Home Page


Pasta Letters
Story Soup
Sweet Creations
Stir until Done
Peas -n- Carrots

More Classic Short Stories

* Aesop Fables
* Beauty and the Beast
*  Emperor's New Clothes *  Fisherman and His Wife
*  Jack and the Beanstalk
*  King Midas' Golden Touch
*  Little Red Hen
*  My Kingdom
*  Simple Simon
* The Story Without an End
* The Ten Fairies
*  Tom Thumb
*  Why Bear's Tail is Short

More Short Stories

* Classic Short Stories
* Original Short Stories

Simple Simon

This fairytale was written by Hans Christian Andersen

Away in the country, in an old manor house, lived an old squire. He had two sons who were so clever that - well, the fact is they were too clever by half. They made up their minds to go and propose to the King's daughter; and they had a perfect right to do this, because she had announced that she would marry the man who she thought was best able to speak up for himself.

The two sons now spent a week in preparation. A week was all they were allowed; but it was quite long enough, for they had had a good education, and that is such a help. One of them knew the whole Latin dictionary by heart, and also the local newspaper for the last three years, both backwards and forwards. The other son had learned all the by-laws of the city companies and the things every alderman is supposed to know; he thought this would help him to talk politics with the Princess; and, besides, he knew how to embroider braces, he was so very clever with his fingers.

"I shall win the Princess!" cried both of them; and so their father gave them each a beautiful horse. The brother who had learnt off the dictionary and the newspapers got a coal-black horse; and the one who knew all about aldermen and could do embroidery got a milk-white horse; and then they smeared the corners of their mouths with cod-liver oil, so that the words would come out pat. All the servants were down in the courtyard to see them mount their horses, when just at that moment up came the third brother; for there were three of them, though nobody ever took count of the third, because he wasn't a scholar like the other two. They called him Simple Simon.

"Where are you two off to in that get up?" he asked.

"We're going to Court, to talk our way into favor with the Princess. Haven't you heard the proclamation that's been read out all over the country?" And then they told him all about it.

"I mustn't miss this!" cried Simple Simon. But his brothers laughed at him and rode away.

"Dad, let me have a horse!" cried Simple Simon. "I do so feel like getting married. If she'll have me, she'll have me; and if she won't, then I'll marry her all the same."

"What nonsense!" said the father. "I've no horse for you. Why, you never open your mouth. But look at your brothers - they are splendid fellows."

"If I can't have a horse," said the boy, "then I'll ride the Billy-goat. It's my own, and it'll carry me all right, I know." Then he got astride the Billy-goat, dug his heels into its sides and dashed off down the road. Phew! What a rate they went! "Look out! Here we come!" yelled Simple Simon, and his cries went echoing after him.

But his brothers rode on ahead in complete silence. They never said a word, because they had to turn over in their minds all the clever remarks they were going to make. It had to be most cunningly worked out, I can tell you.

"Tally-ho!" shouted Simple Simon, "here we are! Look what I found on the road," and he showed them a dead crow he had picked up.

"You simpleton!" they said. "What are you going to do with that?"

"I shall give it to the Princess."

"Yes, do!" they answered, laughing as they rode on.

"Tally ho! Here we are! Now look what I've found. You don't find that on the road every day."

The brothers turned round again to see what it was. "You simpleton!" they said. "Why that's an old clog with the vamp missing. Is the Princess to have that as well?"

"Yes, of course," said Simple Simon; and his brothers only laughed at him and rode on till they were a long way ahead.

"Tally-ho! Here we are!" shouted Simon. "This is getting better and better. Tally-ho! This is grand!"

"What have you found this time?" asked the brothers.

"Oh, it's too good for anything," said Simple Simon. "Won't she be pleased, the Princess!"

"Ugh!" said the brothers. "Why, it's mud straight out of the ditch."

"Yes, that's just what it is," said Simple Simon, "and the very finest sort, too; it slips right through your fingers." And he filled his pocket with the mud.

But his two brothers rode on as hard as they could go, and the result was that they drew up at the city gate a whole hour ahead of him and found the suitors being given numbers in the order of their arrival. They were made to stand in rows, six in each file, and so close together that they couldn't move their arms. This was just as well, for otherwise they might have stabbed each other in the back, just because one was in front of the other.

The rest of the inhabitants all crowded round the castle, right up against the windows, so as to watch the Princess receiving her suitors; but as soon as ever one of them came into her presence, he was completely tongue-tied. "No good!" the Princess kept saying. "Skedaddle!"

Now it was the turn of the brother who knew the dictionary by heart. But he had clean forgotten it while he was standing in the queue; and the floor creaked under him, and the ceiling was all covered with mirrors, so that he saw himself standing on his head. At the window stood three clerks and an alderman, who all wrote down every word that was spoken, so that it could go straight into the newspaper and be sold for a penny at the street-corner. It was dreadful; and what's more, they had made up such a fire that the stove was red-hot.

"It's very warm in here," said the suitor.

"That's because my father's roasting cockerels to-day," said the Princess.

"O-o-oh!" was all he could say, as he stood there. He hadn't expected a remark like that, and he was hoping to say something witty. "O-o-oh!"

"No good!" said the Princess. "Skedaddle!" and away he had to go. After that the second brother came in.

"It's dreadfully hot in here," he said.

"Yes, we're roasting cockerels for dinner," said the Princess.

"I b-beg your - b-beg you -" he stuttered; and the clerks all wrote down, "I b-beg your - b-beg your -"

"No good!" said the Princess. "Skedaddle!"

Now it was Simple Simon's turn. He came trotting in on the Billy-goat, right into the palace-room. "Why, it's as hot as blazes in here!" he said.

"That's because I'm roasting cockerels," said the Princess.

"Oh, I say, that's lucky," said Simple Simon. "So I suppose I can have a crow roasted, can't I!"

"Of course you can, quite easily," said the Princess; "but have you got anything to roast it in, for I've neither pot nor pan."

"But I have," said Simon. "Here's a cooker with a tin handle!" And he produced the old clog and popped the crow straight into it.

"It will make quite a meal," said the Princess. "But what shall we do for gravy?"

"I've got that in my pocket," said Simon. "I've enough and to spare." And he tipped a little mud out of his pocket.

"I do like that!" said the Princess. "You know how to answer; you can speak up for yourself, and you're the one I'm going to marry! But do you realize that every word we've been saying has been written down and will be in the papers to-morrow?
Look there by the window - three clerks and an old alderman; and the alderman is the worst, because he doesn't understand a thing." Of course she said this just to frighten him. And the clerks all guffawed and made a great blot of ink on the floor.

"So these are the gentry?" said Simon. "Well, here's one for the alderman!" And he turned out his pocket and let him have the mud full in the face.

"Well done!" cried the Princess. "I could never have done that, but I'll soon learn." So in the end Simple Simon became King with a wife of his own and a crown and a throne. And all this comes straight out of the alderman's newspaper; so it may not be perfectly true!

Back to the Top