ONCE upon a time a soldier died, leaving a widow and one son. They were dreadfully poor, and at last matters
became so bad that they had nothing left in the house to eat.
"Mother," said the son, "give me four shillings, and I will go seek my fortune in the wide world."
"Alas!" answered the mother, "and where am I, who haven't a farthing wherewith to buy bread, to find four
"There is that old coat of my father's," returned the lad; "look in the pocket—perchance there is
So she looked, and behold! there were six shillings hidden away at the very bottom of the pocket!
"More than I bargained for," quoth the lad, laughing." See, mother, these two shillings are for you; you can
live on that till I return, the rest will pay my way until I find my fortune."
 So he set off to find his fortune, and on the way he saw a tigress, licking her paw, and moaning mournfully.
He was just about to run away from the terrible creature, when she called to him faintly, saying, "Good lad,
if you will take out this thorn for me, I shall be for ever grateful."
"Not I!" answered the lad. "Why, if I begin to pull it out, and it pains you, you will kill me with a pat of
"No, no!" cried the tigress, "I will turn my face to this tree, and when the pain comes I will pat it."
To this the soldier's son agreed; so he pulled out the thorn, and when the pain came the tigress gave the tree
such a blow that the trunk split all to pieces. Then she turned towards the soldier's son, and said
gratefully, "Take this box as a reward, my son, but do not open it until you have travelled nine miles."
 So the soldier's son thanked the tigress, and set off with the box to find his fortune. Now when he had gone
five miles, he felt certain that the box weighed more than it had at first, and every step he took it seemed
to grow heavier and heavier. He tried to struggle on— though it was all he could do to carry the
box—until he had gone about eight miles and a quarter, when his patience gave way. "I believe that
tigress was a witch, and is playing off her tricks upon me," he cried, "but I will stand this nonsense no
longer. Lie there, you wretched old box!—heaven knows what is in you, and I don't care."
So saying, he flung the box down on the ground: it burst open with the shock, and out stepped a little old
man. He was only one span high, but his beard was a span and a quarter long, and trailed upon the ground.
The little mannikin immediately began to stamp about and scold the lad roundly for letting the box down so
"Upon my word!" quoth the soldier's son, scarcely able to restrain a smile at the ridiculous little figure,
"but you are weighty for your size, old gentleman! And what may your name be?"
"Sir Buzz!" snapped the one-span mannikin, still stamping about in a great rage.
"Upon my word!" quoth the soldier's son once more, "if you are all the box contained, I am glad I
didn't trouble to carry it farther."
"That's not polite," snarled the mannikin; "perhaps if you had carried it the full nine miles you might have
found something better; but that's neither
 here nor there. I'm good enough for you, at any rate, and will serve you faithfully according to my mistress's
"Serve me!—then I wish to goodness you'd serve me with some dinner, for I am mighty hungry! Here are
four shillings to pay for it."
No sooner had the soldier's son said this and given the money, than with a whiz! boom! bing! like
a big bee, Sir Buzz flew through the air to a confectioner's shop in the nearest town. There he stood, the
one-span mannikin, with the span and a quarter beard trailing on the ground, just by the big preserving pan,
and cried in ever so loud a voice, "Ho! ho! Sir Confectioner, bring me sweets!"
The confectioner looked round the shop, and out of the door, and down the street, but could see no one, for
tiny Sir Buzz was quite hidden by the preserving pan. Then the mannikin called out louder still, "Ho! ho! Sir
Confectioner, bring me sweets!" And when the confectioner looked in vain for his customer, Sir Buzz grew
angry, and ran and pinched him on the legs, and kicked him on the foot, saying, "Impudent knave! do you mean
to say you can't see me? Why, I was standing by the preserving pan all the time!"
The confectioner apologised humbly, and hurried away to bring out his best sweets for his irritable little
customer. Then Sir Buzz chose about a hundredweight of them, and said, "Quick, tie them up in something and
give them into my hand; I'll carry them home."
"They will be a good weight, sir," smiled the confectioner.
 "What business is that of yours, I should like to know?" snapped Sir Buzz. "Just you do as you're told, and
here is your money." So saying he jingled the four shillings in his pocket.
"As you please, sir," replied the man cheerfully, as he tied up the sweets into a huge bundle and placed it on
the little mannikin's outstretched hand, fully expecting him to sink under the weight; when lo! with a
boom! bing! he whizzed off with the money still in his pocket.
He alighted at a corn-chandler's shop, and, standing behind a basket of flour, called out at the top of his
voice, "Ho! ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!"
