Part 4 out of 7
promised him that they would grow into the three finest trees the
world had ever seen. My father did not live to see his words
come true; but on his death-bed he bade me transplant them here,
and to look after them with the greatest care, which I
accordingly did. At last, after the lapse of five long years, I
noticed some blossoms on the branches, and a few days later the
most exquisite fruit my eyes had ever seen.
'I gave my head-gardener the strictest orders to watch the trees
carefully, for the magician had warned my father that if one
unripe fruit were plucked from the tree, all the rest would
become rotten at once. When it was quite ripe the fruit would
become a golden yellow.
'Every day I gazed on the lovely fruit, which became gradually
more and more tempting-looking, and it was all I could do not to
break the magician's commands.
'One night I dreamt that the fruit was perfectly ripe; I ate some
of it, and it was more delicious than anything I had ever tasted
in real life. As soon as I awoke I sent for the gardener and
asked him if the fruit on the three trees had not ripened in the
night to perfection.
'But instead of replying, the gardener threw himself at my feet
and swore that he was innocent. He said that he had watched by
the trees all night, but in spite of it, and as if by magic, the
beautiful trees had been robbed of all their fruit.
'Grieved as I was over the theft, I did not punish the gardener,
of whose fidelity I was well assured, but I determined to pluck
off all the fruit in the following year before it was ripe, as I
had not much belief in the magician's warning.
'I carried out my intention, and had all the fruit picked off the
tree, but when I tasted one of the apples it was bitter and
unpleasant, and the next morning the rest of the fruit had all
'After this I had the beautiful fruit of these trees carefully
guarded by my most faithful servants; but every year, on this
very night, the fruit was plucked and stolen by an invisible
hand, and next morning not a single apple remained on the trees.
For some time past I have given up even having the trees
When the King had finished his story, Szabo, his eldest son, said
to him: 'Forgive me, father, if I say I think you are mistaken.
I am sure there are many men in your kingdom who could protect
these trees from the cunning arts of a thieving magician; I
myself, who as your eldest son claim the first right to do so,
will mount guard over the fruit this very night.'
The King consented, and as soon as evening drew on Szabo climbed
up on to one of the trees, determined to protect the fruit even
if it cost him his life. So he kept watch half the night; but a
little after midnight he was overcome by an irresistible
drowsiness, and fell fast asleep. He did not awake till it was
bright daylight, and all the fruit on the trees had vanished.
The following year Warza, the second brother, tried his luck, but
with the same result. Then it came to the turn of the third and
Iwanich was not the least discouraged by the failure of his elder
brothers, though they were both much older and stronger than he
was, and when night came climbed up the tree as they had done,
The moon had risen, and with her soft light lit up the whole
neighbourhood, so that the observant Prince could distinguish the
smallest object distinctly.
At midnight a gentle west wind shook the tree, and at the same
moment a snow-white swan-like bird sank down gently on his
breast. The Prince hastily seized the bird's wings in his hands,
when, lo! to his astonishment he found he was holding in his
arms not a bird but the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
'You need not fear Militza,' said the beautiful girl, looking at
the Prince with friendly eyes. 'An evil magician has not robbed
you of your fruit, but he stole the seed from my mother, and
thereby caused her death. When she was dying she bade me take
the fruit, which you have no right to possess, from the trees
every year as soon as it was ripe. This I would have done
to-night too, if you had not seized me with such force, and so
broken the spell I was under.'
Iwanich, who had been prepared to meet a terrible magician and
not a lovely girl, fell desperately in love with her. They spent
the rest of the night in pleasant conversation, and when Militza
wished to go away he begged her not to leave him.
'I would gladly stay with you longer,' said Militza, 'but a
wicked witch once cut off a lock of my hair when I was asleep,
which has put me in her power, and if morning were still to find
me here she would do me some harm, and you, too, perhaps.'
Having said these words, she drew a sparkling diamond ring from
her finger, which she handed to the Prince, saying: 'Keep this
ring in memory of Militza, and think of her sometimes if you
never see her again. But if your love is really true, come and
find me in my own kingdom. I may not show you the way there, but
this ring will guide you.
'If you have love and courage enough to undertake this journey,
whenever you come to a cross-road always look at this diamond
before you settle which way you are going to take. If it
sparkles as brightly as ever go straight on, but if its lustre is
dimmed choose another path.'
