The Crimson Fairy Book HTML version
The Hairy Man
Somewhere or other, but I don't know where, there lived a king who owned two
remarkably fine fields of rape, but every night two of the rape heaps were burnt down in
one of the fields. The king was extremely angry at this, and sent out soldiers to catch
whoever had set fire to the ricks; but it was all of no use--not a soul could they see. Then
he offered nine hundred crowns to anyone who caught the evil-doer, and at the same time
ordered that whoever did not keep proper watch over the fields should be killed; but
though there were a great many people, none seemed able to protect the fields.
The king had already put ninety-nine people to death, when a little swineherd came to
him who had two dogs; one was called 'Psst,' and the other 'Hush'; and the boy told the
king that he would watch over the ricks.
When it grew dark he climbed up on the top of the fourth rick, from where he could see
the whole field. About eleven o'clock he thought he saw someone going to a rick and
putting a light to it. 'Just you wait,' thought he, and called out to his dogs: 'Hi! Psst, Hush,
catch him! ' But Psst and Hush had not waited for orders, and in five minutes the man
Next morning he was brought bound before the king, who was so pleased with the boy
that he gave him a thousand crowns at once. The prisoner was all covered with hair,
almost like an animal; and altogether he was so curious to look at that the king locked
him up in a strong room and sent out letters of invitation to all the other kings and princes
asking them to come and see this wonder.
That was all very well; but the king had a little boy of ten years old who went to look at
the hairy man also, and the man begged so hard to be set free that the boy took pity on
him. He stole the key of the strong room from his mother and opened the door. Then he
took the key back, but the hairy man escaped and went off into the world.
Then the kings and princes began to arrive one after another, and all were most anxious
to see the hairy man; but he was gone! The king nearly burst with rage and with the
shame he felt. He questioned his wife sharply, and told her that if she could not find and
bring back the hairy man he would put her in a hut made of rushes and burn her there.
The queen declared she had had nothing to do with the matter; if her son had happened to
take the key it had not been with her knowledge.
So they fetched the little prince and asked him all sorts of questions, and at last he owned
that he had let the hairy man out. The king ordered his servants to take the boy into the
forest and to kill him there, and to bring back part of his liver and lungs.
There was grief all over the palace when the king's command was known, for he was a
great favourite. But there was no help for it, and they took the boy out into the forest. But