poured out the
wine on the grass, and went his way. When he was gone, the
old raven looked up into their faces, and said:
" 'I have eaten your last cake, and I will tell you how the
spell may be broken. Yonder is the sun, going down behind
yon western trees.
Be-  fore it sets, go to the lords, and tell
them how their stewards used you, and made you herd hogs for
Hardhold and Drypenny. When you see them listening, catch up
their wooden spades, and keep them if you can till the sun
"Woodwender and Loveleaves thanked the raven, and where it
flew they never stopped to see, but running to the lords
began to tell as they were bidden. At first the lords would
not listen, but as the children related how they had been
made to sleep on straw, how they had been sent to herd hogs
in the wild pasture, and what trouble they had with the
unruly swine, the acorn planting grew slower, and at last
they dropped their spades. Then Woodwender, catching up his
father's spade, ran to the stream and threw it in.
Loveleaves did the same for the Lord of the White Castle.
That moment the sun disappeared behind the western oaks, and
the lords stood up, looking, like men just awoke, on the
forest, on the sky, and on their children.
"So this strange story has ended, for Woodwender and
Loveleaves went home rejoicing with
 their fathers. Each lord
returned to his castle, and all their tenants made merry.
The fine toys and the silk clothes, the flower-gardens and
the best chambers, were taken from Hardhold and Drypenny,
for the lords' children got them again; and the wicked
stewards, with their cross boy and girl, were sent to herd
swine, and live in huts in the wild pasture, which everybody
said became them better. The Lord of the White Castle never
again wished to see the old woman that wove her own hair,
and the Lord of the Grey Castle continued to be his friend.
As for Woodwender and Loveleaves they met with no more
misfortunes, but grew up, and were married, and inherited
the two castles and the broad lands of their fathers. Nor
did they forget the lonely Lady Greensleeves, for it was
known in the east country that she and her dwarf Corner
always came to feast with them in the Christmas time, and at
midsummer they always went to live with her in the great oak
in the forest."
"Oh! mamma, if we had that oak!" said the Princess
 "Where does it grow?" said Queen Wantall: but the chair was
silent, and a noble lord and lady, clad in green velvet,
flowered with gold, rose up and said:
"That's our story."
"Excepting the tale of yesterday," said King Winwealth, "I
have not heard such a story since my brother Wisewit went
from me, and was lost in the forest. Gaygarters, the sixth
of my pages, go and bring this maiden a pair of white silk
hose with golden clocks on them."
Queen Wantall and Princess Greedalind at this looked crosser
than ever; but Gaygarters brought the white silk hose, and
Snowflower, having dropped her courtesy and taken her seat,
was carried once more to the kitchen, where they gave her a
mattress that night, and next day she got the ends of choice
The feast, the music, and the dancing went on, so did the
envies within and the clamours without the palace. In the
evening King Winwealth fell again into low spirits after
supper, and a message coming down from the banquet hall,
kitchen-  maid told Snowflower to prepare herself, and go up
with her grandmother's chair, for his majesty wished to hear
another story. Having washed her face and combed her hair,
put on her scarlet shoes, and her gold-clocked hose,
Snowflower went up as before, seated in her grandmother's
chair; and after courtesying as usual to the king, the
queen, the princess, and the noble company, the little girl
laid down her head, saying—"Chair of my grandmother, tell me
a story"; and a clear voice from under the cushion said:
"Listen to the story of the Greedy Shepherd."
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