She fell on her knees before him and washed his wounds one by one, and laid healing herbs upon them. And the lion licked her hands and thanked her, and asked if she would not stay and sit by him. But the girl said she had her pigs to watch, and she must go and see after them.
So she ran to the place where she had left them, but they had vanished as if the earth had swallowed them up. She whistled and called, but only the birds answered her.
Then she sank down on the ground and wept bitterly, not daring to return home until some hours had passed away.
And when she had had her cry out she got up and searched all up and down the wood. But it was no use; there was not a sign of the pigs.
At last she thought that perhaps if she climbed a tree she might see further. But no sooner was she seated on the highest branch than something happened which put the pigs quite out of her head. This was a handsome young man who was coming down the path; and when he had almost reached the tree he pulled aside a rock and disappeared behind it.
The maiden rubbed her eyes and wondered if she had been dreaming. Next she thought, 'I will not stir from here till I see him come out, and discover who he is.' Accordingly she waited, and at dawn the next morning the rock moved to one side and a lion came out.
When he had gone quite out of sight the girl climbed down from the tree and went to the rock, which she pushed aside, and entered the opening before her. The path led to a beautiful house. She went in, swept and dusted the furniture, and put everything tidy. Then she ate a very good dinner, which was on a shelf in the corner, and once more clambered up to the top of her tree.
As the sun set she saw the same young man walking gaily down the path, and, as before, he pushed aside the rock and disappeared behind it.
Next morning out came the lion. He looked sharply about him on all sides, but saw no one, and then vanished into the forest.
The maiden then came down from the tree and did exactly as she had done the day before. Thus three days went by, and every day she went and tidied up the palace. At length, when the girl found she was no nearer to discovering the secret, she resolved to ask him, and in the evening when she caught sight of him coming through the wood she came down from the tree and begged him to tell her his name.
The young man looked very pleased to see her, and said he thought it must be she who had secretly kept his house for so many days. And he added that he was a prince enchanted by a powerful giant, but was only allowed to take his own shape at night, for all day he was forced to appear as the lion whom she had so often helped; and, more than this, it was the giant who had stolen the oxen and the asses and the pigs in revenge for her kindness.
And the girl asked him, 'What can I do to disenchant you?'
But he said he was afraid it was very difficult, because the only way was to get a lock of hair from the head of a king's daughter, to spin it, and to make from it a cloak for the giant, who lived up on the top of a high mountain.
'Very well,' answered the girl, 'I will go to the city, and knock at the door of the king's palace, and ask the princess to take me as a servant.'
So they parted, and when she arrived at the city she walked about the streets crying, 'Who will hire me for a servant? Who will hire me for a servant?' But, though many people liked her looks, for she was clean and neat, the maiden would listen to none, and still continued crying, 'Who will hire me for a servant? Who will hire me for a servant?'
At last there came the waiting-maid of the princess.
'What can you do?' she said; and the girl was forced to confess that she could do very little.
'Then you will have to do scullion's work, and wash up dishes,' said she; and they went straight back to the palace.
Then the maiden dressed her hair afresh, and made herself look very neat and smart, and everyone admired and praised her, till by-and-bye it came to the ears of the princess. And she sent for the girl, and when she saw her, and how beautifully she had dressed her hair, the princess told her she was to come and comb out hers.
Now the hair of the princess was very thick and long, and shone like the sun. And the girl combed it and combed it till it was brighter than ever. And the princess was pleased, and bade her come every day and comb her hair, till at length the girl took courage, and begged leave to cut off one of the long, thick locks.
The princess, who was very proud of her hair, did not like the idea of parting with any of it, so she said no. But the girl could not give up hope, and each day she entreated to be allowed to cut off just one tress. At length the princess lost patience, and exclaimed, 'You may have it, then, on condition that you shall find the handsomest prince in the world to be my bridegroom!'
And the girl answered that she would, and cut off the lock, and wove it into a coat that glittered like silk, and brought it to the young man, who told her to carry it straight to the giant. But that she must be careful to cry out a long way off what she had with her, or else he would spring upon her and run her through with his sword.
So the maiden departed and climbed up the mountain, but before she reached the top the giant heard her footsteps, and rushed out breathing fire and flame, having a sword in one hand and a club in the other. But she cried loudly that she had brought him the coat, and then he grew quiet, and invited her to come into his house.
He tried on the coat, but it was too short, and he threw it off, and declared it was no use. And the girl picked it up sadly, and returned quite in despair to the king's palace.
The next morning, when she was combing the princess's hair, she begged leave to cut off another lock. At first the princess said no, but the girl begged so hard that at length she gave in on condition that she should find her a prince as bridegroom.
The maiden told her that she had already found him, and spun the lock into shining stuff, and fastened it on to the end of the coat. And when it was finished she carried it to the giant.
This time it fitted him, and he was quite pleased, and asked her what he could give her in return. And she said that the only reward he could give her was to take the spell off the lion and bring him back to his own shape.
For a long time the giant would not hear of it, but in the end he gave in, and told her exactly how it must all be done. She was to kill the lion herself and cut him up very small; then she must burn him, and cast his ashes into the water, and out of the water the prince would come free from enchantment for ever.
But the maiden went away weeping, lest the giant should have deceived her, and that after she had killed the lion she would find she had also slain the prince.
Weeping she came down the mountain, and weeping she joined the prince, who was awaiting her at the bottom; and when he had heard her story he comforted her, and bade her be of good courage, and to do the bidding of the giant.
And the maiden believed what the prince told her; and in the morning when he put on his lion's form she took a knife and slew him, and cut him up very small, and burnt him, and cast his ashes into the water, and out of the water came the prince, beautiful as the day, and as glad to look upon as the sun himself.
Then the young man thanked the maiden for all she had done for him, and said she should be his wife and none other. But the maiden only wept sore, and answered that that she could never be, for she had given her promise to the princess when she cut off her hair that the prince should wed her and her only.
But the prince replied, 'If it is the princess, we must go quickly. Come with me.'
So they went together to the king's palace. And when the king and queen and princess saw the young man a great joy filled their hearts, for they knew him for the eldest son, who had long ago been enchanted by a giant and lost to them.
And he asked his parents' consent that he might marry the girl who had saved him, and a great feast was made, and the maiden became a princess, and in due time a queen, and she richly deserved all the honours showered upon her.
The Man Without a Heart
Once upon a time there were seven brothers, who were orphans, and had no sister. Therefore they were obliged to do all their own housework. This they did not like at all; so after much deliberation they decided to get married. There were, unfortunately, no young girls to be found in the place where they lived; but the elder brothers agreed to go out into the world and seek for brides, promising to bring back a very pretty wife for the youngest also if he would meanwhile stay at home and take care of the house. He consented willingly, and the six young men set off in good spirits.
On their way they came to a small cottage standing quite by itself in a wood; and before the door stood an old, old man, who accosted the brothers saying, 'Hullo, you young fellows! Whither away so fast and cheerily?'
'We are going to find bonny brides for ourselves, and one for our youngest brother at home,' they replied.
'Oh! dear youths,' said the old man, 'I am terribly lonely here; pray bring a bride for me also; only remember, she must be young and pretty.'
'What does a shrivelled old grey thing like that want with a pretty young bride?' thought the brothers, and went on their way.
Presently they came to a town where were seven sisters, as young and as lovely as anyone could wish. Each brother chose one, and the youngest they kept for their brother at home. Then the whole party set out on the return journey, and again their path led through the wood and past the old man's cottage.
There he stood before the door, and cried: 'Oh! you fine fellows, what a charming bride you have brought me!'
'She is not for you, said the young men. 'She is for our youngest brother, as we promised.'
'What!' said the old man, 'promised! I'll make you eat your promises!' And with that he took his magic wand, and, murmuring a charm, he touched both brothers and brides, and immediately they were turned into grey stones.
Only the youngest sister he had not bewitched. He took her into the cottage, and from that time she was obliged to keep house for him. She was not very unhappy, but one thought troubled her. What if the old man should die and leave her here alone in the solitary cottage deep in the heart of the wood! She would be as 'terribly lonely' as he had formerly been.
One day she told him of her fear.
'Don't be anxious,' he said. 'You need neither fear my death nor desire it, for I have no heart in my breast! However, if I should die, you will find my wand above the door, and with it you can set free your sisters and their lovers. Then you will surely have company enough.'
'Where in all the world do you keep your heart, if not in your breast?' asked the girl.
'Do you want to know everything?' her husband said. 'Well, if you must know, my heart is in the bed-cover.'
When the old man had gone out about his business his bride passed her time in embroidering beautiful flowers on the bed quilt to make his heart happy. The old man was much amused. He laughed, and said to her: 'You are a good child, but I was only joking. My heart is really in—in—'
'Now where is it, dear husband?'
