No 01: Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse 'The princess and the pea'
No 02: Die Glocke 'The bell'
No 03: Der standhafte Zinnsoldat 'The hardy tin soldier'
No 04: Der Engel 'The angel'
No 05: Die Blumen der kleinen Ida 'Little Ida's flowers'
No 06: Die Nachtigall 'The nightingale'
No 07: Es ist ganz gewiß 'It is quite certain'
No 08: Das Kind im Grabe 'The child in the grave'
No 09: Der Schmetterling 'The butterfly'
No 10: Das häßliche junge Entelein 'The ugly duckling'
No 11: Goldschatz 'Golden treasure'
No 12: Das erherne Schwein 'The metal pig'
The Princess and the Pea: A prince, desperate to marry a real princess, travels around the world seeking her without success. One night a princess arrives at his castle and, in order to test whether she is indeed a real princess, the old queen places a pea underneath twenty mattresses and twenty eiderdowns. In the morning the princess complains that she could not sleep at all because of something hard in the bed. The prince, realizing that she must indeed be a real princess, marries her.
The Bell: In the streets of a city a bell could occasionally be heard at dusk. Everyone wondered at the deep booming sound and finally the rich people of the city decided to find the bell. They went out into the woods thinking that there might be a church there but nobody could find it. One Sunday in May, all the children who had just been confirmed at the church went for a walk in the forest. The sound of the bell was particularly strong that day and all the children wanted to find it. Gradually more and more of the children gave up the search, telling themselves that it was imaginary. The last five children finally reached a small silver bell hanging by a cottage. Four of the children were convinced that they had found the bell but the fifth, a prince, disagreed and continued the search. At last the prince reached the great sea where he was joined by a peasant boy who had been unable to set out with the others because he had to return his borrowed finery after the confirmation service. Now he had caught up with the prince, and together they joined hands and listened to the great invisible holy bell as it rang out across the sea.
The Hardy Tin Soldier: Once there were twenty-five tin soldiers. They had all been made from the same old tin spoon and all were identical except one—he was the last to be cast and only had one leg because there had not been enough tin. The little tin soldier loved the toy ballerina but because he only had one leg some of the other toys disliked him and played tricks on him. After many unpleasant incidents, a little boy picked him up and threw him into the stove. As he melted he gazed at the ballerina. A door opened in the room and a breeze caught the dancer and she flew into the stove with him. The next day when the maid cleaned the stove she found a little tin heart and the metal spangle from the ballerina’s dress in the ashes.
The Angel: An angel takes a dead child in his arms and tells the child that they must pick some flowers to take up to heaven where they will bloom even more beautifully than on earth. They gather flowers but just before they fly up to heaven the angel asks the child to take along an old dried-out wild flower that had been thrown out into the street. The angel explains that the flower had once belonged to a crippled child who had died the year before and that the dead child had loved the flower. When the angel is asked how he knows this, he replies that he had been that crippled child.
Little Ida’s Flowers: Little Ida wants to know why all her flowers are wilting when they had looked so healthy the day before. A young student, who is friendly with her, tells her that they are tired from dancing all night. Ida believes him, and that night she gets up and goes downstairs where she discovers the room full of different flowers dancing as if at a grand ball. Her own flowers are there and they thank Ida for looking after them but tell her that their lives are short and that tomorrow they will be dead. When Ida wakes up the next morning she finds them dead as they had said and she buries them in the garden, so that they will come to life the next year.
The Nightingale: The Emperor of China kept a nightingale in his palace and everyone agreed that its song was the greatest treasure the emperor possessed. The emperor was so pleased with the nightingale’s song that he had a special cage made for it and treated it with great honour. One day the Emperor of Japan sent a mechanical nightingale to the Emperor of China. The mechanical bird was wound up and played again and again, never becoming tired. The original nightingale flew away and the emperor banished it for being ungrateful. One day the mechanical bird broke down because it had been used so much. The emperor grew ill and, as he lay in his bed, he wished that he could hear the nightingale’s song again. Suddenly, the real nightingale appeared and sang for the sick emperor. The nightingale agreed to sing again for him on condition that the emperor kept it a secret and the emperor made a full recovery.
It is quite certain: One day, in the henhouse, a hen was picking at her feathers when one fell out. For fun she said, ‘There it goes, the more I peck at myself, the more beautiful I will become’. Her neighbour heard her and could not resist telling the next hen that there was a hen determined to pluck off her feathers to look more attractive. The owl above the henhouse heard this and told the pigeons that there was a hen that had plucked out all her feathers for the rooster’s sake. By the time the crow had heard, the story had become that of three hens who had plucked off all their feathers because of unrequited love. By the time the story came back to the original hen (who, of course, did not realize that the story had originated from her), there were now five hens who had plucked off all their feathers because of an unhappy love for the rooster and then had pecked each other to death. And that was how it was printed in the newspaper.
The Child in the Grave: A young child has died. He was only four years old and his mother became distraught and angry with God. On the day of the funeral the mother gave herself up to despair and, that night, she secretly left her husband and hurried to her son’s grave. As she cried over his resting place, Death appeared and asked her if she wished to join her son. She nodded and found herself in a great hall. She ran to her son who pleaded with her to let him fly to God with the other dead children. He explained that it was her tears that held him back. Suddenly, the mother heard the voices of her husband and daughters calling for her and she realized that she had forgotten all about them. Praying for forgiveness, she found herself back at the grave and returned home. Her husband, amazed at the transformation, asked her where she had suddenly got the strength to comfort others. She replied, ‘From God, and from my dead child in the grave’.
The Butterfly: The butterfly decided he must marry and obviously, being a butterfly, it had to be to a flower. He flew around the garden but none of the flowers seemed quite right. Spring passed and summer passed and finally, in the autumn, he decided to propose to the little mint plant. The mint replied that it would be foolish to marry, as they were now both so old. So the butterfly remained a bachelor and one day, late in autumn, he took refuge in the warmth of a house where he was seen, admired and stuck on a pin. He consoled himself by thinking, ‘Now I sit on a stalk just like the flowers, probably just like being married: you are stuck’.
The Ugly Duckling: It was summer and the ducklings had hatched, but one of the ducklings was bigger than the others and very ugly. The other ducklings made fun of him, as did the hens and the turkey cock. Months passed and the ugly duckling found himself all alone. As the snow arrived he felt a need to fly towards the magnificent swans. He was surprised when they swam towards him and, catching his reflection in the lake, he finally realized that he was not ugly any more but a beautiful swan.
Golden Treasure: Peter is a boy with red hair. His mother calls him her ‘golden treasure’ but everyone else calls him ‘carrot-top’. He is a talented musician and quickly learns to play the violin beautifully. However, as his father is the town drummer, Peter decides to join the army as a drummer-boy. He is a good drummer and his beating on the battlefield helps to secure victory. When he returns to his town he starts to play the violin again. The true golden treasure is in his heart, not on his head and he soon becomes famous and renowned as a great artist. As his father is now dead, he plays a last roll on his father’s big drum and it cracks.
The Metal Pig: In Florence there was a fountain cast in the shape of a pig. One evening a beggar-boy drank at the fountain and, exhausted, climbed onto the pig’s back and fell asleep. At midnight the pig moved and said to the boy, ‘Hold on tight, for I am going to run’. It took the boy through the streets of Florence and into the Uffizi Palace where the boy wondered at all the works of art. When the boy thanked the pig, the pig answered that it was he who should thank the boy because it is only when an innocent child sits on his back that he comes alive. Finally the boy falls asleep, to awake the following morning back at the fountain.
from notes by Stephen Coombs © 2000