Once upon a time there was a boy who was ambitious. One day he said to his mother: 'Give me a muffin and patch my trousers, for I am going to set out to win the Queen of the Mississippi.'

So the mother gave him a muffin and patched his trousers, and the boy went off.

He had not gone very far when he came to a mountain path, on which was a great cross, beneath which stood a man holding a bow with an arrow fixed on the string.

This man looked down at the boy as if to say, 'What are you doing here?'

The boy immediately answered his unspoken question by demanding, 'Hello, friend! What are you doing there?'

'You see that fly on that cross?' said the man, pointing to a minute speck on one of its arms. 'Wait then, and watch me! I will put out one of its eyes.'

With this, while the boy watched, he drew his bow to the full, and let the arrow fly.

It was a wonderful shot, for one of the eyes of the fly fell on the ground at the foot of the cross.

The boy was so taken with this, that he seemed to grow two whole years in half a minute. To look at him, you would have thought he was no longer a boy. He drew himself up proudly to his full height, and said in the voice of a young man:

'Will you travel with me, my pippy?'

'Pardon?'

Then it was question and answer between them:

'Come, travel with me, my pippy.'

'Oh! Whither away? To old Mandalay?' 'But no; to the far Mississippi,

Where a beautiful Queen holds sway:

And I 'II marry that Queen some day.' 'I am yours! And the bounty?'

'Give it a name: I will pay.'

Then the young man took his muffin, and, breaking off a little bit of it, handed it to the man with the bow and arrow. 'Keep it,' said he; 'it's a pledge of good faith.' So they journeyed on together. When they had gone some distance, they came to a high field, and in the middle of this stood a man stock still, gazing at the sun. As soon as the young man saw him, he shouted out at the top of his voice: 'Hi! What are you doing there, my good fellow?'

'I am just waiting for it to get a little more dazzling,' replied the man, still keeping his eyes fixed on the midday sun.

As soon as the young man heard this he seemed to grow still more in stature. Indeed, he seemed to be almost a man. 'Will you travel with me?' he said. 'Pardon?'

Then it was question and answer between them: 'Come, travel with me, my pippy.'

'Oh! Whither azvay? To the land of Cathay?' 'But no; to the far Mississippi,

Where a beautiful Queen hath sway, Who has stolen my heart away.' 'I am yours! And the bounty?'

'What you will: it's a pleasure to pay.'

Then the young man took his muffin, and, breaking off a little bit of it, handed it to the man who gazed at the sun. 'Keep it,' said he; ' it's a pledge of good faith.' So they journeyed on together.

The Seven Conquerors Of The Queen Of The Mississippi

The Seven Conquerors Of The Queen Of The Mississippi

"Hi! friend! Take the whole castle, with the Queen and all that it contains, on your shoulders!"

When they had gone some distance further, they saw a man who had tied his legs together.

'Hello! What are you doing there, my friend?'

'I want to catch that hare over yonder; but unless I tied my legs together there would be no sport in it.'

'Will you travel with me?'

'Pardon?'

'Will you travel with me, my pippy?'

'Oh! Whither away? To Botany Bay?' 'But no; to the far Mississippi,

Where a Queen - tooral-ooral-i-ay Is waiting for what I 'm to say.' ' I am yours! And the bounty?'

'Either here or in Botany Bay!'

Then the boy took his muffin, and, breaking off a little piece, handed it to him.

'Keep it,' said he; 'it's a pledge of good faith.'

So they journeyed on together. But they had travelled scarce a league when they met a man who was carrying ten great trees in his arms. And when the boy, who had grown into a young man, saw this, he was immediately full grown.

'Hi! my friend! What are you doing there?'

'My mother wants some wood,' replied the man, picking a few branches off the trees and flinging them idly on the roadside, 'so I am just taking her some.'

'Will you travel with me?'

'Pardon?'

'Will you travel with me, my pippy?'

'Oh! Whither away? To Rome or Pompeii?' 'But no; to the far Mississippi:

There's a Queen of great beauty that way,

And there's no one but Cupid to pay.' 'I am yours! And the bounty?'

'Name your price: it shall be as you say.'

Then the young man took his muffin, and, breaking off a little bit of it, handed it to the man who carried the trees.

'Keep it,' said he; 'it's a pledge of good faith.'

So they journeyed on together. They were still a long way from the Mississippi when they came across a man with a mouth large enough to swallow a river. When the boy, who had become a young man and was now full grown, set his eyes on him, his beard and moustache began to sprout.

'Will you travel with me?'

'Pardon?'

'Come, travel with me, my pippy.

