|The Wonder Clock|
|by Howard Pyle|
|\"Four and twenty marvellous tales, one for each hour of the day,\" retold in a novel and entertaining manner by a master of the form. While drawing on German, English, and Scandinavian folk literature for many of his characters and plots, Pyle reworks the material in an imaginative way, crafting the tales in his own inimitable style. Equally engaging are the numerous woodcuts that accompany the stories and enliven the narrative. Ages 8-12 |
HOW THE PRINCESSíS PRIDE WAS BROKEN
HERE was a princess who was as pretty as a picture, and she was so proud of that
that she would not so much as look at a body; All the same, there was no
lack of lads who came a-wooing, and who would have liked nothing so much
as to have had her for a sweetheart because she was so good-looking. But,
no, she would have nothing to do with any of them; this one was too young
and that one was too old; this one was too lean and that one was too fat;
this one was too little and that one was too big; this one was too dark and
that one was too fair. So there was never a white sheep in the whole flock,
as one might say.
Now there was one came who was a king in his own country, and a fine one at
that. The only blemish about him was a mole on his chin; apart from that
he was as fresh as milk and rose leaves.
But when the princess saw him she burst out laughing; "Who would choose a
specked apple from the basket?" said she; and that was all the cake the
princess bought at that shop, for off he was packed.
But he was not for giving up, not he; he went and dressed himself up in
rags and tatters; then back he came again, and not a soul knew him.
 Rap! tap! rap!—he knocked at the door, and did they want a stout lad
about the place?
Well, yes; they were wanting a gooseherd, and if he liked the place he
might have it.
Oh, that fitted his wants like a silk stocking, and the next day he
drove the geese up on the hill back of the kingís house, so that they
might eat grass where it was fresh and green. By and by he took a
golden ball out of his pocket and began tossing it up and catching it,
and as he played with it the sun shone on it so that it dazzled oneís
eyes to look at it.
The princess sat at her window, and it was not long before she saw it,
I can tell you. Dear, dear, but it was a pretty one, the golden ball.
The princess would like to have such a plaything, that she would; so she
sent one of the maids out to ask whether the gooseherd had a mind to sell it.
Oh, yes, it was for sale, and cheap at that; the princess should have it
for the kerchief which she wore about her neck.
Prut! But the lad was a saucy one; that was what the princess said. But,
after all, a kerchief was only a kerchief; fetch the gooseherd over and
she would give it to him, for she wanted the pretty golden ball for her
own, and she would have it if it were to be had.
But, no; the gooseherd would not come at the princessís bidding. If she
wanted to buy the golden ball she must come up on the hill and pay him,
for he was not going to leave his flock of geese, and have them waddling
into the garden perhaps; that is what the gooseherd said. So the upshot
of the matter was that the princess want out with her women, and gave the
lad the kerchief up on the hill behind the hedge, and brought back the
golden ball with her for her own.
As for the gooseherd he just tied the kerchief around his arm so that
everybody might see it; and all the folks said, "Hi! that is the
The next day, when he drove his flock of geese up on the hill, he took
a silver looking-glass and a golden comb out of his pocket and began to
comb his hair, and you should have seen how the one and the other
glistened in the sun.
It took the princess no longer to see the comb and the looking-glass
than it had the golden ball, and then she must and would have them.
So she sent one to find whether the lad was of a mind to sell them, for
she thought that she had never seen anything so pretty in all of her
 "Yes," said he, "I will sell them, but the princess must come up on the
hill back of the hedge and give me the necklace she wears about her neck."
The princess made a sour enough face at this, but, as the gooseherd would
take nothing more nor less than what he had said, she and her maids had to
tuck up their dresses and go up on the hill; there she paid him his price,
and brought home the silver looking-glass and the golden comb.
The lad clasped the necklace about his throat, and, dear, dear, how all
the folks did goggle and stare. "See," said they, "the princess has been
giving the gooseherd the necklace from about her own throat."
The third day it was a new thing the gooseherd had, for he brought out a
musical box with figures on it, dressed up, and looking for all the world
like real little men and women. He turned the handle, and when the music
played it was sweeter than drops of honey. And all the while the little
men and women bowed to one another and went through with a dance, for all
the world as though they knew what they were about, and were doing it with
their own wits.
Good gracious! how the princess did wonder at the pretty musical box! She
must and would have it at any price; but this time it was five-and-twenty
kisses that the lad was wanting for his musical box, and he would take
nothing more nor less than just that much for it. Moreover, she would
have to come up on the hillside and give them to him, for he could not
leave his geese even for five-and-twenty kisses.
But you should have seen what a stew the princess was in at this!
Five-and-twenty kisses, indeed! And did the fellow think that it was
for the likes of her to be kissing a poor gooseherd? He might keep his
musical box if that was the price he asked for it; that was what she said.
As for the lad, he just played the music and played the music, and the
more the princess heard and saw the more she wanted it. "After all,"
said she at last, "a kiss is only a kiss, and I will be none the poorer
for giving one or two of them; Iíll just let him have them, since he will
take nothing else." So off she marched, with all of her maidens, to pay
the gooseherd his price, though it was a sour face she made of it, and that
is the truth.
Now, somebody had been buzzing in the kingís ear, and had told him that the
gooseherd over yonder was wearing the princessís kerchief and her golden
necklace, and folks said she had given them to him of her own free will.