'It is in the doorway,' he replied.
Next day, while he was out, the girl decorated the door with gay feathers and fresh flowers, and hung garlands upon it. And on his return the old fellow asked what it all meant.
'I did it to show my love for your heart,' said the girl.
And again the old man smiled, saying, 'You are a dear child, but my heart is not in the doorway.'
Then the poor young bride was very vexed, and said, 'Ah, my dear! you really have a heart somewhere, so you may die and leave me all alone.'
The old man did his best to comfort her by repeating all he had said before, but she begged him afresh to tell her truly where his heart was and at last he told her.
'Far, far from here,' said he, 'in a lonely spot, stands a great church, as old as old can be. Its doors are of iron, and round it runs a deep moat, spanned by no bridge. Within that church is a bird which flies up and down; it never eats, and never drinks, and never dies. No one can catch it, and while that bird lives so shall I, for in it is my heart.'
It made the little bride quite sad to think she could do nothing to show her love for the old man's heart. She used to think about it as she sat all alone during the long days, for her husband was almost always out.
One day a young traveller came past the house, and seeing such a pretty girl he wished her 'Good day.'
She returned his greeting, and as he drew near she asked him whence he came and where he was going.
'Alas!' sighed the youth, 'I am very sorrowful. I had six brothers, who went away to find brides for themselves and one for me; but they have never come home, so now I am going to look for them.'
'Oh, good friend,' said the girl, 'you need go no farther. Come, sit down, eat and drink, and afterwards I'll tell you all about it.'
She gave him food, and when he had finished his meal she told him how his brothers had come to the town where she lived with her sisters, how they had each chosen a bride, and, taking herself with them, had started for home. She wept as she told how the others were turned to stone, and how she was kept as the old man's bride. She left out nothing, even telling him the story of her husband's heart.
When the young man heard this he said: 'I shall go in search of the bird. It may be that God will help me to find and catch it.'
'Yes, do go,' she said; 'it will be a good deed, for then you can set your brothers and my sisters free.' Then she hid the young man, for it was now late, and her husband would soon be home.
Next morning, when the old man had gone out, she prepared a supply of provisions for her guest, and sent him off on his travels, wishing him good luck and success.
He walked on and on till he thought it must be time for breakfast; so he opened his knapsack, and was delighted to find such a store of good things. 'What a feast!' he exclaimed; 'will anyone come and share it?'
'Moo-oo,' sounded close behind him, and looking round he saw a great red ox, which said, 'I have much pleasure in accepting your kind invitation.'
'I'm delighted to see you. Pray help yourself. All I have is at your service,' said the hospitable youth. And the ox lay down comfortably, licking his lips, and made a hearty meal.
'Many thanks to you,' said the animal as it rose up. 'When you are in danger or necessity call me, even if only by a thought,' and it disappeared among the bushes.
The young man packed up all the food that was left, and wandered on till the shortening shadows and his own hunger warned him that it was midday. he laid the cloth on the ground and spread out his provisions, saying at the same time: 'Dinner is ready, and anyone who wishes to share it is welcome.'
Then there was a great rustling in the undergrowth, and out ran a wild boar, grunting, 'Umph, umph, umph; someone said dinner was ready. Was it you? and did you mean me to come?'
'By all means. Help yourself to what I have,' said the young traveller. And the two enjoyed their meal together.
Afterwards the boar got up, saying, 'Thank you; when in need you be you must quickly call for me,' and he rolled off.
For a long time the youth walked on. By evening he was miles away. He felt hungry again, and, having still some provisions left, thought he had better make ready his supper. When it was all spread out he cried as before, 'Anyone who cares to share my meal is welcome.'
He heard a sound overhead like the flapping of wings, and a shadow was cast upon the ground. Then a huge griffin appeared, saying: 'I heard someone giving an invitation to eat; is there anything for me?'
'Why not?' said the youth. 'Come down and take all you want. There won't be much left after this.'
So the griffin alighted and ate his fill, saying, as he flew away, 'Call me if you need me.'
'What a hurry he was in!' the youth said to himself. 'He might have been able to direct me to the church, for I shall never find it alone.'
He gathered up his things, and started to walk a little farther before resting. He had not gone far when all of a sudden he saw the church!
He soon came to it, or rather to the wide and deep moat which surrounded it without a single bridge by which to cross.
It was too late to attempt anything now; and, besides, the poor youth was very tired, so he lay down on the ground and fell fast asleep.
Next morning, when he awoke, he began to wish himself over the moat; and the thought occurred to him that if only the red ox were there, and thirsty enough to drink up all the water in the moat, he might walk across it dry shod.
Scarcely had the thought crossed his brain before the ox appeared and began to drink up the water.
The grateful youth hastened across as soon as the moat was dry, but found it impossible to penetrate the thick walls and strong iron doors of the church.
'I believe that big boar would be of more use here than I am,' he thought, and lo! at the wish the wild boar came and began to push hard against the wall. He managed to loosen one stone with his tusks, and, having made a beginning, stone after stone was poked out till he had made quite a large hole, big enough to let a man go through.
The young man quickly entered the church, and saw a bird flying about, but he could not catch it.
'Oh!' he exclaimed, 'if only the griffin were here, he would soon catch it.'
At these words the griffin appeared, and, seizing the bird, gave it to the youth, who carried it off carefully, while the griffin flew away.
The young man hurried home as fast as possible, and reached the cottage before evening. He told his story to the little bride, who, after giving him some food and drink, hid him with his bird beneath the bed.
Presently the old man came home, and complained of feeling ill. Nothing, he said, would go well with him any more: his 'heart bird' was caught.
The youth under the bed heard this, and thought, 'This old fellow has done me no particular harm, but then he has bewitched my brothers and their brides, and has kept my bride for himself, and that is certainly bad enough.'
So he pinched the bird, and the old man cried, 'Ah! I feel death gripping me! Child, I am dying!'
With these words he fell fainting from his chair, and as the youth, before he knew what he was doing, had squeezed the bird to death, the old man died also.
Out crept the young man from under the bed, and the girl took the magic wand (which she found where the old man had told her), and, touching the twelve grey stones, transformed them at once into the six brothers and their brides.
Then there was great joy, and kissing and embracing. And there lay the old man, quite dead, and no magic wand could restore him to life, even had they wished it.
After that they all went away and were married, and lived many years happily together.
The Two Brothers
Sicilianische Malirchen. L. Gonzenbach.
Long ago there lived two brothers, both of them very handsome, and both so very poor that they seldom had anything to eat but the fish which they caught. One day they had been out in their boat since sunrise without a single bite, and were just thinking of putting up their lines and going home to bed when they felt a little feeble tug, and, drawing in hastily, they found a tiny fish at the end of the hook.
'What a wretched little creature!' cried one brother. 'However, it is better than nothing, and I will bake him with bread crumbs and have him for supper.'
'Oh, do not kill me yet!' begged the fish; 'I will bring you good luck—indeed I will!'
'You silly thing!' said the young man; 'I've caught you, and I shall eat you.'
But his brother was sorry for the fish, and put in a word for him.
'Let the poor little fellow live. He would hardly make one bite, and, after all, how do we know we are not throwing away our luck! Put him back into the sea. It will be much better.'
'If you will let me live,' said the fish, 'you will find on the sands to-morrow morning two beautiful horses splendidly saddled and bridled, and on them you can go through the world as knights seeking adventures.'
'Oh dear, what nonsense!' exclaimed the elder; 'and, besides, what proof have we that you are speaking the truth?'
But again the younger brother interposed: 'Oh, do let him live! You know if he is lying to us we can always catch him again. It is quite worth while trying.'
At last the young man gave in, and threw the fish back into the sea; and both brothers went supperless to bed, and wondered what fortune the next day would bring.
At the first streaks of dawn they were both up, and in a very few minutes were running down to the shore. And there, just as the fish had said, stood two magnificent horses, saddled and bridled, and on their backs lay suits of armour and under-dresses, two swords, and two purses of gold.
'There!' said the younger brother. 'Are you not thankful you did not eat that fish? He has brought us good luck, and there is no knowing how great we may become! Now, we will each seek our own adventures. If you will take one road I will go the other.'
'Very well,' replied the elder; 'but how shall we let each other know if we are both living?'
'Do you see this fig-tree?' said the younger. 'Well, whenever we want news of each other we have only to come here and make a slit with our swords in the back. If milk flows, it is a sign that we are well and prosperous; but if, instead of milk, there is blood, then we are either dead or in great danger.'
Then the two brothers put on their armour, buckled their swords, and pocketed their purees; and, after taking a tender farewell of each other, they mounted their horses and went their various ways.
