Part 6 out of 7
in the kitchen; come with us and sweep the ashes together.' So
they put her in the cart and they went back to the palace. There
they showed her a tiny room under the stairs, where no daylight
came, and said to her, 'Many-furred Creature, you can live and
sleep here.' Then she was sent into the kitchen, where she carried
wood and water, poked the fire, washed vegetables, plucked fowls,
swept up the ashes, and did all the dirty work.
So the Many-furred Creature lived for a long time in great
poverty. Ah, beautiful King's daughter, what is going to befall
It happened once when a great feast was being held in the palace,
that she said to the cook, 'Can I go upstairs for a little bit and
look on? I will stand outside the doors.' The cook replied, 'Yes,
you can go up, but in half-an-hour you must be back here to sweep
up the ashes.' Then she took her little oil-lamp, and went into
her little room, drew off her fur cloak, and washed off the soot
from her face and hands, so that her beauty shone forth, and it
was as if one sunbeam after another were coming out of a black
cloud. Then she opened the nut, and took out the dress as golden
as the sun. And when she had done this, she went up to the feast,
and everyone stepped out of her way, for nobody knew her, and they
thought she must be a King's daughter. But the King came towards
her and gave her his hand, and danced with her, thinking to
himself, 'My eyes have never beheld anyone so fair!' When the
dance was ended, she curtseyed to him, and when the King looked
round she had disappeared, no one knew whither. The guards who
were standing before the palace were called and questioned, but no
one had seen her.
She had run to her little room and had quickly taken off her
dress, made her face and hands black, put on the fur cloak, and
was once more the Many-furred Creature. When she came into the
kitchen and was setting about her work of sweeping the ashes
together, the cook said to her, 'Let that wait till to-morrow, and
just cook the King's soup for me; I want to have a little peep at
the company upstairs; but be sure that you do not let a hair fall
into it, otherwise you will get nothing to eat in future!' So the
cook went away, and the Many-furred Creature cooked the soup for
the King. She made a bread-soup as well as she possibly could, and
when it was done, she fetched her gold ring from her little room,
and laid it in the tureen in which the soup was to be served up.
When the dance was ended, the King had his soup brought to him and
ate it, and it was so good that he thought he had never tasted
such soup in his life. But when he came to the bottom of the dish
he saw a gold ring lying there, and he could not imagine how it
got in. Then he commanded the cook to be brought before him. The
cook was terrified when he heard the command, and said to the
Many-furred Creature, 'You must have let a hair fall into the
soup, and if you have you deserve a good beating!' When he came
before the King, the King asked who had cooked the soup. The cook
answered, 'I cooked it.' But the King said, 'That's not true, for
it was quite different and much better soup than you have ever
cooked.' Then the cook said, 'I must confess; _I_ did not
cook the soup; the Many-furred Creature did.' 'Let her be brought
before me,' said the King. When the Many-furred Creature came, the
King asked her who she was. 'I am a poor child without father or
mother.' Then he asked her, 'What do you do in my palace?' 'I am
of no use except to have boots thrown at my head.' 'How did you
get the ring which was in the soup?' he asked. 'I know nothing at
all about the ring,' she answered. So the King could find out
nothing, and was obliged to send her away.
After a time there was another feast, and the Many-furred Creature
begged the cook as at the last one to let her go and look on. He
answered, 'Yes, but come back again in half-an-hour and cook the
King the bread-soup that he likes so much.' So she ran away to her
little room, washed herself quickly, took out of the nut the dress
as silver as the moon and put it on. Then she went upstairs
looking just like a King's daughter, and the King came towards
her, delighted to see her again, and as the dance had just begun,
they danced together. But when the dance was ended, she
disappeared again so quickly that the King could not see which way
she went. She ran to her little room and changed herself once more
into the Many-furred Creature, and went into the kitchen to cook
the bread-soup. When the cook was upstairs, she fetched the golden
spinning-wheel and put it in the dish so that the soup was poured
over it. It was brought to the King, who ate it, and liked it as
much as the last time. He had the cook sent to him, and again he
had to confess that the Many-furred Creature had cooked the soup.
Then the Many-furred Creature came before the King, but she said
again that she was of no use except to have boots thrown at her
head, and that she knew nothing at all of the golden spinning-
When the King had a feast for the third time, things did not turn
out quite the same as at the other two. The cook said, 'You must
be a witch, Many-furred Creature, for you always put something in
the soup, so that it is much better and tastes nicer to the King
than any that I cook.' But because she begged hard, he let her go
up for the usual time. Now she put on the dress as shining as the
stars, and stepped into the hall in it.
The King danced again with the beautiful maiden, and thought she
had never looked so beautiful. And while he was dancing, he put a
gold ring on her finger without her seeing it, and he commanded
that the dance should last longer than usual. When it was finished
he wanted to keep her hands in his, but she broke from him, and
sprang so quickly away among the people that she vanished from his
sight. She ran as fast as she could to her little room under the
stairs, but because she had stayed too long beyond the half-hour,
she could not stop to take off the beautiful dress, but only threw
the fur cloak over it, and in her haste she did not make herself
quite black with the soot, one finger remaining white. The Many-
furred Creature now ran into the kitchen, cooked the King's bread-
soup, and when the cook had gone, she laid the gold reel in the
dish. When the King found the reel at the bottom, he had the Many-
furred Creature brought to him, and then he saw the white finger,
and the ring which he had put on her hand in the dance. Then he
took her hand and held her tightly, and as she was trying to get
away, she undid the fur-cloak a little bit and the star-dress
shone out. The King seized the cloak and tore it off her. Her
golden hair came down, and she stood there in her full splendour,
and could not hide herself away any more. And when the soot and
ashes had been washed from her face, she looked more beautiful
than anyone in the world. But the King said, 'You are my dear
bride, and we will never be separated from one another.' So the
wedding was celebrated and they lived happily ever after.
THE TWELVE HUNTSMEN
Once upon a time there was a King's son who was engaged to a
Princess whom he dearly loved. One day as he sat by her side
feeling very happy, he received news that his father was lying at
the point of death, and desired to see him before his end. So he
said to his love: 'Alas! I must go off and leave you, but take
this ring and wear it as a remembrance of me, and when I am King I
will return and fetch you home.'
Then he rode off, and when he reached his father he found him
mortally ill and very near death.
The King said: 'Dearest son, I have desired to see you again
before my end. Promise me, I beg of you, that you will marry
according to my wishes'; and he then named the daughter of a
neighbouring King who he was anxious should be his son's wife. The
Prince was so overwhelmed with grief that he could think of
nothing but his father, and exclaimed: 'Yes, yes, dear father,
whatever you desire shall be done.' Thereupon the King closed his
eyes and died.
After the Prince had been proclaimed King, and the usual time of
mourning had elapsed, he felt that he must keep the promise he had
made to his father, so he sent to ask for the hand of the King's
daughter, which was granted to him at once.
Now, his first love heard of this, and the thought of her lover's
desertion grieved her so sadly that she pined away and nearly
died. Her father said to her: 'My dearest child, why are you so
unhappy? If there is anything you wish for, say so, and you shall
His daughter reflected for a moment, and then said: 'Dear father,
I wish for eleven girls as nearly as possible of the same height,
age, and appearance as myself.'
Said the King: 'If the thing is possible your wish shall be
fulfilled'; and he had his kingdom searched till he found eleven
maidens of the same height, size, and appearance as his daughter.
Then the Princess desired twelve complete huntsmen's suits to be
made, all exactly alike, and the eleven maidens had to dress
themselves in eleven of the suits, while she herself put on the
twelfth. After this she took leave of her father, and rode off
with her girls to the court of her former lover.
Here she enquired whether the King did not want some huntsmen, and
if he would not take them all into his service. The King saw her
but did not recognize her, and as he thought them very good-
looking young people, he said, 'Yes, he would gladly engage them
all.' So they became the twelve royal huntsmen.
Now, the King had a most remarkable Lion, for it knew every hidden
or secret thing.
One evening the Lion said to the King: 'So you think you have got
twelve huntsmen, do you?'
'Yes, certainly,' said the King, 'they _are_ twelve
'There you are mistaken,' said the Lion; 'they are twelve
'That cannot possibly be,' replied the King; 'how do you mean to
'Just have a number of peas strewed over the floor of your ante-
chamber,' said the Lion, 'and you will soon see. Men have a
strong, firm tread, so that if they happen to walk over peas not
one will stir, but girls trip, and slip, and slide, so that the
peas roll all about.'
The King was pleased with the Lion's advice, and ordered the peas
to be strewn in his ante-room.
Fortunately one of the King's servants had become very partial to
the young huntsmen, and hearing of the trial they were to be put
to, he went to them and said: 'The Lion wants to persuade the King
that you are only girls'; and then told them all the plot.
The King's daughter thanked him for the hint, and after he was
gone she said to her maidens: 'Now make every effort to tread
firmly on the peas.'
Next morning, when the King sent for his twelve huntsmen, and they
passed through the ante-room which was plentifully strewn with
peas, they trod so firmly and walked with such a steady, strong
step that not a single pea rolled away or even so much as stirred.
After they were gone the King said to the Lion: 'There now--you
have been telling lies--you see yourself they walk like men.'
'Because they knew they were being put to the test,' answered the
Lion; 'and so they made an effort; but just have a dozen spinning-
wheels placed in the ante-room. When they pass through you'll see
how pleased they will be, quite unlike any man.'
The King was pleased with the advice, and desired twelve spinning-
wheels to be placed in his ante-chamber.
But the good-natured servant went to the huntsmen and told them
all about this fresh plot. Then, as soon as the King's daughter
was alone with her maidens, she exclaimed: 'Now, pray make a great
effort and don't even _look_ at those spinning-wheels.'
When the King sent for his twelve huntsmen next morning they
walked through the ante-room without even casting a glance at the
Then the King said once more to the Lion: 'You have deceived me
again; they _are_ men, for they never once looked at the
The Lion replied: 'They knew they were being tried, and they did
violence to their feelings.' But the King declined to believe in
the Lion any longer.
