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HOW TIMOTHY WON THE PRINCESS
Once upon a time a poor widow and her son Timothy lived in a little cottage near a village. One day Tim’s mother said: “Tim, my boy, the landlord’s rent must be paid and I haven’t a bit of money in the house. I’ve made up my mind to sell one of our three cows.”

Tim replied: “All right! I’ll take the old red cow to the fair in the morning, and sell her for a good price, mother mine.”

Bright and early Tim was ready. It was a fine spring morning, and the birds sang merrily in the trees. The hedgerows were white with May blossoms. Tim drove the old cow along the mossy green lanes until he 107came to the village, where a fair was being held.

A great crowd had gathered in a ring near the main road, and Timothy hurried there to see what caused the excitement. In the middle of this ring, on a tiny platform, was a little man with a tiny harp and a tiny stool. The dwarf reached down deep into his pocket and brought out a bee, all dressed up in a blue suit of clothes with bright buttons and gold braid. Perched on one side of his head was a cunning little cap which matched his suit. Again the little man reached down into his pocket and drew out a cockroach and a tiny mouse.

The cockroach was dressed in a very full skirt of flowered silk, a lace bodice, and bright panniers of velvet. On her head was a dainty bit of a hat wreathed with flowers.

The little mouse wore a dress suit and a tall silk hat. At a sign from the little man, the bee jumped on the stool and began to play a tune on the harp. Then Mr. Mouse bowed to Miss Cockroach. She courtesied gracefully, and the two began to waltz to the music.

108Now the moment they began to dance every man and woman, youth and maid, joined them. Soon everything in sight, pots and pans, pigs and cows, ducks and hens, began to reel about as if they had all gone mad! The old cow began to whirl round and round, and then Timothy started. His feet kept time to the music which grew louder and faster as the sport proceeded. In a short time the little man picked up the harp, stool, and animals and put them back into his pocket.

Instantly, everybody and everything came to a standstill! Then such a roar of laughter burst forth as was never heard before. The people laughed until their sides ached, and Timothy’s voice was heard above all the others. The little man walked up to him.

“What do you think of that for sport?” he asked.

“Oh, indeed, it was fine fun, sir,” answered Tim.

“And how would you like to own my little animals?”

“Like to own them, sir? Indeed I should, but I have no money, nor have I any way of getting it.”

“I’ll tell you how to make a good bargain though,” said the little man, coming closer. “I’ll trade you the harp and my musician, the bee, for the cow you’ve brought to the fair to sell. Come, what do you say to that?”

“Oh, how I should like to have them, sir! But mother must have money for the landlord. She is very sad and downhearted because we cannot pay the rent.”

“Yes, yes, but think how the tiny musician will make her laugh, my boy. She needs cheering,” persuaded the little man.

“So she does, sir,” said Tim. “I’ll trade with you.”

The little man took the cow and disappeared, and Timothy put the harp, the stool, and the bee into his pocket and went home.

“You’ve sold the cow, my boy?” said his mother, anxiously. “How much money did you get for her?”

“Money, mother! I got something much better than money,” said Tim, excitedly.

112Then out of his pocket he took the harp, the stool, and the bee, and set them on the floor. After a deep bow the bee seated himself on the stool, cocked his head on one side, and began to play a lively tune. The little fellow looked so comical that Timothy’s mother couldn’t keep a straight face. She burst into a peal of laughter. The lad joined her, and then the pots and the pans, the table and chairs, everything in the house began to reel and jig. Tim and his mother began to hop up and down in the funniest manner. This kept on for some time, and then Tim took up the harp, the stool, and the bee, and put them into his pocket. In a second, everything quieted down. Tim’s mother, however, kept on laughing for some minutes. Finally she stopped, and then she grew very angry.

“What a foolish bargain you’ve made!” she cried. “Here we are without food or money, and you have traded the red cow for such worthless toys! Oh, what shall I do? You must go back to the fair and sell the 113white cow, I suppose. See that you keep your wits about you this time.”