The elder brother rode straight on till he reached the borders of a strange kingdom. He crossed the frontier, and soon found himself on the banks of a river; and before him, in the middle of the stream, a beautiful girl sat chained to a rock and weeping bitterly. For in this river dwelt a serpent with seven heads, who threatened to lay waste the whole land by breathing fire and flame from his nostrils unless the king sent him every morning a man for his breakfast. This had gone on so long that now there were no men left, and he had been obliged to send his own daughter instead, and the poor girl was waiting till the monster got hungry and felt inclined to eat her.
When the young man saw the maiden weeping bitterly he said to her, 'What is the matter, my poor girl?'
'Oh!' she answered, 'I am chained here till a horrible serpent with seven heads comes to eat me. Oh, sir, do not linger here, or he will eat you too.'
'I shall stay,' replied the young man, 'for I mean to set you free.'
'That is impossible. You do not know what a fearful monster the serpent is; you can do nothing against him.'
'That is my affair, beautiful captive,' answered he; 'only tell me, which way will the serpent come?'
'Well, if you are resolved to free me, listen to my advice. Stand a little on one side, and then, when the serpent rises to the surface, I will say to him, "O serpent, to-day you can eat two people. But you had better begin first with the young man, for I am chained and cannot run away." When he hears this most likely he will attack you.'
So the young man stood carefully on one side, and by-and-bye he heard a great rushing in the water; and a horrible monster came up to the surface and looked out for the rock where the king's daughter was chained, for it was getting late and he was hungry.
But she cried out, 'O serpent, to-day you can eat two people. And you had better begin with the young man, for I am chained and cannot run away.'
Then the serpent made a rush at the youth with wide open jaws to swallow him at one gulp, but the young man leaped aside and drew his sword, and fought till he had cut off all the seven heads. And when the great serpent lay dead at his feet he loosed the bonds of the king's daughter, and she flung herself into his arms and said, 'You have saved me from that monster, and now you shall be my husband, for my father has made a proclamation that whoever could slay the serpent should have his daughter to wife.'
But he answered, 'I cannot become your husband yet, for I have still far to travel. But wait for me seven years and seven months. Then, if I do not return, you are free to marry whom you will. And in case you should have forgotten, I will take these seven tongues with me so that when I bring them forth you may know that I am really he who slew the serpent.'
So saying he cut out the seven tongues, and the princess gave him a thick cloth to wrap them in; and he mounted his horse and rode away.
Not long after he had gone there arrived at the river a slave who had been sent by the king to learn the fate of his beloved daughter. And when the slave saw the princess standing free and safe before him, with the body of the monster lying at her feet, a wicked plan came into his head, and he said, 'Unless you promise to tell your father it was I who slew the serpent, I will kill you and bury you in this place, and no one will ever know what befell.'
What could the poor girl do? This time there was no knight to come to her aid. So she promised to do as the slave wished, and he took up the seven heads and brought the princess to her father.
Oh, how enchanted the king was to see her again, and the whole town shared his joy!
And the slave was called upon to tell how he had slain the monster, and when he had ended the king declared that he should have the princess to wife.
But she flung herself at her father's feet, and prayed him to delay. 'You have passed your royal word, and cannot go back from it Yet grant me this grace, and let seven years and seven months go by before you wed me. When they are over, then I will marry the slave.' And the king listened to her, and seven years and seven months she looked for her bridegroom, and wept for him night and day.
All this time the young man was riding through the world, and when the seven years and seven months were over he came back to the town where the princess lived—only a few days before the wedding. And he stood before the king, and said to him: 'Give me your daughter, O king, for I slew the seven-headed serpent. And as a sign that my words are true, look on these seven tongues, which I cut from his seven heads, and on this embroidered cloth, which was given me by your daughter.'
Then the princess lifted up her voice and said, 'Yes, dear father, he has spoken the truth, and it is he who is my real bridegroom. Yet pardon the slave, for he was sorely tempted.'
But the king answered, 'Such treachery can no man pardon. Quick, away with him, and off with his head!'
So the false slave was put to death, that none might follow in his footsteps, and the wedding feast was held, and the hearts of all rejoiced that the true bridegroom had come at last.
These two lived happy and contentedly for a long while, when one evening, as the young man was looking from the window, he saw on a mountain that lay out beyond the town a great bright light.
'What can it be?' he said to his wife.
'Ah! do not look at it,' she answered, 'for it comes from the house of a wicked witch whom no man can manage to kill.' But the princess had better have kept silence, for her words made her husband's heart burn within him, and he longed to try his strength against the witch's cunning. And all day long the feeling grew stronger, till the next morning he mounted his horse, and in spite of his wife's tears, he rode off to the mountain.
The distance was greater than he thought, and it was dark before he reached the foot of the mountain; indeed, he could not have found the road at all had it not been for the bright light, which shone like the moon on his path. At length he came to the door of a fine castle, which had a blaze streaming from every window. He mounted a flight of steps and entered a hall where a hideous old woman was sitting on a golden chair.
She scowled at the young man and said, 'With a single one of the hairs of my head I can turn you into stone.'
'Oh, what nonsense!' cried he. 'Be quiet, old woman. What could you do with one hair?' But the witch pulled out a hair and laid it on his shoulder, and his limbs grew cold and heavy, and he could not stir.
Now at this very moment the younger brother was thinking of him, and wondering how he had got on during all the years since they had parted. 'I will go to the fig-tree,' he said to himself, 'to see whether he is alive or dead.' So he rode through the forest till he came where the fig-tree stood, and cut a slit in the bark, and waited. In a moment a little gurgling noise was heard, and out came a stream of blood, running fast. 'Ah, woe is me!' he cried bitterly. 'My brother is dead or dying! Shall I ever reach him in time to save his life?' Then, leaping on his horse, he shouted, 'Now, my steed, fly like the wind!' and they rode right through the world, till one day they came to the town where the young man and his wife lived. Here the princess had been sitting every day since the morning that her husband had left her, weeping bitter tears, and listening for his footsteps. And when she saw his brother ride under the balcony she mistook him for her own husband, for they were so alike that no man might tell the difference, and her heart bounded, and, leaning down, she called to him, 'At last! at last! how long have I waited for thee!' When the younger brother heard these words he said to himself, 'So it was here that my brother lived, and this beautiful woman is my sister-in-law,' but he kept silence, and let her believe he was indeed her husband. Full of joy, the princess led him to the old king, who welcomed him as his own son, and ordered a feast to be made for him. And the princess was beside herself with gladness, but when she would have put her arms round him and kissed him he held up his hand to stop her, saying, 'Touch me not,' at which she marvelled greatly.
In this manner several days went by. And one evening, as the young man leaned from the balcony, he saw a bright light shining on the mountain.
'What can that be?' he said to the princess.
'Oh, come away,' she cried; 'has not that light already proved your bane? Do you wish to fight a second time with that old witch?'
He marked her words, though she knew it not, and they taught him where his brother was, and what had befallen him. So before sunrise he stole out early, saddled his horse, and rode off to the mountain. But the way was further than he thought, and on the road he met a little old man who asked him whither he was going.
Then the young man told him his story, and added. 'Somehow or other I must free my brother, who has fallen into the power of an old witch.'
'I will tell you what you must do,' said the old man. 'The witch's power lies in her hair; so when you see her spring on her and seize her by the hair, and then she cannot harm you. Be very careful never to let her hair go, bid her lead you to your brother, and force her to bring him back to life. For she has an ointment that will heal all wounds, and even wake the dead. And when your brother stands safe and well before you, then cut off her head, for she is a wicked woman.'
The young man was grateful for these words, and promised to obey them. Then he rode on, and soon reached the castle. He walked boldly up the steps and entered the hall, where the hideous old witch came to meet him. She grinned horribly at him, and cried out, 'With one hair of my head I can change you into stone.'
'Can you, indeed?' said the young man, seizing her by the hair. 'You old wretch! tell me what you have done with my brother, or I will cut your head off this very instant.' Now the witch's strength was all gone from her, and she had to obey.
'I will take you to your brother,' she said, hoping to get the better of him by cunning, 'but leave me alone. You hold me so tight that I cannot walk.'
'You must manage somehow,' he answered, and held her tighter than ever. She led him into a large hall filled with stone statues, which once had been men, and, pointing out one, she said, 'There is your brother.'
The young man looked at them all and shook his head. 'My brother is not here. Take me to him, or it will be the worse for you.' But she tried to put him off with other statues, though it was no good, and it was not until they had reached the last hall of all that he saw his brother lying on the ground.
'That is my brother,' said he. 'Now give me the ointment that will restore him to life.'
