Imágenes de páginas

during the severe winter. He was lying in a marsh, among the reeds, when the sun again began to shine. The larks were singing, and the spring had set in in all its beauty.


The duckling now felt able to flap his wings. They rustled much louder than before, and bore him away most sturdily; and before he was well aware of it he found himself in a large garden, where the apple trees were in full blossom, and the fragrant elder was steeping its long drooping branches in the waters of a winding canal

. Three magnificent white swans now emerged from the thicket before him: they flapped their wings, and then swam lightly on the surface of the water.

“I will fly towards those royal birds—and they will strike me dead for daring to approach them, so ugly as I am! But it matters not. Better far to be killed by them than to be pecked at by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed about by the girl who feeds the poultry, and to suffer want in the

[graphic][ocr errors]

winter.” And he flew into the water, and swam towards those splendid swans, who rushed to meet him with rustling wings the moment they saw him. “Do but kill me!” said the poor animal, as he bent his head down to the surface of the water and awaited his doom. But what did he see in the clear stream? Why, his own image, which was no longer that of a heavy-looking dark grey bird, ugly and illfavoured, but of a beautiful Swan!

It matters not being born in a duck-yard, whan one is hatched from a swan's egg !

Some little children now came into the garden, and threw bread-crumbs and corn into the water; and the youngest cried, " There is a new one!” The other children clapped their hands, and flew to their father and mother, and they all said, “The new one is the prettiest.”

He then felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wing. He was more than happy, yet none the prouder, for a good heart is never proud. He remembered how he had been pursued and made game of; and now he heard everybody say he was the most beautiful of all the beautiful birds. He flapped his wings and raised his slender neck, as he cried in the fulness of his heart,“ I never dreamed of such happiness while I was an Ugly Duckling."

[ocr errors][graphic]


Their younger

Two young men once went in search of adventures, and 'WO

fell into a very wild course of life. brother, who was called Solomonides, after a time, thought of seeking them, and after many inquiries discovered their haunts. They ridiculed him for fancying that he, who was decidedly silly, could get so much better through the world than they, with their wit and experience of life. However, they agreed to travel together for a time, and passing through a wood, came to an ant-hill. The elder brothers wished to scatter it, but Solomonides said, “Leave the creatures alone.” Then they came to a lake, where many ducks were swimming; the brothers wished to catch a couple to roast, but Solomonides interfered, saying, “ Leave them in peace.” Next they came to a wild hive, in which was so much honey that it ran out of the old tree that had received it. They proposed to make a fire, to suffocate the bees, and to take the honey; but again Solomonides restrained them, saying, “ Leave the insects alone.” At length they arrived at a palace, in or near which not a creature was to be seen. They passed through all the rooms, till they came to a door, which had a grating in the panel, and on looking into the room beyond, they saw a dark man sitting by a table. They called to him thrice; when he arose and came out, and, without uttering a word, conducted them to a table covered with every delicacy; and after they had eaten and drunk, he led them to sleeping apartments. Next morning, the dark man told them the



conditions upon which the palace might be disenchanted. The first was, that among the moss in the wood, a thousand of the King's daughter's pearls were scattered : these were to be collected before sunset, or the person who had undertaken the search would be changed into stone. The two eldest brothers undertook the task, but, failing, were changed into stones. At last Solomonides' turn came, who looked in the moss, but found the work of gathering the pearls so tedious, that he sat down and wept.

While thus engaged, the King of the ant-hill which he had protected from his brothers, came with 5,000 ants, who soon found the pearls, and collected them in a heap. The second direction was, to fetch the key of the Princess's chamber from the bottom of the lake. When Solomonides came to the lake, the ducks, whose lives he had saved, dived down, and soon brought the key from the depths of the waters. The third trial was the greatest; for the youngest and loveliest was to be selected from among the three sleeping daughters of the King. The resemblance of the three was perfect, and they differed in nothing, save that before they went to sleep they had partaken of three different sorts of sweetmeats. The eldest had eaten sugar, the second syrup, and the third honey. Then came the Queen Bee, whom Solomonides had protected from suffocation, and made trial of the lips of all three; but by remaining with and hovering over the lips of the one who had eaten honey, Solomonides was enabled to guess rightly. The spell was now dissolved, all were awakened out of their sleep, and those who had been changed into stone recovered their former state. Solomonides was married to the youngest and loveliest, and was King after her father's death ; his two brothers received the two elder Princesses as their brides, and after this adventure were impressed with more respect for the ability of their brother Solomonides.

« AnteriorContinuar »