Gateway to the Classics: Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Wonder Stories by Louis Rhead
Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales and Wonder Stories by  Louis Rhead

The Swineherd

T HERE once was a poor Prince; he had a kingdom that was very small; still it was quite large enough to marry upon; and he wished to marry.

It was certainly rather cool of him to say to the Emperor's daughter, "Will you have me?" But so he did, for his name was renowned far and wide, and there were a hundred princesses who would have answered, "Thank you." But see what she said. Now we will hear.

By the grave of the Prince's father there grew a rose-tree—a most beautiful rose-tree; it blossomed only once in every five years, and even then bore only one flower, but that was a rose that smelt so sweet as to make one forget all cares and sorrows.

And furthermore, the Prince had a Nightingale, who could sing in such a manner that it seemed as though all sweet melodies dwelt in her little throat. So the Princess was to have the rose and the nightingale; and they were accordingly put into large silver caskets, and sent to her.

The Emperor had them brought into a large hall, where the Princess was playing at "making calls," with the ladies of the court; they never did anything else, and when she saw the caskets with the presents she clapped her hands for joy.

"Ah, if it were but a little pussy-cat!" exclaimed she; then out came the beautiful rose.

"Oh, how pretty it is made!" said all the court ladies.

"It is more than pretty," said the Emperor; "it is charming!"

But the Princess touched it, and was almost ready to cry.

"Fie, papa!" said she; "it is not made at all; it is natural!"

"Fie!" cried all the court ladies; "it is natural!"

"Let us see what is in the other casket, before we get into a bad humor," proposed the Emperor. So the Nightingale came forth, and sang so delightfully that at first no one could say anything ill-humored of it.

"Superbe! charmant!"  exclaimed the ladies; for they all used to chatter French, each one worse than her neighbor.

"How much the bird reminds me of the musical box that belonged to our blessed Empress!" remarked an old knight. "Ah yes! it is the very same tone, the same execution."

"Yes! Yes!" said the Emperor, and he wept like a little child.

"I will still hope that it is not a real bird," said the Princess.

"Yet it is a real bird," said those who had brought it.

"Well, then let the bird fly," returned the Princess; and she positively refused to see the Prince.

However, he was not to be discouraged; he daubed his face over brown and black, pulled his cap over his ears, and knocked at the door.

"Good day, Emperor!" said he. "Can I have employment at the palace?"

"Oh, there are so many that want a place!" said the Emperor. "Well, let me see; I want someone to take care of the pigs, for we have a great many of them."

So the Prince was appointed "Imperial Swineherd." He had a dirty little room close by the pigsty; and there he sat the whole day and worked. By the evening he had made a pretty little saucepan. Little bells were hung all around it; and when the pot was boiling these bells tinkled in the most charming manner and played the old melody:

Ah! thou dearest Augustine!

All is gone, gone, gone!

But what was still more curious, whoever held his finger in the smoke of this saucepan immediately smelt all the dishes that were cooking on every hearth in the city: this, you see, was something quite different from the rose.

Now the Princess happened to walk that way; and when she heard the tune she stood quite still and seemed pleased, for she could play "Dearest Augustine"; it was the only piece that she knew, and she played it with one finger.

"Why, there is my piece," said the Princess; "that Swineherd must certainly have been well educated. Here! Go in and ask him the price of the instrument."

And so one of the court ladies must run in; however, she drew on wooden slippers first.

"What will you take for the suacepan?" inquired the lady.

"I will have ten kisses from the Princess," said the Swineherd.

"Mercy on us!" said the lady.

"Yes, I cannot sell it for less," said the Swineherd.

"Well, what does he say?" asked the Princess.

"I cannot tell you, really," replied the lady; "it is too bad!"

"Then you can whisper it!" So the lady whispered it.

"He is an impudent fellow!" said the Princess, and she walked on; but when she had gone a little way, the bells tinkled so prettily:

Ah! thou dearest Augustine!

All is gone, gone, gone!

"Stay," said the Princess. "Ask him if he will have ten kisses from the ladies of my court."

"No, thank you!" answered the Swineherd: "ten kisses from the Princess, or I keep the saucepan myself."

"That must not be either," said the Princess; "but do you all stand before me, that no one may see us."

And the court ladies placed themselves in front of her and spread out their dresses; and so the Swineherd got ten kisses, and she got the saucepan.

It was delightful! The saucepan was kept boiling all evening and the whole of the following day. They knew perfectly well what was cooking at every fire throughout the city, from the chamberlain's to the cobbler's; the court ladies danced and clapped their hands.

"We know who has soup and who has pancakes for dinner to-day; who has cutlets and who has eggs. How interesting!"

And "How interesting!" said the Lord Steward's wife.

"Yes, but keep my secret, for I am an emperor's daughter."

"Mercy on us!" said they all.

The Swineherd—that it is to say the Prince, for no one knew that he was other than an ill-favored swineherd—let not a day pass without working at something; he at last constructed a rattle which, when it was swung around, played all the waltzes and jig-tunes which have ever been heard since the creation of the world.

"Ah, that is superbe!"  said the Princess, when she passed by. "I have never heard prettier compositions. Go in and ask him the price of the instrument—but I won't kiss him!"

"He will have a hundred kisses from the Princess!" said the court lady who had been in to ask.

"I think he is crazy!" said the Princess, and walked on; but when she had gone a little way she stopped again. "One must encourage art," said she. "I am the Emperor's daughter. Tell him he shall, as on yesterday, have ten kisses from me, and may take the rest from the ladies of the court."

"Oh, but we should not like that at all!" said the court ladies.

"What are you muttering?" asked the Princess. "If I can kiss him, surely you can! Remember, I give you your food and wages." So the court ladies were obliged to go to him again.

"A hundred kisses from the Princess!" said he, "or else let everyone keep his own."

"Stand round!" said she; and all the ladies stood round her whilst the kissing was going on.

"What can be the reason for such a crowd close by the pigsty?" said the Emperor, who happened just then to step out on the balcony. He rubbed his eyes and put on his spectacles. "They are the ladies of the court; there is some play going on. I must go down and see what they are about!" So he pulled up his slippers at the heel, for he had trodden them down.

Heh, there! What a hurry he is in!

As soon as he had got into the courtyard he moved very softly, and the ladies were so much engrossed with counting the kisses, that all might go on fairly, that they did not perceive the Emperor. He rose on his tiptoes.

"What is all this?" said he, when he saw what was going on, and he boxed the Princess's ears with his slipper, just as the Swineherd was taking the eighty-sixth kiss.

"Off with you!" cried the Emperor, for he was very angry; and both Princess and Swineherd were thrust out of the city.

The Princess now stood and wept, the Swineherd scolded, and the rain poured down.

"Oh, how miserable I am!" said the Princess. "If I had but married the handsome young Prince! Ah, how unfortunate I am!"

And the Swineherd went behind the tree, washed the black-and-brown color from his face, threw off his dirty clothes, and stepped forth in his princely robes; he looked so noble that the Princess could not help bowing before him.

"I am come to despise thee," said he. "Thou wouldst not have an honorable prince! thou couldst not prize the rose and the nightingale, but thou wast ready to kiss the Swineherd for the sake of a trumpery plaything. Now thou hast thy deserts!"

He then went back to his own little kingdom, and shut the door of his palace in her face. Now she might well sing:

Ah! thou dearest Augustine!

All is gone, gone, gone!

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: The Ugly Duckling  |  Next: The Snow-Queen
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2020   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.