Then Militza bent over the Prince and kissed him on his forehead,
and before he had time to say a word she vanished through the
branches of the tree in a little white cloud.
Morning broke, and the Prince, still full of the wonderful
apparition, left his perch and returned to the palace like one in
a dream, without even knowing if the fruit had been taken or not;
for his whole mind was absorbed by thoughts of Militza and how he
was to find her.
As soon as the head-gardener saw the Prince going towards the
palace he ran to the trees, and when he saw them laden with ripe
fruit he hastened to tell the King the joyful news. The King was
beside himself for joy, and hurried at once to the garden and
made the gardener pick him some of the fruit. He tasted it, and
found the apple quite as luscious as it had been in his dream.
He went at once to his son Iwanich, and after embracing him
tenderly and heaping praises on him, he asked him how he had
succeeded in protecting the costly fruit from the power of the
This question placed Iwanich in a dilemma. But as he did not
want the real story to be known, he said that about midnight a
huge wasp had flown through the branches, and buzzed incessantly
round him. He had warded it off with his sword, and at dawn,
when he was becoming quite worn out, the wasp had vanished as
suddenly as it had appeared.
The King, who never doubted the truth of this tale, bade his son
go to rest at once and recover from the fatigues of the night;
but he himself went and ordered many feasts to be held in honour
of the preservation of the wonderful fruit.
The whole capital was in a stir, and everyone shared in the
King's joy; the Prince alone took no part in the festivities.
While the King was at a banquet, Iwanich took some purses of
gold, and mounting the quickest horse in the royal stable, he
sped off like the wind without a single soul being any the wiser.
It was only on the next day that they missed him; the King was
very distressed at his disappearance, and sent search-parties all
over the kingdom to look for him, but in vain; and after six
months they gave him up as dead, and in another six months they
had forgotten all about him. But in the meantime the Prince,
with the help of his ring, had had a most successful journey, and
no evil had befallen him.
At the end of three months he came to the entrance of a huge
forest, which looked as if it had never been trodden by human
foot before, and which seemed to stretch out indefinitely. The
Prince was about to enter the wood by a little path he had
discovered, when he heard a voice shouting to him: 'Hold, youth!
Whither are you going?'
Iwanich turned round, and saw a tall, gaunt-looking man, clad in
miserable rags, leaning on a crooked staff and seated at the foot
of an oak tree, which was so much the same colour as himself that
it was little wonder the Prince had ridden past the tree without
'Where else should I be going,' he said, 'than through the wood?'
'Through the wood?' said the old man in amazement. 'It's easily
seen that you have heard nothing of this forest, that you rush so
blindly to meet your doom. Well, listen to me before you ride
any further; let me tell you that this wood hides in its depths a
countless number of the fiercest tigers, hyenas, wolves, bears,
and snakes, and all sorts of other monsters. If I were to cut
you and your horse up into tiny morsels and throw them to the
beasts, there wouldn't be one bit for each hundred of them. Take
my advice, therefore, and if you wish to save your life follow
some other path.'
The Prince was rather taken aback by the old man's words, and
considered for a minute what he should do; then looking at his
ring, and perceiving that it sparkled as brightly as ever, he
called out: 'If this wood held even more terrible things than it
does, I cannot help myself, for I must go through it.'
Here he spurred his horse and rode on; but the old beggar
screamed so loudly after him that the Prince turned round and
rode back to the oak tree.
'I am really sorry for you,' said the beggar, 'but if you are
quite determined to brave the dangers of the forest, let me at
least give you a piece of advice which will help you against
'Take this bagful of bread-crumbs and this live hare. I will
make you a present of them both, as I am anxious to save your
life; but you must leave your horse behind you, for it would
stumble over the fallen trees or get entangled in the briers and
thorns. When you have gone about a hundred yards into the wood
the wild beasts will surround you. Then you must instantly seize
your bag, and scatter the bread-crumbs among them. They will
rush to eat them up greedily, and when you have scattered the
last crumb you must lose no time in throwing the hare to them; as
soon as the hare feels itself on the ground it will run away as
quickly as possible, and the wild beasts will turn to pursue it.
In this way you will be able to get through the wood unhurt.'
