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In this way they learned the story of the captive Brabant princess. When they found they were her favorites, and she had given each one of them a name, and every day called them to be fed, their hearts were melted by the kindness of the pretty lady. Sometimes they found her in tears and heard her pray for wings to fly away.

This made them wish that they could leave their swan forms and be like her again, as they once were. Or, if not thus able, they longed to help her in some way. They all agreed that they would rather re- main swan maidens and be free to fly and do as they liked, rising about and up into the air, or sailing on the water, than to be shut up for life in a prison.

Even though it were in a castle with gardens and a swan lake, they would rather be birds than captives. They were filled with pity for the lonely princess thus pining away. The oldest and the youngest of the seven swans, Fuzzy and Black Eye, both of which had snow white plumage, were especially eager to help the maiden. Of all the seven, they two were the strongest. The oldest of the swans only jeered at the idea or hissed scornfully. They have no wings like us and you boasters cannot give her yours.

Now in one thing, at least, these seven swan sisters were different from the other birds. They were accustomed, every week or so, to make a long flight back to Gelderland, to their old forest home and playground, to take a look at their fond father, who, however, never dreamed that these winged creatures were his children.

In the times of these visits to the forest palace, but only while they were there, the enchantment failed ; yet only for a quarter of an hour. Dur- ing these few minutes, while in the woods, they played together as girls, as in the happy days of yore, when their father used to come and see them. But this they could not do now within the royal palace gardens, where their father walked, and when in the dense forest itself, they could not find the way out as girls, for they were swans again, almost as soon as they started to find the path.

So they did the next best thing. The king noticed this, and gave strict orders that no one should shoot an arrow, throw a net, or lay a trap for these birds, that he loved to welcome as visitors which gave him happi- ness. The wicked queen, however, knew all about these swans, but she never told her hus- band.

She let him mourn for his children, month after month and year after year. Now while the swan sisters were thinking of rescuing the Princess Elsje, she also was plan- ning to save them, in order to bring them back to human form. There was a good fairy who lived on the Lek River, who hated the wicked step-mother of the swan maidens and knew how to destroy her enchantments. But this good fairy possessed her power only on the water, but she fastened on the neck of Fuzzy, the oldest of the swans, a message telling the princess how to break the charm.

The way to do it was this: The princess was to make seven little coats of swan feathers, and then she was not to speak a word to any soul, for seven months. At the end of that time, she was to put a coat on each of the swan sisters. Then, they would at once become maidens again. Now in Gelderland there lived a handsome young knight, who wore a suit of armor of silver steel and had a plume of snow white feathers in his helmet.

One day, while out hunting, he by chance reached the castle in the woods, where the king had kept his children and to which the seven swans flew every week. He drew his bow and was just about to shoot, when the birds dropped their feather suits and seven pretty maidens stood before him. We'll guide you to a princess in distress and you can save her. They had hardly told their story, before they had to resume their swan forms.

It was agreed that Fuzzy and Black Eye, the whitest and the strongest of the seven swans, should be the pilots of the knight to the well-guarded castle, where the princess was a captive. The five swans flew back to the flock, but the absence of the other two was not noticed by the king's swanherd. So, guided by his brace of snowy white and feathered pilots, who kept in the air above him, the knight made his way through the forests and across the country, until he came to the Scheldt River. How should he get across?

While the silver knight was wondering, the good fairy who had sent the message to the princess, stepped out from among the river weeds. She had a star crown on her head and a wand of gold in her hand. She spoke thus to the knight: "Take that dead tree trunk, which lies on the ground, all wreathed with vines, and launch it into the river, for my power extends only over the water.

Because of your knightly record as a brave hero, I shall have these swans guide you to the castle. Once on shore, you must fight your own battle. Promise to rescue the prin- cess.

Belgian fairy tales

Then the fairy touched the dead tree and it became a pretty boat, shaped like a shell. She bade the two swans take their places in front. Then touching the wild vines, grow- ing on the log, and throwing them over their long curved snow-white necks, lo! He waved his thanks and farewell in gratitude to the fairy. Yet she could do nothing on land without the aid of a brave knight. She had been a long time waiting for such a hero. Now he had come. To make effective the charm of restoring swan maidens to human forms, while she was making the feather coats, it was absolutely necessary for the Princess Elsje to do two hard things; one was, not to speak a word till the coats were fin- ished, and the swans transformed; the second was not to ask the knight who he was or where he came from.

Even when he was her husband, she must be silent on this matter. She had to promise this, or the good fairy would do nothing. Into the swan boat, the young knight in his shining silver-steel armor, bravely stepped. Then with their four web feet beating tirelessly under the river waves, that curled against their breasts, the two strong birds drew the shell boat until they were near the castle in Brabant.

The herald sounded the trumpet to call forth a champion for the imprisoned maiden. Whosoever should van- quish the cruel count should have the lady's strong castle and her rich estate. Glorious in her beauty, Princess Elsje sat in the place of honor, crowned with flowers, as she had sat again and again before, but never a word had she spoken to a soul. The echoes of the first trumpet blast died away.

No one came. The second summons sounded. None an- swered. The third blast had not ended, before the knight in the silver steel armor stepped forward. He asked the maiden if she would accept him as her husband, if he overcame the count. She spoke not a word, but nodded her head, beaming with a joy that inspired him to valor.