(Sing merry-ton-ton-ta-lay.) To the land of the far Mississippi

Where the crystalline fountains play;

There's a Queen who will not say me nay.' 'I am yours! But the bounty?'

'We're picking it up on the way.'

Then the young man took his muffin, and, breaking off a little bit of it, handed it to the man with the mouth as large as a river.

'Keep it,' said he; 'it's a pledge of good faith.'

So they journeyed on together. On and on they went until at last they came to a great hill-top, and there, standing on the crest of it, they looked down into an immense valley where they saw a man engaged in eating up the whole earth. As soon as he saw this gigantic meal going on, the boy, who had become a young man and was now full grown with moustache and beard, appeared like a knight errant. One could see that, from the spurs which had grown upon his heels.

'Hi! What are you doing there?'

'I am so terribly hungry that nothing less than the whole earth can appease my appetite'

'Will you travel with me?'

'Pardon?'

'Come, travel with me, my pippy.'

'Oh! Whither? Madras or Bombay?' 'But no; to that far Mississippi,

Which flows from the gates of the day;

Where a Queen all in purple array

Waits for me------'

'I am yours! And the bounty?'

'Wouldn't go in a twenty-ton dray!'

Then the young man took his muffin, and, breaking off a little bit, handed it to the man who was eating up the earth.

'Keep it,' said he; 'it's a pledge of good faith.'

They were still a long way from their destination when they came to a beautiful castle of burnished gold, surrounded by a very deep moat over which was a drawbridge; and on the bridge was a golden portcullis. As soon as they arrived, their leader rang the bell. When the door was opened, the travellers entered, and the hero asked to see the King.

'What do you want with the King?' replied an attendant, richly attired.

'I have come to ask for the hand of his daughter, the Queen of the Mississippi,' said the hero.

'That is all very well; but consider well before you start on such an undertaking; for many have come as you have come and have lost their lives.'

'That is nothing,' they all replied. 'We are not afraid!'

Then they were led before the Queen, and all were completely dazzled by her beauty. It was a long time before they realised that she was speaking to them. At last they understood her to say:

'Here is my servant. See if you can eat more than he does.'

And the servant sat down in front of a table covered with dishes crowded with large joints of meat. And behold, he ate the whole lot up.

'Oh! that is nothing at all,' said the young hero. And, turning to the man who ate up the earth, he said:

'Sit down there, my friend.' Then turning again to the servant, he ordered him to bring in the biggest bull they could find.

They obeyed, and set it down in front of the man who ate the earth. And, in presence of the Queen, he swallowed the bull whole, head and tail and everything; and it was alive!

But the Queen said, 'You have not won me yet!'

And then she called in a second servant and said:

'Here is my servant. See if you can drink more than he can!'

And immediately the servant took hold of a whole cask of wine, and in one mouthful drank the whole lot up.

The young hero said, 'That is nothing at all!' Then, turning to the man with a mouth as big as a river, he added:

'Come here, my friend. Place yourself on your stomach on the moat, and drink well!'

And the man with the mouth as large as a river placed himself on his stomach, with his mouth to the water of the great moat outside, and in one second he had drunk up the whole moat, fishes and all, absolutely dry.

But the Queen still said they had not won her!

And she beckoned another servant. Then, turning to the young man, she said: 'See if you can run better than he can. There,' she said, 'at the top of that high mountain, just near the sun, lives a hermit. Go and ask him what it is he wishes to say to me. Then come back and tell me.'

'Oh! that is nothing at all,' said the young hero. And, turning to the man who ran like a hare, he said: 'Go to the top of the mountain and come back with the message.'

And the man who ran like a hare was out of sight in a second, and before they could count three he had returned to the Queen with the message that the hermit was dead, which the Queen had known all the time.

And the young man said to the King:

'You have submitted us to the test, and we have carried out all that you wished: we have now gained the Queen, and I am going to take her.'

Then the King got very angry and called out all his soldiers.

The young man, hearing this, said to the man with the strong arms:

'Hi! friend! Take the whole castle, with the Queen and all that it contains, on your shoulders!'

The man obeyed and they went on their way!

They had not gone a great distance when the man who had gazed at the sun cried out:

'In the distance I can see that we are being pursued by an army; they want to take the Queen!'

The King and his army approached rapidly, and demanded the Queen.

Then the man of the strong arm killed the King and every one of his army with a single blow.

Then he departed with the Queen and the castle to the home of the young man; and as soon as they got there the hero married the Queen, and, with her and his mother, they lived very happily to a good old age.

The Seven Conquerors Of The Queen Of The Mississip 10