Iwanich thanked the old man for his counsel, dismounted from his
horse, and, taking the bag and the hare in his arms, he entered
the forest. He had hardly lost sight of his gaunt grey friend
when he heard growls and snarls in the thicket close to him, and
before he had time to think he found himself surrounded by the
most dreadful-looking creatures. On one side he saw the
glittering eye of a cruel tiger, on the other the gleaming teeth
of a great she-wolf; here a huge bear growled fiercely, and
there a horrible snake coiled itself in the grass at his feet.
But Iwanich did not forget the old man's advice, and quickly put
his hand into the bag and took out as many bread-crumbs as he
could hold in his hand at a time. He threw them to the beasts,
but soon the bag grew lighter and lighter, and the Prince began
to feel a little frightened. And now the last crumb was gone,
and the hungry beasts thronged round him, greedy for fresh prey.
Then he seized the hare and threw it to them.
No sooner did the little creature feel itself on the ground than
it lay back its ears and flew through the wood like an arrow from
a bow, closely pursued by the wild beasts, and the Prince was
left alone. He looked at his ring, and when he saw that it
sparkled as brightly as ever he went straight on through the
He hadn't gone very far when he saw a most extraordinary looking
man coming towards him. He was not more than three feet high,
his legs were quite crooked, and all his body was covered with
prickles like a hedgehog. Two lions walked with him, fastened to
his side by the two ends of his long beard.
He stopped the Prince and asked him in a harsh voice: 'Are you
the man who has just fed my body-guard?'
Iwanich was so startled that he could hardly reply, but the
little man continued: 'I am most grateful to you for your
kindness; what can I give you as a reward?'
'All I ask,' replied Iwanich, 'is, that I should be allowed to go
through this wood in safety.'
'Most certainly,' answered the little man; 'and for greater
security I will give you one of my lions as a protector. But
when you leave this wood and come near a palace which does not
belong to my domain, let the lion go, in order that he may not
fall into the hands of an enemy and be killed.'
With these words he loosened the lion from his beard and bade the
beast guard the youth carefully.
With this new protector Iwanich wandered on through the forest,
and though he came upon a great many more wolves, hyenas,
leopards, and other wild beasts, they always kept at a respectful
distance when they saw what sort of an escort the Prince had with
Iwanich hurried through the wood as quickly as his legs would
carry him, but, nevertheless, hour after hour went by and not a
trace of a green field or a human habitation met his eyes. At
length, towards evening, the mass of trees grew more transparent,
and through the interlaced branches a wide plain was visible.
At the exit of the wood the lion stood still, and the Prince took
leave of him, having first thanked him warmly for his kind
protection. It had become quite dark, and Iwanich was forced to
wait for daylight before continuing his journey.
He made himself a bed of grass and leaves, lit a fire of dry
branches, and slept soundly till the next morning.
Then he got up and walked towards a beautiful white palace which
he saw gleaming in the distance. In about an hour he reached the
building, and opening the door he walked in.
After wandering through many marble halls, he came to a huge
staircase made of porphyry, leading down to a lovely garden.
The Prince burst into a shout of joy when he suddenly perceived
Militza in the centre of a group of girls who were weaving
wreaths of flowers with which to deck their mistress.
As soon as Militza saw the Prince she ran up to him and embraced
him tenderly; and after he had told her all his adventures, they
went into the palace, where a sumptuous meal awaited them. Then
the Princess called her court together, and introduced Iwanich to
them as her future husband.
Preparations were at once made for the wedding, which was held
soon after with great pomp and magnificence.
Three months of great happiness followed, when Militza received
one day an invitation to visit her mother's sister.
Although the Princess was very unhappy at leaving her husband,
she did not like to refuse the invitation, and, promising to
return in seven days at the latest, she took a tender farewell of
the Prince, and said: 'Before I go I will hand you over all the
keys of the castle. Go everywhere and do anything you like; only
one thing I beg and beseech you, do not open the little iron door
in the north tower, which is closed with seven locks and seven
bolts; for if you do, we shall both suffer for it.'
Iwanich promised what she asked, and Militza departed, repeating
her promise to return in seven days.
When the Prince found himself alone he began to be tormented by
pangs of curiosity as to what the room in the tower contained.
For two days he resisted the temptation to go and look, but on
the third he could stand it no longer, and taking a torch in his
hand he hurried to the tower, and unfastened one lock after the
other of the little iron door until it burst open.