The Silver Knight threw down his glove as a challenge. Again the trumpet pealed and the two cham- pions rushed at each other. All expected that the count, being so heavy and strong would win, but the battle was soon decided, for the Silver Knight was victorious. The count, senseless, and with a broken head, was borne off the field. Yet those eyes spoke to him their message, and he was full of joy. Even when he asked her whether she would marry him, without ever now, or hereafter, ask- ing who he was, or whence he came, her answer was with a nod of the head, and a low bow, with one of her hands on her heart and the other raised to heaven.

This was enough. He was satisfied. The wedding was celebrated with great pomp and joy. For many weeks afterwards, the silent princess kept busy with her needle, making little coats of swan feathers, but of this her husband seemed to approve and gladly he praised his bride's industry. Now on the day when the seven swans from Gelderland were accustomed to fly back to their old home, the forest castle, and before they had risen from the water to stretch their wings, the princess called them, and each by name before her.

Then, in the presence of her knight, she threw the coats over them. Instantly feathers, wings, arched necks and webbed feet disap- peared, and seven lovely maidens stood before them. This offer she gladly accepted. But the princess had no sooner regained the use of her voice than she seemed consumed with a curiosity she had not felt before. In the new joy of having fulfilled one promise, made to the river fairy in behalf of the swan sisters, she for- got that made to the knight, her husband. Her eagerness to know who and whence he was in- creased, until one day she burst out, with the questions.

The knight reminded her of her vow which, with solemn gesture, she had made to him, before he risked his life for her. When she urged that his love for her could not be deep or real, if he kept a secret from her, he made answer: "It is not I that love less, or have broken faith.

It is you. The new inventions for flying, diving, racing, and what not, were upsetting all the old ideas as to what fairies alone could do. It used to be that only fairies could fly in the air, like birds, or go far down beneath the waves and stay there, or travel under water, or move about near the bottom, like fishes. In old times, it was only the elves, or gnomes, or kabouters, or it might be, dragons, that could find out and possess all the treasures that were inside the earth. Only the fairies of long ago could rush along alike the wind, anywhere, or carry messages as fast as lightning, but now men were doing these very things, for they could cross continents and oceans.

Then we shall be banished entirely from the nursery and the picture books, and our friends, the artists and story-tellers, will lose their jobs. Why, think of it, only last week they crossed the Atlantic, by speeding through the air. Before this, they made a voy- age over the same mighty water by going down below the surface. They change their dress, or clip their hair, and even mar their faces. They make them look so different, that even their own mothers, if they ever saw them again would not know them.

Give us an example," chal- lenged one incredulous, matter-of-fact fairy, who was inclined to take the men's part. Now, in his freedom, he used to do as he pleased. He blew things up whenever he felt like having a little fun, and he made a great fuss when affairs did not suit him. But, by and bye, the men caught him and put him inside of their boilers and pipes. They made stopcocks and gauges, pistons and valves, and all the things that are like the bits, and bridles, and traces, in which they harness horses.

Now that they have got him well hitched, they make him work all day and often all night. He has to drive ships and engines, motors and plows, cars and wagons, and inventions and machinery of all sorts.

See a Problem?

They use him for pumping, hoisting, pounding, lighting, heating, and no one knows what. A windmill or a waterfall nowadays has no chance of competition with him. They call him Steam now. They have all sorts of gauges, meters, dials, regulators, and whatever will keep the poor fellow from blowing things up; for, they can tell at once the state of his temper. He cannot do as he pleases any more. As soon as I see that they are ready to cry 'Eureka,' I'm off. In playful moods, he liked to rub the cat's back on winter mornings, and make sparks from poor pussy fly out.

Or, with bits of amber, in friction, he could draw up a hair, or a scrap of paper; but when mad, would leap out of the sky in a lightning flash, or come down in a fire-bolt, that would set a house in flames. But he was. First they put him in a jar. Then they drew him from the clouds, with a kite and key. Then they made him dance the tight rope on wires, and carry messages a thousand miles on land. Now, again, they have made a harness of batteries and wires, and, with his help, they write and talk to each other at the ends of the earth.

They gabble about 'receivers' and 'volts' and a thou- sand things we cannot understand ; but, with their submarine cables and overland wires, and wire- less stations, they have beaten our English neigh- bor Puck; for they have 'put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes. Worse than all, where we used to have control of the air, and keep men out of it, now they have put Vonk in a machine with wings, and a motor to drive it through the sky and across the ocean.

So it went on, in the fairy world. First one, and then the other, told how human beings were doing what, long ago, only the fairies and none else could do. Things were different now, be- cause men had kidnapped some of the fairies, and harnessed them to work, as if they were horses or dogs, or donkeys ; that's the reason they are so smart.

Who can, who will escape these mortals? It would not do to let things go on at this rate, or there would not be one fairy left ; but all would become servants, slaves, or beasts of burden for human beings. They might even make the fairies wear iron clothes, so they should have no freedom, except as their masters willed: and, even women would be their bosses.

They agreed unanimously to hold the Con- gress, or Convention, at Kabouterberg, or the Hill of the Kabouters, near Gelrode. All prom- ised to lay aside their grudges, and forget all social slights and quarrels. It was agreed that none should laugh, even if one of the Kluddes should try to talk in meeting. The invitations were sent out to every sort of fairy known in Belgium, from Flanders to Luxemburg, and from the sandy campine of Limburg, to the flax fields of Hainault. Over land and sea, and from the bowels of the earth, from down in the coal and zinc mines, to the high- est hill of the Ardennes, the invitations were sent out.