And when the corn-chandler looked round the shop, and out of the window, and down the street, without seeing
anybody, the one-span mannikin, with his beard trailing on the ground, cried again louder than before, "Ho!
ho! Sir Chandler, bring me flour!"
Then on receiving no answer, he flew into a violent rage, and ran and bit the unfortunate corn-chandler on the
leg, pinched him, and kicked him, saying, "Impudent varlet! don't pretend you couldn't see me!
Why, I was standing close beside you behind that basket!"
So the corn-chandler apologised humbly for his mistake, and asked Sir Buzz how much flour he wanted.
"Two hundredweight," replied the mannikin, "two hundredweight, neither more nor less. Tie it up in a bundle,
and I'll take it with me."
"Your honour has a cart or beast of burden with you, doubtless?" said the chandler, "for two hundredweight is
a heavy load."
 "What's that to you?" shrieked Sir Buzz, stamping his foot, "isn't it enough if I pay for it?" And then he
jingled the money in his pocket again.
So the corn-chandler tied up the flour in a bundle, and placed it in the mannikin's outstretched hand, fully
expecting it would crush him, when, with a whiz! Sir Buzz flew off, with the shillings still in his pocket.
Boom! bing! boom!
The soldier's son was just wondering what had become of his one-span servant, when, with a whir! the little
fellow alighted beside him, and wiping his face with his handkerchief, as if he were dreadfully hot and tired,
said thoughtfully, "Now I do hope I've brought enough, but you men have such terrible appetites!"
"More than enough, I should say," laughed the lad, looking at the huge bundles.
Then Sir Buzz cooked the girdle-cakes, and the soldier's son ate three of them and a handful of sweets; but
the one-span mannikin gobbled up all the rest, saying at each mouthful, "You men have such terrible
appetites—such terrible appetites!"
After that, the soldier's son and his servant Sir Buzz travelled ever so far, until they came to the King's
city. Now the King had a daughter called Princess Blossom, who was so lovely, and tender, and slim, and fair,
that she only weighed five flowers. Every morning she was weighed in golden scales, and the scale always
turned when the fifth flower was put in, neither less nor more.
Now it so happened that the soldier's son by chance caught a glimpse of the lovely, tender, slim, and fair
Princess Blossom, and, of course, he fell desperately
 in love with her. He would neither sleep nor eat his dinner, and did nothing all day long but say to his
faithful mannikin, "Oh, dearest Sir Buzz! oh, kind Sir Buzz!—carry me to the Princess Blossom, that I
may see and speak to her."
"Carry you!" snapped the little fellow scornfully, "that's a likely story! Why, you're ten times as big as I
am. You should carry me!"
Nevertheless, when the soldier's son begged and prayed, growing pale and pining away with thinking of the
Princess Blossom, Sir Buzz, who had a kind heart, was moved, and bade the lad sit on his hand. Then with a
tremendous boom! bing! boom! they whizzed away and were in the palace in a second. Being
night-time, the Princess was asleep; nevertheless the booming wakened her and she was quite frightened to see
a handsome young man kneeling beside her. She began of course to scream, but stopped at once when the
soldier's son with the greatest politeness, and in the most elegant of language, begged her not to be alarmed.
And after that they talked together about everything delightful, while Sir Buzz stood at the door and did
sentry; but he stood a brick up on end first, so that he might not seem to pry upon the young people.
Now when the dawn was just breaking, the soldier's son and Princess Blossom, wearied of talking, fell asleep;
whereupon Sir Buzz, being a faithful servant, said to himself, "Now what is to be done? If my master remains
here asleep, some one will discover him, and he will be killed as sure as my name is Buzz; but if I wake him,
ten to one he will refuse to go."
 So without more ado he put his hand under the bed, and bing! boom! carried it into a large garden
outside the town. There he set it down in the shade of the biggest tree, and pulling up the next biggest one
by the roots, threw it over his shoulder, and marched up and down keeping guard.
Before long the whole town was in a commotion, because the Princess Blossom had been carried off, and all the
world and his wife turned out to look for her. By and by the one-eyed Chief Constable came to the garden gate.
"What do you want here?" cried valiant Sir Buzz, making passes at him with the tree.
The Chief Constable with his one eye could see nothing save the branches, but he replied sturdily, "I want the
"I'll blossom you! Get out of my garden, will you?" shrieked the one-span mannikin, with his one
and quarter span beard trailing on the ground; and with that he belaboured the Constable's pony so hard with
the tree that it bolted away, nearly throwing its rider.