So the twelve huntsmen continued to follow the King, and he grew
daily fonder of them. One day whilst they were all out hunting it
so happened that news was brought that the King's intended bride
was on her way and might soon be expected. When the true bride
heard of this she felt as though a knife had pierced her heart,
and she fell fainting to the ground. The King, fearing something
had happened to his dear huntsman, ran up to help, and began
drawing off his gloves. Then he saw the ring which he had given to
his first love, and as he gazed into her face he knew her again,
and his heart was so touched that he kissed her, and as she opened
her eyes, he cried: 'I am thine and thou art mine, and no power on
earth can alter that.'
To the other Princess he despatched a messenger to beg her to
return to her own kingdom with all speed. 'For,' said he, 'I have
got a wife, and he who finds an old key again does not require a
Thereupon the wedding was celebrated with great pomp, and the Lion
was restored to the royal favour, for after all he had told the
SPINDLE, SHUTTLE, AND NEEDLE
Once upon a time there lived a girl who lost her father and mother
when she was quite a tiny child. Her godmother lived all alone in
a little cottage at the far end of the village, and there she
earned her living by spinning, weaving, and sewing. The old woman
took the little orphan home with her and brought her up in good,
pious, industrious habits.
When the girl was fifteen years old, her godmother fell ill, and,
calling the child to her bedside, she said: 'My dear daughter, I
feel that my end is near. I leave you my cottage, which will, at
least, shelter you, and also my spindle, my weaver's shuttle, and
my needle, with which to earn your bread.'
Then she laid her hands on the girl's head, blessed her, and
added: 'Mind and be good, and then all will go well with you.'
With that she closed her eyes for the last time, and when she was
carried to her grave the girl walked behind her coffin weeping
bitterly, and paid her all the last honours.
After this the girl lived all alone in the little cottage. She
worked hard, spinning, weaving, and sewing, and her old
godmother's blessing seemed to prosper all she did. The flax
seemed to spread and increase; and when she wove a carpet or a
piece of linen, or made a shirt, she was sure to find a customer
who paid her well, so that not only did she feel no want herself,
but she was able to help those who did.
Now, it happened that about this time the King's son was making a
tour through the entire country to look out for a bride. He could
not marry a poor woman, and he did not wish for a rich one.
'She shall be my wife,' said he, 'who is at once the poorest and
When he reached the village where the girl lived, he inquired who
was the richest and who the poorest woman in it. The richest was
named first; the poorest, he was told, was a young girl who lived
alone in a little cottage at the far end of the village.
The rich girl sat at her door dressed out in all her best clothes,
and when the King's son came near she got up, went to meet him,
and made him a low curtsey. He looked well at her, said nothing,
but rode on further.
When he reached the poor girl's house he did not find her at her
door, for she was at work in her room. The Prince reined in his
horse, looked in at the window through which the sun was shining
brightly, and saw the girl sitting at her wheel busily spinning
She looked up, and when she saw the King's son gazing in at her,
she blushed red all over, cast down her eyes and span on. Whether
the thread was quite as even as usual I really cannot say, but she
went on spinning till the King's son had ridden off. Then she
stepped to the window and opened the lattice, saying, 'The room is
so hot,' but she looked after him as long as she could see the
white plumes in his hat.
Then she sat down to her work once more and span on, and as she
did so an old saying which, she had often heard her godmother
repeat whilst at work, came into her head, and she began to sing:
'Spindle, spindle, go and see, If my love will come to me.'
Lo, and behold! the spindle leapt from her hand and rushed out of
the room, and when she had sufficiently recovered from her
surprise to look after it she saw it dancing merrily through the
fields, dragging a long golden thread after it, and soon it was
lost to sight.
The girl, having lost her spindle, took up the shuttle and,
seating herself at her loom, began to weave. Meantime the spindle
danced on and on, and just as it had come to the end of the golden
thread, it reached the King's son.
'What do I see?' he cried; 'this spindle seems to wish to point
out the way to me.' So he turned his horses head and rode back
beside the golden thread.
Meantime the girl sat weaving, and sang:
'Shuttle, weave both web and woof, Bring my love beneath my roof.'
The shuttle instantly escaped from her hand, and with one bound
was out at the door. On the threshold it began weaving the
loveliest carpet that was ever seen. Roses and lilies bloomed on
both sides, and in the centre a thicket seemed to grow with
rabbits and hares running through it, stags and fawns peeping
through the branches, whilst on the topmost boughs sat birds of
brilliant plumage and so life-like one almost expected to hear
them sing. The shuttle flew from side to side and the carpet
seemed almost to grow of itself.
As the shuttle had run away the girl sat down to sew. She took her
needle and sang:
'Needle, needle, stitch away, Make my chamber bright and gay,'
and the needle promptly slipped from her fingers and flew about
the room like lightning. You would have thought invisible spirits
were at work, for in next to no time the table and benches were
covered with green cloth, the chairs with velvet, and elegant silk
curtains hung before the windows. The needle had barely put in its
last stitch when the girl, glancing at the window, spied the white
plumed hat of the King's son who was being led back by the spindle
with the golden thread.
He dismounted and walked over the carpet into the house, and when
he entered the room there stood the girl blushing like any rose.
'You are the poorest and yet the richest,' said he: 'come with me,
you shall be my bride.'
She said nothing, but she held out her hand. Then he kissed her,
and led her out, lifted her on his horse and took her to his royal
palace, where the wedding was celebrated with great rejoicings.
The spindle, the shuttle, and the needle were carefully placed in
the treasury, and were always held in the very highest honour.
THE CRYSTAL COFFIN
Now let no one say that a poor tailor can't get on in the world,
and, indeed, even attain to very high honour. Nothing is required
but to set the right way to work, but of course the really
important thing is to succeed.
A very bright active young tailor once set off on his travels,
which led him into a wood, and as he did not know the way he soon
lost himself. Night came on, and there seemed to be nothing for it
but to seek out the best resting-place he could find. He could
have made himself quite comfortable with a bed of soft moss, but
the fear of wild beasts disturbed his mind, and at last he
determined to spend the night in a tree.
He sought out a tall oak tree, climbed up to the top, and felt
devoutly thankful that his big smoothing-iron was in his pocket,
for the wind in the tree-tops was so high that he might easily
have been blown away altogether.
After passing some hours of the night, not without considerable
fear and trembling, he noticed a light shining at a little
distance, and hoping it might proceed from some house where he
could find a better shelter than in the top of the tree, he
cautiously descended and went towards the light. It led him to a
little hut all woven together of reeds and rushes. He knocked
bravely at the door, which opened, and by the light which shone
from within he saw an old gray-haired man dressed in a coat made
of bright-coloured patches. 'Who are you, and what do you want?'
asked the old man roughly.
'I am a poor tailor,' replied the youth. 'I have been benighted in
the forest, and I entreat you to let me take shelter in your hut
'Go your way,' said the old man in a sulky tone, 'I'll have
nothing to do with tramps. You must just go elsewhere.'
With these words he tried to slip back into his house, but the
tailor laid hold of his coat-tails, and begged so hard to be
allowed to stay that the old fellow, who was by no means as cross
as he appeared, was at length touched by his entreaties, let him
come in, and after giving him some food, showed him quite a nice
bed in one corner of the room. The weary tailor required no
rocking to rest, but slept sound till early morning, when he was
roused from his slumbers by a tremendous noise. Loud screams and
shouts pierced the thin walls of the little hut. The tailor, with
new-born courage, sprang up, threw on his clothes with all speed
and hurried out. There he saw a huge black bull engaged in a
terrible fight with a fine large stag. They rushed at each other
with such fury that the ground seemed to tremble under them and
the whole air to be filled with their cries. For some time it
appeared quite uncertain which would be the victor, but at length
the stag drove his antlers with such force into his opponent's
body that the bull fell to the ground with a terrific roar, and a
few more strokes finished him.
The tailor, who had been watching the fight with amazement, was
still standing motionless when the stag bounded up to him, and
before he had time to escape forked him up with its great antlers,
and set off at full gallop over hedges and ditches, hill and dale,
through wood and water. The tailor could do nothing but hold on
tight with both hands to the stag's horns and resign himself to
his fate. He felt as if he were flying along. At length the stag
paused before a steep rock and gently let the tailor down to the
Feeling more dead than alive, he paused for a while to collect his
scattered senses, but when he seemed somewhat restored the stag
struck such a blow on a door in the rock that it flew open. Flames
of fire rushed forth, and such clouds of steam followed that the
stag had to avert its eyes. The tailor could not think what to do
or which way to turn to get away from this awful wilderness, and
to find his way back amongst human beings once more.
As he stood hesitating, a voice from the rock cried to him: 'Step
in without fear, no harm shall befall you.'
He still lingered, but some mysterious power seemed to impel him,
and passing through the door he found himself in a spacious hall,
whose ceiling, walls, and floor were covered with polished tiles
carved all over with unknown figures. He gazed about, full of
wonder, and was just preparing to walk out again when the same
voice bade him: 'Tread on the stone in the middle of the hall, and
good luck will attend you.'
By this time he had grown so courageous that he did not hesitate
to obey the order, and hardly had he stepped on the stone than it
began to sink gently with him into the depths below. On reaching
firm ground he found himself in a hall of much the same size as
the upper one, but with much more in it to wonder at and admire.
Round the walls were several niches, in each of which stood glass
vessels filled with some bright-coloured spirit or bluish smoke.
On the floor stood two large crystal boxes opposite each other,
and these attracted his curiosity at once.
Stepping up to one of them, he saw within it what looked like a
model in miniature of a fine castle surrounded by farms, barns,
stables, and a number of other buildings. Everything was quite
tiny, but so beautifully and carefully finished that it might have
been the work of an accomplished artist. He would have continued
gazing much longer at this remarkable curiosity had not the voice
desired him to turn round and look at the crystal coffin which
What was his amazement at seeing a girl of surpassing loveliness
lying in it! She lay as though sleeping, and her long, fair hair
seemed to wrap her round like some costly mantle. Her eyes were
closed, but the bright colour in her face, and the movement of a
ribbon, which rose and fell with her breath, left no doubt as to
her being alive.