Very unwillingly the old witch opened a cupboard close by filled with bottles and jars, and took down one and held it out to the young man. But he was on the watch for trickery, and examined it carefully, and saw that it had no power to heal. This happened many times, till at length she found it was no use, and gave him the one he wanted. And when he had it safe he made her stoop down and smear it over his brother's face, taking care all the while never to loose her hair, and when the dead man opened his eyes the youth drew his sword and cut off her head with a single blow. Then the elder brother got up and stretched himself, and said, 'Oh, how long I have slept! And where am I?'
'The old witch had enchanted you, but now she is dead and you are free. We will wake up the other knights that she laid under her spells, and then we will go.'
This they did, and, after sharing amongst them the jewels and gold they found in the castle, each man went his way. The two brothers remained together, the elder tightly grasping the ointment which had brought him back to life.
They had much to tell each other as they rode along, and at last the younger man exclaimed, 'O fool, to leave such a beautiful wife to go and fight a witch! She took me for her husband, and I did not say her nay.'
When the elder brother heard this a great rage filled his heart, and, without saying one word, he drew his sword and slew his brother, and his body rolled in the dust. Then he rode on till he reached his home, where his wife was still sitting, weeping bitterly. When she saw him she sprang up with a cry, and threw herself into his arms. 'Oh, how long have I waited for thee! Never, never must you leave me any more!'
When the old king heard the news he welcomed him as a son, and made ready a feast, and all the court sat down. And in the evening, when the young man was alone with his wife, she said to him, 'Why would you not let me touch you when you came back, but always thrust me away when I tried to put my arms round you or kiss you?'
Then the young man understood how true his brother had been to him, and he sat down and wept and wrung his hands because of the wicked murder that he had done. Suddenly he sprang to his feet, for he remembered the ointment which lay hidden in his garments, and he rushed to the place where his brother still lay. He fell on his knees beside the body, and, taking out the salve, he rubbed it over the neck where the wound was gaping wide, and the skin healed and the sinews grew strong, and the dead man sat up and looked round him. And the two brothers embraced each other, and the elder asked forgiveness for his wicked blow; and they went back to the palace together, and were never parted any more.
Master and Pupil
From the Danish.
There was once a man who had a son who was very clever at reading, and took great delight in it. He went out into the world to seek service somewhere, and as he was walking between some mounds he met a man, who asked him where he was going.
'I am going about seeking for service,' said the boy.
'Will you serve me?' asked the man.
'Oh, yes; just as readily you as anyone else,' said the boy.
'But can you read?' asked the man.
'As well as the priest,' said the boy.
Then I can't have you,' said the man. 'In fact, I was just wanting a boy who couldn't read. His only work would be to dust my old books.'
The man then went on his way, and left the boy looking after him.
'It was a pity I didn't get that place,' thought he 'That was just the very thing for me.'
Making up his mind to get the situation if possible, he hid himself behind one of the mounds, and turned his jacket outside in, so that the man would not know him again so easily. Then he ran along behind the mounds, and met the man at the other end of them.
'Where are you going, my little boy?' said the man, who did not notice that it was the same one he had met before.
'I am going about seeking for service?' said the boy.
'Will you serve me?' asked the man.
'Oh, yes; just as readily you as anyone else,' said the boy.
'But can you read?' said the man.
'No, I don't know a single letter,' said the boy.
The man then took him into his service, and all the work he had to do was to dust his master's books. But as he did this he had plenty of time to read them as well, and he read away at them until at last he was just as wise as his master—who was a great wizard—and could perform all kinds of magic. Among other feats, he could change himself into the shape of any animal, or any other thing that he pleased.
When he had learned all this he did not think it worth while staying there any longer, so he ran away home to his parents again. Soon after this there was a market in the next village, and the boy told his mother that he had learned how to change himself into the shape of any animal he chose.
'Now,' said he, 'I shall change myself to a horse, and father can take me to market and sell me. I shall come home again all right.'
His mother was frightened at the idea, but the boy told her that she need not be alarmed; all would be well. So he changed himself to a horse, such a fine horse, too, that his father got a high price for it at the market; but after the bargain was made, and the money paid, the boy changed again to his own shape, when no one was looking, and went home.
The story spread all over the country about the fine horse that had been sold and then had disappeared, and at last the news came to the ears of the wizard.
'Aha!' said he, 'this is that boy of mine, who befooled me and ran away; but I shall have him yet.'
The next time that there was a market the boy again changed himself to a horse, and was taken thither by his father. The horse soon found a purchaser, and while the two were inside drinking the luck-penny the wizard came along and saw the horse. He knew at once that it was not an ordinary one, so he also went inside, and offered the purchaser far more than he had paid for it, so the latter sold it to him.
The first thing the wizard now did was to lead the horse away to a smith to get a red-hot nail driven into its mouth, because after that it could not change its shape again. When the horse saw this it changed itself to a dove, and flew up into the air. The wizard at once changed himself into a hawk, and flew up after it. The dove now turned into a gold ring, and fell into a girl's lap. The hawk now turned into a man, and offered the girl a great sum of money for the gold ring, but she would not part with it, seeing that it had fallen down to her, as it were, from Heaven. However, the wizard kept on offering her more and more for it, until at last the gold ring grew frightened, and changed itself into a grain of barley, which fell on the ground. The man then turned into a hen, and began to search for the grain of barley, but this again changed itself to a pole-cat, and took off the hen's head with a single snap.
The wizard was now dead, the pole-cat put on human shape, and the youth afterwards married the girl, and from that time forward let all his magic arts alone.
The Golden Lion
Sicilianische Mahrchen. L. Gonzenbach.
There was once a rich merchant who had three sons, and when they were grown up the eldest said to him, 'Father, I wish to travel and see the world. I pray you let me.'
So the father ordered a beautiful ship to be fitted up, and the young man sailed away in it. After some weeks the vessel cast anchor before a large town, and the merchant's son went on shore.
The first thing he saw was a large notice written on a board saying that if any man could find the king's daughter within eight days he should have her to wife, but that if he tried and failed his head must be the forfeit.
'Well,' thought the youth as he read this proclamation, 'that ought not to be a very difficult matter;' and he asked an audience of the king, and told him that he wished to seek for the princess.
'Certainly,' replied the king. 'You have the whole palace to search in; but remember, if you fail it will cost you your head.'
So saying, he commanded the doors to be thrown open, and food and drink to be set before the young man, who, after he had eaten, began to look for the princess. But though he visited every corner and chest and cupboard, she was not in any of them, and after eight days he gave it up and his head was cut off.
All this time his father and brothers had had no news of him, and were very anxious. At last the second son could bear it no longer, and said, 'Dear father, give me, I pray you, a large ship and some money, and let me go and seek for my brother.'
So another ship was fitted out, and the young man sailed away, and was blown by the wind into the same harbour where his brother had landed.
Now when he saw the first ship lying at anchor his heart beat high, and he said to himself, 'My brother cannot surely be far off,' and he ordered a boat and was put on shore.
As he jumped on to the pier his eye caught the notice about the princess, and he thought, 'He has undertaken to find her, and has certainly lost his head. I must try myself, and seek him as well as her. It cannot be such a very difficult matter.' But he fared no better than his brother, and in eight days his head was cut off.
So now there was only the youngest at home, and when the other two never came he also begged for a ship that he might go in search of his lost brothers. And when the vessel started a high wind arose, and blew him straight to the harbour where the notice was set.
'Oho!' said he, as he read, 'whoever can find the king's daughter shall have her to wife. It is quite clear now what has befallen my brothers. But in spite of that I think I must try my luck,' and he took the road to the castle.
On the way he met an old woman, who stopped and begged.
'Leave me in peace, old woman,' replied he.
'Oh, do not send me away empty,' she said. 'You are such a handsome young man you will surely not refuse an old woman a few pence.'
'I tell you, old woman, leave me alone.'
'You are in some trouble?' she asked. 'Tell me what it is, and perhaps I can help you.'
Then he told her how he had set his heart on finding the king's daughter.
'I can easily manage that for you as long as you have enough money.'
'Oh, as to that, I have plenty,' answered he.
'Well, you must take it to a goldsmith and get him to make it into a golden lion, with eyes of crystal; and inside it must have something that will enable it to play tunes. When it is ready bring it to me.'
The young man did as he was bid, and when the lion was made the old woman hid the youth in it, and brought it to the king, who was so delighted with it that he wanted to buy it. But she replied, 'It does not belong to me, and my master will not part from it at any price.'
'At any rate, leave it with me for a few days,' said he; 'I should like to show it to my daughter.'
'Yes, I can do that,' answered the old woman; 'but to-morrow I must have it back again. And she went away.