Not one was forgotten. Of course, not every individual fairy could come, but only committees or delegations of each sort. It would be too long a story to tell of all who did come and what they said and how they be- haved; but from the secretary of the meeting, the story-teller obtained the list of delegates. The principal personages were as follows : Honors were paid first to the smallest. These were the Manneken, or little fellows. They stood not much higher than a thimble, but were very merry. The Manneken had triangular heads, and their eyes always twinkled.

They were very much like children, that do not show off before company, but are often very bright and cunning, when you do not expect them to be. The general tint of their clothes and skin was brown. Sometimes people called them Mannetje, or Darling Little Fellows. They and the rabbits were great friends. Next came our old friends, the Kabouters, whom we have met before. Living down in the earth, and in the mines, and always busy at forge fires, or in coal or ore, they were not ex- pected to come daintily dressed. They seemed, however, to have brushed off the soot, washed away the grime, and scrubbed themselves up gen- erally.

Too much light seemed to disturb them and all the time they kept shading their eyes with their hands. The majority were dressed in suits, caps, and shoes of a butternut color. Each one was about a yard high. They were cousins to the Kobolds of Germany. The Klabbers were easily picked out of the crowd, by their scarlet caps, and because they were dressed in red, from head to foot. Most of them had green faces and green hands. They were very polite and jolly, but sometimes they appeared to be surly and snarlish, according to the moods they were in, but more especially be- cause of the way they were treated by others.

It is said that there was more of human nature in these fellows, than in any other kind of Bel- gian fairies. These Klabbers, or Red Caps, were somewhat taller than the Kabouters. Even the Kabouters, not one of whom owned a dress coat, or a fashionable gown, had better manners than the Kludde rascals, whose one idea seemed to be to tumble farmers' boys into the ditches.

They had no originality, or variety in their tricks, beyond the single one of changing themselves into old "plugs," or broken down horses ; and they possessed no more powers of speech, than cows or cats, that say "moo" and "miouw. When a fairy stood up that was fluent, and entertaining, and made a good speech, these sand snipes applauded so loudly, and kept on crying "Kludde" so noisily the only word they knew that the president of the meeting had to call them to order.

He sternly told them to be silent, or he would have them put out. Notwithstand- ing this, they kept on mumbling, "Kludde, Kludde" to themselves. The Wappers were out in full force, or at least a dozen of them. At first they sat folded 40 BELGIAN FAIRY TALES up, like jackknives; and all occupying one place together, like a lot of beetles ; but when the place of meeting got crowded, by others wanting their room, the Wappers stretched themselves out and up, until they looked like a crowd of daddy long- legs, with their long, wiry limbs and their heads and bodies up in the air.

They were told not to talk gibberish, except among themselves; but to address the chair, and speak in meeting only in correct and polite fairy language, which even then had to be interpreted. No jokes or tricks, such as the different kinds of fairies play on human beings, were allowed during the meeting of the Congress. Two big, fairy policemen, called Gog and Magog, dressed in the colors of the Belgian flag, black, yellow and red, were posted near the door, to make all Kabouters, Kludde, Wappers and Mannekens, behave.

If any member of the Con- gress got too "fresh," or obstreperous, he was immediately seized and thrown out of doors. Both the policemen's clubs, which were longer than barbers' poles, were made of Flemish oak, wrapped round with black, yellow and red rib- bons. Besides these bludgeons, each carried at his belt a coil of rope, to bind any of the big fairies that might give trouble. No ogres or giants came, for it could not be found that any of these big fairy folk lived in the Belgium of our time. Formerly, they were very numerous and troublesome, not only to men and women, but even to the pretty and respect- able fairies.

As for old Toover Hek, and his wife, Mrs. Hek, they had never been heard of, or from, for hundreds of years. Much the same report con- cerning dragons was given by the registrar, or secretary, who knew all about the different kind of Belgian fairies. At the name of a certain mortal, Balthazar Bekker, the Dutch enemy of all fairies, every one hissed, the Kabouters howled, the Wappers banged tin pans, and the Kludde yelled. One fairy proposed the health of Toover Hek, as an insult to Bekker 's memory, but this was voted down as an extreme measure.

Then it was sug- gested that the memory of Verarmen of Hasselt be praised, but those present in the Congress, being modern fairies, cared nothing about any- thing so far back. As for the regular attendants at the Congress, they were many and interesting, and some were very lovely; yet, altogether, they were much, in their looks and manners, like the fairies in other 42 BELGIAN FAIRY TALES countries; so that there is little advantage to be gained in describing them, or their dresses and ornaments. Some had wings, some had not.

They looked very gauzy, and most of them were as tiny as babies, but there were some larger ones also. This was done at the suggestion of a member of the Kabouters' Guild, who was afraid the Belgian fairies would be ruined by the cheap labor im- ported from other countries, like Ireland or Bul- garia.

It was also unanimously decided that no for- eign fairies, even if they applied for membership, or wanted to attend as visitors, should be ad- mitted to the Congress. So all the German ko- bolds, English brownies and nixies, Japanese oni, the French fee, Austrian gnomes, and the Scotch and Irish fays and fairies, of any and all kinds, were kept out. Though these might envy the fairies of Belgium, and their happy lot, they could not even sit as delegates, or be allowed the usual courtesies due to visitors.