As the tailor stood gazing at her with a beating heart, the maiden
suddenly opened her eyes, and started with delighted surprise.
'Great heavens!' she cried, 'my deliverance approaches! Quick,
quick, help me out of my prison; only push back the bolt of this
coffin and I am free.'
The tailor promptly obeyed, when she quickly pushed back the
crystal lid, stepped out of the coffin and hurried to a corner of
the hall, when she proceeded to wrap herself in a large cloak.
Then she sat down on a stone, desired the young man to come near,
and, giving him an affectionate kiss, she said, 'My long-hoped-for
deliverer, kind heaven has led you to me, and has at length put an
end to all my sufferings. You are my destined husband, and,
beloved by me, and endowed with every kind of riches and power,
you shall spend the remainder of your life in peace and happiness.
Now sit down and hear my story. I am the daughter of a wealthy
nobleman. My parents died when I was very young, and they left me
to the care of my eldest brother, by whom I was carefully
educated. We loved each other so tenderly, and our tastes and
interests were so much alike that we determined never to marry,
but to spend our entire lives together. There was no lack of
society at our home. Friends and neighbours paid us frequent
visits, and we kept open house for all. Thus it happened that one
evening a stranger rode up to the castle and asked for
hospitality, as he could not reach the nearest town that night. We
granted his request with ready courtesy, and during supper he
entertained us with most agreeable conversation, mingled with
amusing anecdotes. My brother took such a fancy to him that he
pressed him to spend a couple of days with us, which, after a
little hesitation, the stranger consented to do. We rose late from
table, and whilst my brother was showing our guest to his room I
hurried to mine, for I was very tired and longed to get to bed. I
had hardly dropped off to sleep when I was roused by the sound of
some soft and charming music. Wondering whence it could come, I
was about to call to my maid who slept in the room next mine,
when, to my surprise, I felt as if some heavy weight on my chest
had taken all power from me, and I lay there unable to utter the
slightest sound. Meantime, by the light of the night lamp, I saw
the stranger enter my room, though the double doors had been
securely locked. He drew near and told me that through the power
of his magic arts he had caused the soft music to waken me, and
had made his way through bolts and bars to offer me his hand and
heart. My repugnance to his magic was so great that I would not
condescend to give any answer. He waited motionless for some time,
hoping no doubt for a favourable reply, but as I continued silent
he angrily declared that he would find means to punish my pride,
and therewith he left the room in a rage.
'I spent the night in the greatest agitation, and only fell into a
doze towards morning. As soon as I awoke I jumped up, and hurried
to tell my brother all that had happened, but he had left his
room, and his servant told me that he had gone out at daybreak to
hunt with the stranger.
'My mind misgave me. I dressed in all haste, had my palfrey
saddled, and rode of at full gallop towards the forest, attended
by one servant only. I pushed on without pausing, and ere long I
saw the stranger coming towards me, and leading a fine stag. I
asked him where he had left my brother, and how he had got the
stag, whose great eyes were overflowing with tears. Instead of
answering he began to laugh, and I flew into such a rage that I
drew a pistol and fired at him; but the bullet rebounded from his
breast and struck my horse in the forehead. I fell to the ground,
and the stranger muttered some words, which robbed me of my
'When I came to myself I was lying in a crystal coffin in this
subterranean vault. The Magician appeared again, and told me that
he had transformed my brother into a stag, had reduced our castle
and all its defences to miniature and locked them up in a glass
box, and after turning all our household into different vapours
had banished them into glass phials. If I would only yield to his
wishes he could easily open these vessels, and all would then
resume their former shapes.
'I would not say a word more than I had done previously, and he
vanished, leaving me in my prison, where a deep sleep soon fell on
me. Amongst the many dreams which floated through my brain was a
cheering one of a young man who was to come and release me, and
to-day, when I opened my eyes, I recognised you and saw that my
dream was fulfilled. Now help me to carry out the rest of my
vision. The first thing is to place the glass box which contains
my castle on this large stone.'
As soon as this was done the stone gently rose through the air and
transported them into the upper hall, whence they easily carried
the box into the outer air. The lady then removed the lid, and it
was marvellous to watch the castle, houses, and farmyards begin to
grow and spread themselves till they had regained their proper
size. Then the young couple returned by means of the movable
stone, and brought up all the glass vessels filled with smoke. No
sooner were they uncorked than the blue vapours poured out and
became transformed to living people, in whom the lady joyfully
recognised her many servants and attendants.
Her delight was complete when her brother (who had killed the
Magician under the form of a bull) was seen coming from the forest
in his proper shape, and that very day, according to her promise,
she gave her hand in marriage to the happy young tailor.
THE THREE SNAKE-LEAVES
There was once a poor man who could no longer afford to keep his
only son at home. So the son said to him, 'Dear father, you are so
poor that I am only a burden to you; I would rather go out into
the world and see if I can earn my own living.' The father gave
him his blessing and took leave of him with much sorrow. About
this time the King of a very powerful kingdom was carrying on a
war; the youth therefore took service under him and went on the
campaign. When they came before the enemy, a battle took place,
there was some hot fighting, and it rained bullets so thickly that
his comrades fell around him on all sides. And when their leader
fell too the rest wished to take to flight; but the youth stepped
forward and encouraged them and called out, 'We must not let our
country be ruined!' Then others followed him, and he pressed on
and defeated the enemy. When the King heard that he had to thank
him alone for the victory, he raised him higher than anyone else
in rank, gave him great treasures and made him the first in the
The King had a daughter who was very beautiful, but she was also
very capricious. She had made a vow to marry no one who would not
promise her that if she died first, he would allow himself to be
buried alive with her. 'If he loves me truly,' she used to say,
'what use would life be to him then?' At the same time she was
willing to do the same, and if he died first to be buried with
him. This curious vow had up to this time frightened away all
suitors, but the young man was so captivated by her beauty, that
he hesitated at nothing and asked her hand of her father. 'Do you
know,' asked the King, 'what you have to promise?' 'I shall have
to go into her grave with her,' he answered, 'if I outlive her,
but my love is so great that I do not think of the risk.' So the
King consented, and the wedding was celebrated with great
Now, they lived for a long time very happily with one another, but
then it came to pass that the young Queen fell seriously ill, and
no doctor could save her. And when she lay dead, the young King
remembered what he had promised, and it made him shudder to think
of lying in her grave alive, but there was no escape. The King had
set guards before all the gates, and it was not possible to avoid
When the day arrived on which the corpse was to be laid in the
royal vault, he was led thither, then the entrance was bolted and
Near the coffin stood a table on which were placed four candles,
four loaves of bread, and four bottles of wine. As soon as this
provision came to an end he would have to die. So he sat there
full of grief and misery, eating every day only a tiny bit of
bread, and drinking only a mouthful of ovine, and he watched death
creeping nearer and nearer to him. One day as he was sitting
staring moodily in front of him, he saw a snake creep out of the
corner towards the corpse. Thinking it was going to touch it, he
drew his sword and saying, 'As long as I am alive you shall not
harm her,' he cut it in three pieces. After a little time a second
snake crept out of the corner, but when it saw the first one lying
dead and in pieces it went back and came again soon, holding three
green leaves in its mouth. Then it took the three bits of the
snake and laid them in order, and put one of the leaves on each
wound. Immediately the pieces joined together, the snake moved
itself and became alive and then both hurried away. The leaves
remained lying on the ground, and it suddenly occurred to the
unfortunate man who had seen everything, that the wonderful power
of the leaves might also be exercised upon a human being.
So he picked up the leaves and laid one of them on the mouth and
the other two on the eyes of the dead woman. And scarcely had he
done this, before the blood began to circulate in her veins, then
it mounted and brought colour back to her white face. Then she
drew her breath, opened her eyes, and said, 'Ah! where am I?' 'You
are with me, dear lady,' he answered, and told her all that had
happened, and how he had brought her to life again. He then gave
her some wine and bread, and when all her strength had returned
she got up, and they went to the door and knocked and called so
loudly that the guards heard them, and told the King. The King
came himself to open the door, and there he found both happy and
well, and he rejoiced with them that now all trouble was over. But
the young King gave the three snake-leaves to a servant, saying to
him, 'Keep them carefully for me, and always carry them with you;
who knows but that they may help us in a time of need!'
It seemed, however, as if a change had come over the young Queen
after she had been restored to life, and as if all her love for
her husband had faded from her heart. Some time afterwards, when
he wanted to take a journey over the sea to his old father, and
they were on board the ship, she forgot the great love and
faithfulness he had shown her and how he had saved her from death,
and fell in love with the captain. And one day when the young King
was lying asleep, she called the captain to her, and seized the
head of the sleeping King and made him take his feet, and together
they threw him into the sea. When they had done this wicked deed,
she said to him, 'Now let us go home and say that he died on the
journey. I will praise you so much to my father that he will marry
me to you and make you the heir to the throne.' But the faithful
servant, who had seen everything, let down a little boat into the
sea, unobserved by them, and rowed after his master while the
traitors sailed on. He took the drowned man out of the water, and
with the help of the three snake-leaves which he carried with him,
placing them on his mouth and eyes, he brought him to life again.
They both rowed as hard as they could night and day, and their
little boat went so quickly that they reached the old King before
the other two did. He was much astonished to see them come back
alone, and asked what had happened to them. When he heard the
wickedness of his daughter, he said, 'I cannot believe that she
has acted so wrongly, but the truth will soon come to light.' He
made them both go into a secret chamber, and let no one see them.
Soon after this the large ship came in, and the wicked lady
appeared before her father with a very sad face. He said to her,
'Why have you come back alone? Where is your husband?'
'Ah, dear father,' she replied, 'I have come home in great grief;
my husband fell ill on the voyage quite suddenly, and died, and if
the good captain had not given me help, I should have died too. He
was at his death-bed and can tell you everything.'