"What!" says the king, "is that so?" her kerchief! Golden necklace!
 we will have to look into this business." So off he marched, with his
little dog at his heels, to find out what he could about it. Up the hill
he went to where the gooseherd watched his flock; and when he came near
the hedge where the kissing was going on, he heard them counting—"Twenty-one,
twenty-two, twenty-three—" and he wondered what in the world they were all
about. So he just peeped over the bushes, and there he saw the whole
Mercy on us! what a rage he was in! and the princess and the gooseherd
were married then and there, and that as the end of the business. Then
off they were packed to shift for themselves in the wide world, for they
were not to live at the kingís castle, and that was the long and the
short of it.
But the lad did nothing but grumble and growl, and seemed as sore over
his bargain as though he had been trying to trick a Jew. What did he
want with a lass for a wife who could neither brew nor bake nor boil
blue beans? That was what he said. All the same, they were hitched
to the same plough; and there was nothing for it but to pull together
the best they could. So off they packed and the poor princess trudged
after him and carried his bundle.
So they went on until they came to a poor, mean little hut. There she
had to take off her fine clothes and put on rags and tatters; and that
was the way she came home.
"Well," said the gooseherd one day, "itís not the good end of the bargain
that I have had in marrying: all the same, one must make the best one can
of a crooked stick when there is none other to be cut in the hedge. It is
little or nothing you are fit for; but here is a basket of eggs, and you
shall take them to the market and sell them."
So off the poor princess went to the great town, and stood in the corner
of the market with her eggs. By and by there came along a tipsy
countryman-tramp! tramp! tramp! As for the basket of eggs, he minded
them no more than so many green apples. Smash! And there they lay on
the ground, and were fit for nothing but to patch broken promises, as
we say in our town.
Then how the poor princess did wring her hands and cry and cry, for she
was afraid to go home to her husband, because of the hard words he
 would be sure to fling at her. All the same, there was no other place for
her to go; so back she went.
"There!" said he, "I always knew that you were good for nothing but to look
at, and now I am more sure of it than ever. The china pitcher was never fit
to send to the well, and it was a rainy day for me when I married such a
left-handed wife;" that was what the gooseherd said. All the same, the
princess should try again; this time she should take a basket of apples
to the market to sell; for whatever happened she could not break them;
so off she went again.
Well, by and by came a fellow driving swine, and there sat the princess
in the way; that was bad luck for her, for over tumbled the basket, and
 apples went rolling all about the street. When the drove had
passed there was not a single apple to be seen, for the pigs had eaten
every one of them. So there was nothing for the princess but to go home
crying, with her apron to her eyes.
"Yes, yes," said the gooseherd, "it is as plain as reading and writing and
the nose on your face that you are just fit for nothing at all! All the
same, weíll make one more try to mend the crack in your luck. The king up
in the castle yonder is married and is going to give a grand feast. They
are wanting a body in the kitchen to draw the water and chop the wood; and
you shall go and try your hand at that; and see, here is a basket; you shall
take it along and bring home the kitchen scrapings for supper."
So off went the princess to the castle kitchen, and there she drew the water
and chopped the wood for the cook. After her work was done she begged so
prettily for the kitchen scrapings that the cook filled her basket full of
the leavings from the pots and the pans, for they were about having a grand
dinner up-stairs and the king was going to bring home his wife that day.
By and by it was time for her to be going home, so she picked up her basket
and off she went. Just outside stood two tall soldiers. "Halt!" said they.
And was she the lass who had been chopping the wood and drawing the water for
the cook that day? Yes? Then she must go along with them, for she was wanted
up-stairs. No; it did no good for her to beg and to pray and to cry and to
wring her hands, and it mattered nothing if her good man was waiting for her
at home. She had been sent for, and she must go, willy-nilly. So she had
only just time to fling her apron over her basket of kitchen scrapings, and
off they marched her.
There sat the king on his golden throne, dressed all in splendid golden
robes, and a golden crown glittering upon his head. But the poor princess
was so frightened that she neither looked at anything nor saw anything, but
only stood there trembling.
"What have you under your apron?" said the king. But to this the princess
could not answer a single word. Then somebody who stood near snatched away
her apron, and there was the basket full of kitchen scrapings, and all the
time the princess stood so heart-struck with shame that she saw nothing but
the cracks in the floor.
But the king stepped down from his golden throne, dressed all in his
 golden robes, just as he was, and took the princess by the hand. "And do
you not know me?" said he; "look? I am the gooseherd."
And so he was! She could see it easily enough now, but that made her more
ashamed than ever.
And listen: the king had more to tell her yet. He was the tipsy country man
and had knocked over her basket of eggs himself, and more than that he was
the swineherd who had driven his pigs over her basket of apples so that they
were spilled on the ground. But the princess only bowed her head lower and
lower, for her pride was broken.
"Come," says the king, "you are my own sweetheart now;" and he kissed her
on the cheek and seated her beside himself, and if the princess
any more the king wiped away her tears with his own pocket-handkerchief. As
for the poor and rough clothes in which she was dressed, he thought nothing
of them, for they were nothing to him.
That is the end of this story, for everything ends aright in a story worth
But if the princess was proud and haughty before, she never was again; and
that is the plain truth, fresh from the churn and no hairs in it, and a lump
of it is worth spreading your bread with, I can tell you.
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