Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Up the Stairs  by Lisa M. Ripperton

Hans Clodhopper

F AR away in the country stood a large, rambling old house in which there lived an old Squire and his three grown sons. Two of these sons, who thought themselves too clever by far, had made up their minds to woo the King's Daughter; for she had publicly announced that she would take for her husband that man who had most to say for himself.

The two smart youths took a week to prepare themselves. That was all the time they had, but it was enough for them, as they already had many accomplishments.

One of them knew the entire Latin dictionary by heart and could repeat, backwards or forwards, all that had been in the town newspaper for the last three years.

The other one had read all the laws of the world, and knew by heart everything that an alderman has to know. So he was sure that he would be able to talk brilliantly about affairs of state. He was also very clever with his fingers; he could embroider harness with roses and beautiful designs.

"I shall win the King's Daughter!" cried each of these sons.

Their old father gave them two handsome horses. The Latin scholar had a black horse, while the lawyer's was milk-white.

Before they started the youths rubbed the corners of their mouths with sweet oil to make them run easily.

Then, while all the servants stood about in the yard watching the two brothers mount their fine horses, the third brother put in an appearance. Almost every one forgot that there were three sons, for this one knew nothing that his brothers knew, and, indeed, people usually called him Hans Clodhopper.

"Where are you going with your Sunday clothes on?" asked Hans Clodhopper.

"To court, to talk ourselves into favor with the King's Daughter. Haven't you heard the news that has spread like wildfire through the country?" And then they told him what the King's Daughter had declared.

"By my stars," said Hans Clodhopper, "then I must go too!"

But his two brothers burst out laughing and rode away.

"Father," said Hans, "give me a horse, too. I feel desperately inclined to get married! If she takes me, she takes me; and if she doesn't take me, then I'll take her, for she shall be mine!"

"Nonsense!" said his old father, "I have no horse to give you. You have nothing to say for yourself. Your brothers, now, speak like statesmen."

"Well," said Hans Clodhopper, "if I can't have a horse, then I'll take the old billy goat. He belongs to me, and he can carry me very well!"

He threw himself astride the billy goat, dug his heels into its sides, and galloped off down the highroad like a hurricane.

"Hei, houp! Here I come!" cried Hans Clodhopper. And he shouted and sang until the air rang with the echoes of his voice.

His brothers, meantime, rode on in silence. They did not say a word to each other, for they were storing up all the bright ideas that they intended to use for the benefit of the King's Daughter.

"Halloo! Here I come!" shouted Hans Clodhopper, as he rode up to them. "See what I've found on the highroad!"

He showed them a dead crow.

"What on earth are you going to do with that, Clodhopper?" asked his two brothers.

"Why, give it to the King's Daughter!" answered Hans.

"I would!" laughed his brothers.

"Halloo! Here I come again! Just see what I've found now! You don't find that on the highroad every day!"

"Hans," said they, "that's nothing but a piece of an old wooden shoe. Are you going to give that to the Princess, too?"

"Why, of course I am!" replied Hans Clodhopper.

Again the two clever brothers rode ahead, laughing.

"Hip, hip, hoorah!" once more shouted Hans Clodhopper. "Hip, hip, hoorah! Now this is really extraordinary!"

"Well, what is it this time?" asked the brothers.

"I hardly have breath to tell you! Won't the Princess be delighted?"

"Why, it's only sand picked up out of the ditch!"

"That's exactly what it is," said Hans Clodhopper. "The finest kind of sand, too. It is so fine you can hardly keep it from slipping through your fingers!"

Now his brothers galloped on as fast as they could and arrived at the town gate a whole hour before Hans.

At the gate each suitor received a number, and all were placed in rows, six in each line. They were packed so closely together that they could not move their arms, and that was a good thing; they surely would have come to blows if they had had the free use of their arms. For each wanted to be ahead of the others.

All the people of the city were gathered about the castle, some peeping into the very windows, to see the Princess receive her suitors.

But as each suitor stepped into the room he immediately lost the power of speech.

"Good for nothing!" said the King's Daughter. "Away with him!"

Soon it came the turn of that brother who knew the entire Latin dictionary by heart. But no sooner had he stepped inside the room than he forgot it completely. The boards seemed to crack beneath his feet. and the ceiling was polished like a mirror, so that he kept seeing himself standing on his head. At every window sat three clerks and a chief reporter, who wrote down every single word that was said, so that it might be printed in the newspapers and sold at the street corners. They had, moreover, made such a fire in the stove that the room was red hot.

"It is dreadfully warm here," said the first brother.

"That is because my father is going to roast young chickens to-day."

Baa! There he stood like a baa-lamb. He had not expected a conversation of this sort, and just when he wanted to say something especially witty, he could not think of a word!

"No good!" said the Princess. "Away with him!"

And out he went.

Then came the second brother.

"It is terribly hot here," he said.

"Yes, we are roasting young chickens to-day."

"What—what did you—what—?"

And all the reporters wrote down just that.

"Good for nothing! said the Princess. Off with him!"

Then came the turn of Hans Clodhopper. He rode straight into the hall on his billy goat.

"What a blazing heat you have here!" he exclaimed.

"That is because we are roasting chickens," answered the King's Daughter.

"That's lucky!" said Hans Clodhopper. "Perhaps you'll let me have a crow cooked at the same time?"


"Certainly," said the King's Daughter. "But have you anything to roast it in? For I have neither pot nor pan."

"Yes, I have," answered Hans. "Here is a splendid kettle!"

He brought out the old piece of a wooden shoe and put the crow into it.

"Well, that is a great dish!" said the King's Daughter. "But where shall we get any dripping to baste it with?"

"Oh, I have some in my pocket—enough and to spare." And he poured a little of the wet sand out of his pocket.

"Now, I like that!" said the Princess. "You have an answer for everything and something to say for yourself. I don't mind having you for a husband. But do you know that every word you say will be in the paper to-morrow? At every window sit three reporters and a head reporter, and he is the worst of all, for he always twists everything that is said into something much worse than it really is!"

She said this to frighten Hans Clodhopper. The reporters all chuckled with joy and threw ink out of their pens upon the floor.

"Oh, those are the gentlemen, are they?" said Hans Clodhopper. "Then I will give to the head reporter the best thing that I have to say for myself!" And he turned out his pockets and flung the sand straight into the head reporter's face!

"That was neatly done!" said the Princess. "I could not have done that, but I shall try to learn."

So Hans Clodhopper was made king; he married a wife, received a crown, and sat upon a throne.

At least, that is what we read in the head reporter's paper, but that, of course, is not altogether to be depended upon.