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THE RIVAL SUITORS
EACH suitor for the hand of the princess numbered as he arrived and had to wait turn. They waited as patiently as they standing in line closely guarded to prevent the jealous rivals from getting into a fight with one another.
A crowd of people had gathered in the room at the palace to look on while the princess received her suitors, and as suitor came in all the fine phrases he prepared passed out of his mind. Then princess would say: “It doesn’t matter. Away with him!”
At last the brother who knew the dictionary heart appeared, but he did not know it any longer. The floor creaked, and the ceiling was made of glass mirrors so that he saw himself standing on his head. At one of the windows were three reporters and an editor, and each of them was writing down what was said to publish it in the paper that was sold at the street corners for a penny. All this was fearful. You couldn’t blame him for feeling nervous.
“It is very hot in here, isn’t it?” was the only thing that the brother who knew the dictionary could think of to say.
“Of course it is,” the princess responded. “We are roasting young chickens for dinner today.”
The youth cleared his throat. “Ahem!” There he stood like an idiot. He was not prepared for such remarks from the princess. How nice it would be to make a witty response! But he could think of nothing appropriate, and all he did was to clear his throat again. “Ahem!”
“It doesn’t matter,” the princess said. “Take him out.” And out he had to go.
Now the other brother entered. “How hot it is here!” he said.
The princess looked as if she thought him tiresome as she responded: “Of course. We are roasting young chickens today.”
“Where do you — um?” the youth stammered, and the reporters wrote down, “Where do you — um?”
“It doesn’t matter,” the princess said. “Take him out.”
After a while Blockhead Hans had his turn. He rode his goat right into the room and exclaimed, “Dear me, how awfully hot it is here!’
The princess looked at him and his goat with more interest than she showed in most of her suitors and said: “Of course! We are roasting young chickens today.”
“That’s good,” Blockhead Hans commented; “and will you let me roast a crow with them?”
“Gladly,” the princess responded; “but have you anything to roast it in? I have neither pot nor saucepan to spare.”
“That’s all right,” Blockhead Hans told her. “Here is a dish that will serve my purpose.” And he showed her the wooden shoe and laid the crow in it.
The princess laughed and said. “If you are going to prepare a dinner you ought at least to have some soup to go with your crow.’
“Very true,” he agreed, “and I have it in my pocket.” Then he showed her the mud he was carrying.
“I like you,” the princess declared. “You can answer when you are spoken to. You have something to say. So I will marry you. But do you know that every word we speak is being recorded and will be in the paper tomorrow. Over by the window not far from where we are you can see three reporters and an old editor. None of them understands much and the editor doesn’t understand anything.”
At these words the reporters giggled, and each dropped a blot of ink on the floor.
“Ah! those are great people,” Blockhead Hans remarked. “I will give the editor something to write about.”
Then he took a handful of mud from his pocket and threw it smack in the great man’s face.
“That was neatly done!” the princess said — “much better, in fact, than I could have done it myself."
She and Blockhead Hans were married, and presently he became king and wore a crown and sat on the throne. At any rate so the newspaper said, but of course you can’t believe all you see in the papers.