|A Child's Book of Stories|
|by Penrhyn W. Coussens|
|A choice collection of favorite fairy tales, to delight children of all ages. The 86 stories selected for this collection include folk tales from England, Norway, and India, as well as the best fairy tales from Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault. The volume also contains a handful of fables from Aesop and several tales from the Arabian Nights. Ages 5-9 |
HERE was a man who had fine houses, both in town and
country, a deal of silver and gold plate, embroidered
furniture, and coaches gilded all over with gold. But
this man was so unlucky as to have a blue beard, which
made him so frightfully ugly that all the women and
girls ran away from him.
One of his neighbors, a lady of quality, had two
daughters who were perfect beauties. He desired of her
one of them in marriage, leaving to her choice which of
the two she would bestow on him. They would neither of
them have him, and sent him backward and forward from
one another, not being able to bear the thoughts of
marrying a man who had a blue beard, and what besides
gave them disgust and aversion was his having already
been married to several wives, and nobody ever knew
what became of them.
Blue Beard, to engage their affection, took them, with
the lady their mother and three or four ladies of their
acquaintance, with other young people of the
neighborhood, to one of his country seats, where they
stayed a whole week.
There was nothing then to be seen but parties of
pleasure, hunting, fishing, dancing, mirth, and
feasting. Nobody went to bed but all passed the night
in rallying and joking with each other. In short,
everything succeeded so well that the youngest daughter
began to think the master of the house not to have a
beard so very blue, and that he was a mighty civil
 As soon as they returned home the marriage was
concluded. About a month afterward, Blue Beard told
his wife that he was obliged to take a country journey
for six weeks at least, about affairs of very great
consequence, desiring her to divert herself in his
absence, to send for her friends and acquaintances, to
carry them into the country if she pleased, and to make
good cheer wherever she was.
"Here," said he, "are the keys of the two great
wardrobes, wherein I have my best furniture; these are
of my silver and gold plate, which is not every day in
use; these open my strongboxes, which hold my money,
both gold and silver; these my caskets of jewels; and
this is the master-key to all my apartments. But for
this little one here, it is the key of the closet at
the end of the great gallery on the ground-floor. Open
them all; go into all and every one of them, except
that little closet, which I forbid you, and forbid it
in such a manner that, if you happen to open it,
thereís nothing but what you may expect from my just
anger and resentment."
She promised to observe, very exactly, whatever he had
ordered; when he, after having embraced her, got into
his coach and proceeded on his journey.
Her neighbors and good friends did not stay to be sent
for by the new-married lady, so great was their
impatience to see all the rich furniture of her house,
not daring to come while her husband was there, because
of his blue beard, which frightened them. They ran
through all the rooms, closets, and wardrobes, which
were all so fine and rich that they seemed to surpass
After that they went up into the two great rooms, where
were the best and richest furniture; they could not
sufficiently admire the number and beauty of the
tapestry, beds, couches, cabinets, stands, tables, and
looking-glasses, in which you might see yourself from
head to foot; some of them were framed with glass,
 others with silver, plain and gilded, the finest and
most magnificent ever were seen.
They ceased not to extol and envy the happiness of
their friend, who in the mean time in no way diverted
herself in looking upon all these rich things, because
of the impatience she had to go and open the closet on
the ground-floor. She was so much pressed by her
curiosity that, without considering that is was very
uncivil to leave her company, she went down a little
back staircase, and with such excessive haste that she
had twice or thrice like to have broken her neck.
Being come to the closet door,, she made a stop for
some time thinking upon her husbandís orders and
considering what unhappiness might attend her is she
was disobedient; but the temptation was so strong she
could not overcome it. She then took the little key
and opened it, trembling, but could not at first see
anything plainly, because the windows were shut. After
some moments she began to perceive that the floor was
all covered over with clotted blood, on which lay the
bodies of several dead women, ranged against the walls
(These were all the wives whom Blue Beard had married
and murdered, one after another.) She thought she
should have died for fear, and the key, which she
pulled our of the lock, fell out of her hand.
