by Hans Christian Andersen
There was once an old mansion in the country, in which an old squire
lived with his two sons, and these two sons were too clever
by half. They had made up their minds to propose to the king's daughter, and they ventured to do so, because she had made it known that she would take any man for a husband who had most to say for himself. These two took a week over their preparations; it was all the time they had for it, but it was quite enough with all their accomplishment
s, which were most useful. One of them knew the Latin
Dictionary by heart, and the town newspaper
s for three years either forwards or backwards. The second one had made himself acquainted with all the statute
s of the Corporation
s, and what every alderman
had to know. So he thought he was competent to talk about affairs of state; and he also knew how to embroider harness, for he was clever with his fingers.
"I shall win the king's daughter," they both said, and their father gave each of them a beautiful horse. The one who could repeat the Dictionary and the newspapers had a coal-black one, while the one who was learned in Guilds and embroideries had a milk-white one. Then they smeared the corners of their mouths with oil to make them more flexible. All the servants were assembled in the courtyards to see them mount, but just then the third brother came up, for there were three, only nobody made any account of this one, Hans Clodhopper, as he had no accomplishments like his brothers.
"Where are you going with all your fine clothes on?" he asked.
"To court, to talk ourselves into favour with the princess. Haven't you heard the news which is being drummed all over the country?" And then they told him the news.
"Preserve us!" then I must go too," said Hans Clodhopper. But his brothers laughed and rode away.
"Father, give me a horse. I want to get married too. If she takes me, she takes me, and if she doesn't take me, I shall take her all the same."
"Stuff and nonsense," said his father, "I will give no horse to you. Why, you have got nothing to say for yourself, now your brothers are fine fellows."
"If I mayn't have a horse," said Hans Clodhopper, "I'll take the billy-goat, he is my own and he can carry me very well!" And he seated himself astride the billy-goat, dug his heels into its sides, and galloped off down the highroad. Whew! what a pace they went at.
"Here I come," shouted Hans Clodhopper, and he sang till the air rang with it.
The brothers rode on in silence, they did not say a word to each other, for they had to store up every good idea which they wanted to produce later on, and their speeches had to be very carefully thought out.
"Halloo!" shouted Hans, "here I come; see what I've found on the road," and he shewed them a dead crow.
"What on earth will you do with that, Clodhopper?" said they.
"I will give it to the king's daughter."
"Yes, I would do that," said they, and they rode on laughing.
"Halloo, here I come; see what I have found; one doesn't find such a thing as this every day on the road." The brothers turned round to see what it was.
"Clodhopper," said they, "it is nothing but an old wooden shoe with the upper part broken off. Is the princess to have that too?"
"Yes, indeed she is," said Hans, and the brothers again rode on laughing.
"Halloo, halloo, here I am," shouted Hans. "Now this is famous."
"What have you found this time?" asked the brothers.
"Won't the princess be delighted!"
"Why,," said the brothers, "it's only pludder picked up out of the ditch!"
"Yes, that it is," said Hans, "and the finest kind of pludder, too. You can hardly hold it." And he filled his pockets with it.
(on to part two)