This the story teller heard afterwards, when a fairy maiden let out the secret of this, one of the proceedings of the Congress, after they had gone into executive session! She just couldn't keep a secret, that's all! Or why does he not tell more about the amusements, the receptions, and the fine clothes of the prettiest fairies? Well, the American man was vexed enough, when the president of the Congress ordered all human beings and strangers of every sort to leave the house, and then locked the door, so that every- thing was done in secret.

This was the only time in Belgium, that the story-teller was not courteously treated. Yet the reason is plain. The President and secre- tary were both afraid that this tourist, who had really, many times visited Belgium, just to get better acquainted with the fairies, was a prude, who didn't believe in letting children know anything about fairies. In other words, he was suspected of wanting to abolish all books of fairy tales from the libraries. But you know better. Although the forest was so dense, yet there were many paths through it, for there was no other way of getting across from Germany, into Belgic Land and France and Holland.

Toover Hek, the man-eating giant, or ogre, used to wait, where the paths crossed each other, or diverged, and here he would waylay travelers, seize them and run away with them, and, with his ogre wife, devour them in his cave. This ogre, Toover Hek, roamed the woods and ate up all the people he could catch, who traveled that way.

Terrible tales were told about his vrouw, also, who was reported to be even more cruel than her big husband.

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It was said that she was a cousin of another ogre, Hecate, who had once lived further east, in Greece. Sometimes the children called this big fellow the Long Man, because he was so tall, and had such very long legs. In the local dialect, this became "Lounge Man," which means the same thing. One day, his ogre wife found some honey in the forest and brought it to him. He smacked his lips and always after that called his wife his Troetel, or Honey Bunch. The first inhabitant of the country was a farmer, named Heinrich.

He was a doughty fellow, who was not afraid of ogres or giants. He had long lived among people who celebrated the kermiss, but with such drunken brutality and coarse indecency, that he was disgusted, and went into the forest to live. Heinrich's one weak- ness was pea soup, and his wife thought with him and rode the same hobby. All her neighbors said that she made the best and thickest pea soup in Limburg. Heinrich believed pea soup to be both food and luxury. He thought also that water and milk, and good soup, were all the liquids nature intended ever to pass the hu- man throat.

He swung his axe diligently, chopped down the trees, and built a rough house of wood. This he made his home, and named it Hasselt. Soon his goats, pigs, and chickens so multi- plied that it was hard to keep them out of the house. So Grietje persuaded her husband, Heinrich, to saw the door in halves and put them on two sets of hinges. This was called a hek, or heck-door, after the name usually given to the feed-rack in the barn or stable.


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In this way, the upper part of the door, when open, let in light and air, and the house was kept looking sweet and cheerful. The lower part of the door, or the heck, when shut, kept out the goats, pigs, and chickens. Leaning over the top of the lower half, the good vrouw could throw out grain to feed the ducks, geese, pullets, hens, and roosters, and toss many a tidbit to the piggies. Farmer Heinrich was so pleased with this idea of a double door, that kept his wife in good humor, that he would always call on it to witness some act of his. He would even swear by this demi-door, as if it were something sacred or important.

So his wife often heard him say "By heck, that's a fine hazel-nut," or "By heck, what a fat pig! Every day, he went out to see how his vines were growing. When his crop was ready to be gathered, he had, be- sides having enjoyed a daily dish of green peas, or a good basin of thick pea soup, enough of the legumes dried, to furnish his table with thick pea soup, all winter long. He cultivated all the varieties of peas then known. The early, medium, late, and the wrinkled, smooth or split peas were, at one time or another, on his table.

One evening, after a day's work with the axe, in the forest, Farmer Heinrich came home to tell his wife about a terrible ogre, of which he had caught a glimpse, that day, on one of the hills across the valley. This monster carried an enormous fir tree club. Heinrich seemed very much disturbed and talked volubly to Grietje. He wound up his description of the Long Man, as he called him, by adding at the end of every sentence, "By heck, he is tall ; a real Toover Hek ; and, by heck his club was a big one. Yet they did not pro- pose to become mincemeat for an ogre.

Far from it. Their surest defense would be in having a barrel of thick pea soup, kept ready and hot, for him. Fill his stomach, and he would forget everything else; for, like a pig, he thought first and last of something to eat. Whenever they saw Toover Hek coming, they could warm up the soup quickly, and set it out on the doorstep. Then they would bolt the heck door and put a notice outside inviting the ogre to help himself to the free lunch.

They also planned to drive all the cattle, pigs, goats, and poultry into the barn and lock the animals up. Of course, they would make no noise, for the roosters and hens would think it was night, and go to roost, and the four footed creatures to sleep. In fact, these two Limburgers went on the idea that the bigger the ogre, the less brains he would have, inside his brain pan. It was the way of Dame Nature, the woman argued ; that, what she put into a creature's body, she took out of his skull, whether it were a dragon, a bull, a monkey, or a giant.

She didn't add "a man," but she probably meant it. It turned out, just as Heinrich and Grietje expected, and had planned. One day, when the farmer was far out in the fields, pulling up the vines of an old pea-patch, and grubbing up the soil to plant new ones, Grietje, the vrouw, saw Toover Hek, at a distance, coming down the hill, straight for their cabin.

At once, she set the boiler on the fire, to heat up the pea soup. Then she ran out and shooed the chickens, drove the cows into the barn, pulled the goats inside, and locked the door. Then she poured out the hot, thick, pea soup, into the barrel outside, hung a dipper near by, for invitation, and shut and bolted both leaves of the heck door. Peeping through the keyhole, she could see the big fellow strutting forward.

