THE OLD, OLD STORIES
Here they are again, the old, old stories, the very best; dear Cinderella, wicked old Bluebeard, tiny Thumbling, beautiful Beauty and the ugly Beast, and a host of others. But the old stories, I may tell you, are always new, and always must be so, because there are new children to read them every day, and to these, of course, these old tales might have been written yesterday.
But the stories in this book are new in another way. Look how they are clothed, look at their beautiful setting, the wonderful pictures! Have you ever seen such charming princes and lovely princesses, such dainty grace and delicate feeling?
What would our grandfathers and grandmothers have said of such a book! They would have thought there was magic in the brush and pencil.
Surely we are favoured in this generation when we see before us, the old, old fairy tales, which are ever new, dressed in such a beautiful and splendid fashion!From "HANSEL AND GRETHEL" THE GOOSE GIRL
An old queen, whose husband had been dead some years, had a beautiful daughter. When she grew up, she was betrothed to a prince who lived a great way off; and as the time drew near for her to be married, she got ready to set off on her journey to his country. Then the queen, her mother, packed up a great many costly things—jewels, and gold, and silver; trinkets, fine dresses, and, in short, everything that became a royal bride; for she loved her child very dearly: and she gave her a waiting-maid to ride with her, and give her into the bridegroom's hands; and each had a horse for the journey. Now the princess's horse was called Falada, and could speak.
When the time came for them to set out, the old queen went into her bed-chamber, and took a little knife, and cut off a lock of her hair, and gave it to her daughter, and said, "Take care of it, dear child; for it is a charm that may be of use to you on the road." Then they took a sorrowful leave of each other, and the princess put the lock of her mother's hair into her bosom, got upon her horse, and set off on her journey to her bridegroom's kingdom. One day, as they were riding along by the side of a brook, the princess began to feel very thirsty, and said to her maid, "Pray get down and fetch me some water, in my golden cup, out of yonder brook, for I want to drink." "Nay," said the maid, "if you are thirsty, get down yourself, and lie down by the water and drink; I shall not be your waiting-maid any longer." Then the princess was so thirsty that she got down, and knelt over the brook and drank, for she was frightened, and dared not bring out her golden cup; and then she wept, and said "Alas! what will become of me?" And the lock of hair answered her, and said—
"Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it,
Sadly, sadly her heart would rue it."
But the princess was very humble and meek, so she said nothing to her maid's ill behaviour, but got upon her horse again.
Then all rode further on their journey, till the day grew so warm, and the sun so scorching, that the bride began to feel very thirsty again; and at last, when they came to a river, she forgot her maid's rude speech, and said, "Pray get down and fetch me some water to drink in my golden cup." But the maid answered her, and even spoke more haughtily than before, "Drink, if you will, but I shall not be your waiting-maid." Then the princess was so thirsty that she got off her horse and lay down, and held her head over the running stream, and cried, and said, "What will become of me?" And the lock of hair answered her again—