The poor man went straight to the King, saying, "Your Majesty! I am convinced your Majesty's daughter, the
Princess Blossom, is in your Majesty's garden, just outside the town, as there is a tree there which fights
Upon this the King summoned all his horses and men, and going to the garden tried to get in; but Sir Buzz
behind the tree routed them all, for half were killed, and the rest ran away. The noise of the battle,
however, awoke the young couple, and as they were now convinced they could no longer exist
 apart, they determined to fly together. So when the fight was over, the soldier's son, the Princess Blossom,
and Sir Buzz set out to see the world.
Now the soldier's son was so enchanted with his good luck in winning the Princess, that he said to Sir Buzz,
"My fortune is made already; so I shan't want you any more, and you can go back to your mistress."
"Pooh!" said Sir Buzz. "Young people always think so; however, have it your own way, only take this hair out
of my beard, and if you should get into trouble, just burn it in the fire. I'll come to your
So Sir Buzz boomed off, and the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom lived and travelled together very
happily, until at last they lost their way in a forest, and wandered about for some time without any food.
When they were nearly starving, a Brahman found them, and hearing their story said, "Alas! you poor
children!—come home with me, and I will give you something to eat."
Now had he said "I will eat you," it would have been much nearer the mark, for he was no Brahman, but a
dreadful vampire, who loved to devour handsome young men and slender girls. But, knowing nothing of all this,
the couple went home with him quite cheerfully. He was most polite, and when they arrived at his house, said,
"Please get ready whatever you want to eat, for I have no cook. Here are my keys; open all my cupboards save
the one with the golden key. Meanwhile I will go and gather firewood."
Then the Princess Blossom began to prepare the
 food, while the soldier's son opened all the cupboards. In them he saw lovely jewels, and dresses, and cups
and platters, such bags of gold and silver, that his curiosity got the better of his discretion, and,
regardless of the Brahman's warning, he said, "I will see what wonderful thing is hidden in the
cupboard with the golden key." So he opened it, and lo! it was full of human skulls, picked quite clean, and
beautifully polished. At this dreadful sight the soldier's son flew back to the Princess Blossom, and said,
"We are lost! we are lost!—this is no Brahman, but a horrid vampire!"
At that moment they heard him at the door, and the Princess, who was very brave and kept her wits about her,
had barely time to thrust the magic hair into the fire, before the vampire, with sharp teeth and fierce eyes,
appeared. But at the selfsame moment a boom! boom! binging noise was heard in the air, coming
nearer and nearer. Whereupon the vampire, who knew very well who his enemy was, changed into a heavy rain
pouring down in torrents, hoping thus to drown Sir Buzz, but he changed into the storm wind
beating back the rain. Then the vampire changed to a dove, but Sir Buzz, pursuing it as a hawk, pressed it so
hard that it had barely time to change into a rose, and drop into King Indra's lap as he sat in his celestial
court listening to the singing of some dancing girls. Then Sir Buzz, quick as thought, changed into an old
musician, and standing beside the bard who was thrumming the guitar, said, "Brother, you are tired; let
And he played so wonderfully, and sang with such piercing sweetness, that King Indra said, "What
 shall I give you as a reward? Name what you please, and it shall be yours."
Then Sir Buzz said, "I only ask the rose that is in your Majesty's lap."
"I had rather you asked more, or less," replied King Indra; "it is but a rose, yet it fell from heaven;
nevertheless it is yours."
So saying, he threw the rose towards the musician, and lo! the petals fell in a shower on the ground. Sir Buzz
went down on his knees and instantly gathered them up; but one petal escaping, changed into a mouse. Whereupon
Sir Buzz, with the speed of lightning, turned into a cat, which caught and gobbled up the mouse.
Now all this time the Princess Blossom and the soldier's son, shivering and shaking, were awaiting the issue
of the combat in the vampire's hut; when suddenly, with a bing! boom! Sir Buzz arrived
victorious, shook his head, and said, "You two had better go home, for you are not fit to take care of
Then he gathered together all the jewels and gold in one hand, placed the Princess and the soldier's son in
the other, and whizzed away home, to where the poor mother—who all this time had been living on the two
shillings—was delighted to see them.
Then with a louder boom! bing! boom! than usual, Sir Buzz, without even waiting for thanks,
whizzed out of sight, and was never seen or heard of again.
But the soldier's son and the Princess Blossom lived happily ever after.
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