The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

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518                      JACK THE DULLARD
I am going to give it to the Princess.'
* Yes, do so,' said they ; and they laughed, and rode on. ' Hallo, here I am again ! Just see what I have found
now : you don't find that on the high road every day ! ' And the brothers turned round to see what he could
have found now.
' Dullard ! ' they cried, ' that is only an old wooden shoe,
and the upper part is missing into the bargain ; are you
going to give that also to the Princess ? '
' Most certainly I shall,' replied Jack the Dullard ; and
again the brothers laughed and rode on, and thus they got
far in advance of him ; but------
* Hallo ! ' and there was Jack the Dullard again. * It is getting better and better,' he cried. ' Hurrah ! it is quite famous.'
' Why, what have you found this time ? ' inquired the brothers.
' Oh,' said Jack the Dullard, ' I can hardly tell you. How glad the Princess will be ! '
* Bah ! ' said the brothers ; ' that is nothing but clay out of the ditch.'
* Yes, certainly it is,' said Jack the Dullard ; ' and clay of the finest sort. See, it is so wet, it runs through one's fingers.' And he filled his pocket with the clay.
But his brothers gallopped on as hard as the harness could stand, and consequently they arrived a full hour earlier at the town gate than could Jack. Now at the gate each suitor was provided with a number, and all were placed in rows, six in each row, and so closely packed together that they could not move their arms ; and that was a prudent arrangement, for they would certainly have come to blows, had they been able, merely because one of them stood before the other.
All the inhabitants of the country round about stood in great crowds around the castle, almost under the very windows, to see the Princess receive the suitors ; and as each stepped into the hall, his power of speech seemed to desert him. Then the Princess would say, ' He is of no use ! away with him ! '
At last the turn came for that brother who knew the dictionary by heart; but he had absolutely forgotten it;