The king watched her till she was quite out of sight, so as to make sure that she was not spying upon him; then he took the golden lion into his room and lifted some loose boards from the floor. Below the floor there was a staircase, which he went down till he reached a door at the foot. This he unlocked, and found himself in a narrow passage closed by another door, which he also opened. The young man, hidden in the golden lion, kept count of everything, and marked that there were in all seven doors. After they had all been unlocked the king entered a lovely hall, where the princess was amusing herself with eleven friends. All twelve girls wore the same clothes, and were as like each other as two peas.
'What bad luck!' thought the youth. 'Even supposing that I managed to find my way here again, I don't see how I could ever tell which was the princess.'
And he stared hard at the princess as she clapped her hands with joy and ran up to them, crying, ' Oh, do let us keep that delicious beast for to-night; it will make such a nice plaything.'
The king did not stay long, and when he left he handed over the lion to the maidens, who amused themselves with it for some time, till they got sleepy, and thought it was time to go to bed. But the princess took the lion into her own room and laid it on the floor.
She was just beginning to doze when she heard a voice quite close to her, which made her jump. 'O lovely princess, if you only knew what I have gone through to find you!' The princess jumped out of bed screaming, 'The lion! the lion!' but her friends thought it was a nightmare, and did not trouble themselves to get up.
'O lovely uprincess!' continued the voice, 'fear nothing! I am the son of a rich merchant, and desire above all things to have you for my wife. And in order to get to you I have hidden myself in this golden lion.'
'What use is that?' she asked. 'For if you cannot pick me out from among my companions you will still lose your head.'
'I look to you to help me,' he said. 'I have done so much for you that you might do this one thing for me.'
'Then listen to me. On the eighth day I will tie a white sash round my waist, and by that you will know me.'
The next morning the king came very early to fetch the lion, as the old woman was already at the palace asking for it. When they were safe from view she let the young man out, and he returned to the king and told him that he wished to find the princess.
'Very good,' said the king, who by this time was almost tired of repeating the same words; 'but if you fail your head will be the forfeit.'
So the youth remained quietly in the castle, eating and looking at all the beautiful things around him, and every now and then pretending to be searching busily in all the closets and corners. On the eighth day he entered the room where the king was sitting. 'Take up the floor in this place,' he said. The king gave a cry, but stopped himself, and asked, 'What do you want the floor up for? There is nothing there.'
But as all his courtiers were watching him he did not like to make any more objections, and ordered the floor to be taken up, as the young man desired. The youth then want straight down the staircase till he reached the door; then he turned and demanded that the key should be brought. So the king was forced to unlock the door, and the next and the next and the next, till all seven were open, and they entered into the hall where the twelve maidens were standing all in a row, so like that none might tell them apart. But as he looked one of them silently drew a white sash from her pocket and slipped it round her waist, and the young man sprang to her and said, 'This is the princess, and I claim her for my wife.' And the king owned himself beaten, and commanded that the wedding feast should be held.
After eight days the bridal pair said farewell to the king, and set sail for the youth's own country, taking with them a whole shipload of treasures as the princess's dowry. But they did not forget the old woman who had brought about all their happiness, and they gave her enough money to make her comfortable to the end of her days.
The Sprig of Rosemary
Cuentos Populars Catalans, per lo Dr. D. Francisco de S. Maspons y Labros (Barcelona: Libreria de Don Alvar Verdaguer 1885).
Once upon a time there lived a man with one daughter and he made her work hard all the day. One morning when she had finished everything he had set her to do, he told her to go out into the woods and get some dry leaves and sticks to kindle a fire.
The girl went out, and soon collected a large bundle, and then she plucked at a sprig of sweet-smelling rosemary for herself. But the harder she pulled the firmer seemed the plant, and at last, determined not to be beaten, she gave one great tug, and the rosemary remained in her hands.
Then she heard a voice close to her saying, 'Well?' and turning she saw before her a handsome young man, who asked why she had come to steal his firewood.
The girl, who felt much confused, only managed to stammer out as an excuse that her father had sent her.
'Very well,' replied the young man; 'then come with me.'
So he took her through the opening made by the torn-up root, and they travelled till they reached a beautiful palace, splendidly furnished, but only lighted from the top. And when they had entered he told her that he was a great lord, and that never had he seen a maiden so beautiful as she, and that if she would give him her heart they would be married and live happy for ever after.
And the maiden said 'yes, she would,' and so they were married.
The next day the old dame who looked after the house handed her all the keys, but pointed her out one that she would do well never to use, for if she did the whole palace would fall to the ground, and the grass would grow over it, and the damsel herself would be remembered no more.
The bride promised to be careful, but in a little while, when there was nothing left for her to do, she began to wonder what could be in the chest, which was opened by the key. As everybody knows, if we once begin to think we soon begin to do, and it was not very long before the key was no longer in the maiden's hand but in the lock of the chest. But the lock was stiff and resisted all her efforts, and in the end she had to break it. And what was inside after all? Why, nothing but a serpent's skin, which her husband, who was, unknown to her, a magician, put on when he was at work; and at the sight of it the girl was turning away in disgust, when the earth shook violently under her feet, the palace vanished as if it had never been, and the bride found herself in the middle of a field, not knowing where she was or whither to go. She burst into a flood of bitter tears, partly at her own folly, but more for the loss of her husband, whom she dearly loved. Then, breaking a sprig of rosemary off a bush hard by, she resolved, cost what it might, to seek him through the world till she found him. So she walked and she walked and she walked, till she arrived at a house built of straw. And she knocked at the door, and asked if they wanted a servant. The mistress said she did, and if the girl was willing she might stay. But day by day the poor maiden grew more and more sad, till at last her mistress begged her to say what was the matter. Then she told her story—how she was going through the world seeking after her husband.
And her mistress answered her, 'Where he is, none can tell better than the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind, for they go everywhere!'
On hearing these words the damsel set forth once more, and walked till she reached the Golden Castle, where lived the Sun. And she knocked boldly at the door, saying, 'All hail, O Sun! I have come to ask if, of your charity, you will help me in my need. By my own fault have I fallen into these straits, and I am weary, for I seek my husband through the wide world.'
'Indeed!' spoke the Sun. 'Do you, rich as you are, need help? But though you live in a palace without windows, the Sun enters everywhere, and he knows you.'
Then the bride told him the whole story. and did not hide her own ill-doing. And the Sun listened, and was sorry for her; and though he could not tell her where to go, he gave her a nut, and bid her open it in a time of great distress. The damsel thanked him with all her heart, and departed, and walked and walked and walked, till she came to another castle, and knocked at the door which was opened by an old woman.
'All hail!' said the girl. 'I have come, of your charity, to ask your help!'
'It is my mistress, the Moon, you seek. I will tell her of your prayer.'
So the Moon came out, and when she saw the maiden she knew her again, for she had watched her sleeping both in the cottage and in the palace. And she spake to her and said:
'Do you, rich as you are, need help?'
Then the girl told her the whole story, and the Moon listened, and was sorry for her; and though she could not tell her where to find her husband, she gave her an almond, and told her to crack it when she was in great need. So the damsel thanked her, and departed, and walked and walked and walked till she came to another castle. And she knocked at the door, and said:
'All hail! I have come to ask if, of your charity, you will help me in my need.'
'It is my lord, the Wind, that you want,' answered the old woman who opened it. 'I will tell him of your prayer.'
And the Wind looked on her and knew her again, for he had seen her in the cottage and in the palace, and he spake to her and said:
'Do you, rich as you are, want help?'
And she told him the whole story. And the Wind listened, and was sorry for her, and he gave her a walnut that she was to eat in time of need. But the girl did not go as the Wind expected. She was tired and sad, and knew not where to turn, so she began to weep bitterly. The Wind wept too for company, and said:
'Don't be frightened; I will go and see if I can find out something.'
And the Wind departed with a great noise and fuss, and in the twinkling of an eye he was back again, beaming with delight.
'From what one person and another have let fall,' he exclaimed, 'I have contrived to learn that he is in the palace of the king, who keeps him hidden lest anyone should see him; and that to-morrow he is to marry the princess, who, ugly creature that she is, has not been able to find any man to wed her.'
Who can tell the despair which seized the poor maiden when she heard this news! As soon as she could speak she implored the Wind to do all he could to get the wedding put off for two or three days, for it would take her all that time to reach the palace of the king.
The Wind gladly promised to do what he could, and as he travelled much faster than the maiden he soon arrived at the palace, where he found five tailors working night and day at the wedding clothes of the princess.
Down came the Wind right in the middle of their lace and satin and trimmings of pearl! Away they all went whiz! through the open windows, right up into the tops of the trees, across the river, among the dancing ears of corn! After them ran the tailors, catching, jumping, climbing, but all to no purpose! The lace was torn, the satin stained, the pearls knocked off! There was nothing for it but to go to the shops to buy fresh, and to begin all over again! It was plainly quite impossible that the wedding clothes could be ready next day.