The King said, 'I will bring the dead to life again,' and he
opened the door of the room and called them both out. The lady was
as if thunderstruck when she caught sight of her husband; she fell
on her knees and begged for mercy. But the King said, 'You shall
have no mercy. He was ready to die with you, and restored you to
life again; but you killed him when he was sleeping, and shall
receive your deserts.'
So she and her accomplice were put in a ship which was bored
through with holes, and were drawn out into the sea, where they
soon perished in the waves.
A King's son once had a great desire to travel through the world,
so he started off, taking no one with him but one trusty servant.
One day he came to a great forest, and as evening drew on he could
find no shelter, and could not think where to spend the night. All
of a sudden he saw a girl going towards a little house, and as he
drew nearer he remarked that she was both young and pretty. He
spoke to her, and said, 'Dear child, could I and my servant spend
the night in this house?'
'Oh yes,' said the girl in a sad tone, 'you can if you like, but I
should not advise you to do so. Better not go in.'
'Why not?' asked the King's son.
The girl sighed and answered, 'My stepmother deals in black arts,
and she is not very friendly to strangers.'
The Prince guessed easily that he had fallen on a witch's house,
but as by this time it was quite dark and he could go no further,
and as moreover he was not at all afraid, he stepped in.
An old woman sat in an armchair near the fire, and as the
strangers entered she turned her red eyes on them. 'Good evening,'
she muttered, and pretending to be quite friendly. 'Won't you sit
She blew up the fire on which she was cooking something in a
little pot, and her daughter secretly warned the travellers to be
very careful not to eat or drink anything, as the old woman's
brews were apt to be dangerous.
They went to bed, and slept soundly till morning. When they were
ready to start and the King's son had already mounted his horse
the old woman said: 'Wait a minute, I must give you a stirrup
cup.' Whilst she went to fetch it the King's son rode off, and the
servant who had waited to tighten his saddle-girths was alone when
the witch returned.
'Take that to your master,' she said; but as she spoke the glass
cracked and the poison spurted over the horse, and it was so
powerful that the poor creature sank down dead. The servant ran
after his master and told him what had happened, and then, not
wishing to lose the saddle as well as the horse, he went back to
fetch it. When he got to the spot he saw that a raven had perched
on the carcase and was pecking at it. 'Who knows whether we shall
get anything better to eat to-day!' said the servant, and he shot
the raven and carried it off.
Then they rode on all day through the forest without coming to the
end. At nightfall they reached an inn, which they entered, and the
servant gave the landlord the raven to dress for their supper.
Now, as it happened, this inn was a regular resort of a band of
murderers, and the old witch too was in the habit of frequenting
As soon as it was dark twelve murderers arrived, with the full
intention of killing and robbing the strangers. Before they set to
work, however, they sat down to table, and the landlord and the
old witch joined them, and they all ate some broth in which the
flesh of the raven had been stewed down. They had hardly taken a
couple of spoonfuls when they all fell down dead, for the poison
had passed from the horse to the raven and so into the broth. So
there was no one left belonging to the house but the landlord's
daughter, who was a good, well-meaning girl, and had taken no part
in all the evil doings.
She opened all the doors, and showed the strangers the treasures
the robbers had gathered together; but the Prince bade her keep
them all for herself, as he wanted none of them, and so he rode
further with his servant.
After travelling about for some length of time they reached a town
where lived a lovely but most arrogant Princess. She had given out
that anyone who asked her a riddle which she found herself unable
to guess should be her husband, but should she guess it he must
forfeit his head. She claimed three days in which to think over
the riddles, but she was so very clever that she invariably
guessed them in a much shorter time. Nine suitors had already lost
their lives when the King's son arrived, and, dazzled by her
beauty, determined to risk his life in hopes of winning her.
So he came before her and propounded his riddle. 'What is this?'
he asked. 'One slew none and yet killed twelve.'
She could not think what it was! She thought, and thought, and
looked through all her books of riddles and puzzles, but she found
nothing to help her, and could not guess; in fact, she was at her
wits' end. As she could think of no way to guess the riddle, she
ordered her maid to steal at night into the Prince's bedroom and
to listen, for she thought that he might perhaps talk aloud in his
dreams and so betray the secret. But the clever servant had taken
his master's place, and when the maid came he tore off the cloak
she had wrapped herself in and hunted her off with a whip.
On the second night the Princess sent her lady-in-waiting, hoping
that she might succeed better, but the servant took away her
mantle and chased her away also.
On the third night the King's son thought he really might feel
safe, so he went to bed. But in the middle of the night the
Princess came herself, all huddled up in a misty grey mantle, and
sat down near him. When she thought he was fast asleep, she spoke
to him, hoping he would answer in the midst of his dreams, as many
people do; but he was wide awake all the time, and heard and
understood everything very well.
Then she asked: 'One slew none--what is that?' and he answered: 'A
raven which fed on the carcase of a poisoned horse.'
She went on: 'And yet killed twelve--what is that?' 'Those are
twelve murderers who ate the raven and died of it.'
As soon as she knew the riddle she tried to slip away, but he held
her mantle so tightly that she was obliged to leave it behind.
Next morning the Princess announced that she had guessed the
riddle, and sent for the twelve judges, before whom she declared
it. But the young man begged to be heard, too, and said: 'She came
by night to question me, otherwise she never could have guessed
The judges said: 'Bring us some proof.' So the servant brought out
the three cloaks, and when the judges saw the grey one, which the
Princess was in the habit of wearing, they said: 'Let it be
embroidered with gold and silver; it shall be your wedding
JACK MY HEDGEHOG
There was once a farmer who lived in great comfort. He had both
lands and money, but, though he was so well off, one thing was
wanting to complete his happiness; he had no children. Many and
many a time, when he met other farmers at the nearest market town,
they would teaze him, asking how it came about that he was
childless. At length he grew so angry that he exclaimed: 'I must
and will have a child of some sort or kind, even should it only be
Not long after this his wife gave birth to a child, but though the
lower half of the little creature was a fine boy, from the waist
upwards it was a hedgehog, so that when his mother first saw him
she was quite frightened, and said to her husband, 'There now, you
have cursed the child yourself.' The farmer said, 'What's the use
of making a fuss? I suppose the creature must be christened, but I
don't see how we are to ask anyone to be sponsor to him, and what
are we to call him?'
'There is nothing we can possibly call him but Jack my Hedgehog,'
replied the wife.
So they took him to be christened, and the parson said: 'You'll
never be able to put that child in a decent bed on account of his
prickles.' Which was true, but they shook down some straw for him
behind the stove, and there he lay for eight years. His father
grew very tired of him and often wished him dead, but he did not
die, but lay on there year after year.
Now one day there was a big fair at the market town to which the
farmer meant to go, so he asked his wife what he should bring her
from it. 'Some meat and a couple of big loaves for the house,'
said she. Then he asked the maid what she wanted, and she said a
pair of slippers and some stockings. Lastly he said, 'Well, Jack
my Hedgehog, and what shall I bring you?'
'Daddy,' said he, 'do bring me a bagpipe.' When the farmer came
home he gave his wife and the maid the things they had asked for,
and then he went behind the stove and gave Jack my Hedgehog the
When Jack had got his bagpipes he said, 'Daddy, do go to the
smithy and have the house cock shod for me; then I'll ride off and
trouble you no more.' His father, who was delighted at the
prospect of getting rid of him, had the cock shod, and when it was
ready Jack my Hedgehog mounted on its back and rode off to the
forest, followed by all the pigs and asses which he had promised
to look after.
Having reached the forest he made the cock fly up to the top of a
very tall tree with him, and there he sat looking after his pigs
and donkeys, and he sat on and on for several years till he had
quite a big herd; but all this time his father knew nothing about
As he sat up in his tree he played away on his pipes and drew the
loveliest music from them. As he was playing one day a King, who
had lost his way, happened to pass close by, and hearing the music
he was much surprised, and sent one of his servants to find out
where it came from. The man peered about, but he could see nothing
but a little creature which looked like a cock with a hedgehog
sitting on it, perched up in a tree. The King desired the servant
to ask the strange creature why it sat there, and if it knew the
shortest way to his kingdom.
On this Jack my Hedgehog stepped down from his tree and said he
would undertake to show the King his way home if the King on his
part would give him his written promise to let him have whatever
first met him on his return.
The King thought to himself, 'That's easy enough to promise. The
creature won't understand a word about it, so I can just write
what I choose.'
So he took pen and ink and wrote something, and when he had done
Jack my Hedgehog pointed out the way and the King got safely home.
Now when the King's daughter saw her father returning in the
distance she was so delighted that she ran to meet him and threw
herself into his arms. Then the King remembered Jack my Hedgehog,
and he told his daughter how he had been obliged to give a written
promise to bestow whatever he first met when he got home on an
extraordinary creature which had shown him the way. The creature,
said he, rode on a cock as though it had been a horse, and it made
lovely music, but as it certainly could not read he had just
written that he would _not_ give it anything at all. At this
the Princess was quite pleased, and said how cleverly her father
had managed, for that of course nothing would induce her to have
gone off with Jack my Hedgehog.
Meantime Jack minded his asses and pigs, sat aloft in his tree,
played his bagpipes, and was always merry and cheery. After a time
it so happened that another King, having lost his way, passed by
with his servants and escort, wondering how he could find his way
home, for the forest was very vast. He too heard the music, and
told one of his men to find out whence it came. The man came under
the tree, and looking up to the top there he saw Jack my Hedgehog
astride on the cock.
The servant asked Jack what he was doing up there. 'I'm minding my
pigs and donkeys; but what do you want?' was the reply. Then the
servant told him they had lost their way, and wanted some one to
show it them. Down came Jack my Hedgehog with his cock, and told
the old King he would show him the right way if he would solemnly
promise to give him the first thing he met in front of his royal
The King said 'Yes,' and gave Jack a written promise to that
Then Jack rode on in front pointing out the way, and the King
reached his own country in safety.