He was puffing, and blowing, after his long tramp. Toover Hek seemed to sniff the good stuff from a distance. He laid down his big club, which was made of a whole fir tree, and coming up to the pea soup barrel, poked out his tongue and tasted the thick soup. He smacked his lips in glee, making such a noise, that Heinrich, in the distant pea patch, thought it had thundered. Then rubbing gleefully the region of his swelled out stomach he licked his chops, and soon walked off, without hurting anything, not even a toad. Heinrich send Grietje were in high spirits over all this, and congratulated each other, on not being inside Toover Hek's stomach and on their apparent escape from further danger.

But next day Toover Hek came again. Hap- pily, the barrel of thick pea soup was again ready for him, and once more he swallowed it all down ; finishing his lunch by thrusting out his tongue, which Grietje declared was a yard long, and giving a thunderous lick to his chops.


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  7. Then he strode off, to tell his ogre wife, about his good luck. But she only scolded him, for not bringing home a nice juicy boy, a plump girl, a fat woman, or even a skinny man, tough as he might be; for such a tid-bit would taste better than her every day meal of roots and berries and wild animals. As for her part, she was real hungry. She was so tired of Limburger cheese, as a steady diet.

    Belgian Farting Pig Cartoon

    And, besides, she liked the strong smell of it, even less than she used to. She thought he was an auroch or a bear; and at last she called him a wild boar, for not thinking of her, and bringing home to her at least a bucketful of pea soup. How could he forget her! How could they keep up the supply of a whole barrel of thick pea soup every day for months? For, although one might outwit an ogre, and play the sort of a trick, which must bamboozle his stupid brain, there was no telling what he might do, when matters referred to his stom- ach, and when there was no more thick pea soup, to divert him from the pigs and chickens; or, what he liked best, human beings.

    Heinrich feared that Toover Hek would soon eat him out of house and home and then proceed to make a meal of him and his vrouw; and finish up with his fowls and live stock. He'll find it out, and then he'll smash everything with his big club," said Hein- rich to Grietje, after she had suggested economy, with more water and fewer peas, and then, when all the peas were gone, mock turtle or cabbage soup. Heinrich, being a man, knew that it was not safe to play tricks with a hungry giant, when his stomach was empty. He went on to say: "You could not do it with a farmer, and how was it to be done with an ogre?

    He loved his wife, but he wanted her to understand that he was boss; but she only laughed inside, and knew she could "wrap him round her little finger," when she wanted to the dear old donkey. Now it happened just when his bin was empty, and the last bushel of peas had been scraped out, to make thick soup, and Toover Hek had again swallowed a barrel full, that these first inhabit- ants of Hasselt, Heinrich and Grietje, his wife, were saved from the ogre, in an unexpected way.

    How did it come to pass? Well a brave knight, who had heard of Hein- rich's troubles, and had got tired of rescuing princes from dragons, and dungeons, and cruel uncles and old witches, hied him to the Forest of Hazel Nuts.

    Belgian Fairy Tales (1919)

    He was just spoiling for a fight with an ogre. So he made a vow to the Holy Virgin that if she would help him, he would make the paths safe for travelers. Coming into the woods, near Hasselt, early one afternoon, he waited until old Toover Hek had already had his daily gulp of thick pea soup, and felt sleepy, and much like taking an afternoon nap. The ogre was so full, that he could not walk fast, or move about easily. The truth was, that old Toover Hek was half afraid to go home, and tell his wife that he had forgotten her again and had drunk up all the soup, before he thought of her, and what she had told him.

    He wished now that he had taken home a pail full ; but he soon got over this spasm of conscience, and felt dull and stupid. Indeed he looked as if he were hunting round, for a good, soft place to take a nap in. As soon as the knight noticed this, he flew at him with his trusty sword. He avoided his big club, which came down with a crack, hurting nothing, but only knocking off some hazel nuts, and making a big dent in the ground. Then the knight rushed up close to his enemy's long legs and chopped away at his knees. Toover Hek fell over, for his big club was of no use.

    Seeing this, the knight ran up, and cut off the ogre's head. Then pulling out his hunting horn, the victor blew a blast, which called up his two squires. They quickly rigged up a rude sled, made of poles, put the head of Toover Hek on it, and drew it off to the knight's castle. There it was exposed, on a sharpened stake of wood, in front of the gate. After the ogre's head was taken down, it was set in the ground at the side of a brook, and used for women to stand or kneel on, while washing clothes.

    In time it was polished as ivory and shone in the sun. As for Heinrich, he hitched up four yoke of oxen, and tying an iron chain around the fir tree trunk, which formed the giant's club, he dragged it to his barnyard and there had it chopped up. It made a load of firewood which lasted him all winter. Now that the roads were safe for all travelers, Heinrich and Grietje, and the knight, in thank- fulness to the Holy Virgin fixed a pretty little shrine to one of the forest trees.

    Soon the knight's exploit was noised abroad and pilgrims came in large companies, to pray here, and take courage. They called the place by name, which, in the local dialect, or patois, is "Virga Jesse. In time, instead of Heinrich's farm, a great clearing in the woods was made, and Hassdt, or Hazel Bush, was well named. It was also called the Forest City and became renowned throughout Europe. Even the Pope sent as a gift, for the Holy Mother, a jeweled crown.