What an unexpected sight met his gaze! The Prince perceived a
small room black with smoke, lit up feebly by a fire from which
issued long blue flames. Over the fire hung a huge cauldron full
of boiling pitch, and fastened into the cauldron by iron chains
stood a wretched man screaming with agony.
Iwanich was much horrified at the sight before him, and asked the
man what terrible crime he had committed to be punished in this
'I will tell you everything,' said the man in the cauldron; 'but
first relieve my torments a little, I implore you.'
'And how can I do that?' asked the Prince.
'With a little water,' replied the man; 'only sprinkle a few
drops over me and I shall feel better.'
The Prince, moved by pity, without thinking what he was doing,
ran to the courtyard of the castle, and filled a jug with water,
which he poured over the man in the cauldron.
In a moment a most fearful crash was heard, as if all the pillars
of the palace were giving way, and the palace itself, with towers
and doors, windows and the cauldron, whirled round the bewildered
Prince's head. This continued for a few minutes, and then
everything vanished into thin air, and Iwanich found himself
suddenly alone upon a desolate heath covered with rocks and
The Prince, who now realised what his heedlessness had done,
cursed too late his spirit of curiosity. In his despair he
wandered on over the heath, never looking where he put his feet,
and full of sorrowful thoughts. At last he saw a light in the
distance, which came from a miserable-looking little hut.
The owner of it was none other than the kind-hearted gaunt grey
beggar who had given the Prince the bag of bread-crumbs and the
hare. Without recognising Iwanich, he opened the door when he
knocked and gave him shelter for the night.
On the following morning the Prince asked his host if he could
get him any work to do, as he was quite unknown in the
neighbourhood, and had not enough money to take him home.
'My son,' replied the old man, 'all this country round here is
uninhabited; I myself have to wander to distant villages for my
living, and even then I do not very often find enough to satisfy
my hunger. But if you would like to take service with the old
witch Corva, go straight up the little stream which flows below
my hut for about three hours, and you will come to a sand-hill on
the left-hand side; that is where she lives.'
Iwanich thanked the gaunt grey beggar for his information, and
went on his way.
After walking for about three hours the Prince came upon a
dreary-looking grey stone wall; this was the back of the building
and did not attract him; but when he came upon the front of the
house he found it even less inviting, for the old witch had
surrounded her dwelling with a fence of spikes, on every one of
which a man's skull was stuck. In this horrible enclosure stood
a small black house, which had only two grated windows, all
covered with cobwebs, and a battered iron door.
The Prince knocked, and a rasping woman's voice told him to
Iwanich opened the door, and found himself in a smoke-begrimed
kitchen, in the presence of a hideous old woman who was warming
her skinny hands at a fire. The Prince offered to become her
servant, and the old hag told him she was badly in want of one,
and he seemed to be just the person to suit her.
When Iwanich asked what his work, and how much his wages would
be, the witch bade him follow her, and led the way through a
narrow damp passage into a vault, which served as a stable. Here
he perceived two pitch-black horses in a stall.
'You see before you,' said the old woman, 'a mare and her foal;
you have nothing to do but to lead them out to the fields every
day, and to see that neither of them runs away from you. If you
look after them both for a whole year I will give you anything
you like to ask; but if, on the other hand, you let either of the
animals escape you, your last hour is come, and your head shall
be stuck on the last spike of my fence. The other spikes, as you
see, are already adorned, and the skulls are all those of
different servants I have had who have failed to do what I
Iwanich, who thought he could not be much worse off than he was
already, agreed to the witch's proposal.
At daybreak nest morning he drove his horses to the field, and
brought them back in the evening without their ever having
attempted to break away from him. The witch stood at her door
and received him kindly, and set a good meal before him.
So it continued for some time, and all went well with the Prince.
Early every morning he led the horses out to the fields, and
brought them home safe and sound in the evening.
One day, while he was watching the horses, he came to the banks
of a river, and saw a big fish, which through some mischance had
been cast on the land, struggling hard to get back into the
Iwanich, who felt sorry for the poor creature, seized it in his
arms and flung it into the stream. But no sooner did the fish
find itself in the water again, than, to the Prince's amazement,
it swam up to the bank and said:
'My kind benefactor, how can I reward you for your goodness?'
