Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
A Flea, a Grasshopper, and a Leap-frog once wanted to see which could jump highest; and
they invited the whole world, and everybody else besides who chose to come to see the
festival. Three famous jumpers were they, as everyone would say, when they all met
together in the room.
"I will give my daughter to him who jumps highest," exclaimed the King; "for it is not so
amusing where there is no prize to jump for."
The Flea was the first to step forward. He had exquisite manners, and bowed to the
company on all sides; for he had noble blood, and was, moreover, accustomed to the
society of man alone; and that makes a great difference.
Then came the Grasshopper. He was considerably heavier, but he was well-mannered, and
wore a green uniform, which he had by right of birth; he said, moreover, that he belonged
to a very ancient Egyptian family, and that in the house where he then was, he was thought
much of. The fact was, he had been just brought out of the fields, and put in a pasteboard
house, three stories high, all made of court-cards, with the colored side inwards; and doors
and windows cut out of the body of the Queen of Hearts. "I sing so well," said he, "that
sixteen native grasshoppers who have chirped from infancy, and yet got no house built of
cards to live in, grew thinner than they were before for sheer vexation when they heard
It was thus that the Flea and the Grasshopper gave an account of themselves, and thought
they were quite good enough to marry a Princess.
The Leap-frog said nothing; but people gave it as their opinion, that he therefore thought
the more; and when the housedog snuffed at him with his nose, he confessed the Leap-frog
was of good family. The old councillor, who had had three orders given him to make him
hold his tongue, asserted that the Leap-frog was a prophet; for that one could see on his
back, if there would be a severe or mild winter, and that was what one could not see even
on the back of the man who writes the almanac.
"I say nothing, it is true," exclaimed the King; "but I have my own opinion,
Now the trial was to take place. The Flea jumped so high that nobody could see where he
went to; so they all asserted he had not jumped at all; and that was dishonorable.
The Grasshopper jumped only half as high; but he leaped into the King's face, who said
that was ill-mannered.
The Leap-frog stood still for a long time lost in thought; it was believed at last he would
not jump at all.