    Every seventh year, on the 15th of August, besides the religious procession, celebrating the Feast of the Assumption, which attracts the pious, the Hasselters, young or old, have a jolly and happy time. They enjoy uproariously the legend of Heinrich and his vrouw, and they tell how a woman's wit brought to naught the vil- lainous designs of the cannibal ogre, Toover Hek ; and how a brave knight slew him and relieved the country of the monstrous Long Man.

    So, to this day, the barrel of thick pea soup, like the widow's cruse of oil, has never failed. What became of the ogre's wife no one knows, or cares. In the fields, one sees the blue flax flower by the acre, the fleur-de-lys, the corn flower, and many others, besides the marguerite daisy, which the Walloons, who made the first homes in New York, brought to our continent of America. Not a few of these Belgian flowers can be recognized on the coats of arms of the old cru- saders, and on the crests and shields of the nobles and the honorable families.

    They are also carved on the public buildings, or made or set, with jewels and in gold, and worn as rings, brace- lets, necklaces and brooches. Most striking and showy of all is the poppy, with its flaming red petals. In the grain fields it grows among the wheat, making brilliant con- trast of crimson and yellow. For a thousand years, the dying soldiers on the battle fields of Flanders, as they closed their eyes in death, to sleep in God, have cast their final look at the crimson poppy. In Fairy Land, this flower has a noble reputa- tion and our story will tell why.

    Once upon a day, in a time and an age too far back for any almanacs to mark, or astronomer to reckon, there was strife among the fairies as to which was the more honorable. They all wanted to be kings or queens, princes or princesses, but the earth's surface was not big enough for so many thrones. Besides, if all were sovereigns, where would be the subjects to obey and serve? Fairy Land became so excited over the matter, that one would think the fairies were going to war; just as foolish mortals do, when they quarrel and kill each other. Since all were so haughty, and so prone to sulk, and be surly, it was neces- sary that one of the fairies should give up all pride and ambition and set an example of mod- esty, unselfishness and sacrifice.

    It seemed all the more strange and unseemly, that the fairies living on the surface of the earth, or in the moonshine and starlight, should quarrel. But no, these fairies underground were the most modest, humble, and peaceable of all. In fact, they rarely ever came up on the earth, un- less some special duty or summons called them.

    The fairies of the upper world, where men lived, looked down on the kabouters and elves as far beneath them, and not at all in their society. This fairy, of modest disposition, who was willing to set a good example, offered to the other fairies that, if they would stop their quarrelings and think only how they might help and serve good boys and girls, and not play tricks on milkmaids and farmers, she would be- come a kabouter.

    She would lay aside all her pretty clothes, wreaths, jewels and ornaments, and go down into the dark caves and deep into the earth to live there forever. She would learn the secrets of the elves, that work in the mines and at the fires, and she would make something beautiful for her old friends and companions, or else bring forth a new flower. Around this, they could dance and hold their revels, and so forget their jealousies and strife. For fairies, like men, get tired of old ways and scenes, which they have had a long time. They like to have new things that are fresh and bright.

    But she never returned, and this was the rea- son. First, she put off all her beautiful garments and donned clothes that were of a dark and sad color. Then she went far down underground and into the caverns of the world beneath, and deeper even than the coal mines of the Boringue, and the zinc mines of Moresnet. Coming suddenly upon a company of ka- bouters, these rude fellows at once seized her, crying out : "Now we've got you. We've long wanted to catch one of the upper world fairies, for despising us sooty folk and making us work so hard for them.

    We have served your kind long enough. Now you shall do our will. Next, putting a pair of tongs into her hands, they bade her beat an iron bar, drawn red hot from the forge fire. Then, standing in front of the anvil, she had to beat the bar out flat. The kabouter, who was set to watch her and keep her busy, was one of the ugliest of their number.

    He scolded and even beat her, when she almost fainted under the hard tasks, to which she was so suddenly put and to which she was wholly unused. Yet this earth fairy was very wise, while she was among the kabouters, and gradually she learned many of their secrets. One of these was the way these elves procured their iron; which was from the particles in the blood of the mil- lions of men slain, on the soil of Belgium, ever since human beings came on the earth, and which makes blood so red.

    Here, the rival and hostile races had met on the thousand battle fields, known and unknown to human history. These were more numerous than spots on a leopard or stripes on a zebra. Torrents of blood had been poured out, and again and again the soil had been reddened, and the turf made to look dark with the stains. Sometimes, even rills and rivers ran red. But the kindly rain from Heaven had made the human life-stream soak into the soil, and nature soon came with her sweet mantle of flowers to heal, and to reconcile, and make men forget.

    Not for the young to look back over the past, except to hear about the fairies! So, one generation after another, of human beings, forgot what had happened in former years and ages. Moreover, all the red rills, that had flowed from the veins of the wounded and dying, fed the earth and made it more fertile. Even their flesh and bones soon mingled with the soil and their elements reappeared in grain and trees, plants and flowers. Only the iron atoms of the blood of the soldiers remained in the ground. From the time when men fought with stone axes and arrows, to the days we can re- member, when they used poison gas and dropped bombs from the sky, men fed the earth with their bodies and blood and left widows and or- phans at home.

    By the aid of their secret powers, the ka- bouters had collected these iron particles, that were once floating in human veins and arteries, and they made them into their tools, such as hammers, tongs, anvils, chains, locks, keys, and what not. They also possessed the secrets of the colors, that enter into the clays, flowers, stones, dyes for garments and whatever has tint or hue.