Early next morning Timothy started to the fair, driving the white cow. They soon arrived, and there in the main road he saw a big crowd gathered. He pushed forward to see what was going on. In the middle of the ring stood the little man with twinkling eyes. His mouth was screwed up in a very queer way, and he was whistling. The mouse and the cockroach were dancing an Irish jig; bowing, reeling, scraping, courtesying in the finest manner. Tim’s heart beat fast at the sight. Soon everybody and everything in the fair began to imitate the movements of the queer little creatures. Men and women, youths and maidens, pots and pans, carts and gigs, all hopped about and jigged exactly like the mouse and the cockroach; even the stalls and the buildings seemed to hop up and down in time with the music. In a little while the tiny man stopped whistling, picked up the little animals, and put them into his pocket. Then there was no more dancing, but everybody 114burst into a hearty roar of laughter. How they did laugh! The little man now spied Tim.

“Ah, my lad,” he said, “wouldn’t you like to own those wonderful little creatures?”

“Indeed I should, sir, but I have no money,” said Tim, shaking his head.

“Oh! that makes no difference, I’ll trade with you again. Give me the old white cow, and I’ll give you the mouse.”

“Indeed I can’t, sir. Mother is so sad because we can’t pay our rent or buy any food. I must get money to pay the landlord,” replied Tim, looking longingly at the little man’s pocket.

“Oh, stuff and nonsense! Better be lighthearted than rich! What will cheer her like the sight of my little gentleman mouse dancing to the music of your musician, the bee?”

“All right, sir,” answered Tim, meekly, and he traded the white cow for the mouse.

When he reached home, his mother cried out, “You’ve sold the cow, my boy?”

“Yes, mother.”

115“How much money did you get?”

Timothy said not one word, but took the mouse, the harp, and the bee out of his pocket and put them on the floor. Tim began to whistle. The bee accompanied him with beautiful chords on the harp. After a grand sweeping bow the mouse fell into a gay Irish jig. Soon everything in the house seemed to be hopping and jigging about. Even Tim and his mother could not hold their feet still. In a little while Tim took up the mouse, the bee, and the harp and put them into his pocket. Then everything quieted down except the peals of laughter which his mother could not stop. She laughed and laughed until her sides ached. After some time she began to look serious; then she grew very, very angry.

“Tim, you are the most foolish boy in the whole world,” she began. “How could you take such worthless toys for our fine old white cow? Oh, dear. What shall I do? There is no money, and the landlord will turn us out. The old spotted cow must go, I see. 116Take her to the fair to-morrow and see you bring back nothing but money.”

“I’ll do that mother,” said Tim. His intentions were good, but alas! when he reached the fair, there was the little man again with the cockroach. He was whistling merrily and the whole fair went jigging and dancing about, all led by the lively cockroach. Soon the little man put the tiny, graceful dancer into his pocket. Then, as before, the dancing stopped. But the laughter! You should have heard the merry peals in every direction.

“Ha, my boy! Here again! You’ve brought me the spotted cow, I see! Good! You ought to have the cockroach to complete your wonders. Take her along.”

“But, sir, I promised mother,” began Tim, “that——”

“See her pretty bright dress. Master Mouse and she make a charming couple. How your mother will be cheered when she sees them dancing together. There is no sight like it. Here you are.” Carefully he 117lifted the cockroach, and Tim could not resist the offer of such a wonderful little creature. He put her into his pocket, and the little man disappeared with the spotted cow.

Tim hurried home. He slipped into the house. He took out of his pocket Miss Cockroach, Master Mouse, Musician Bee, the harp, and the stool, and arranged them in a corner of the room, telling them to remain quiet until he came back. Then he went into the kitchen.

“Tim, my boy,” cried the mother, “how much money did you get?”

“Mother,” replied Tim, “don’t talk about money. Come with me.”

He led her into the next room. The minute they entered, Tim began to whistle. The bee joined him with a lively tune on the harp; the mouse made a deep bow, hat in hand, and the cockroach courtesied most gracefully. Then the two danced toward each other and began a real Irish jig, keeping excellent time to the music. Everything in the 118house joined in the merriment, pots and pans, chairs and tables, forks and spoons, all went hopping and jigging about in the most comical way. Tim clapped his hands. His mother nodded her head in time with the music and a broad smile spread over her face, although she tried and tried to frown. Finally Tim took up the tiny dancers, the musician, and the harp, and put them into his pocket. In an instant everything quieted down. Then how Tim’s mother did laugh! She laughed until the tears streamed down her cheeks. After some time she quieted herself; then she frowned and grew very angry.

“Oh! you foolish, foolish boy,” she began; “you’ve traded away all my cows for those worthless things. Where shall I get money to pay the rent? We are much worse off than before. Oh, dear! Oh, dear!”

Tim couldn’t bear to hear her cry, and so he took his hat and hastened out of doors. He was strolling down the lane toward the distant hills when suddenly he saw a tiny woman who held up her finger in a very 119mysterious way. Tim politely raised his hat and bowed.

“Good morning!” she said pleasantly. “I thought all gallant youths were at the palace of the king.”

“And why should they be there?” asked Tim astonished.

“Oh, haven’t you heard that the king is in great trouble about his beautiful daughter, the princess? She is so sad and downhearted that the court physicians fear she will die. She hasn’t laughed for years, and the king has sent word throughout the land that he will give the princess in marriage to any youth who can make her laugh three times.”

Tim didn’t wait to hear another word. He darted away and ran as fast as he could to the palace. After a time he reached the outer gates, and told the guards who were stationed there why he had come.

“You had better think twice before you try,” said one of them, “for the king casts all who fail into a dungeon.”

“No matter, I shall try,” said Timothy.

120Word was sent to the king that a new suitor had arrived at the palace. The king commanded the newcomer to appear immediately.

“You know the penalty if you fail to make the princess laugh three times?” said his majesty.

“I do, most gracious sire,” replied Tim, bowing very humbly.

“Then, in a short time, be ready to make your trial.” With a gesture the king dismissed him.

In a few minutes a messenger brought word that the king, the queen, the sad princess, and attendants were ready for the trial. Tim took out of his pocket the mouse, the cockroach, the bee, the harp, and the stool. He tied them all together with a long string. Then he marched into the king’s room, holding the end of the string in his hand. All the queer menagerie followed after him. He looked so comical as he approached that the king, the queen, and the courtiers burst into a hearty laugh. This made the princess lift her bowed head and look. When her eyes fell 121on Tim and his string of queer little followers, she threw back her head and laughed heartily.

“That’s once,” nodded Tim.

Then he untied the string. Musician Bee at once took his place on the stool near the harp. Mr. Mouse made his deepest bow. Miss Cockroach courtesied deep and long. Tim began to whistle. The bee tuned the harp and joined him with silvery chords. The mouse and the cockroach stepped gracefully in time to the music until they came near each other. Then they began to perform their merry Irish jig. The sight was too much for the king and queen and courtiers. They all burst into such a merry laugh that the castle walls rang. The princess tried to look serious but she couldn’t! She joined the others and they all laughed heartily.

“That’s twice,” said Tim smiling.

Then he began to whistle faster; the bee followed him in time. The mouse and the cockroach bowed and jigged and reeled and whirled,—all to no purpose. The king, queen, and courtiers laughed heartily, but the princess 122kept a grave expression. Finally the mouse whirled around on one heel three times, and on the last turn his tail swept right into the cockroach’s mouth. The cockroach started to cough violently. She coughed and coughed, and took out her tiny bit of a handkerchief to hold to her mouth. When the princess and her ladies saw this, they threw back their heads and shrieked with laughter.

“That’s thrice,” said Timothy. “I’ve won the Princess.”

The king now ordered the courtiers to take Timothy to a royal dressing room. There he was dressed in a satin suit with gold lace trimmings and beautiful ornaments. He looked so handsome in his new clothes that the Princess fell in love with him. A glorious wedding feast was prepared. Timothy’s mother came in a wonderful coach drawn by six beautiful white horses. At the wedding, the bee furnished the music; the mouse and the cockroach led the dancing; and such was the merriment that the peals of laughter are still ringing in the valley around the palace.


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