'I desire nothing,' answered the Prince. 'I am quite content to
have been able to be of some service to you.'
'You must do me the favour,' replied the fish, 'to take a scale
from my body, and keep it carefully. If you should ever need my
help, throw it into the river, and I will come to your aid at
Iwanich bowed, loosened a scale from the body of the grateful
beast, put it carefully away, and returned home.
A short time after this, when he was going early one morning to
the usual grazing place with his horses, he noticed a flock of
birds assembled together making a great noise and flying wildly
backwards and forwards.
Full of curiosity, Iwanich hurried up to the spot, and saw that a
large number of ravens had attacked an eagle, and although the
eagle was big and powerful and was making a brave fight, it was
overpowered at last by numbers, and had to give in.
But the Prince, who was sorry for the poor bird, seized the
branch of a tree and hit out at the ravens with it; terrified at
this unexpected onslaught they flew away, leaving many of their
number dead or wounded on the battlefield.
As soon as the eagle saw itself free from its tormentors it
plucked a feather from its wing, and, handing it to the Prince,
said: 'Here, my kind benefactor, take this feather as a proof of
my gratitude; should you ever be in need of my help blow this
feather into the air, and I will help you as much as is in my
Iwanich thanked the bird, and placing the feather beside the
scale he drove the horses home.
Another day he had wandered farther than usual, and came close to
a farmyard; the place pleased the Prince, and as there was plenty
of good grass for the horses he determined to spend the day
there. Just as he was sitting down under a tree he heard a cry
close to him, and saw a fox which had been caught in a trap
placed there by the farmer.
In vain did the poor beast try to free itself; then the
good-natured Prince came once more to the rescue, and let the fox
out of the trap.
The fox thanked him heartily, tore two hairs out of his bushy
tail, and said: 'Should you ever stand in need of my help throw
these two hairs into the fire, and in a moment I shall be at your
side ready to obey you.'
Iwanich put the fox's hairs with the scale and the feather, and
as it was getting dark he hastened home with his horses.
In the meantime his service was drawing near to an end, and in
three more days the year was up, and he would be able to get his
reward and leave the witch.
On the first evening of these last three days, when he came home
and was eating his supper, he noticed the old woman stealing into
The Prince followed her secretly to see what she was going to do.
He crouched down in the doorway and heard the wicked witch
telling the horses to wait next morning till Iwanich was asleep,
and then to go and hide themselves in the river, and to stay
there till she told them to return; and if they didn't do as she
told them the old woman threatened to beat them till they bled.
When Iwanich heard all this he went back to his room, determined
that nothing should induce him to fall asleep next day. On the
following morning he led the mare and foal to the fields as
usual, but bound a cord round them both which he kept in his
But after a few hours, by the magic arts of the old witch, he was
overpowered by sleep, and the mare and foal escaped and did as
they had been told to do. The Prince did not awake till late in
the evening; and when he did, he found, to his horror, that the
horses had disappeared. Filled with despair, he cursed the
moment when he had entered the service of the cruel witch, and
already he saw his head sticking up on the sharp spike beside the
Then he suddenly remembered the fish's scale, which, with the
eagle's feather and the fox's hairs, he always carried about with
him. He drew the scale from his pocket, and hurrying to the
river he threw it in. In a minute the grateful fish swam towards
the bank on which Iwanich was standing, and said: 'What do you
command, my friend and benefactor?'
The Prince replied: 'I had to look after a mare and foal, and
they have run away from me and have hidden themselves in the
river; if you wish to save my life drive them back to the land.'
'Wait a moment,' answered the fish, 'and I and my friends will
soon drive them out of the water.' With these words the creature
disappeared into the depths of the stream.
Almost immediately a rushing hissing sound was heard in the
waters, the waves dashed against the banks, the foam was tossed
into the air, and the two horses leapt suddenly on to the dry
land, trembling and shaking with fear.
Iwanich sprang at once on to the mare's back, seized the foal by
its bridle, and hastened home in the highest spirits.
When the witch saw the Prince bringing the horses home she could
hardly conceal her wrath, and as soon as she had placed Iwanich's
supper before him she stole away again to the stables. The
Prince followed her, and heard her scolding the beasts harshly
for not having hidden themselves better. She bade them wait next
morning till Iwanich was asleep and then to hide themselves in
the clouds, and to remain there till she called. If they did not
do as she told them she would beat them till they bled.