Now he had an only daughter who was extremely beautiful, and who,
delighted at her father's return, ran to meet him, threw her arms
round his neck and kissed him heartily. Then she asked where he
had been wandering so long, and he told her how he had lost his
way and might never have reached home at all but for a strange
creature, half-man, half-hedgehog, which rode a cock and sat up in
a tree making lovely music, and which had shown him the right way.
He also told her how he had been obliged to pledge his word to
give the creature the first thing which met him outside his castle
gate, and he felt very sad at the thought that she had been the
first thing to meet him.
But the Princess comforted him, and said she should be quite
willing to go with Jack my Hedgehog whenever he came to fetch her,
because of the great love she bore to her dear old father.
Jack my Hedgehog continued to herd his pigs, and they increased in
number till there were so many that the forest seemed full of
them. So he made up his mind to live there no longer, and sent a
message to his father telling him to have all the stables and
outhouses in the village cleared, as he was going to bring such an
enormous herd that all who would might kill what they chose. His
father was much vexed at this news, for he thought Jack had died
long ago. Jack my Hedgehog mounted his cock, and driving his pigs
before him into the village, he let every one kill as many as they
chose, and such a hacking and hewing of pork went on as you might
have heard for miles off.
Then said Jack, 'Daddy, let the blacksmith shoe my cock once more;
then I'll ride off, and I promise you I'll never come back again
as long as I live.' So the father had the cock shod, and rejoiced
at the idea of getting rid of his son.
Then Jack my Hedgehog set off for the first kingdom, and there the
King had given strict orders that if anyone should be seen riding
a cock and carrying a bagpipe he was to be chased away and shot
at, and on no account to be allowed to enter the palace. So when
Jack my Hedgehog rode up the guards charged him with their
bayonets, but he put spurs to his cock, flew up over the gate
right to the King's windows, let himself down on the sill, and
called out that if he was not given what had been promised him,
both the King and his daughter should pay for it with their lives.
Then the King coaxed and entreated his daughter to go with Jack
and so save both their lives.
The Princess dressed herself all in white, and her father gave her
a coach with six horses and servants in gorgeous liveries and
quantities of money. She stepped into the coach, and Jack my
Hedgehog with his cock and pipes took his place beside her. They
both took leave, and the King fully expected never to set eyes on
them again. But matters turned out very differently from what he
had expected, for when they had got a certain distance from the
town Jack tore all the Princess's smart clothes off her, and
pricked her all over with his bristles, saying: 'That's what you
get for treachery. Now go back, I'll have no more to say to you.'
And with that he hunted her home, and she felt she had been
disgraced and put to shame till her life's end.
Then Jack my Hedgehog rode on with his cock and bagpipes to the
country of the second King to whom he had shown the way. Now this
King had given orders that, in the event of Jack's coming the
guards were to present arms, the people to cheer, and he was to be
conducted in triumph to the royal palace.
When the King's daughter saw Jack my Hedgehog, she was a good deal
startled, for he certainly was very peculiar looking; but after
all she considered that she had given her word and it couldn't be
helped. So she made Jack welcome and they were betrothed to each
other, and at dinner he sat next her at the royal table, and they
ate and drank together.
When they retired to rest the Princess feared lest Jack should
kiss her because of his prickles, but he told her not to be
alarmed as no harm should befall her. Then he begged the old King
to place a watch of four men just outside his bedroom door, and to
desire them to make a big fire. When he was about to lie down in
bed he would creep out of his hedgehog skin, and leave it lying at
the bedside; then the men must rush in, throw the skin into the
fire, and stand by till it was entirely burnt up.
And so it was, for when it struck eleven, Jack my Hedgehog went to
his room, took off his skin and left it at the foot of the bed.
The men rushed in, quickly seized the skin and threw it on the
fire, and directly it was all burnt Jack was released from his
enchantment and lay in his bed a man from head to foot, but quite
black as though he had been severely scorched.
The King sent off for his physician in ordinary, who washed Jack
all over with various essences and salves, so that he became white
and was a remarkably handsome young man. When the King's daughter
saw him she was greatly pleased, and next day the marriage
ceremony was performed, and the old King bestowed his kingdom on
Jack my Hedgehog.
After some years Jack and his wife went to visit his father, but
the farmer did not recognize him, and declared he had no son; he
had had one, but that one was born with bristles like a hedgehog,
and had gone off into the wide world. Then Jack told his story,
and his old father rejoiced and returned to live with him in his
THE GOLDEN LADS
A poor man and his wife lived in a little cottage, where they
supported themselves by catching fish in the nearest river, and
got on as best they could, living from hand to mouth. One day it
happened that when the fisherman drew in his net he found in it a
remarkable fish, for it was entirely of gold. As he was inspecting
it with some surprise, the fish opened its mouth and said: 'Listen
to me, fisher; if you will just throw me back into the water I'll
turn your poor little cottage into a splendid castle.'
The fisher replied: 'What good, pray, will a castle be to me if I
have nothing to eat in it?'
'Oh,' said the gold fish, 'I'll take care of that. There will be a
cupboard in the castle, in which you will find dishes of every
kind of food you can wish for most.'
'If that's the case,' said the man, 'I've no objection to oblige
'Yes,' observed the fish, 'but there is one condition attached to
my offer, and that is that you are not to reveal to a soul where
your good fortune comes from. If you say a word about it, it will
The man threw the fish back into the water, and went home. But on
the spot where his cottage used to stand he found a spacious
castle. He opened his eyes wide, went in and found his wife
dressed out in smart clothes, sitting in a splendidly furnished
drawing-room. She was in high spirits, and cried out: 'Oh husband!
how can this all have happened? I am so pleased!'
'Yes,' said her husband, 'so am I pleased; but I'm uncommonly
hungry, and I want something to eat at once.'
Said his wife, 'I've got nothing, and I don't know where anything
is in this new house.'
'Never mind,' replied the man. 'I see a big cupboard there.
Suppose you unlock it.'
When the cupboard was opened they found meat, cakes, fruit, and
wine, all spread out in the most tempting fashions. The wife
clapped her hands with joy, and cried: 'Dear heart! what more can
one wish for?' and they sat down and ate and drank.
When they had finished the wife asked, 'But husband, where do all
these riches come from?'
'Ah!' said he, 'don't ask me. I dare not tell you. If I reveal the
secret to anyone, it will be all up with us.'
'Very well,' she replied, 'if I'm not to be told, of course I
don't want to know anything about it.'
But she was not really in earnest, for her curiosity never left
her a moment's peace by day or night, and she teazed and worried
her husband to such a pitch, that at length he quite lost patience
and blurted out that it all came from a wonderful golden fish
which he had caught and set free again. Hardly were the words well
out of his mouth, when castle, cupboard, and all vanished, and
there they were sitting in their poor little fishing hut once
The man had to betake himself to his former trade, and set to
fishing again. As luck would have it, he caught the golden fish a
'Now listen,' said the fish, 'if you'll throw me back into the
water, I'll give you back the castle and the cupboard with all its
good things; but now take care, and don't for your life betray
where you got them, or you'll just lose them again.'
'I'll be very careful,' promised the fisher, and threw the fish
back into the water. When he went home he found all their former
splendour restored, and his wife overjoyed at their good fortune.
But her curiosity still continued to torment her, and after
restraining it with a great effort for a couple of days, she began
questioning her husband again, as to what had happened, and how he
The man kept silence for some time, but at last she irritated him
so much that he burst out with the secret, and in one moment the
castle was gone, and they sat once more in their wretched old hut.
'There!' exclaimed the man, 'you _would_ have it--now we may
just go on short commons.'
'Ah!' said his wife, 'after all I'd rather not have all the riches
in the world if I can't know where they come from--I shall not
have a moment's peace.'
The man took to his fishing again, and one day fate brought the
gold fish into his net for the third time. 'Well,' said the fish,
'I see that I am evidently destined to fall into your hands. Now
take me home, and cut me into six pieces. Give two bits to your
wife to eat, two to your horse, and plant the remaining two in
your garden, and they will bring you a blessing.'
The man carried the fish home, and did exactly as he had been
told. After a time, it came to pass that from the two pieces he
had planted in the garden two golden lilies grew up, and that his
horse had two golden foals, whilst his wife gave birth to twin
boys who were all golden.
The children grew up both tall and handsome, and the foals and the
lilies grew with them.
One day the children came to their father and said, 'Father, we
want to mount on golden steeds, and ride forth to see the world.'
Their father answered sadly, 'How can I bear it if, when you are
far away, I know nothing about you?' and they said, 'The golden
lilies will tell you all about us if you look at them. If they
seem to droop, you will know we are ill, and if they fall down and
fade away, it will be a sign we are dead.'
So off they rode, and came to an inn where were a number of people
who, as soon as they saw the two golden lads, began to laugh and
jeer at them. When one of them heard this, his heart failed him,
and he thought he would go no further into the world, so he turned
back and rode home to his father, but his brother rode on till he
reached the outskirts of a huge forest. Here he was told, 'It will
never do for you to ride through the forest, it is full of
robbers, and you're sure to come to grief, especially when they
see that you and your horse are golden. They will certainly fall
on you and kill you.' However, he was not to be intimidated, but
said, 'I must and will ride on.'
So he procured some bears' skins, and covered himself and his
horse with them, so that not a particle of gold could be seen, and
then rode bravely on into the heart of the forest.
When he had got some way he heard a rustling through the bushes
and presently a sound of voices. Someone whispered on one side of
him: 'There goes someone,' and was answered from the other side:
'Oh, let him pass. He's only a bear-keeper, and as poor as any
church mouse.' So golden lad rode through the forest and no harm
One day he came to a village, where he saw a girl who struck him
as being the loveliest creature in the whole world, and as he felt
a great love for her, he went up to her and said: 'I love you with
all my heart; will you be my wife?' And the girl liked him so much
that she put her hand in his and replied: 'Yes, I will be your
wife, and will be true to you as long as I live.'
So they were married, and in the middle of all the festivities and
rejoicings the bride's father came home and was not a little
surprised at finding his daughter celebrating her wedding. He
enquired: 'And who is the bridegroom?'
