There was once a poor Prince. He owned a Kingdom—a very small one, but it was big enough to allow him to marry, and he was determined to marry. Now, it was really very bold on his part to say to a King's daughter: "Will you marry me?" But he dared to do so, for his name was known far and wide, and there were hundreds of princesses who would willingly have said: "Yes, thank you." But, would she? We shall hear what happened.
On the grave of the Prince's father, there grew a rose-tree— such a wonderful rose-tree! It bloomed only once in five years, and then it bore only one rose—but what a rose! Its perfume was so sweet that whoever smelt it forgot all his cares and sorrows. The Prince had also a nightingale which could sing as if all the delicious melodies in the world were contained in its little throat. The rose and the nightingale were both to be given to the Princess, and were therefore placed in two great silver caskets and sent to her. The Emperor had them carried before him into the great hall where the Princess was playing at "visiting" with her ladies-in-waiting—they had nothing else to do. When she saw the caskets with the presents in them, she clapped her hands with joy.
"If it were only a little pussy-cat," she cried. But out came a beautiful rose.
"How elegantly it is made," said all the ladies of the court.
"It is more than elegant," said the Emperor, "It is neat.
"Fie, papa," she said, "it is not made at all; it is a natural rose." "Let us see what the other casket contains before we lose our temper," said the Emperor, and then out came the little nightingale and sang so sweetly that at first nobody could think of anything to say against it." "Superbe, superbe," cried the ladies of the court, for they all chattered French, one worse than the other.
"How the bird reminds me of the late Empress' musical-box!" said an old Lordin- Waiting. "Ah, me! the same tone, the same execution." "The very same," said the Emperor, and he cried like a little child.
"I hope it is not a real bird," said the Princess.
Oh, yes! it is a real bird," said those who had brought it.
"Then let the bird fly away," she said, and she would on no account allow the Prince to come in.
But he was not to be disheartened; he smeared his face with black and brown, drew his cap over his forehead, and knocked at the Palace door. The Emperor opened it.
"Good day, Emperor," he said. "Could I get work at the Palace?" "Well, there are so many wanting places," said the Emperor; "but let me see!—I need a Swineherd. I have a good many pigs to keep." So the Prince was made Imperial Swineherd. He had a wretched little room near the pig-sty and here he was obliged to stay. But the whole day he sat and worked, and by the evening he had made a neat little pipkin, and round it was a set of bells, and as soon as the pot began to boil, the bells fell to jingling most sweetly and played the old melody: "Ach du lieber Augustin, Alles is weg, weg, weg!" But the most wonderful thing was that when you held your finger in the steam of the pipkin, you could immediately smell what dinner was cooking on every hearth in the town. That was something very different from a rose.
The Princess was walking out with her ladies-in-waiting, and when she heard the melody, she stopped short, and looked pleased, for she could play "Ach du lieber Augustin" herself; it was the only tune she knew, and that she played with one finger. "Why, that is the tune I play," she said. "What a cultivated Swineherd he must be. Go down and ask him how much his instrument costs." So one of the ladies-in-waiting was obliged to go down, but she put on pattens first.
"How much do you want for your pipkin?" asked the Lady-in-waiting.
"I will have ten kisses from the Princess," said the Swineherd.
"Good gracious!" said the Lady-in-waiting.
"I will not take less," said the Swineherd.
"Well, what did he say?" asked the Princess.
"I really cannot tell you," said the Lady-in-waiting. "It is too dreadful." "Then you must whisper it,"" said the Princess.
So she whispered it.
"He is very rude," said the Princess, and she walked away. But she had gone only a few steps when the bells sounded so sweetly: "Ach du lieber Augustin Alles ist weg, weg, weg!" "Listen," said the Princess, "ask him whether he will have his kisses from my Ladies-in-waiting." "No, thank you," said the Swineherd. "I will have ten kisses from the Princess, or, I will keep my pipkin." "How tiresome!" said the Princess; "but you must stand round me, so that nobody shall see." So the ladies-in-waiting stood round her and they spread out their skirts. The Swineherd got the kisses, and she got the pipkin.
How delighted she was. All the evening and the whole of the next day, that pot was made to boil. And you might have known what everybody was cooking on every hearth in town, from the Chamberlain's to the shoemaker's. The court ladies danced and clapped their hands.
"We know who is to have fruit-soup and pancakes, and we know who is going to have porridge, and cutlets. How very interesting it is!" "Most interesting, indeed," said the first Lady-of-Honor.
"Yes, but hold your tongues, for I am the Emperor's daughter." "Of course we will," they cried in one breath.
The Swineherd, or the Prince, nobody knew that he was not a real Swineherd, did not let the day pass without doing something, and he made a rattle which could play all the waltzes, and the polkas and the hop- dances which had been know since the creation of the world.
"But this is superbe!" said the Princess, who was just passing: "I have never heard more beautiful composition. Go and as him what the instrument costs. But I will give no more kisses." "He insists on a hundred kisses from the Princess," said the ladies- in-waiting who had been down to ask.
"I think he must be quite mad," said the Princess, and she walked away. But when she had taken a few steps, she stopped short, and said: "One must encourage the fine arts, and I am the emperor's daughter. Tell him he may have ten kisses, as before, and the rest he can take from my ladies-in-waiting." "Yes, but we object to that,: said the ladies-in-waiting.
"That is nonsense," said the Princess. "If I can kiss him, surely you can do the same. Go down at once. Don't I give you board and wages?" So the ladies-in-waiting were obliged to go down to the Swineherd again.
"A hundred kisses from the Princess, or each keeps his own." "Stand round me," she said. And all the ladies-in-waiting stood round her, and the Swineherd began to kiss her.
"What can all the crowd be down by the pig-sty?" said the Emperor, stepping out onto the balcony. He rubbed his eyes and put on his spectacles. "It is the court ladies up to some of their tricks. I must go down and look after them." He pulled up his slippers, for they were shoes which he had trodden down at heel.
Gracious goodness, how he hurried! As soon as he came into the garden, he walked very softly, and the ladies-in-waiting had so much to do counting the kisses, so that everything could be done fairly, and that the Swineherd should get neither too many nor too few, that they never noticed the Emperor at all. He stood on tip-toe.
"What is this all about?" he said, when he saw the kissing that was going on, and he hit them on the head with his slipper, just as the Swineherd was getting the eighty-sixth kiss. "Heraus!" said the Emperor, for he was angry, and both the Princess and the Swineherd were turned out of his Kingdom.
The Princess wept, the Swineherd scolded, and the rain streamed down.
"Oh! wretched creature that I am," said the Princess. "If I had only taken the handsome Prince! Oh, how unhappy I am!" Then the Swineherd went behind a tree, washed the black and brown off his face, threw of his ragged clothes, and stood forth in his royal apparel, looking so handsome that she was obliged to curtsey.
"I have learned to despise you," he said. "You would not have an honorable Prince. You could not appreciate a rose or a nightingale, but for a musical toy, you kissed the Swineherd. Now you have your reward." So he went into his Kingdom, shut the door and bolted it, and she had to stand outside singing: "Ach, du lieber Augustin, Alles is weg, weg, weg!.
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