The next morning, after Iwanich had led his horses to the fields,
he fell once more into a magic sleep. The horses at once ran
away and hid themselves in the clouds, which hung down from the
mountains in soft billowy masses.
When the Prince awoke and found that both the mare and the foal
had disappeared, he bethought him at once of the eagle, and
taking the feather out of his pocket he blew it into the air.
In a moment the bird swooped down beside him and asked: 'What do
you wish me to do?'
'My mare and foal,' replied the Prince, 'have run away from me,
and have hidden themselves in the clouds; if you wish to save my
life, restore both animals to me.'
'Wait a minute,' answered the eagle; 'with the help of my friends
I will soon drive them back to you.'
With these words the bird flew up into the air and disappeared
among the clouds.
Almost directly Iwanich saw his two horses being driven towards
him by a host of eagles of all sizes. He caught the mare and
foal, and having thanked the eagle he drove them cheerfully home
The old witch was more disgusted than ever when she saw him
appearing, and having set his supper before him she stole into
the stables, and Iwanich heard her abusing the horses for not
having hidden themselves better in the clouds. Then she bade
them hide themselves next morning, as soon as Iwanich was asleep,
in the King's hen-house, which stood on a lonely part of the
heath, and to remain there till she called. If they failed to do
as she told them she would certainly beat them this time till
On the following morning the Prince drove his horses as usual to
the fields. After he had been overpowered by sleep, as on the
former days, the mare and foal ran away and hid themselves in the
royal hen house.
When the Prince awoke and found the horses gone he determined to
appeal to the fox; so, lighting a fire, he threw the two hairs
into it, and in a few moments the fox stood beside him and asked:
'In what way can I serve you?'
'I wish to know,' replied Iwanich, 'where the King's hen-house
'Hardly an hour's walk from here,' answered the fox, and offered
to show the Prince the way to it.
While they were walking along the fox asked him what he wanted to
do at the royal hen-house. The Prince told him of the misfortune
that had befallen him, and of the necessity of recovering the
mare and foal.
'That is no easy matter,' replied the fox. 'But wait a moment.
I have an idea. Stand at the door of the hen-house, and wait
there for your horses. In the meantime I will slip in among the
hens through a hole in the wall and give them a good chase, so
that the noise they make will arouse the royal henwives, and they
will come to see what is the matter. When they see the horses
they will at once imagine them to be the cause of the
disturbance, and will drive them out. Then you must lay hands on
the mare and foal and catch them.
All turned out exactly as the sly fox had foreseen. The Prince
swung himself on the mare, seized the foal by its bridle, and
While he was riding over the heath in the highest of spirits the
mare suddenly said to her rider: 'You are the first person who
has ever succeeded in outwitting the old witch Corva, and now you
may ask what reward you like for your service. If you promise
never to betray me I will give you a piece of advice which you
will do well to follow.'
The Prince promised never to betray her confidence, and the mare
continued: 'Ask nothing else as a reward than my foal, for it has
not its like in the world, and is not to be bought for love or
money; for it can go from one end of the earth to another in a
few minutes. Of course the cunning Corva will do her best to
dissuade you from taking the foal, and will tell you that it is
both idle and sickly; but do not believe her, and stick to your
Iwanich longed to possess such an animal, and promised the mare
to follow her advice.
This time Corva received him in the most friendly manner, and set
a sumptuous repast before him. As soon as he had finished she
asked him what reward he demanded for his year's service.
'Nothing more nor less,' replied the Prince, 'than the foal of
The witch pretended to be much astonished at his request, and
said that he deserved something much better than the foal, for
the beast was lazy and nervous, blind in one eye, and, in short,
was quite worthless.
But the Prince knew what he wanted, and when the old witch saw
that he had made up his mind to have the foal, she said, 'I am
obliged to keep my promise and to hand you over the foal; and as
I know who you are and what you want, I will tell you in what way
the animal will be useful to you. The man in the cauldron of
boiling pitch, whom you set free, is a mighty magician; through
your curiosity and thoughtlessness Militza came into his power,
and he has transported her and her castle and belongings into a
'You are the only person who can kill him; and in consequence he
fears you to such an extent that he has set spies to watch you,
and they report your movements to him daily.