Then someone pointed out to him the golden lad, who was still
wrapped up in the bear's skin, and the father exclaimed angrily:
'Never shall a mere bear-keeper have my daughter,' and tried to
rush at him and kill him. But the bride did all she could to
pacify him, and begged hard, saying: 'After all he is my husband,
and I love him with all my heart,' so that at length he gave in.
However, he could not dismiss the thought from his mind, and next
morning he rose very early, for he felt he must go and look at his
daughter's husband and see whether he really was nothing better
than a mere ragged beggar. So he went to his son-in-law's room,
and who should he see lying in the bed but a splendid golden man,
and the rough bearskin thrown on the ground close by. Then he
slipped quietly away, and thought to himself, 'How lucky that I
managed to control my rage! I should certainly have committed a
Meantime the golden lad dreamt that he was out hunting and was
giving chase to a noble stag, and when he woke he said to his
bride: 'I must go off and hunt.' She felt very anxious, and begged
he would stay at home, adding: 'Some mishap might so easily befall
you,' but he answered, 'I must and will go.'
So he went off into the forest, and before long a fine stag, such
as he had seen in his dream, stopped just in front of him. He took
aim, and was about to fire when the stag bounded away. Then he
started off in pursuit, making his way through bushes and briars,
and never stopped all day; but in the evening the stag entirely
disappeared, and when golden lad came to look about him he found
himself just opposite a hut in which lived a witch. He knocked at
the door, which was opened by a little old woman who asked, 'What
do you want at this late hour in the midst of this great forest?'
He said, 'Haven't you seen a stag about here?'
'Yes,' said she, 'I know the stag well,' and as she spoke a little
dog ran out of the house and began barking and snapping at the
'Be quiet, you little toad,' he cried, 'or I'll shoot you dead.'
Then the witch flew into a great rage, and screamed out, 'What!
you'll kill my dog, will you?' and the next moment he was turned
to stone and lay there immovable, whilst his bride waited for him
in vain and thought to herself, 'Alas! no doubt the evil I feared,
and which has made my heart so heavy, has befallen him.'
Meantime, the other brother was standing near the golden lilies at
home, when suddenly one of them bent over and fell to the ground.
'Good heavens!' cried he, 'some great misfortune has befallen my
brother. I must set off at once; perhaps I may still be in time to
His father entreated him, 'Stay at home. If I should lose you too,
what would become of me?'
But his son replied, 'I must and will go.'
Then he mounted his golden horse, and rode off till he reached the
forest where his brother lay transformed to stone. The old witch
came out of her house and called to him, for she would gladly have
cast her spells on him too, but he took care not to go near her,
and called out: 'Restore my brother to life at once, or I'll shoot
you down on the spot.'
Reluctantly she touched the stone with her finger, and in a moment
it resumed its human shape. The two golden lads fell into each
other's arms and kissed each other with joy, and then rode off
together to the edge of the forest, where they parted, one to
return to his old father, and the other to his bride.
When the former got home his father said, 'I knew you had
delivered your brother, for all of a sudden the golden lily reared
itself up and burst into blossom.'
Then they all lived happily to their lives' ends, and all things
went well with them.
THE WHITE SNAKE
Not very long ago there lived a King, the fame of whose wisdom was
spread far and wide. Nothing appeared to be unknown to him, and it
really seemed as if tidings of the most secret matters must be
borne to him by the winds. He had one very peculiar habit. Every
day, after the dinner table had been cleared, and everyone had
retired, a confidential servant brought in a dish. It was covered,
and neither the servant nor anyone else had any idea what was on
it, for the King never removed the cover or partook of the dish,
till he was quite alone.
This went on for some time till, one day, the servant who removed
the dish was so overcome with curiosity, that he could not resist
carrying it off to his own room. After carefully locking the door,
he lifted the cover, and there he saw a white snake lying on the
dish. On seeing it he could not restrain his desire to taste it,
so he cut off a small piece and put it in his mouth.
Hardly had it touched his tongue than he heard a strange sort of
whispering of tiny voices outside his window. He stepped to the
casement to listen, and found that the sound proceeded from the
sparrows, who were talking together and telling each other all
they had seen in the fields and woods. The piece of the white
snake which he had eaten had enabled him to understand the
language of animals.
Now on this particular day, it so happened that the Queen lost her
favourite ring, and suspicion fell on the confidential servant who
had access to all parts of the palace. The King sent for him, and
threatened him angrily, saying that if he had not found the thief
by the next day, he should himself be taken up and tried.
It was useless to assert his innocence; he was dismissed without
ceremony. In his agitation and distress, he went down to the yard
to think over what he could do in this trouble. Here were a number
of ducks resting near a little stream, and pluming, themselves
with their bills, whilst they kept up an animated conversation
amongst themselves. The servant stood still listening to them.
They were talking of where they had been waddling about all the
morning, and of the good food they had found, but one of them
remarked rather sadly, 'There's something lying very heavy on my
stomach, for in my haste I've swallowed a ring, which was lying
just under the Queen's window.'
No sooner did the servant hear this than he seized the duck by the
neck, carried it off to the kitchen, and said to the cook,
'Suppose you kill this duck; you see she's nice and fat.'
'Yes, indeed,' said the cook, weighing the duck in his hand, 'she
certainly has spared no pains to stuff herself well, and must have
been waiting for the spit for some time.' So he chopped off her
head, and when she was opened there was the Queen's ring in her
It was easy enough now for the servant to prove his innocence, and
the King, feeling he had done him an injustice, and anxious to
make some amends, desired him to ask any favour he chose, and
promised to give him the highest post at Court he could wish for.
The servant, however, declined everything, and only begged for a
horse and some money to enable him to travel, as he was anxious to
see something of the world.
When his request was granted, he set off on his journey, and in
the course of it he one day came to a large pond, on the edge of
which he noticed three fishes which had got entangled in the reeds
and were gasping for water. Though fish are generally supposed to
be quite mute, he heard them grieving aloud at the prospect of
dying in this wretched manner. Having a very kind heart he
dismounted and soon set the prisoners free, and in the water once
more. They flapped with joy, and stretching up their heads cried
to him: 'We will remember, and reward you for saving us.'
He rode further, and after a while he thought he heard a voice in
the sand under his feet. He paused to listen, and heard the King
of the Ants complaining: 'If only men with their awkward beasts
would keep clear of us! That stupid horse is crushing my people
mercilessly to death with his great hoofs.' The servant at once
turned into a side path, and the Ant-King called after him, 'We'll
remember and reward you.'
The road next led through a wood, where he saw a father and a
mother raven standing by their nest and throwing out their young:
'Away with you, you young rascals!' they cried, 'we can't feed you
any longer. You are quite big enough to support yourselves now.'
The poor little birds lay on the ground flapping and beating their
wings, and shrieked, 'We poor helpless children, feed ourselves
indeed! Why, we can't even fly yet; what can we do but die of
hunger?' Then the kind youth dismounted, drew his sword, and
killing his horse left it there as food for the young ravens. They
hopped up, satisfied their hunger, and piped: 'We'll remember, and
He was now obliged to trust to his own legs, and after walking a
long way he reached a big town. Here he found a great crowd and
much commotion in the streets, and a herald rode about announcing,
'The King's daughter seeks a husband, but whoever would woo her
must first execute a difficult task, and if he does not succeed he
must be content to forfeit his life.' Many had risked their lives,
but in vain. When the youth saw the King's daughter, he was so
dazzled by her beauty, that he forgot all idea of danger, and went
to the King to announce himself a suitor.
On this he was led out to a large lake, and a gold ring was thrown
into it before his eyes. The King desired him to dive after it,
adding, 'If you return without it you will be thrown back into the
lake time after time, till you are drowned in its depths.'
Everyone felt sorry for the handsome young fellow and left him
alone on the shore. There he stood thinking and wondering what he
could do, when all of a sudden he saw three fishes swimming along,
and recognised them as the very same whose lives he had saved. The
middle fish held a mussel in its mouth, which it laid at the young
man's feet, and when he picked it up and opened it, there was the
golden ring inside.
Full of delight he brought it to the King's daughter, expecting to
receive his promised reward. The haughty Princess, however, on
hearing that he was not her equal by birth despised him, and
exacted the fulfilment of a second task.
She went into the garden, and with her own hands she strewed ten
sacks full of millet all over the grass. 'He must pick all that up
to-morrow morning before sunrise,' she said; 'not a grain must be
The youth sat down in the garden and wondered how it would be
possible for him to accomplish such a task, but he could think of
no expedient, and sat there sadly expecting to meet his death at
But when the first rays of the rising sun fell on the garden, he
saw the ten sacks all completely filled, standing there in a row,
and not a single grain missing. The Ant-King, with his thousands
and thousands of followers, had come during the night, and the
grateful creatures had industriously gathered all the millet
together and put it in the sacks.
The King's daughter came down to the garden herself, and saw to
her amazement that her suitor had accomplished the task she had
given him. But even now she could not bend her proud heart, and
she said, 'Though he has executed these two tasks, yet he shall
not be my husband till he brings me an apple from the tree of
The young man did not even know where the tree of life grew, but
he set off, determined to walk as far as his legs would carry him,
though he had no hope of ever finding it.
After journeying through three different kingdoms he reached a
wood one night, and lying down under a tree prepared to go to
sleep there. Suddenly he heard a sound in the boughs, and a golden
apple fell right into his hand. At the same moment three ravens
flew down to him, perched on his knee and said, 'We are the three
young ravens whom you saved from starvation. When we grew up and
heard you were searching for the golden apple, we flew far away
over the seas to the end of the world, where the tree of life
grows, and fetched the golden apple for you.'
Full of joy the young man started on his way back and brought the
golden apple to the lovely Princess, whose objections were now
entirely silenced. They divided the apple of life and ate it
together, and her heart grew full of love for him, so they lived
together to a great age in undisturbed happiness.