    Almost all the wonders of chemistry were known to these elves, and often, in talking to each other, they declared that everything, which the human artist laid on canvas, or with which he tinted his wall, or house, was caused by some chemical change in metals. One of the most wonderful of their secrets was the transformation of iron into rouge, which the girls and women put on their cheeks, in order to imitate the lovely rose tints, with which nature paints the faces of her children. Yet whereas, in health and vigor, the color comes to the hu- man face from within, foolish folks put it on from without.

    Indeed, in some countries, the fore- finger and finger nail of the maidens which, at the tips, is usually red, is named "the rouge finger," because most used for this purpose by the girls who wear out the carpet in front of their looking glasses. Now it was an old kabouter, that was kind to the fairy from the upper earth, who told her the secret of the splendid hue of the red petals of the poppy. Now I can tell you how you can make a new flower, as red as blood, that will spring up all over the fields of Flan- ders.

    I should gladly die, if I might end the quarrels of the fairies and leave behind me a crimson flower. I want something, on Belgian soil, that shall make its people love their land all the more, and, by its color, remind them of the blood of the slain of many genera- tions of men. Let the red flower spring up everywhere, without thought or labor. So will they value the more their beloved country, when they plant and cultivate the white lilies of peace.

    You must give up your own life, and the flower will be your trans- formation. Die, and the red flowers shall live. And we kabouter s also love Belgium. We shall let the iron atoms, gathered during ages, from the dead, enter with your life into the new blooms which shall spring up.

    There is already enough iron in the soil to tint the petals for a thousand years to come. That night, there was a funeral among the fairies. In the softest spot, in the centre of a fairy ring, among the grass and yellow and blue flowers, they laid her to rest in a sad burial.

    Nevertheless the burden of their song was of promise and joy, and in praise of beauty; for the earth's surface was now to wear a new floral jewel. And behold, in the next spring time, the earth seemed dotted with jets of flame, as if a thousand fairies were each one kindling a tiny memorial fire, in remembrance of human lives given for others. From that day of the grave in the fairy's ring, there was peace among the fairies. And in our time, the poppies of Belgium keep a per- petual Decoration Day, because of the genera- tions of the slain on the soil of Belgium the Beautiful.

    These were so many, that some industrious farmers and their wives got together to see if they could equal or exceed the fairies in doing good things for their country. They wished to outrival the fairies, excel them if possible, and make Belgium great among the nations. These honest folk used to meet together in the evenings and tell fairy tales, so that they and their little ones, as they grew up in their wooden shoes, might know just what fairies were good for.

    This was done, because they supposed that everything unusual, or wonderful in nature, was the work of the fairies, and they felt that human beings ought, in other ways, to beat them in a contest of wits. The meeting was at night, of course, for fairies are never seen in the day time.

    Having already shown what they had done for the animals of Belgium, the fairy-folk proposed to talk about what they had done, with the plants and minerals, to enrich Belgium and make the country great. The first story the fairies told was, "How the lowly flower got into royal society," and thus the fairy began : " 'All the world,' as the French say, knows that the fleur-de-lys, the lily of France has, for centuries, been their national emblem. In the blazonry of kings and queens, it was sewn on royal robes and embroidered in gold and silver on flags and banners.

    It was stamped on the coins, and made the symbol of everything glo- rious in France. All the world has heard of the Bourbon lilies, for that family of kings and rulers made it especially their own emblem. To get the crystals out of the brine, they cut down the trees of the forest, in which the fairies lived. Then they piled up the logs, and made a great blaze. The tongues of fire leaped higher and higher, for they were trying to get back to Heaven, their old home. Then the forefathers of our nation went down to the sea and drew up the salt water. This they flung on the red hot logs, praying all the time for the salt to come.

    These, they scraped up, and, after refining, by means of water and evaporation, in the sun's rays, they used the salt on their food and, as offerings to the gods. So they took the name Salis, which means 'of the salt. They were very proud of being Franks, or freemen, and were known as the Salic Franks. When they found that their enemies were weakening, and food was scarce in the north, they resolved to march south and west, and pos- sess the rich land stretching between the Maas and the Seine rivers, which is now Belgium and France.

    Reaching the river Lys, when the iris and the lily were in full bloom, each one of the tribesmen plucked a stem and blossom of the plant and stuck it in his cap. The flower of the Lys, or fleur-de- lys, under which they had won victory, was chosen as their emblem. Thus the once lovely Belgic flower was elevated into royal society. When Childeric, their emperor, died, he was buried at Tournai, and his tomb was here, in the church of St.

    On the robes, which cover his honored dust, when his coffin was opened, centuries ago, were found three hundred golden bees, models of those that gathered honey from the flowers that grew along the Lys and other rivers of Belgic Land. Just as the Bourbons had claimed the lily as the particular blazon of their family, so Na- poleon made the golden bee his symbol. Did not a common shrub, named by Europeans, the 'broom,' the planta genista, become the proud emblem of the Plantagenets, kings of England? She hoped she had not been tedious.