However, the king was much too anxious to see his daughter married to listen to any excuses, and he declared that a dress must be put together somehow for the bride to wear. But when he went to look at the princess, she was such a figure that he agreed that it would be unfitting for her position to be seen in such a gown, and he ordered the ceremony and the banquet to be postponed for a few hours, so that the tailors might take the dress to pieces and make it fit.
But by this time the maiden had arrived footsore and weary at the castle, and as soon as she reached the door she cracked her nut and drew out of it the most beautiful mantle in the world. Then she rang the bell, and asked:
'Is not the princess to be married to-day?'
'Yes, she is.'
'Ask her if she would like to buy this mantle.'
And when the princess saw the mantle she was delighted, for her wedding mantle had been spoilt with all the other things, and it was too late to make another. So she told the maiden to ask what price she would, and it should be given her.
The maiden fixed a large sum, many pieces of gold, but the princess had set her heart on the mantle, and gave it readily.
Now the maiden hid her gold in the pocket of her dress, and turned away from the castle. The moment she was out of sight she broke her almond, and drew from it the most magnificent petticoats that ever were seen. Then she went back to the castle, and asked if the princess wished to buy any petticoats. No sooner did the princess cast her eyes on the petticoats than she declared they were even more beautiful than the mantle, and that she would give the maiden whatever price she wanted for them. And the maiden named many pieces of gold, which the princess paid her gladly, so pleased was she with her new possessions.
Then the girl went down the steps where none could watch her and cracked her walnut, and out came the most splendid court dress that any dressmaker had ever invented; and, carrying it carefully in her arms, she knocked at the door, and asked if the princess wished to buy a court dress.
When the message was delivered the princess sprang to her feet with delight, for she had been thinking that after all it was not much use to have a lovely mantle and elegant petticoats if she had no dress, and she knew the tailors would never be ready in time. So she sent at once to say she would buy the dress, and what sum did the maiden want for it.
This time the maiden answered that the price of the dress was the permission to see the bridegroom.
The princess was not at all pleased when she heard the maiden's reply, but, as she could not do without the dress, she was forced to give in, and contented herself with thinking that after all it did not matter much.
So the maiden was led to the rooms which had been given to her husband. And when she came near she touched him with the sprig of rosemary that she carried; and his memory came back, and he knew her, and kissed her, and declared that she was his true wife, and that he loved her and no other.
Then they went back to the maiden's home, and grew to be very old, and lived happy all the days of their life.
The White Dove
From the Danish.
A king had two sons. They were a pair of reckless fellows, who always had something foolish to do. One day they rowed out alone on the sea in a little boat. It was beautiful weather when they set out, but as soon as they had got some distance from the shore there arose a terrific storm. The oars went overboard at once, and the little boat was tossed about on the rolling billows like a nut-shell. The princes had to hold fast by the seats to keep from being thrown out of the boat.
In the midst of all this they met a wonderful vessel—it was a dough-trough, in which there sat an old woman. She called to them, and said that they could still get to shore alive if they would promise her the son that was next to come to their mother the queen.
'We can't do that,' shouted the princes; 'he doesn't belong to us so we can't give him away.'
'Then you can rot at the bottom of the sea, both of you,' said the old woman; 'and perhaps it may be the case that your mother would rather keep the two sons she has than the one she hasn't got yet.'
Then she rowed away in her dough-trough, while the storm howled still louder than before, and the water dashed over their boat until it was almost sinking. Then the princes thought that there was something in what the old woman had said about their mother, and being, of course, eager to save their lives, they shouted to her, and promised that she should have their brother if she would deliver them from this danger. As soon as they had done so the storm ceased and the waves fell. The boat drove ashore below their father's castle, and both princes were received with open arms by their father and mother, who had suffered great anxiety for them.
The two brothers said nothing about what they had promised, neither at that time nor later on when the queen's third son came, a beautiful boy, whom she loved more than anything else in the world. He was brought up and educated in his father's house until he was full grown, and still his brothers had never seen or heard anything about the witch to whom they had promised him before he was born.
It happened one evening that there arose a raging storm, with mist and darkness. It howled and roared around the king's palace, and in the midst of it there came a loud knock on the door of the hall where the youngest prince was. He went to the door and found there an old woman with a dough- trough on her back, who said to him that he must go with her at once; his brothers had promised him to her if she would save their lives.
'Yes,' said he; 'if you saved my brothers' lives, and they promised me to you, then I will go with you.'
They therefore went down to the beach together, where he had to take his seat in the trough, along with the witch, who sailed away with him, over the sea, home to her dwelling.
The prince was now in the witch's power, and in her service. The first thing she set him to was to pick feathers. 'The heap of feathers that you see here,' said she, 'you must get finished before I come home in the evening, otherwise you shall be set to harder work.' He started to the feathers, and picked and picked until there was only a single feather left that had not passed through his hands. But then there came a whirlwind and sent all the feathers flying, and swept them along the floor into a heap, where they lay as if they were trampled together. He had now to begin all his work over again, but by this time it only wanted an hour of evening, when the witch was to be expected home, and he easily saw that it was impossible for him to be finished by that time.
Then he heard something tapping at the window pane, and a thin voice said, 'Let me in, and I will help you.' It was a white dove, which sat outside the window, and was pecking at it with its beak. He opened the window, and the dove came in and set to work at once, and picked all the feathers out of the heap with its beak. Before the hour was past the feathers were all nicely arranged: the dove flew out at the window, and at, the same moment the witch came in at the door.
'Well, well,' said she, 'it was more than I would have expected of you to get all the feathers put in order so nicely. However, such a prince might be expected to have neat fingers.'
Next morning the witch said to the prince, 'To-day you shall have some easy work to do. Outside the door I have some firewood lying; you must split that for me into little bits that I can kindle the fire with. That will soon be done, but you must be finished before I come home.'
The prince got a little axe and set to work at once. He split and clove away, and thought that he was getting on fast; but the day wore on until it was long past midday, and he was still very far from having finished. He thought, in fact, that the pile of wood rather grew bigger than smaller, in spite of what he took off it; so he let his hands fall by his side, and dried the sweat from his forehead, and was ill at ease, for he knew that it would be bad for him if he was not finished with the work before the witch came home.
Then the white dove came flying and settled down on the pile of wood, and cooed and said, 'Shall I help you?'
'Yes,' said the prince, 'many thanks for your help yesterday, and for what you offer to-day.' Thereupon the little dove seized one piece of wood after another and split it with its beak. The prince could not take away the wood as quickly as the dove could split it, and in a short time it was all cleft into little sticks.
The dove then flew up on his shoulder and sat there and the prince thanked it, and stroked and caressed its white feathers, and kissed its little red beak. With that it was a dove no longer, but a beautiful young maiden, who stood by his side. She told him then that she was a princess whom the witch had stolen, and had changed to this shape, but with his kiss she had got her human form again; and if he would be faithful to her, and take her to wife, she could free them both from the witch's power.
The prince was quite captivated by the beautiful princess, and was quite willing to do anything whatsoever to get her for himself.
She then said to him, 'When the witch comes home you must ask her to grant you a wish, when you have accomplished so well all that she has demanded of you. When she agrees to this you must ask her straight out for the princess that she has flying about as a white dove. But just now you must take a red silk thread and tie it round my little finger, so that you may be able to recognise me again, into whatever shape she turns me.'
The prince made haste to get the silk thread tied round her little white finger; at the same moment the princess became a dove again and flew away, and immediately after that the old witch came home with her dough-trough on he back.
'Well,' said she, 'I must say that you are clever at your work, and it is something, too, that such princely hands are not accustomed to.'
'Since you are so well pleased with my work, said the prince, 'you will, no doubt, be willing to give me a little pleasure too, and give me something that I have taken a fancy to.'
'Oh yes, indeed,' said the old woman; 'what is it that you want?'
'I want the princess here who is in the shape of a white dove,' said the prince.
'What nonsense!' said the witch. 'Why should you imagine that there are princesses here flying about in the shape of white doves? But if you will have a princess, you can get one such as we have them.' She then came to him, dragging a shaggy little grey ass with long ears. 'Will you have this?' said she; 'you can't get any other princess!'
The prince used his eyes and saw the red silk thread on one of the ass's hoofs, so he said, 'Yes, just let me have it.'
'What will you do with it?' asked the witch.
'I will ride on it,' said the prince; but with that the witch dragged it away again, and came back with an old, wrinkled, toothless hag, whose hands trembled with age. 'You can have no other princess,' said she. 'Will you have her?'
'Yes, I will,' said the prince, for he saw the red silk thread on the old woman's finger.
