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THE JUNIOR CLASSICS

 

THE EMPEROR TROJAN'S GOAT'S EARS

By W. S. Karajich

THERE once lived an emperor whose name was Trojan. This emperor had
goat's ears, and he used to call in barber after barber to shave him.
But whoever went in never came out again; for while the barber was
shaving him, the emperor would ask what he observed uncommon in him,
and when the barber would answer that he observed his goat's ears, the
Emperor would immediately cut him into pieces.

At last it came to the turn of a certain barber to go who feigned
illness, and sent his apprentice instead. When the apprentice appeared
before the emperor he was asked why his master did not come, and he
answered, "Because he is ill." Then the emperor sat down, and allowed
the youth to shave him.

As he shaved him the apprentice noticed the emperor's goat's ears, but
when Trojan asked him what he had observed, he answered, "I have
observed nothing."

Then the emperor gave him twelve ducats, and said to him-

"From this time forth you shall always come and shave me.

When the apprentice came home, his master asked him how he got on at
the emperor's, and the youth answered--

"All well; and the emperor has told me that I am to shave him in
future."

Then he showed the twelve ducats he had received; but as to the
emperor's goat's ears, of that he said nothing.

>From this time forth the apprentice went regularly to Trojan to shave
him, and for each shaving he received twelve ducats; but he told no one
that the emperor had goat's ears.

At last it began to worry and torment him that he dare tell no one his
secret; and he became sick and began to pine away. His master, who
could not fail to observe this, asked him what ailed him, and after
much pressing the apprentice confessed that he had something on his
heart which he dared not confide to anyone, and he added, "If I could
only tell it to somebody, I should feel better at once."

Then said the master-

"Tell it to me, and I will faithfully keep it from everybody else; or
if you fear to trust me with it, then go to the confessor and confide
it to him; but if you will not do even that, then go into the fields
outside the town, there dig a hole, thrust your head into it, and tell
the earth three times what you know, then throw the mold in again and
fill up the hole."

The apprentice chose the last course; went into the field outside the
city, dug a hole, into which he thrust his head, and called out three
times-

"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears."

Then he filled up the hole again, and with his mind quite relieved went
home.

When some time had passed by, there sprang an elder tree out of this
very hole, and three slender sterns grew up, beautiful and straight as
tapers. Some shepherds found this elder, cut off one of the stems, and
made a pipe of it. But as soon as they began to blow into the new
pipe, out burst the words:

"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears!"

The news of this strange occurrence spread immediately through the
whole city, and at last the Emperor Trojan himself heard the children
blowing on a pipe:

"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears!"

He sent instantly for the barber's apprentice, and shouted to him-

"Heh! what is this you have been telling the people about me."

The poor youth began at once to explain that he had indeed noticed the
emperor's ears, but had never told a soul of it. The emperor tore his
saber out of its sheath to hew the apprentice down, at which the youth
was so frightened that he told the whole story in its order: how he had
confessed himself to the earth; how an elder tree had sprang up on the
very spot; and how, when a pipe was made of one of its sterns, the tale
was sounded in every direction.

Then the emperor took the apprentice with him in a carriage to the
place, to convince himself of the truth of the story; and when they
arrived there they found there was only a single stem left. The
Emperor Trojan ordered a pipe to be made out of this stem, that he
might hear how it sounded. As soon as the pipe was ready, and one of
them blew into it, out poured the words:

"The Emperor Trojan has goat's ears!"

Then the emperor was convinced that nothing on this earth could be
hidden, spared the barber apprentices life, and henceforth allowed any
barber, without exception, to come and shave him.



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