by Robert Reinick, T. Von Oer

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the root-valley and its inhabitants.—the story-telling guests.—the king of root-valley and his curious daughter.—the aerial chariot.—festivities in the town.—return through the air from the roof of the town-house.—whims of the princess.

The road between Nuremberg and Leipsic ran in former times, in one part, along the edge of a dark forest, which stretched into the country far over the mountains. In the middle of this forest the rocks enclosed a deep green valley, bordered by almost impenetrable hedges, so that neither man nor beast could enter it. Here dwelt at that time the merry little people of the Rootmen. They were pretty little creatures, in form and look like human beings,—the tallest about six inches high, and the smallest as long as your little finger. In summer they lived in mossy bowers and under the leaves of the tall fern; in winter they nestled among the roots[2] of trees, in the holes of some gnarled old trunk, and crept into the clefts in the rocks. Their dress was fine and elegant: the little men wore coats and hose of moss, and the little women dresses of pretty variegated flowers, leaves, and gossamer, according as the weather was warm or cold. They never felt the time long, having always plenty of employment; they had to keep their roads in order, gather in their stores, and the like; their favourite pastimes were climbing and jumping, and arranging grand water-parties in nutshells upon the brook which ran through their country. At other times they would play at Hunt-the-hare with the Grasshoppers and May-beetles, and dance the most graceful dances to the song of the Birds: nor must it be forgotten that they understood the language of all living creatures.

Two festivals in the year gave the little Rootmen especial delight. On certain days in Spring and Autumn there arrived large troops of merry guests, who were hospitably welcomed and entertained, and who in return used to tell the inquisitive little people what was passing in the world without.

These guests were no other than the thousands and thousands of Birds of Passage, who in Spring came from the South, and in Autumn from the North. The Storks told their village stories, the Swallows twittered their fairy-tales, and the Nightingales brought with them new and beautiful songs. There came frequently too a troop of migrating Rats, who gave descriptions of[3] their travels, while Magpies and Ravens told legends and tales of marvel that made one shudder. In this manner the little Rootmen received constantly news of the whole wide world. Such stories of course filled them with curiosity to make acquaintance with Men, but an innate feeling of dread prevented the little beings from quitting their peaceful Valley.

Now one time there reigned over this people a dear good old King, who had one daughter, a very beautiful Princess; she was however more full of curiosity than all other maidens in the world, nay even more so indeed than her own little countrywomen. Her longing to see Men and Women in the world without, of whom she had heard so many wonderful things, had grown very strong. The good old King did all in his power to dissuade her from this wish, representing Men as fierce and selfish giants: "No living creature," said he, "is secure from their mastery; the biggest elephant is obliged to dance to their will, as well as the smallest flea." But all was of no avail; his daughter had taken it into her head to visit the world, and go she would. The thought of this preyed upon her mind, and she grew more and more melancholy and thin; until at length the King resolved to grant her wish, in the hope that the sight would frighten her for ever, and drive away her curiosity.

A beautiful new Birds'-nest was therefore immediately selected, cushioned with feathers and moss, and over this was fixed a[4] shadowy roof of leaves, as a shelter from the sun. In this car the Root-King seated himself with the Princess; nor was it forgotten to place in it also a delicate repast of juicy berries, honey, and tender young buds. Two Cranes, who had practised their task for a week previously, took up the nest with their bills, and flew with it through the air to the nearest large Town inhabited by Men.

In a few hours the two birds were hovering with the nest over the houses of the town. With a gentle flight they descended, and deposited the royal aerial chariot carefully upon the tower of the Townhouse, whence there was a view over all the streets, without any fear of being seen. That was indeed a sight! Even the King himself had never imagined that a city of Men could be so splendid. The Princess too shouted and jumped with joy, until she nearly fell out of the nest, had not one of the Cranes with his long bill suddenly caught her by her little leg.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940015519723
Publisher: OGB
Publication date: 10/19/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

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