THE STORY OF A CLEVER TAILOR
Once upon a time there lived an exceedingly proud Princess. If any
suitor for her hand ventured to present himself, she would give
him some riddle or conundrum to guess, and if he failed to do so,
he was hunted out of the town with scorn and derision. She gave
out publicly that all comers were welcome to try their skill, and
that whoever could solve her riddle should be her husband.
Now it happened that three tailors had met together, and the two
elder thought, that after having successfully put in so many fine
and strong stitches with never a wrong one amongst them, they were
certain to do the right thing here too. The third tailor was a
lazy young scamp who did not even know his own trade properly, but
who thought that surely luck would stand by him now, just for
once, for, if not, what _was_ to become of him?
The two others said to him, 'You just stay at home, you'll never
get on much with your small allowance of brains.' But the little
tailor was not to be daunted, and said he had set his mind on it
and meant to shift for himself, so off he started as though the
whole world belonged to him.
The three tailors arrived at Court, where they had themselves duly
presented to the Princess, and begged she would propound her
riddles, 'for,' said they, 'here were the right men at last, with
wits so sharp and so fine you might almost thread a needle with
Then said the Princess, 'I have on my head two different kinds of
hair. Of what colours are they?'
'If that's all,' said the first tailor, 'they are most likely
black and white, like the kind of cloth we call pepper-and-salt.'
'Wrong,' said the Princess.
'Then,' said the second tailor, 'if they are not black and white,
no doubt they are red and brown, like my father's Sunday coat.'
'Wrong again,' said the Princess; 'now let the third speak. I see
he thinks he knows all about it.'
Then the young tailor stepped boldly to the front and said, 'The
Princess has one silver and one golden hair on her head, and those
are the two colours.'
When the Princess heard this she turned quite pale, and almost
fainted away with fear, for the little tailor had hit the mark,
and she had firmly believed that not a soul could guess it. When
she had recovered herself she said, 'Don't fancy you have won me
yet, there is something else you must do first. Below in the
stable is a bear with whom you must spend the night, and if when I
get up in the morning I find you still alive you shall marry me.'
She quite expected to rid herself of the tailor in this way, for
the bear had never left anyone alive who had once come within
reach of his claws. The tailor, however, had no notion of being
scared, but said cheerily, 'Bravely dared is half won.'
When evening came on he was taken to the stable. The bear tried to
get at him at once and to give him a warm welcome with his great
paws. 'Gently, gently,' said the tailor, 'I'll soon teach you to
be quiet,' and he coolly drew a handful of walnuts from his pocket
and began cracking and eating them as though he had not a care or
anxiety in the world. When the bear saw this he began to long for
some nuts himself. The tailor dived into his pocket and gave him a
handful, but they were pebbles, not nuts. The bear thrust them
into his mouth, but try as he might he could not manage to crack
them. 'Dear me,' thought he, 'what a stupid fool I must be--can't
even crack a nut,' and he said to the tailor, 'I say, crack my
nuts for me, will you?'
'You're a nice sort of fellow,' said the tailor; 'the idea of
having those great jaws and not being able even to crack a
walnut!' So he took the stone, quickly changed it for a nut, and
crack! it split open in a moment.
'Let me try again,' said the bear; 'when I see the thing done it
looks so easy I fancy I _must_ be able to manage it myself.'
So the tailor gave him some more pebbles, and the bear bit and
gnawed away as hard as he could, but I need hardly say that he did
not succeed in cracking one of them.
Presently the tailor took out a little fiddle and began playing on
it. When the bear heard the music he could not help dancing, and
after he had danced some time he was so pleased that he said to
the tailor, 'I say, is fiddling difficult?' 'Mere child's play,'
replied the tailor; 'look here! you press the strings with the
fingers of the left hand, and with the right, you draw the bow
across them, so--then it goes as easily as possible, up and down,
tra la la la la--'
'Oh,' cried the bear, 'I do wish I could play like that, then I
could dance whenever the fancy took me. What do you think? Would
you give me some lessons?'
'With all my heart,' said the tailor, 'if you are sharp about it.
But just let me look at your paws. Dear me, your nails are
terribly long; I must really cut them first.' Then he fetched a
pair of stocks, and the bear laid his paws on them, and the tailor
screwed them up tight. 'Now just wait whilst I fetch my scissors,'
said he, and left the bear growling away to his heart's content,
whilst he lay down in a corner and fell fast asleep.
When the Princess heard the bear growling so loud that night, she
made sure he was roaring with delight as he worried the tailor.
Next morning she rose feeling quite cheerful and free from care,
but when she looked across towards the stables, there stood the
tailor in front of the door looking as fresh and lively as a fish
in the water.
After this it was impossible to break the promise she had made so
publicly, so the King ordered out the state coach to take her and
the tailor to church to be married.
As they were starting, the two bad-hearted other tailors, who were
envious of the younger one's happiness, went to the stable and
unscrewed the bear. Off he tore after the carriage, foaming with
rage. The Princess heard his puffing and roaring, and growing
frightened she cried: 'Oh dear! the bear is after us and will
certainly catch us up!' The tailor remained quite unmoved. He
quietly stood on his head, stuck his legs out at the carriage
window and called out to the bear, 'Do you see my stocks? If you
don't go home this minute I'll screw you tight into them.'
When the bear saw and heard this he turned right round and ran off
as fast as his legs would carry him. The tailor drove on
unmolested to church, where he and the Princess were married, and
he lived with her many years as happy and merry as a lark. Whoever
does not believe this story must pay a dollar.
THE GOLDEN MERMAID
A powerful king had, among many other treasures, a wonderful tree
in his garden, which bore every year beautiful golden apples. But
the King was never able to enjoy his treasure, for he might watch
and guard them as he liked, as soon as they began to get ripe they
were always stolen. At last, in despair, he sent for his three
sons, and said to the two eldest, 'Get yourselves ready for a
journey. Take gold and silver with you, and a large retinue of
servants, as beseems two noble princes, and go through the world
till you find out who it is that steals my golden apples, and, if
possible, bring the thief to me that I may punish him as he
deserves.' His sons were delighted at this proposal, for they had
long wished to see something of the world, so they got ready for
their journey with all haste, bade their father farewell, and left
The youngest Prince was much disappointed that he too was not sent
out on his travels; but his father wouldn't hear of his going, for
he had always been looked upon as the stupid one of the family,
and the King was afraid of something happening to him. But the
Prince begged and implored so long, that at last his father
consented to let him go, and furnished him with gold and silver as
he had done his brothers. But he gave him the most wretched horse
in his stable, because the foolish youth hadn't asked for a
better. So he too set out on his journey to secure the thief, amid
the jeers and laughter of the whole court and town.
His path led him first through a wood, and he hadn't gone very far
when he met a lean-looking wolf who stood still as he approached.
The Prince asked him if he were hungry, and when the wolf said he
was, he got down from his horse and said, 'If you are really as
you say and look, you may take my horse and eat it.'
The wolf didn't wait to have the offer repeated, but set to work,
and soon made an end of the poor beast. When the Prince saw how
different the wolf looked when he had finished his meal, he said
to him, 'Now, my friend, since you have eaten up my horse, and I
have such a long way to go, that, with the best will in the world,
I couldn't manage it on foot, the least you can do for me is to
act as my horse and to take me on your back.'
'Most certainly,' said the wolf, and, letting the Prince mount
him, he trotted gaily through the wood. After they had gone a
little way he turned round and asked his rider where he wanted to
go to, and the Prince proceeded to tell him the whole story of the
golden apples that had been stolen out of the King's garden, and
how his other two brothers had set forth with many followers to
find the thief. When he had finished his story, the wolf, who was
in reality no wolf but a mighty magician, said he thought he could
tell him who the thief was, and could help him to secure him.
'There lives,' he said, 'in a neighbouring country, a mighty
emperor who has a beautiful golden bird in a cage, and this is the
creature who steals the golden apples, but it flies so fast that
it is impossible to catch it at its theft. You must slip into the
Emperor's palace by night and steal the bird with the cage; but be
very careful not to touch the walls as you go out.'
The following night the Prince stole into the Emperor's palace,
and found the bird in its cage as the wolf had told him he would.
He took hold of it carefully, but in spite of all his caution he
touched the wall in trying to pass by some sleeping watchmen. They
awoke at once, and, seizing him, beat him and put him into chains.
Next day he was led before the Emperor, who at once condemned him
to death and to be thrown into a dark dungeon till the day of his
The wolf, who, of course, knew by his magic arts all that had
happened to the Prince, turned himself at once into a mighty
monarch with a large train of followers, and proceeded to the
Court of the Emperor, where he was received with every show of
honour. The Emperor and he conversed on many subjects, and, among
other things, the stranger asked his host if he had many slaves.
The Emperor told him he had more than he knew what to do with, and
that a new one had been captured that very night for trying to
steal his magic bird, but that as he had already more than enough
to feed and support, he was going to have this last captive hanged
'He must have been a most daring thief,' said the King, 'to try
and steal the magic bird, for depend upon it the creature must
have been well guarded. I would really like to see this bold
rascal.' 'By all means,' said the Emperor; and he himself led his
guest down to the dungeon where the unfortunate Prince was kept
prisoner. When the Emperor stepped out of the cell with the King,
the latter turned to him and said, 'Most mighty Emperor, I have
been much disappointed. I had thought to find a powerful robber,
and instead of that I have seen the most miserable creature I can
imagine. Hanging is far too good for him. If I had to sentence him
I should make him perform some very difficult task, under pain of
death. If he did it so much the better for you, and if he didn't,
matters would just be as they are now and he could still be
hanged.' 'Your counsel,' said the Emperor, 'is excellent, and, as
it happens, I've got the very thing for him to do. My nearest
neighbour, who is also a mighty Emperor, possesses a golden horse
which he guards most carefully. The prisoner shall be told to
steal this horse and bring it to me.'