At this the witch became so furious that she danced about and knocked everything to pieces that she could lay her hands upon, so that the splinters flew about the ears of the prince and princess, who now stood there in her own beautiful shape.
Then their marriage had to be celebrated, for the witch had to stick to what she had promised, and he must get the princess whatever might happen afterwards.
The princess now said to him, 'At the marriage feast you may eat what you please, but you must not drink anything whatever, for if you do that you will forget me.'
This, however, the prince forgot on the wedding day, and stretched out his hand and took a cup of wine; but the princess was keeping watch over him, and gave him a push with her elbow, so that the wine flew over the table- cloth.
Then the witch got up and laid about her among the plates and dishes, so that the pieces flew about their ears, just as she had done when she was cheated the first time.
They were then taken to the bridal chamber, and the door was shut. Then the princess said, 'Now the witch has kept her promise, but she will do no more if she can help it, so we must fly immediately. I shall lay two pieces of wood in the bed to answer for us when the witch speaks to us. You can take the flower-pot and the glass of water that stands in the window, and we must slip out by that and get away.'
No sooner said than done. They hurried off out into the dark night, the princess leading, because she knew the way, having spied it out while she flew about as a dove.
At midnight the witch came to the door of the room and called in to them, and the two pieces of wood answered her, so that she believed they were there, and went away again. Before daybreak she was at the door again and called to them, and again the pieces of wood answered for them. She thus thought that she had them, and when the sun rose the bridal night was past: she had then kept her promise, and could vent her anger and revenge on both of them. With the first sunbeam she broke into the room, but there she found no prince and no princess—nothing but the two pieces of firewood, which lay in the bed, and stared, and spoke not a word. These she threw on the floor, so that they were splintered into a thousand pieces, and off she hastened after the fugitives.
With the first sunbeam the princess said to the prince, 'Look round; do you see anything behind us?'
'Yes, I see a dark cloud, far away,' said he.
'Then throw the flower-pot over your head,' said she. When this was done there was a large thick forest behind them.
When the witch came to the forest she could not get through it until she went home and brought her axe to cut a path.
A little after this the princess said again to the prince, 'Look round; do you see anything behind us?'
'Yes,' said the prince, 'the big black cloud is there again.'
'Then throw the glass of water over your head,' said she.
When he had done this there was a great lake behind them, and this the witch could not cross until she ran home again and brought her dough-trough.
Meanwhile the fugitives had reached the castle which was the prince's home. They climbed over the garden wall, ran across the garden, and crept in at an open window. By this time the witch was just at their heels, but the princess stood in the window and blew upon the witch; hundreds of white doves flew out of her mouth, fluttered and flapped around the witch's head until she grew so angry that she turned into flint, and there she stands to this day, in the shape of a large flint stone, outside the window.
Within the castle there was great rejoicing over the prince and his bride. His two elder brothers came and knelt before him and confessed what they had done, and said that he alone should inherit the kingdom, and they would always be his faithful subjects.
The Troll's Daughter
From the Danish.
There was once a lad who went to look for a place. As he went along he met a man, who asked him where he was going. He told him his errand, and the stranger said, 'Then you can serve me; I am just in want of a lad like you, and I will give you good wages—a bushel of money the first year, two the second year, and three the third year, for you must serve me three years, and obey me in everything, however strange it seems to you. You need not be afraid of taking service with me, for there is no danger in it if you only know how to obey.'
The bargain was made, and the lad went home with the man to whom he had engaged himself. It was a strange place indeed, for he lived in a bank in the middle of the wild forest, and the lad saw there no other person than his master. The latter was a great troll, and had marvellous power over both men and beasts.
Next day the lad had to begin his service. The first thing that the troll set him to was to feed all the wild animals from the forest. These the troll had tied up, and there were both wolves and bears, deer and hares, which the troll had gathered in the stalls and folds in his stable down beneath the ground, and that stable was a mile long. The boy, however, accomplished all this work on that day, and the troll praised him and said that it was very well done.
Next morning the troll said to him, 'To-day the animals are not to be fed; they don't get the like of that every day. You shall have leave to play about for a little, until they are to be fed again.'
Then the troll said some words to him which he did not understand, and with that the lad turned into a hare, and ran out into the wood. He got plenty to run for, too, for all the hunters aimed at him, and tried to shoot him, and the dogs barked and ran after him wherever they got wind of him. He was the only animal that was left in the wood now, for the troll had tied up all the others, and every hunter in the whole country was eager to knock him over. But in this they met with no success; there was no dog that could overtake him, and no marksman that could hit him. They shot and shot at him, and he ran and ran. It was an unquiet life, but in the long run he got used to it, when he saw that there was no danger in it, and it even amused him to befool all the hunters and dogs that were so eager after him.
Thus a whole year passed, and when it was over the troll called him home, for he was now in his power like all the other animals. The troll then said some words to him which he did not understand, and the hare immediately became a human being again. 'Well, how do you like to serve me?' said the troll, 'and how do you like being a hare?'
The lad replied that he liked it very well; he had never been able to go over the ground so quickly before. The troll then showed him the bushel of money that he had already earned, and the lad was well pleased to serve him for another year.
The first day of the second year the boy had the same work to do as on the previous one—namely, to feed all the wild animals in the troll's stable. When he had done this the troll again said some words to him, and with that he became a raven, and flew high up into the air. This was delightful, the lad thought; he could go even faster now than when he was a hare, and the dogs could not come after him here. This was a great delight to him, but he soon found out that he was not to be left quite at peace, for all the marksmen and hunters who saw him aimed at him and fired away, for they had no other birds to shoot at than himself, as the troll had tied up all the others.
This, however, he also got used to, when he saw that they could never hit him, and in this way he flew about all that year, until the troll called him home again, said some strange words to him, and gave him his human shape again. 'Well, how did you like being a raven?' said the troll.
'I liked it very well,' said the lad, 'for never in all my days have I been able to rise so high.' The troll then showed him the two bushels of money which he had earned that year, and the lad was well content to remain in his service for another year.
Next day he got his old task of feeding all the wild beasts. When this was done the troll again said some words to him, and at these he turned into a fish, and sprang into the river. He swam up and he swam down, and thought it was pleasant to let himself drive with the stream. In this way he came right out into the sea, and swam further and further out. At last he came to a glass palace, which stood at the bottom of the sea. He could see into all the rooms and halls, where everything was very grand; all the furniture was of white ivory, inlaid with gold and pearl. There were soft rugs and cushions of all the colours of the rainbow, and beautiful carpets that looked like the finest moss, and flowers and trees with curiously crooked branches, both green and yellow, white and red, and there were also little fountains which sprang up from the most beautiful snail-shells, and fell into bright mussel-shells, and at the same time made a most delightful music, which filled the whole palace.
The most beautiful thing of all, however, was a young girl who went about there, all alone. She went about from one room to another, but did not seem to be happy with all the grandeur she had about her. She walked in solitude and melancholy, and never even thought of looking at her own image in the polished glass walls that were on every side of her, although she was the prettiest creature anyone could wish to see. The lad thought so too while he swam round the palace and peeped in from every side.
'Here, indeed, it would be better to be a man than such a poor dumb fish as I am now,' said he to himself; 'if I could only remember the words that the troll says when he changes my shape, then perhaps I could help myself to become a man again.' He swam and he pondered and he thought over this until he remembered the sound of what the troll said, and then he tried to say it himself. In a moment he stood in human form at the bottom of the sea.
He made haste then to enter the glass palace, and went up to the young girl and spoke to her.
At first he nearly frightened the life out of her, but he talked to her so kindly and explained how he had come down there that she soon recovered from her alarm, and was very pleased to have some company to relieve the terrible solitude that she lived in. Time passed so quickly for both of them that the youth (for now he was quite a young man, and no more a lad) forgot altogether how long he had been there.
One day the girl said to him that now it was close on the time when he must become a fish again—the troll would soon call him home, and he would have to go, but before that he must put on the shape of the fish, otherwise he could not pass through the sea alive. Before this, while he was staying down there, she had told him that she was a daughter of the same troll whom the youth served, and he had shut her up there to keep her away from everyone. She had now devised a plan by which they could perhaps succeed in getting to see each other again, and spending the rest of their lives together. But there was much to attend to, and he must give careful heed to all that she told him.
