THE OGRE'S WIFE
NCE upon a time there was a pretty young girl who was
very proud, and she never failed to find some pretext
or other for sending promptly away every young man who
came to court her. One was too fat, another was too
thin, this one had red hair, that one had big feet. In
short she refused all her suitors.
Finally her mother picked a pumpkin and had it put on
the top of a very tall pole."Do you see that pumpkin?"
said she to her daughter."The young man who climbs up
and gets that pumpkin will be your husband."
The daughter said she did not object; but her reason
for not objecting was that she did not think any young
man could climb so slender and lofty a pole. They sent
notices far and wide and appointed a dav for the
climbers to show their agility. When the day came a
crowd of young men presented themselves, and the last
to arrive was handsomer and more beautifully dressed
 any of the others. He was an ogre in
disguise, but nobody knew him, and the young girl
admired his appearance so much that she said to her
mother, "I hope he will get the pumpkin."
One after another the young men tried to climb the
pole, and one after another they failed to climb high
enough to seize the pumpkin and had to return to the
ground without it. However, when the turn of the ogre
came he climbed with ease right up to the top of the
pole and brought the pumpkin down with him. Then he
said to the young girl,
"Come now, we will go home to my house."
The girl put on her best dress and got into the ogre's
carriage and went away with him. On the road they met a
man who said to the ogre, "Give me my hat and gloves
which I lent to you."
The ogre took off his hat and gloves and gave them to
the man."Here, take your old hat and gloves!" said he,
and drove on.
Pretty soon another man met them and said to the ogre,
"Give me my coat which I lent to you."
The ogre took off his coat and gave it to the
man."Here, take your old coat!" he said, and drove on.
After a while another man stopped them and said to the
ogre, "Give me my collar and cravat which I lent to
 The ogre took off his collar and cravat and gave
them to the man."Here, take your old collar and
cravat!" he said, and drove on.
He was not at all well dressed now, and the young girl
did not think he looked nearly so handsome as when she
first saw him, and she was beginning to be very much
frightened. At last, when they were almost to the
ogre's house, another man met them and said, "Give me
my horses which I lent to you."
The ogre gave him the two horses that drew the
carriage."Here, take your old horses!" he said.
When the man was gone with the horses, the ogre ordered
his wife to get out and draw the carriage the rest of
the way. This she did, and she was more scared than she
had ever been before in her life. Pretty soon they came
to where the ogre lived, and he said to his wife, "I
shall be away until evening. Go in and stay with my
housekeeper until I return."
She went indoors, and the housekeeper said, "Ah, my
dear, you have taken a bad husband. You have married an
The poor girl was very much distressed when she heard
what he really was, and she said to the old
 woman, "Could you not tell me how I can run away?"
"Yes, I will tell you," replied the old woman."Go and
hide in the chicken-house, and spend the night there.
It is time now to give the chickens their evening feed.
You will find a sack of corn just inside the door. Let
them have all of the corn they will eat, especially the
rooster. It is the rooster's business to awake his
master in the morning, and if he has a full crop he
will oversleep and give you a better chance to get
away. Start as soon as you can see, and carry with you
four eggs from the chicken-house nests. If you find the
ogre chasing you, throw an egg on the ground behind
The young lady did all that the ogre's housekeeper told
her to do, and in the earliest gray of the morning she
left the chicken-house, carrying four eggs tied up in
The ogre's rooster had eaten so much corn that he
overslept and gave the girl a long start, but when he
awoke he at once began to crow and make a great racket,
shouting, "Master, master! get up quickly! Some one has
run away! Cock-a-doodle-do!"
The ogre got up without delay and started at a
tremendous pace after his wife. She presently saw
 him coming and dashed an egg on the ground behind her.
Immediately there rose between her and her pursuer a
high, strong wooden fence, and the ogre could neither
get through it nor over it, and had to go home to get
an ax to cut the fence down. But after a time he
returned and chopped a passage for himself, and then
went on faster than ever.
As soon as the girl saw him coming she threw back
another egg, and there rose a brick wall so lofty the
ogre could not climb over it, and he had to go home for
a heavy hammer with which to break the wall down. But
after a time he returned
and smashed his way through, and then went on faster
The girl heard him coming and threw back another egg,
and behind her burned a long line of fire, and the ogre
had to go home for ajar of water to put out the fire.
After a time he returned and with the water, quenched
the fire, and then went on faster than ever.
When the girl heard him coming she threw her last egg;
but in her haste she made a misthrow, and the egg,
instead of falling behind her, fell in front of her,
and immediately she found herself on the bank of a
broad river that shut off farther flight. However,
close by the shore she saw a big
warming itself in the sun, and the girl said,
"Grandmother, I pray you, cross me over. Grandmother, I
pray you, save my life."
The crocodile replied, "Sit down on my back and I will
cross you over."
So the girl sat down on the broad back of the crocodile
and it swam swiftly out into the stream away from the
ogre, and she escaped to the other side. Then the
crocodile swam back, and the ogre said, "Cross me over,
crocodile; cross me over, too."
The crocodile replied, "Very well, sit down on my
The ogre sat down on the crocodile's back, and the
crocodile swam toward the other shore, but when it
reached the middle of the river it dived under the
water and the ogre was drowned.
The girl had been carried safely over, and she climbed
the bank and found an old black horse feeding in a
pasture, and she said to it, "I pray you, horse, save
"Well," said the horse, "get up on my back and I will
carry you to your mother."
So the girl mounted the old black horse, and the horse
carried her safely to her mother's house, and there she
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics