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“And first," quoth the king, “when I'm in this
stead, With my crown of gold so fair on my head, Among all my liege men, so noble of birth, Thou must tell me to one penny what I am worth. “Secondly, tell me, without any doubt, How soon I may ride the whole world about; And at the third question thou must not shrink, But tell me here truly what I do think.” “O, these are hard questions for my shallow wit, Nor I cannot answer your grace as yet; But if you will give me but three weeks' space, I'll do my endeavour to answer your grace.” “Now three weeks' space to thee will I give, And that is the longest thou hast to live; For if you can't answer my questions three, Thy lands and thy livings are forfeit to me.” Away rode the Abbot, all sad at that word, And he rode to Cambridge and Oxenford; But never a doctor there was so wise, That could with his learning an answer devise.
KING JOHN AND THE ABBOT OF
PART II. Then home rode the Abbot of comfort so cold, And he met his shepherd a going to fold; “How now, my lord Abbot, you are welcome home : What news do you bring us from good King John ?"
‘Sad news, sad news, shepherd, I must give, That I have but three days more to live; For if I do not answer him questions three, My head will be smitten from my body. “ The first is to tell him there in that stead, With his crown of gold so fair on his head, Among all his liegemen so noble of birth, To within one penny of what he is worth. “The second to tell him, without any doubt, How soon he may ride this whole world about; And at the third question I must not shrink, But tell him there truly what he does think.” “Now, cheer up, Sir Abbot, did you never hear yet, That a fool he may learn a wise man wit? Lend me horse, and serving men, and your apparel, And I'll ride to London to answer your quarrel. "Nay, frown not, if it hath been told unto me I am like your lordship as ever may be; And if you will but lend me your gown There is none shall know us in fair London town.” “Now horses and serving men thou shalt have, With sumptuous array most gallant and brave, With crozier, and mitre, and rochet, and cope, Fit to appear 'fore our father the Pope.” “Now welcome, Sir Abbot,” the king he did say, “ 'Tis well thou’rt come back to keep thy day For if thou canst answer my questions three Thy life and thy living both savéd shall be.
“ And first, when thou seest me here in this stead, With my crown of gold so fair on my head, Among all my liegemen so noble of birth, Tell me to one penny what I am worth.” “For thirty pence our Saviour was sold, Among the false Jews, as I have been told ; And twenty-nine is the worth of thee, For I think thou art one penny worser than He.” The king he laughed, and swore by St. Bittel, “I did not think I had been worth so little ; Now, secondly, tell me without any doubt, How soon I may ride this whole world about ?” “You must rise with the sun, and ride with the
same, Until the next morning he riseth again; And then your grace need not make any doubt But in twenty-four hours you'll ride it about ?” The king he laughed, and swore by St. Jone, “I did not think it could be done so soon ; Now from the third question thou must not shrink, But tell me here truly what I do think.” “ Yea, that I shall do, and make your grace merry; You think I'm the Abbot of Canterbury, But I'm his poor shepherd, as plain you may see, That am come to beg pardon for him and for me." The king he laughed, and swore by the mass, “I'll make thee lord Abbot this day in his place.” “Nay, nay, my liege, be not in such speed, For, alack, I can neither write nor read.”
"Four nobles a week, then, I will give thee,
PART I. A woman wanted very much to have a little child, so she asked an old witch whether she could tell her any way in which her wishes could be carried out. “It is easy to do that," said the witch. “There is a kind of barley, unlike what the farmers grow; get some of that and sow it in a flower-pot, and wait and see what comes up.”
The woman thanked her, and gave her a shilling. She went home, got the barley, sowed it in her flower-pot, and there sprang up at once a large flower like a tulip, but its leaves were closed, as if it were only in bud.
“What a pretty flower it is !” said the woman as she kissed the red and yellow leaves; but just then the flower opened with a bang. It was a real tulip, as all might now easily see, but seated in the middle of it was a very little girl. She was so pretty and small that they called her Little Thumb, for she was not taller than the length of one's thumb.
They gave her a walnut-shell for her cradle, blue violet leaves for her mattress, and a rose-leaf for a covering. In this cradle she slept at night, but in the daytime she played on the table, where was also placed a dishful of water with pretty flowers all round the edge, and a lily-leaf floating in the middle. On this lily-leaf, Little Thumb used to sit, and row herself from one side of the dish to the other, which looked very pretty. She could also sing very sweetly, sweeter than anything else which people had heard in those parts.
As she was lying one night in her beautiful bed, an ugly toad came hopping through a broken pane in the window. The toad was a large, wet, hideous monster, and hopped on to just that part of the table on which Little Thumb was asleep under her rose-leaf.
“What a charming wife that would be for my son !” said the toad; and so taking up the walnutshell in which Little Thumb was lying, she jumped with it through the broken pane into the garden.
Through this garden flowed a broad river, the banks of which were covered with mud, and it was in this river that the toad and her son dwelt. He was quite as ugly as his mother, and all he could say was “koar, koar, croak, croak," and this he did say when he saw the pretty little girl in the walnut-shell.
“Don't speak so loud, or you will wake her," said the old toad," and then she will perhaps run away. We will put her out on the river on one of the leaves of the water-lily, which will be as