She told him then that all the kings in the country round about were in debt to her father the troll, and the king of a certain kingdom, the name of which she told him, was the first who had to pay, and if he could not do so at the time appointed he would lose his head. 'And he cannot pay,' said she; 'I know that for certain. Now you must, first of all, give up your service with my father; the three years are past, and you are at liberty to go. You will go off with your six bushels of money, to the kingdom that I have told you of, and there enter the service of the king. When the time comes near for his debt becoming due you will be able to notice by his manner that he is ill at ease. You shall then say to him that you know well enough what it is that is weighing upon him—that it is the debt which he owes to the troll and cannot pay, but that you can lend him the money. The amount is six bushels—just what you have. You shall, however, only lend them to him on condition that you may accompany him when he goes to make the payment, and that you then have permission to run before him as a fool. When you arrive at the troll's abode, you must perform all kinds of foolish tricks, and see that you break a whole lot of his windows, and do all other damage that you can. My father will then get very angry, and as the king must answer for what his fool does he will sentence him, even although he has paid his debt, either to answer three questions or to lose his life. The first question my father will ask will be, "Where is my daughter?" Then you shall step forward and answer "She is at the bottom of the sea." He will then ask you whether you can recognise her, and to this you will answer "Yes." Then he will bring forward a whole troop of women, and cause them to pass before you, in order that you may pick out the one that you take for his daughter. You will not be able to recognise me at all, and therefore I will catch hold of you as I go past, so that you can notice it, and you must then make haste to catch me and hold me fast. You have then answered his first question. His next question will be, "Where is my heart?" You shall then step forward again and answer, "It is in a fish." "Do you know that fish?" he will say, and you will again answer "Yes." He will then cause all kinds of fish to come before you, and you shall choose between them. I shall take good care to keep by your side, and when the right fish comes I will give you a little push, and with that you will seize the fish and cut it up. Then all will be over with the troll; he will ask no more questions, and we shall be free to wed.'
When the youth had got all these directions as to what he had to do when he got ashore again the next thing was to remember the words which the troll said when he changed him from a human being to an animal; but these he had forgotten, and the girl did not know them either. He went about all day in despair, and thought and thought, but he could not remember what they sounded like. During the night he could not sleep, until towards morning he fell into a slumber, and all at once it flashed upon him what the troll used to say. He made haste to repeat the words, and at the same moment he became a fish again and slipped out into the sea. Immediately after this he was called upon, and swam through the sea up the river to where the troll stood on the bank and restored him to human shape with the same words as before.
'Well, how do you like to be a fish?' asked the troll.
It was what he had liked best of all, said the youth, and that was no lie, as everybody can guess.
The troll then showed him the three bushels of money which he had earned during the past year; they stood beside the other three, and all the six now belonged to him.
'Perhaps you will serve me for another year yet,' said the troll, 'and you will get six bushels of money for it; that makes twelve in all, and that is a pretty penny.'
'No,' said the youth; he thought he had done enough, and was anxious to go to some other place to serve, and learn other people's ways; but he would, perhaps, come back to the troll some other time.
The troll said that he would always be welcome; he had served him faithfully for the three years they had agreed upon, and he could make no objections to his leaving now.
The youth then got his six bushels of money, and with these he betook himself straight to the kingdom which his sweetheart had told him of. He got his money buried in a lonely spot close to the king's palace, and then went in there and asked to be taken into service. He obtained his request, and was taken on as stableman, to tend the king's horses.
Some time passed, and he noticed how the king always went about sorrowing and grieving, and was never glad or happy. One day the king came into the stable, where there was no one present except the youth, who said straight out to him that, with his majesty's permission, he wished to ask him why he was so sorrowful.
'It's of no use speaking about that,' said the king; 'you cannot help me, at any rate.'
'You don't know about that,' said the youth; ' I know well enough what it is that lies so heavy on your mind, and I know also of a plan to get the money paid.'
This was quite another case, and the king had more talk with the stableman, who said that he could easily lend the king the six bushels of money, but would only do it on condition that he should be allowed to accompany the king when he went to pay the debt, and that he should then be dressed like the king's court fool, and run before him. He would cause some trouble, for which the king would be severely spoken to, but he would answer for it that no harm would befall him.
The king gladly agreed to all that the youth proposed, and it was now high time for them to set out.
When they came to the troll's dwelling it was no longer in the bank, but on the top of this there stood a large castle which the youth had never seen before. The troll could, in fact, make it visible or invisible, just as he pleased, and, knowing as much as he did of the troll's magic arts, the youth was not at all surprised at this.
When they came near to this castle, which looked as if it was of pure glass, the youth ran on in front as the king's fool. Heran sometimes facing forwards, sometimes backwards, stood sometimes on his head, and sometimes on his feet, and he dashed in pieces so many of the troll's big glass windows and doors that it was something awful to see, and overturned everything he could, and made a fearful disturbance.
The troll came rushing out, and was so angry and furious, and abused the king with all his might for bringing such a wretched fool with him, as he was sure that he could not pay the least bit of all the damage that had been done when he could not even pay off his old debt.
The fool, however, spoke up, and said that he could do so quite easily, and the king then came forward with the six bushels of money which the youth had lent him. They were measured and found to be correct. This the troll had not reckoned on, but he could make no objection against it. The old debt was honestly paid, and the king got his bond back again.
But there still remained all the damage that had been done that day, and the king had nothing with which to pay for this. The troll, therefore, sentenced the king, either to answer three questions that he would put to him, or have his head taken off, as was agreed on in the old bond.
There was nothing else to be done than to try to answer the troll's riddles. The fool then stationed himself just by the king's side while the troll came forward with his questions. He first asked, 'Where is my daughter?'
The fool spoke up and said, 'She is at the bottom of the sea.'
'How do you know that?' said the troll.
'The little fish saw it,' said the fool.
'Would you know her?' said the troll.
'Yes, bring her forward,' said the fool.
The troll made a whole crowd of women go past them, one after the other, but all these were nothing but shadows and deceptions. Amongst the very last was the troll's real daughter, who pinched the fool as she went past him to make him aware of her presence. He thereupon caught her round the waist and held her fast, and the troll had to admit that his first riddle was solved.
Then the troll asked again: 'Where is my heart?'
'It is in a fish,' said the fool.
'Would you know that fish?' said the troll.
'Yes, bring it forward,' said the fool.
Then all the fishes came swimming past them, and meanwhile the troll's daughter stood just by the youth's side. When at last the right fish came swimming along she gave him a nudge, and he seized it at once, drove his knife into it, and split it up, took the heart out of it, and cut it through the middle.
At the same moment the troll fell dead and turned into pieces of flint. With that a,ll the bonds that the troll had bound were broken; all the wild beasts and birds which he had caught and hid under the ground were free now, and dispersed themselves in the woods and in the air.
The youth and his sweetheart entered the castle, which was now theirs, and held their wedding; and all the kings roundabout, who had been in the troll's debt, and were now out of it, came to the wedding, and saluted the youth as their emperor, and he ruled over them all, and kept peace between them, and lived in his castle with his beautiful empress in great joy and magnificence. And if they have not died since they are living there to this day.
Esben and the Witch
From the Danish.
There was once a man who had twelve sons: the eleven eldest were both big and strong, but the twelfth, whose name was Esben, was only a little fellow. The eleven eldest went out with their father to field and forest, but Esben preferred to stay at home with his mother, and so he was never reckoned at all by the rest, but was a sort of outcast among them.
When the eleven had grown up to be men they decided to go out into the world to try their fortune, and they plagued their father to give them what they required for the journey. The father was not much in favour of this, for he was now old and weak, and could not well spare them from helping him with his work, but in the long run he had to give in. Each one of the eleven got a fine white horse and money for the journey, and so they said farewell to their father and their home, and rode away.
As for Esben, no one had ever thought about him; his brothers had not even said farewell to him.
After the eleven were gone Esben went to his father and said, 'Father, give me also a horse and money; I should also like to see round about me in the world.'
'You are a little fool,' said his father. 'If I could have let you go, and kept your eleven brothers at home, it would have been better for me in my old age.'
'Well, you will soon be rid of me at any rate,' said Esben.
As he could get no other horse, he went into the forest, broke off a branch, stripped the bark off it, so that it became still whiter than his brothers' horses, and, mounted on this. rode off after his eleven brothers.
The brothers rode on the whole day, and towards evening they came to a great forest, which they entered. Far within the wood they came to a little house, and knocked at the door. There came an old, ugly, bearded hag, and opened it, and they asked her whether all of them could get quarters for the night.
'Yes,' said the old, bearded hag, 'you shall all have quarters for the night, and, in addition, each of you shall have one of my daughters.'
The eleven brothers thought that they had come to very hospitable people. They were well attended to, and when they went to bed, each of them got one of the hag's daughters.
Esben had been coming along behind them, and had followed the same way, and had also found the same house in the forest. He slipped into this, without either the witch or her daughters noticing him, and hid himself under one of the beds. A little before midnight he crept quietly out and wakened his brothers. He told these to change night-caps with the witch's daughters. The brothers saw no reason for this, but, to get rid of Esben's persistence, they made the exchange, and slept soundly again.