The Prophetic Dream
Source: Fairy Tales From All Nations
In a little obscure village, there once dwelt a poor shepherd, who,
for many years, supported himself and his family upon the very
trifling wages he earned by his labour. Besides his wife he had one
only child, a boy. He had accustomed this boy, from a very early age,
to go out with him to the pastures, and had instructed him in the
duties of a faithful shepherd, so that as the child grew up he could
entrust the flocks to his care, whilst he himself could earn a few
pence by basket weaving. The young shepherd gaily led his flocks over
the fields and pastures, whistling or singing some cheerful song, or
cracking his whip, that the time should not pass heavily with him. At
noon he lay down at his ease by his flock, ate his bread, and quenched
his thirst at the rivulet, and then slept for a short time before he
drove it further.
One day when he had lain down under a shady tree for his noontide
rest, the young shepherd slept and had a remarkable dream. He was
journeying on, far, far on--he heard a loud clinking sound, like to a
heap of coins incessantly falling on the ground--a thundering noise
like the report of incessant firing--he saw a countless band of
soldiers, with glittering armour and weapons--all these sights and
sounds encircled him and resounded about him. Then he seemed to wander
on, constantly ascending a mountain until he arrived at the summit,
where a throne was erected on which he seated himself, leaving beside
him a vacant place, which a beautiful woman who suddenly appeared,
immediately occupied. The young shepherd still dreaming, rose up,
saying in a solemn and earnest voice: "I am King of Spain;" and at
that moment he awoke.
Pondering on his strange dream, the youth led on his flock, and in the
evening, whilst he assisted his parents in their work as they sat
before their cottage door cutting fodder, he related it to them, and
concluded by saying: "Verily, if I dream that again, I will be off to
Spain to see whether I shall be made king."
"Foolish boy," murmured the old father; "thou be made king? Don't go
and make yourself a laughingstock."
His mother laughed outright, rubbing her hands, and repeating in
amaze, "King of Spain! king of Spain!"
The next day at noon he lay down again under the same tree, and oh,
wonder! the same dream took possession of his senses. He hardly had
patience to watch his flock till evening; gladly would he have run
home, and at once set out on his journey to Spain. When at length his
work was done, he again related his romantic dream, saying: "If I do
but dream this once again, I will go off directly, on the very same
The third day he lay down again under the same tree, and the same
dream again visited him for the third time. The youth raised himself
up in his sleep, exclaiming: "I am King of Spain," and thereupon he
awoke. He gathered up his hat, his whip, and his provision bag,
collected his sheep, and went back straight to the village. When he
got there the people began to chide him for returning so long before
vespers; but the youth was so excited that he paid no heed to the
reproofs either of the neighbours or of his parents, but packed up his
Sunday clothes, hung the bundle on a hazel stick, and throwing it
over his shoulder started off without another word. He put his best
foot foremost, and ran so fast that one would have thought he hoped to
reach Spain that same night.
He got no further however that day than to the borders of a forest,
and not a village nor even a solitary cottage could he descry; so he
resolved to take his night's rest in a thick bush. He had scarcely
fallen asleep when he was disturbed by a great noise. A company of
men, conversing loudly, passed before the bush which he had made his
bed. The youth crept softly forward, and followed the men at a little
distance, saying to himself: "Perhaps thou mayest still find a
lodging; where these men pass the night, thou surely mayest also
sleep." They had not gone much further before they came to a house of
considerable dimensions, which, however, was situated in the centre of
the dark forest. The men knocked, and were admitted, and the young
shepherd unperceived slipped in with them into the house. Another door
was then thrown open, and they all entered a large and very
imperfectly lighted room, on the floor of which lay numerous trusses
of straw, beds and coverlids, which seemed ready prepared for the
men's night repose. The shepherd boy crept quickly under a heap of
straw, which was scattered near the door, and lay in his concealment
on the look-out for all he might see and hear. As he was a very sharp
boy, with all his senses about him, it was not long before he made out
that he was amongst a band of robbers, whose captain was the owner of
the house. This latter, as soon as the newly arrived members of the
band had stretched themselves on their couches, ascended an elevated
seat, and said in a deep bass voice: "My brave comrades, give me an
account of your day's work; where you have been, and what booty you
A tall man, with a coal black beard, was the first to raise himself
from his bed, and answered: "My good captain, early this morning I
robbed a rich nobleman of his leathern breeches; these have two
pockets, and as often as they are turned inside out, and well shaken,
a heap of ducats falls on the ground."
"That sounds well, indeed!" said the captain.
Then uprose another, and said: "I stole from a great general his
three-cornered hat; and this hat has the property, that so long as it
is turned round upon the head shots are fired off incessantly from its
"That's worth hearing," replied the captain; upon which a third man
sat up, saying: "I have deprived a knight of his sword, and when you
stick the point of this sword into the earth, up starts at that very
moment a regiment of soldiers."
