Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/375

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363

JACK THE DULLARD


Out in the country lay an old mansion, and in it lived an old proprietor, who had two sons, which two young men thought themselves too clever by half. They wanted to go out and woo the King's daughter; for the maiden in question had publicly announced that she would choose for her husband that one that she thought could best speak for himself.

So these two prepared themselves a full week for the wooing—this was the longest time that could be granted them; but it was enough, for they had previous accomplishments, and these are useful. One of them knew the whole Latin dictionary by heart, and three whole years of the daily paper of the little town, and that either backwards or forwards. The other was deeply read in the corporation laws, and knew by heart what every alderman ought to know; and accordingly he thought he could talk of affairs of state. And he knew one thing more: he, could embroider braces, for he was a tasty, light-fingered fellow.

'I shall win the Princess!' So cried both of them. Therefore their father gave to each a handsome horse. The youth who knew the dictionary and newspaper by heart had a black horse, and he who knew all about the corporation laws received a milk-white steed. Then they rubbed the corners of their mouths with fish-oil, so that they might become very smooth and glib. All the servants stood below in the courtyard, and looked on while they mounted their horses; and just by chance the third son came up. For there were three of them, though nobody counted the third with his brothers, because he was not so learned as they, and indeed he was generally known as 'Jack the Dullard '.

'Hallo!' said he, 'where are you going since you have put on your best clothes?'

'We're going to the King's court, as suitors to the King's daughter. Don't you know the announcement that has been made all through the country?' And they told him all about it.

'My word! I'll be in it too!' cried Jack the Dullard;