After having somewhat recovered her surprise, she took
up the key, locked the door, and went upstairs into her
chamber to recover herself; but she could not, so much
was she frightened. Having observed that the key of
the closet was stained with blood, she tried two or
three times to wipe if off, but the blood would not
come out; in vain did she wash it, and even rub it with
soap and sand; the blood still remained, for the key
was magical and she could never make it quite clean;
when the blood was gone off from one side it came again
as bright as ever on the other.
Blue Beard returned from his journey the same evening,
 said he had received letters upon the road
informing him that the affair he went about was ended
to his advantage. His wife did all she could to
convince him she was extremely glad of his speedy
Next morning he asked her for the keys, which she gave
him, but with such a trembling hand that he easily
guessed what had happened.
"What!" said he, "is not the key of my closet among the
"I must certainly," said she, "have left it above upon
"Fail not," said Blue Beard, "to bring it to me
After several goings backward and forward she was
forced to bring the key. Blue Beard, having very
attentively considered it, said to his wife:
"How comes this blood upon the key?"
"I do not know," cried the poor woman, paler than
"You do not know!" replied Blue Beard. "I very well
know. You were resolved to go into the closet, were
you not? Mighty well, madam; you shall go in and take
your place among the ladies you saw there."
Upon this she threw herself at her husbandís feet and
begged his pardon with all the signs of a true
repentance, vowing that she would never more be
disobedient. She would have melted a rock, so
beautiful and sorrowful was she; but Blue Beard had a
heart harder than any rock!
"You must die, madam," said he, "and that presently."
"Since I must die," answered she, looking upon him with
her eyes all bathed in tears, "give me some little time
to say my prayers."
"I give you," replied Blue Beard, "half a quarter of an
hour, but not one moment more."
When she was alone she called out to her sister and
said to her:
 "Sister Anne," for that was her name, "go up, I beg
you, upon the top of the tower, and look if my brothers
are not coming; they promised me that they would come
to-day, and if you see them, give them a sign to make
Her sister Anne went up upon the top of the tower, and
the poor afflicted wife cried out from time to time:
"Anne, sister Anne, do you see any one coming?"
And sister Anne said:
"I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the
grass, which looks green."
"Come down quickly," cried Blue Beard, "or I will come
up to you."
"I am coming," answered his wife; and then she cried:
"Anne, sister Anne, dost thou not see any one coming?"
"I see," replied sister Anne, "a great dust, which
comes on this side here."
"Are they my brothers?"
"Alas! no , my dear sister, I see a flock of sheep."
"Will you not come down?" cried Blue Beard.
"One moment longer," said his wife, and then she cried
out: "Anne, sister Anne, dost thou see nobody coming?"
"I see," said she, "two horsemen, but they are yet a
great way off."
"God be praised," replied the poor wife joyfully:
"they are my brothers; I will make them a sign, as well
as I can, for them to make haste."
Then Blue Beard bawled out so loud that he made the
whole house tremble. The distressed wife came down and
threw herself at his feet, all in tears, with her hair
about her shoulders.
"This signifies nothing," says Blue Beard; "you must
die"; then, taking hold of her hair with one hand and
lifting up the sword with the other, he was going to
take off her head. The poor lady, turning about to him
and looking at him with dying eyes, desired him to
afford her one little moment to collect herself.
"No, no," said he, "recommend thyself to God," and was
just ready to strike.
At this very instant there was such a loud knocking at
the gate that Blue Beard made a sudden stop. The gate
was opened, and presently entered two horsemen, who,
drawing their swords, ran directly to Blue Beard. He
knew them to be his wifeís brothers, one a dragoon, the
other a musketeer, so that he ran away immediately to
save himself; but the two brothers pursued so close
that they overtook him before he could get to the steps
of the porch, when they ran their swords through his
body and left him dead. The poor wife was almost as
dead as her husband, and had not strength enough to
rise and welcome her brothers.
Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his wife became
mistress of all his estate. She made use of one part
of it to marry her sister Anne to a young gentleman who
had loved her a long while; another part to buy
captainsí commissions for her brothers; and the rest to
marry herself to a very worthy gentleman, who made her
forget the ill time she had passed with Blue Beard.
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