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- The Brown Fairy Book - 40/54 -
'Of course you won't be able to walk for some time; you must not expect THAT,' she continued. 'But if you are very good, perhaps, in about a week, I may carry you home again.'
And so she did; and when the cat drove the cart up to the palace gate, lashing the horse furiously with her tail, and the king and queen saw their lost daughter sitting beside her, they declared that no reward could be too great for the person who had brought her out of the giant's hands.
'We will talk about that by-and-by,' said the cat, as she made her best bow, and turned her horse's head.
The princess was very unhappy when Kisa left her without even bidding her farewell. She would neither eat nor drink, nor take any notice of all the beautiful dresses her parents bought for her.
'She will die, unless we can make her laugh,' one whispered to the other. 'Is there anything in the world that we have left untried?'
'Nothing except marriage,' answered the king. And he invited all the handsomest young men he could think of to the palace, and bade the princess choose a husband from among them.
It took her some time to decide which she admired the most, but at last she fixed upon a young prince, whose eyes were like the pools in the forest, and his hair of bright gold. The king and the queen were greatly pleased, as the young man was the son of a neighbouring king, and they gave orders that a splendid feast should be got ready.
When the marriage was over, Kisa suddenly stood before them, and Ingibjorg rushed forward and clasped her in her arms.
'I have come to claim my reward,' said the cat. 'Let me sleep for this night at the foot of your bed.'
'Is that ALL?' asked Ingibjorg, much disappointed.
'It is enough,' answered the cat. And when the morning dawned, it was no cat that lay upon the bed, but a beautiful princess.
'My mother and I were both enchanted by a spiteful fairy,' said she, 'we could not free ourselves till we had done some kindly deed that had never been wrought before. My mother died without ever finding a chance of doing anything new, but I took advantage of the evil act of the giant to make you as whole as ever.'
Then they were all more delighted than before, and the princess lived in the court until she, too, married, and went away to govern one of her own.
[Adapted from Neuislandischen Volksmarchen.]
The Lion and the Cat
Far away on the other side of the world there lived, long ago, a lion and his younger brother, the wild cat, who were so fond of each other that they shared the same hut. The lion was much the bigger and stronger of the two--indeed, he was much bigger and stronger than any of the beasts that dwelt in the forest; and, besides, he could jump father and run faster than all the rest. If strength and swiftness could gain him a dinner he was sure never to be without one, but when it came to cunning, both the grizzly bear and the serpent could get the better of him, and he was forced to call in the help of the wild cat.
Now the young wild cat had a lovely golden ball, so beautiful that you could hardly look at it except through a piece of smoked glass, and he kept it hidden in the thick fur muff that went round his neck. A very large old animal, since dead, had given it to him when he was hardly more than a baby, and had told him never to part with it, for as long as he kept it no harm could ever come near him.
In general the wild cat did not need to use his ball, for the lion was fond of hunting, and could kill all the food that they needed; but now and then his life would have been in danger had it not been for the golden ball.
One day the two brothers started to hunt at daybreak, but as the cat could not run nearly as fast as the lion, he had quite a long start. At least he THOUGHT it was a long one, but in a very few bounds and springs the lion reached his side.
'There is a bear sitting on that tree,' he whispered softly. 'He is only waiting for us to pass, to drop down on my back.'
'Ah, you are so big that he does not see I am behind you,' answered the wild cat. And, touching the ball, he just said: 'Bear, die!' And the bear tumbled dead out of the tree, and rolled over just in front of them.
For some time they trotted on without any adventures, till just as they were about to cross a strip of long grass on the edge of the forest, the lion's quick ears detected a faint rustling noise.
'That is a snake,' he cried, stopping short, for he was much more afraid of snakes than of bears.
'Oh, it is all right,' answered the cat. 'Snake, die!' And the snake died, and the two brothers skinned it. They then folded the skin up into a very small parcel, and the cat tucked it into his mane, for snakes' skins can do all sorts of wonderful things, if you are lucky enough to have one of them.
All this time they had had no dinner, for the snake's flesh was not nice, and the lion did not like eating bear--perhaps because he never felt sure that the bear was REALLY dead, and would not jump up alive when his enemy went near him. Most people are afraid of SOME thing, and bears and serpents were the only creatures that caused the lion's heart to tremble. So the two brothers set off again and soon reached the side of a hill where some fine deer were grazing.
'Kill one of those deer for your own dinner,' said the boy- brother, 'but catch me another alive. I want him.'
The lion at once sprang towards them with a loud roar, but the deer bounded away, and they were all three soon lost to sight. The cat waited for a long while, but finding that the lion did not return, went back to the house where they lived.
It was quite dark when the lion came home, where his brother was sitting curled up in one corner.
'Did you catch the deer for me?' asked the boy-brother, springing up.
'Well, no,' replied the man-brother. 'The fact is, that I did not get up to them till we had run half way across the world and left the wind far behind us. Think what a trouble it would have been to drag it here! So--I just ate them both.'
The cat said nothing, but he did not feel that he loved his big brother. He had thought a great deal about that deer, and had meant to get on his back to ride him as a horse, and go to see all the wonderful places the lion talked to him about when he was in a good temper. The more he thought of it the more sulky he grew, and in the morning, when the lion said that it was time for them to start to hunt, the cat told him that he might kill the bear and snake by himself, as HE had a headache, and would rather stay at home. The little fellow knew quite well that the lion would not dare to go out without him and his ball for fear of meeting a bear or a snake.
The quarrel went on, and for many days neither of the brothers spoke to each other, and what made them still more cross was, that they could get very little to eat, and we know that people are often cross when they are hungry. At last it occurred to the lion that if he could only steal the magic ball he could kill bears and snakes for himself, and then the cat might be as sulky as he liked for anything that it would matter. But how was the stealing to be done? The cat had the ball hung round his neck day and night, and he was such a light sleeper that it was useless to think of taking it while he slept. No! the only thing was to get him to lend it of his own accord, and after some days the lion (who was not at all clever) hit upon a plan that he thought would do.
'Dear me, how dull it is here!' said the lion one afternoon, when the rain was pouring down in such torrents that, however sharp your eyes or your nose might be, you could not spy a single bird or beast among the bushes. 'Dear me, how dull, how dreadfully dull I am. Couldn't we have a game of catch with that golden ball of yours?'
'I don't care about playing catch, it does not amuse me,' answered the cat, who was as cross as ever; for no cat, even to this day, ever forgets an injury done to him.
'Well, then, lend me the ball for a little, and I will play by myself,' replied the lion, stretching out a paw as he spoke.
'You can't play in the rain, and if you did, you would only lose it in the bushes,' said the cat.
'Oh, no, I won't; I will play in here. Don't be so ill-natured.' And with a very bad grace the cat untied the string and threw the golden ball into the lion's lap, and composed himself to sleep again.
For a long while the lion tossed it up and down gaily, feeling that, however sound asleep the boy-brother might LOOK, he was sure to have one eye open; but gradually he began to edge closer to the opening, and at last gave such a toss that the ball went up high into the air, and he could not see what became of it.
'Oh, how stupid of me!' he cried, as the cat sprang up angrily, 'let us go at once and search for it. It can't really have fallen very far.' But though they searched that day and the
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