The Lilac Fairy Book
There was once a little boy whose name was Lars, and because he was so little he was
called Little Lasse; he was a brave little man, for he sailed round the world in a pea-shell
It was summer time, when the pea shells grew long and green in the garden. Little Lasse
crept into the pea bed where the pea stalks rose high above his cap, and he picked
seventeen large shells, the longest and straightest he could find.
Little Lasse thought, perhaps, that no one saw him; but that was foolish, for God sees
Then the gardener came with his gun over his shoulder, and he heard something rustling
in the pea bed.
'I think that must be a sparrow,' he said. 'Ras! Ras!' but no sparrows flew out, for Little
Lasse had no wings, only two small legs. 'Wait! I will load my gun and shoot the
sparrows,' said the gardener.
Then Little Lasse was frightened, and crept out on to the path.
'Forgive me, dear gardener!' he said. 'I wanted to get some fine boats.'
'Well, I will this time,' said the gardener. 'But another time Little Lasse must ask leave to
go and look for boats in the pea bed.'
'I will,' answered Lasse; and he went off to the shore. Then he opened the shells with a
pin, split them carefully in two, and broke small little bits of sticks for the rowers' seats.
Then he took the peas which were in the shells and put them in the boats for cargo. Some
of the shells got broken, some remained whole, and when all were ready Lasse had
twelve boats. But they should not be boats, they should be large warships. He had three
liners, three frigates, three brigs and three schooners. The largest liner was called
Hercules, and the smallest schooner The Flea. Little Lasse put all the twelve into the
water, and they floated as splendidly and as proudly as any great ships over the waves of
And now the ships must sail round the world. The great island over there was Asia; that
large stone Africa; the little island America; the small stones were Polynesia; and the
shore from which the ships sailed out was Europe. The whole fleet set off and sailed far
away to other parts of the world. The ships of the line steered a straight course to Asia,
the frigates sailed to Africa, the brigs to America, and the schooners to Polynesia. But
Little Lasse remained in Europe, and threw small stones out into the great sea.