The Crimson Fairy Book
The Boy Who Could Keep A Secret
Once upon a time there lived a poor widow who had one little boy. At first sight you
would not have thought that he was different from a thousand other little boys; but then
you noticed that by his side hung the scabbard of a sword, and as the boy grew bigger the
scabbard grew bigger too. The sword which belonged to the scabbard was found by the
little boy sticking out of the ground in the garden, and every day he pulled it up to see if it
would go into the scabbard. But though it was plainly becoming longer and longer, it was
some time before the two would fit.
However, there came a day at last when it slipped in quite easily. The child was so
delighted that he could hardly believe his eyes, so he tried it seven times, and each time it
slipped in more easily than before. But pleased though the boy was, he determined not to
tell anyone about it, particularly not his mother, who never could keep anything from her
Still, in spite of his resolutions, he could not hide altogether that something had
happened, and when he went in to breakfast his mother asked him what was the matter.
'Oh, mother, I had such a nice dream last night,' said he; 'but I can't tell it to anybody.'
'You can tell it to me,' she answered. 'It must have been a nice dream, or you wouldn't
look so happy.'
'No, mother; I can't tell it to anybody,' returned the boy, 'till it comes true.'
'I want to know what it was, and know it I will,' cried she, 'and I will beat you till you tell
But it was no use, neither words nor blows would get the secret out of the boy; and when
her arm was quite tired and she had to leave off, the child, sore and aching, ran into the
garden and knelt weeping beside his little sword. It was working round and round in its
hole all by itself, and if anyone except the boy had tried to catch hold of it, he would have
been badly cut. But the moment he stretched out his hand it stopped and slid quietly into
For a long time the child sat sobbing, and the noise was heard by the king as he was
driving by. 'Go and see who it is that is crying so,' said he to one of his servants, and the
man went. In a few minutes he returned saying: 'Your Majesty, it is a little boy who is
kneeling there sobbing because his mother has beaten him.'
'Bring him to me at once,' commanded the monarch, 'and tell him that it is the king who
sends for him, and that he has never cried in all his life and cannot bear anyone else to do