"A brave deed," exclaimed the captain; as the fourth robber then
began: "I drew off the boots of a traveller whilst he slept, and
whoever puts on those boots goes seven miles at every step."
"I commend a bold deed," said the captain, highly pleased; "hang up
your prizes against the wall, and now eat and drink heartily, and
sleep well." So saying, he left the sleeping apartment of the robbers,
who caroused lustily, and then slept soundly. When all was still and
the men in deep sleep, the young shepherd stole from his hiding-place,
put on the leathern breeches, set the hat upon his head, girded on the
sword, drew on the boots, and slipped softly out of the house. As soon
as he was outside the door, the boots, to his infinite delight, at
once manifested their magic virtue, and it was not long before the
youth entered the great capital of Spain; it is called Madrid.
He asked the very first person he met to direct him to the most
considerable hotel in the city; but received for answer, "You little
urchin, get off with you to some place where such as yourself lodge,
and not to where great lords dine." A shining gold piece, however,
soon made his adviser a little more courteous, so that now he
willingly conducted the youth to the best hotel. Arrived there, he at
once engaged the best apartments, and said to his host: "Well, how
goes it in your city? What is the latest news here?"
The host made a long face, and replied: "My little gentleman, you must
be indeed quite a stranger here. It seems that you have not yet heard
that his majesty, our king, is on the eve of departing for the wars
with an army of twenty thousand men. You must know we have enemies,
powerful enemies. Oh, these are, indeed, dreadful times! Is your
little worship disposed to join the army?"
"No doubt!" said the stripling, whose countenance beamed with joy.
No sooner had the host left him, than he quickly drew off his leather
breeches, shook out a heap of gold pieces, and purchased for himself
costly garments with arms and accoutrements, dressed himself in them,
and then craved an audience of the king. As he entered the palace,
and was being conducted by two chamberlains through a spacious and
magnificent hall, he was met by a young and wondrously beautiful lady,
who graciously saluted him, and whom he beheld surrounded by
courtiers, who bowed to her as he passed, whilst they whispered to
him, "That is the princess--the king's daughter."
The young shepherd was not a little enraptured by the beauty of the
princess; and he was so inspired by his admiration and delight, that
he was able to speak boldly and confidently to the monarch.
"I come," said he, "most humbly to offer to your majesty my services
as a warrior. The army I bring to you shall gain the victory for you;
and it shall win for your majesty whatever you may be pleased to
desire. But I ask of you one recompense, namely, that if I gain the
victory for you, I may receive your lovely daughter in marriage. Will
you grant me this, my most gracious king?"
The king was astonished at the youth's bold address, and answered: "Be
it so--I agree to your request. If you return home a conqueror, you
shall be my successor, and I will give you my daughter in marriage."
The ci-devant shepherd now betook himself all alone to the open
plain, and began to strike his sword here and there in the ground, and
in a few minutes there stood on the plain many thousand well-armed
combatants, and the youth himself, richly armed and adorned, sat as
their leader on a noble horse decked with gold embroidered housings
and a lustrous bridle. The young general led his troops against the
foe, and a bloody battle was fought. Unceasing death-shots thundered
from the commander's hat, and his sword called up one regiment after
another from the ground, so that in a few hours the enemy was
vanquished and scattered, and the flag of victory waved above the
conquered camp. The victor pursued and conquered from his foe a
considerable portion of his country. Victorious, and crowned with
glory, he returned to Spain, where his greatest good fortune still
awaited him. The fair daughter of the king had been no less struck by
the handsome youth whom she met in the hall, than he had been by her;
and the most gracious monarch knew how to value duly the great service
rendered to him by the brave young man. He kept his word--gave him his
daughter in marriage, and made him heir to his throne.
The nuptials were celebrated with the greatest magnificence, and he
who had so shortly before been only a shepherd youth sat now in high
estate. Soon after the wedding the old king resigned his crown and
sceptre into the hands of his son-in-law, who, seated proudly on the
throne, with his beautiful consort beside him, received the oath of
allegiance from his people.
Then he thought of his so quickly-fulfilled dream and of his poor
parents, and when he was alone with his wife, he thus addressed her:
"My beloved, know that I have parents living still, but they are very
poor; my father is a village herdsman, dwelling far away in Germany,
where I myself, as a boy, looked after cattle, until a marvellous
dream revealed to me that I should become king of Spain. Fortune has
been favourable to me; I am now a king, but I would willingly see my
parents also prosperous, therefore with your kind consent I will
return to my former home, and bring my parents hither."
The young queen was well content that her husband should do as he
proposed, so he set off and travelled of course very fast, being
possessed of the seven-mile boots. On his way the young monarch
restored the magical articles which he had taken from the robbers to
their rightful owners, retaining only the boots; he carried back with
him his parents, who were almost beside themselves for joy, and to the
former owner of the boots he gave a dukedom in exchange for them.
After that he lived happily and worthily all the rest of his days.
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