The Prince was then let out of his dungeon, and told his life
would be spared if he succeeded in bringing the golden horse to
the Emperor. He did not feel very elated at this announcement, for
he did not know how in the world he was to set about the task, and
he started on his way weeping bitterly, and wondering what had
made him leave his father's house and kingdom. But before he had
gone far his friend the wolf stood before him and said, 'Dear
Prince, why are you so cast down? It is true you didn't succeed in
catching the bird; but don't let that discourage you, for this
time you will be all the more careful, and will doubtless catch
the horse.' With these and like words the wolf comforted the
Prince, and warned him specially not to touch the wall or let the
horse touch it as he led it out, or he would fail in the same way
as he had done with the bird.
After a somewhat lengthy journey the Prince and the wolf came to
the kingdom ruled over by the Emperor who possessed the golden
horse. One evening late they reached the capital, and the wolf
advised the Prince to set to work at once, before their presence
in the city had aroused the watchfulness of the guards. They
slipped unnoticed into the Emperor's stables and into the very
place where there were the most guards, for there the wolf rightly
surmised they would find the horse. When they came to a certain
inner door the wolf told the Prince to remain outside, while he
went in. In a short time he returned and said, 'My dear Prince,
the horse is most securely watched, but I have bewitched all the
guards, and if you will only be careful not to touch the wall
yourself, or let the horse touch it as you go out, there is no
danger and the game is yours. The Prince, who had made up his mind
to be more than cautious this time, went cheerfully to work. He
found all the guards fast asleep, and, slipping into the horse's
stall, he seized it by the bridle and led it out; but,
unfortunately, before they had got quite clear of the stables a
gadfly stung the horse and caused it to switch its tail, whereby
it touched the wall. In a moment all the guards awoke, seized the
Prince and beat him mercilessly with their horse-whips, after
which they bound him with chains, and flung him into a dungeon.
Next morning they brought him before the Emperor, who treated him
exactly as the King with the golden bird had done, and commanded
him to be beheaded on the following day.
When the wolf-magician saw that the Prince had failed this time
too, he transformed himself again into a mighty king, and
proceeded with an even more gorgeous retinue than the first time
to the Court of the Emperor. He was courteously received and
entertained, and once more after dinner he led the conversation on
to the subject of slaves, and in the course of it again requested
to be allowed to see the bold robber who had dared to break into
the Emperor's stable to steal his most valuable possession. The
Emperor consented, and all happened exactly as it had done at the
court of the Emperor with the golden bird; the prisoner's life was
to be spared only on condition that within three days he should
obtain possession of the golden mermaid, whom hitherto no mortal
had ever approached.
Very depressed by his dangerous and difficult task, the Prince
left his gloomy prison; but, to his great joy, he met his friend
the wolf before he had gone many miles on his journey. The cunning
creature pretended he knew nothing of what had happened to the
Prince, and asked him how he had fared with the horse. The Prince
told him all about his misadventure, and the condition on which
the Emperor had promised to spare his life. Then the wolf reminded
him that he had twice got him out of prison, and that if he would
only trust in him, and do exactly as he told him, he would
certainly succeed in this last undertaking. Thereupon they bent
their steps towards the sea, which stretched out before them, as
far as their eyes could see, all the waves dancing and glittering
in the bright sunshine. 'Now,' continued the wolf, 'I am going to
turn myself into a boat full of the most beautiful silken
merchandise, and you must jump boldly into the boat, and steer
with my tail in your hand right out into the open sea. You will
soon come upon the golden mermaid. Whatever you do, don't follow
her if she calls you, but on the contrary say to her, "The buyer
comes to the seller, not the seller to the buyer." After which you
must steer towards the land, and she will follow you, for she
won't be able to resist the beautiful wares you have on board your
The Prince promised faithfully to do all he had been told,
whereupon the wolf changed himself into a ship full of most
exquisite silks, of every shade and colour imaginable. The
astonished Prince stepped into the boat, and, holding the wolf's
tail in his hand, he steered boldly out into the open sea, where
the sun was gilding the blue waves with its golden rays. Soon he
saw the golden mermaid swimming near the ship, beckoning and
calling to him to follow her; but, mindful of the wolf's warning,
he told her in a loud voice that if she wished to buy anything she
must come to him. With these words he turned his magic ship round
and steered back towards the land. The mermaid called out to him
to stand still, but he refused to listen to her and never paused
till he reached the sand of the shore. Here he stopped and waited
for the mermaid, who had swum after him. When she drew near the
boat he saw that she was far more beautiful than any mortal he had
ever beheld. She swam round the ship for some time, and then swung
herself gracefully on board, in order to examine the beautiful
silken stuffs more closely. Then the Prince seized her in his
arms, and kissing her tenderly on the cheeks and lips, he told her
she was his for ever; at the same moment the boat turned into a
wolf again, which so terrified the mermaid that she clung to the
Prince for protection.
So the golden mermaid was successfully caught, and she soon felt
quite happy in her new life when she saw she had nothing to fear
either from the Prince or the wolf--she rode on the back of the
latter, and the Prince rode behind her. When they reached the
country ruled over by the Emperor with the golden horse, the
Prince jumped down, and, helping the mermaid to alight, he led her
before the Emperor. At the sight of the beautiful mermaid and of
the grim wolf, who stuck close to the Prince this time, the guards
all made respectful obeisance, and soon the three stood before his
Imperial Majesty. When the Emperor heard from the Prince how he
had gained possession of his fair prize, he at once recognized
that he had been helped by some magic art, and on the spot gave up
all claim to the beautiful mermaid. 'Dear youth,' he said,
'forgive me for my shameful conduct to you, and, as a sign that
you pardon me, accept the golden horse as a present. I acknowledge
your power to be greater even than I can understand, for you have
succeeded in gaining possession of the golden mermaid, whom
hitherto no mortal has ever been able to approach.' Then they all
sat down to a huge feast, and the Prince had to relate his
adventures all over again, to the wonder and astonishment of the
But the Prince was wearying now to return to his own kingdom, so
as soon as the feast was over he took farewell of the Emperor, and
set out on his homeward way. He lifted the mermaid on to the
golden horse, and swung himself up behind her--and so they rode on
merrily, with the wolf trotting behind, till they came to the
country of the Emperor with the golden bird. The renown of the
Prince and his adventure had gone before him, and the Emperor sat
on his throne awaiting the arrival of the Prince and his
companions. When the three rode into the courtyard of the palace,
they were surprised and delighted to find everything festively
illuminated and decorated for their reception. When the Prince and
the golden mermaid, with the wolf behind them, mounted the steps
of the palace, the Emperor came forward to meet them, and led them
to the throne room. At the same moment a servant appeared with the
golden bird in its golden cage, and the Emperor begged the Prince
to accept it with his love, and to forgive him the indignity he
had suffered at his hands. Then the Emperor bent low before the
beautiful mermaid, and, offering her his arm, he led her into
dinner, closely followed by the Prince and her friend the wolf;
the latter seating himself at table, not the least embarrassed
that no one had invited him to do so.
As soon as the sumptuous meal was over, the Prince and his mermaid
took leave of the Emperor, and, seating themselves on the golden
horse, continued their homeward journey. On the way the wolf
turned to the Prince and said, 'Dear friends, I must now bid you
farewell, but I leave you under such happy circumstances that I
cannot feel our parting to be a sad one.' The Prince was very
unhappy when he heard these words, and begged the wolf to stay
with them always; but this the good creature refused to do, though
he thanked the Prince kindly for his invitation, and called out as
he disappeared into the thicket, 'Should any evil befall you, dear
Prince, at any time, you may rely on my friendship and gratitude.'
These were the wolf's parting words, and the Prince could not
restrain his tears when he saw his friend vanishing in the
distance; but one glance at his beloved mermaid soon cheered him
up again, and they continued on their journey merrily.
The news of his son's adventures had already reached his father's
Court, and everyone was more than astonished at the success of the
once despised Prince. His elder brothers, who had in vain gone in
pursuit of the thief of the golden apples, were furious over their
younger brother's good fortune, and plotted and planned how they
were to kill him. They hid themselves in the wood through which
the Prince had to pass on his way to the palace, and there fell on
him, and, having beaten him to death, they carried off the golden
horse and the golden bird. But nothing they could do would
persuade the golden mermaid to go with them or move from the spot,
for ever since she had left the sea, she had so attached herself
to her Prince that she asked nothing else than to live or die with
For many weeks the poor mermaid sat and watched over the dead body
of her lover, weeping salt tears over his loss, when suddenly one
day their old friend the wolf appeared and said, 'Cover the
Prince's body with all the leaves and flowers you can find in the
wood.' The maiden did as he told her, and then the wolf breathed
over the flowery grave, and, lo and behold! the Prince lay there
sleeping as peacefully as a child. 'Now you may wake him if you
like,' said the wolf, and the mermaid bent over him and gently
kissed the wounds his brothers had made on his forehead, and the
Prince awoke, and you may imagine how delighted he was to find his
beautiful mermaid beside him, though he felt a little depressed
when he thought of the loss of the golden bird and the golden
horse. After a time the wolf, who had likewise fallen on the
Prince's neck, advised them to continue their journey, and once
more the Prince and his lovely bride mounted on the faithful
The King's joy was great when he embraced his youngest son, for he
had long since despaired of his return. He received the wolf and
the beautiful golden mermaid most cordially too, and the Prince
was made to tell his adventures all over from the beginning. The
poor old father grew very sad when he heard of the shameful
conduct of his elder sons, and had them called before him. They
turned as white as death when they saw their brother, whom they
thought they had murdered, standing beside them alive and well,
and so startled were they that when the King asked them why they
had behaved so wickedly to their brother they could think of no
lie, but confessed at once that they had slain the young Prince in
order to obtain possession of the golden horse and the golden
bird. Their father's wrath knew no bounds, and he ordered them
both to be banished, but he could not do enough to honour his
youngest son, and his marriage with the beautiful mermaid was
celebrated with much pomp and magnificence. When the festivities
were over, the wolf bade them all farewell, and returned once more
to his life in the woods, much to the regret of the old King and
the young Prince and his bride.
And so ended the adventures of the Prince with his friend the
THE WAR OF THE WOLF AND THE FOX