The Crimson Fairy Book
Tritill, Litill, And The Birds
Once upon a time there lived a princess who was so beautiful and so good that
everybody loved her. Her father could hardly bear her out of his sight, and he almost died
of grief when, one day, she disappeared, and though the whole kingdom was searched
through and through, she could not be found in any corner of it. In despair, the king
ordered a proclamation to be made that whoever could bring her back to the palace
should have her for his wife. This made the young men start afresh on the search, but
they were no more successful than before, and returned sorrowfully to their homes.
Now there dwelt, not far from the palace, an old man who had three sons. The two eldest
were allowed by their parents to do just as they liked, but the youngest was always
obliged to give way to his brothers. When they were all grown up, the eldest told his
father that he was tired of leading such a quiet life, and that he meant to go away and see
The old people were very unhappy at the thought that they must part with him, but they
said nothing, and began to collect all that he would want for his travels, and were careful
to add a pair of new boots. When everything was ready, he bade them farewell, and
started merrily on his way.
For some miles his road lay through a wood, and when he left it he suddenly came out on
a bare hillside. Here he sat down to rest, and pulling out his wallet prepared to eat his
He had only eaten a few mouthfuls when an old man badly dressed passed by, and seeing
the food, asked if the young man could not spare him a little.
'Not I, indeed!' answered he; 'why I have scarcely enough for myself. If you want food
you must earn it.' And the beggar went on.
After the young man had finished his dinner he rose and walked on for several hours, till
he reached a second hill, where he threw himself down on the grass, and took some bread
and milk from his wallet. While he was eating and drinking, there came by an old man,
yet more wretched than the first, and begged for a few mouthfuls. But instead of food he
only got hard words, and limped sadly away.
Towards evening the young man reached an open space in the wood, and by this time he
thought he would like some supper. The birds saw the food, and flew round his head in
numbers hoping for some crumbs, but he threw stones at them, and frightened them off.
Then he began to wonder where he should sleep. Not in the open space he was in, for that
was bare and cold, and though he had walked a long way that day, and was tired, he
dragged himself up, and went on seeking for a shelter.