|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 |
THE GOLDEN GOOSE
HERE was once a man who had three sons. The youngest of them
was called Dullhead, and was sneered and jeered at and
snubbed on every possible opportunity. One day it
happened that the eldest son wished to go into the
forest to cut wood, and before he started his mother
gave him a fine rich cake and a bottle of wine, so that
he might be sure not to suffer from hunger or thirst.
When he reached the forest he met a little old gray man
who wished him "Good-morning," and said: "Do give me a
piece of that cake you have in your pocket, and let me
have a draught of your wine—I am so hungry and
But this clever son replied: "If I give you my cake and
wine I shall have none left for myself: you must go
your own way;" and he left the little man standing
there and went further into the forest. There he began
to cut down a tree, but before long he made a false
stroke with his ax and cut his own arm so badly that he
was obliged to go home and have it bound up.
Then the second son went to the forest and his mother
gave him a good cake and a bottle of wine as she had to
his elder brother. He too met the little old gray man,
who begged him for a morsel of cake and a draught of
But the second son spoke most sensibly too, and said:
"Whatever I give you I deprive myself of. Just go your
own way, will you?" Not long after his punishment
overtook him, for no sooner had he struck a couple of
blows on a tree with his ax, than he cut his leg so
badly that he had to be carried home.
 So then Dullhead said: "Father, let me go out and cut
But his father answered: "Both your brothers have
injured themselves. You had better leave it alone; you
know nothing about it."
But Dullhead begged so hard to be allowed to go that at
last his father said: "Very well, then—go.
Perhaps when you have hurt yourself, you may learn to
know better." His mother only gave him a very plain
cake made with water and baked in cinders, and a bottle
of sour beer.
When he got to the forest, he too met the little old
gray man, who greeted him, and said: "Give me a piece
of your cake and a draught from your bottle; I am so
hungry and thirsty."
And Dullhead replied: "I've only got a cinder cake and
some sour beer, but if you care to have that, let us
sit down and eat."
So they sat down, and when Dullhead brought out his
cake he found it had turned into a fine rich cake, and
the sour beer into excellent wine. Then they ate and
drank, and when they had finished the little man said:
"Now I will bring you luck, because you have a kind
heart and are willing to share what you have with
others. There stands an old tree; cut it down, and
among its roots you'll find something." With that the
little man took leave.
Then Dullhead fell at once to hew down the tree, and
when it fell he found among its roots a goose, whose
feathers were all of pure gold. He lifted it out,
carried it off, and took it with him to an inn where he
meant to spend the night.
Now the landlord of the inn had three daughters, and
when they saw the goose they were filled with curiosity
as to what this wonderful bird could be, and each
longed to have one of its beautiful feathers.
The eldest thought to herself: "No doubt I shall soon
 a good opportunity to pluck out one of its feathers,"
and the first time Dullhead happened to leave the room
she caught hold of the goose by its wing. But, lo and
behold! her fingers seemed to stick fast to the goose,
and she could not take her hand away.
Soon after the second daughter came in, and thought to
pluck a golden feather for herself, too; but hardly had
she touched her sister than she stuck fast as well. At
last the third sister came with the same intention, but
the other two cried: "Keep off! for Heaven's sake, keep
The younger sister could not imagine why she was to
keep off, and thought to herself: "If they are both
there, why should not I be there, too?"
So she sprang to them; but no sooner had she touched
one of them than she stuck fast to her. So they all
three had to spend the night with the goose.
Next morning Dullhead tucked the goose under his arm
and went off, without in the least troubling himself
about the three girls who were hanging on to it. They
just had to run after him right or left as best they
could. In the middle of the field they met a parson,
and when he saw this procession he cried:
"For shame, you bold girls! What do you mean by running
after a young fellow through the fields like that? Do
you call that proper behavior?" And with that he caught
the youngest girl by the hand to try to draw her away.
But directly he touched her he hung on himself, and had
to run along with the rest of them.
Not long after the clerk came that way, and was much
surprised to see the parson following the footsteps of
three girls. "Why, where is your reverence going so
fast?" cried he; "don't forget there is to be a
christening to-day," and he ran after him, caught him
by the sleeve, and hung on to it himself.
As the five of them trotted along in this fashion, one
after the other, two peasants were coming from their
work with their hoes.
 On seeing them the parson called out and begged them to
come and rescue him and the clerk. But no sooner did
they touch the clerk than they stuck on, too, so there
were seven of them running after Dullhead and the
After a time they all came to a town where a king
reigned whose daughter was so serious and solemn that
no one could ever manage to make her laugh. So the king
had decreed that whoever should succeed in making her
laugh should marry her.
When Dullhead heard this he marched before the princess
with his goose and its appendages, and as soon as she
saw these seven people continually running after each
other she burst out laughing, and could not stop
herself. Then Dullhead claimed her as his bride, but
the king, who did not fancy him as a son-in-law, made
all sorts of objection, and told him he must first find
a man who could drink up a whole cellarful of wine.
Dullhead bethought him of the little gray man, who
could, he felt sure, help him; so he went off to the
forest, and on the very spot where he had cut down the
tree he saw a man sitting with a most dismal expression
Dullhead asked him what he was taking so much to heart,
and the man answered: "I don't know how I am ever to
quench the terrible thirst I am suffering from. Cold
water doesn't suit me at all. To be sure, I've emptied
a whole barrel of wine, but what is one drop on a hot
"I think I can help you," said Dullhead. "Come with me,
and you shall drink to your heart's content." So he
took him to the king's cellar, and the man sat down
before the huge casks and drank and drank till he drank
up the whole contents of the cellar before the day
Then Dullhead asked once more for his bride, but the
king felt vexed at the idea of a stupid fellow whom
people called "Dullhead" carrying off his daughter, and
he began to make fresh conditions. He required Dullhead
to find a man who
 could eat a mountain of bread. Dullhead did not wait to
consider long, but went straight off to the forest, and
there on the same spot sat a man who was drawing in a
strap as tight as he could around his body, and making
a most woeful face. Said he: "I've eaten up a whole
ovenful of loaves, but what's the good of that to a man
who is as hungry as I am? I declare my stomach feels
quite empty, and I must draw my belt tight if I'm not
to die of starvation."
Dullhead was delighted, and said: "Get up and come with
me, and you shall have plenty to eat," and he brought
him to the king's court.
Now the king had given orders to have all the flour in
his kingdom brought together, and to have a huge
mountain baked of it. But the man from the wood just
took up his stand before the mountain and began to eat,
and in one day it had all vanished.
For the third time Dullhead asked for his bride, but
again the king tried to make some evasion, and demanded
a ship "which could sail on land and water. When you
come sailing in such a ship," said he, "you shall have
my daughter without any further delay."
Again Dullhead started off to the forest, and there he
found the little old gray man with whom he had shared
his cake, and who said: "I have eaten and I have drunk
for you, and now I will give you the ship. I have done
all this for you because you were kind and merciful to
Then he gave Dullhead a ship which could sail on land
or water, and when the king saw it he felt he could no
longer refuse him his daughter.
So they celebrated the wedding with great rejoicings;
and after the king's death Dullhead succeeded to the
kingdom, and lived happily with his wife for many years
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