    Would you? Do your best to allure, coax, win, tame and har- ness them, for your use and benefit. Believe what a wise man has said, concerning even the plants that you call 'weeds' these which you uproot, plow under, throw out and burn. Yet each one may possess some secret charm, some virtue, or a message or science to you. For what says the seer? These French soldiers of , who kept step with the Continentals, on the way to Yorktown, were under the Bourbon lilies. Let us remember also, that the old moot -place of the Salic Franks is still to be seen near Nij- kerk, in Gelderland, the pretty town, whence came "Corlaer," and Van Rensselaer, and the settlers of New Netherland, out of which grew the four noble states of New York, Pennsyl- vania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

    There he saw hotels named "The Seven Churches," in one of which he slept. He asked how it was, that a hotel should be named after churches, and why there should be seven of them? This was the answer, and here is the story. After the holy Saint Patrick had left Ireland free from snakes, it was a pleasanter country to dwell in, and people were kinder to each other than ever before. There were still, however, many rough fellows still in the island, and fights between the clans were common.

    Yet such was the beauty of the colleens, or young maidens, that oftentimes these warlike chiefs fell in love with the daughters of men who were their enemies. Then there was trouble in the families, for the Irish are very proud of their blood and ancestors. In those days, every tribe was jealous of the other. This was for fear they might get a spalpeen in the family. Now there was a lovely daughter of a famous chief, who lived in a castle, with plenty of green vines growing on the walls.

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    Her name was Eileen, and her favorite plant was the shamrock. For Saint Patrick had taught that its three parts, growing on one stem, made a true symbol of the triune Deity, whom all good people ought to worship. The life was one, the leaves were three. Eileen was a Christian maid, and the shamrock was like the voice of a friend, that spoke to her every day, saying "be faithful and pure.

    How proud and happy he would feel, if she, as his wife, should grace his castle! Be- sides, an alliance, with her powerful father, would greatly add to the glory of his own name and prowess. So, according to the ancient custom of the country, he told the wish of his heart to her father, before asking the maiden herself. Her parents were pleased to have the chief thus propose the match, for they had already thought to marry their daughter to him, for he was also a brave warrior. But there was one drawback. The men in whom he trusted, and whose advice he followed, would not go to church, or keep the Sabbath day.

    The good rulers of the church had passed a law, which they named "the truce of God"; that, at certain sea- sons of the year, during three days, there should be no fighting. But this pagan chief cared noth- ing for this law, and was very cruel in many ways. Nearly all the good people in Ireland called him a spalpeen. Nevertheless, this chief was so rich and power- ful, that Eileen's parents insisted upon her marrying him. They hoped, too, that she, with her gentle ways, would change the brutish fel- low's disposition. But Eileen thought that this would be like trying to tame a tiger, or a lion; for bad passions raged in him as in the wild beasts.

    Tigers and lions look very grand, but they are not pleasant to live with. Seeing that her father was determined to marry her off to this cruel man, and had even named the day of the marriage, and that her mother was sewing upon her wedding dress. Eileen resolved to leave home and escape to Belgic Land, across the sea. She knew no ship captains or sailors. Then, as everybody knows, the coast of Ireland was studded with high, round towers, from which the sentinels could see all who came and went.

    One night, weary of thinking over her troubles, she fell asleep and dreamed. And this was her dream. A great company of fairies flew over the sea, from Belgic Land, and greeted her with wel- coming hands, smiles and curtsies. They all seemed to be standing on a sod, cut from the ground, like a large garden. She recognized some of the flowers, the marguerite daisy, with its round golden heart and white petals, like rays, or strips, around the centre; the lily, that grew along the river Lys, called the fleur-de-lys; the blue wax flower, and some Oriental plants, such as the tulip and orange blossom.

    Besides these, there were the hazel tree buds, the blossoms of the apple tree, and several other pretty things that grow in the lowlands of Flanders, or high up among the highlands of the Ardennes. Some had come from the East, and some from the South, but together they gave Eileen the idea that Belgic Land would make for her a charming home, because she loved flowers so dearly. They were to her, as the very thoughts of God. The queen, or leader of the fairies, with a radiant star on her forehead, and a silvery wand in her right hand, stepped off the green sward and, dropping a curtsey, said: "We have heard of your troubles, pretty maid, and have come to invite you to our country.

    You can travel on this magic sod, which will float on the water; and, in the fair weather of this com- ing day, you can reach our soil. Now, you must come with us. Take them along with you. We'll promise that you can keep them with you; or, we'll change them into whatever form of life you may desire. This she held with one hand, while with the other, she grasped two sham- rock plants, for she could not leave either of her favorites behind. She had to hurry, because the fairies can work only at night, and they all dis- appear at sunrise. By the time they had got well out upon the salt water, the eastern sky began to get, first gray, and then faintly red.

    Thereupon, the chief fairy spoke to her and said : "We must disappear now, but we shall meet you in our Belgic land, and shall always help you. Don't for one moment, be afraid. The sod will float you, and tomorrow night, we shall be there, on the strand, to greet you.


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    8. Command us, for we love you, and will do your will. We are sure you will be happy in our country, where you are needed. Eileen looked around, over the floating garden, but every one of the fairies had vanished. There was nothing to be seen, but the flowers, the grass, and the little chicks, that were running about, as if they thought it great fun. Indeed, they were having the time of their lives; for, being so small, they thought the whole world was bounded by that sod. Meanwhile, soft breezes were blowing, and the sun shone out, keeping her warm. Please enter your name.

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      New York, Thomas Y. Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. Be the first. Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. Linked Data More info about Linked Data. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions. Remember me on this computer. Cancel Forgot your password? William Elliot Griffis. Fairy tales -- Belgium.

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