'When you have reached him, beware of speaking a single word to
him, or you will fall into the power of his friends. Seize him
at once by the beard and dash him to the ground.'
Iwanich thanked the old witch, mounted his foal, put spurs to its
sides, and they flew like lightning through the air.
Already it was growing dark, when Iwanich perceived some figures
in the distance; they soon came up to them, and then the Prince
saw that it was the magician and his friends who were driving
through the air in a carriage drawn by owls.
When the magician found himself face to face with Iwanich,
without hope of escape, he turned to him with false friendliness
and said: 'Thrice my kind benefactor!'
But the Prince, without saying a word, seized him at once by his
beard and dashed him to the ground. At the same moment the foal
sprang on the top of the magician and kicked and stamped on him
with his hoofs till he died.
Then Iwanich found himself once more in the palace of his bride,
and Militza herself flew into his arms.
From this time forward they lived in undisturbed peace and
happiness till the end of their lives.
THE MAGIC RING
Once upon a time there lived an old couple who had one son called
Martin. Now when the old man's time had come, he stretched
himself out on his bed and died. Though all his life long he had
toiled and moiled, he only left his widow and son two hundred
florins. The old woman determined to put by the money for a
rainy day; but alas! the rainy day was close at hand, for their
meal was all consumed, and who is prepared to face starvation
with two hundred florins at their disposal? So the old woman
counted out a hundred of her florins, and giving them to Martin,
told him to go into the town and lay in a store of meal for a
So Martin started off for the town. When he reached the
meat-market he found the whole place in turmoil, and a great
noise of angry voices and barking of dogs. Mixing in the crowd,
he noticed a stag-hound which the butchers had caught and tied to
a post, and which was being flogged in a merciless manner.
Overcome with pity, Martin spoke to the butchers, saying:
'Friends, why are you beating the poor dog so cruelly?'
'We have every right to beat him,' they replied; 'he has just
devoured a newly-killed pig.'
'Leave off beating him,' said Martin, 'and sell him to me
'If you choose to buy him,' answered the butchers derisively;
'but for such a treasure we won't take a penny less than a
'A hundred!' exclaimed Martin. 'Well, so be it, if you will not
take less;' and, taking the money out of his pocket, he handed it
over in exchange for the dog, whose name was Schurka.
When Martin got home, his mother met him with the question:
'Well, what have you bought?'
'Schurka, the dog,' replied Martin, pointing to his new
possession. Whereupon his mother became very angry, and abused
him roundly. He ought to be ashamed of himself, when there was
scarcely a handful of meal in the house, to have spent the money
on a useless brute like that. On the following day she sent him
back to the town, saying, 'Here, take our last hundred florins,
and buy provisions with them. I have just emptied the last
grains of meal out of the chest, and baked a bannock; but it
won't last over to-morrow.'
Just as Martin was entering the town he met a rough-looking
peasant who was dragging a cat after him by a string which was
fastened round the poor beast's neck.
'Stop,' cried Martin; 'where are you dragging that poor cat?'
'I mean to drown him,' was the answer.
'What harm has the poor beast done?' said Martin.
'It has just killed a goose,' replied the peasant.
'Don't drown him, sell him to me instead,' begged Martin.
'Not for a hundred florins,' was the answer.
'Surely for a hundred florins you'll sell it?' said Martin.
'See! here is the money;' and, so saying, he handed him the
hundred florins, which the peasant pocketed, and Martin took
possession of the cat, which was called Waska.
When he reached his home his mother greeted him with the
'Well, what have you brought back?'
'I have brought this cat, Waska,' answered Martin.
'And what besides?'
'I had no money over to buy anything else with,' replied Martin.
'You useless ne'er-do-weel!' exclaimed his mother in a great
passion. 'Leave the house at once, and go and beg your bread
among strangers;' and as Martin did not dare to contradict her,
he called Schurka and Waska and started off with them to the
nearest village in search of work. On the way he met a rich
peasant, who asked him where he was going.
'I want to get work as a day labourer,' he answered.
'Come along with me, then. But I must tell you I engage my
labourers without wages. If you serve me faithfully for a year,
I promise you it shall be for your advantage.'
So Martin consented, and for a year he worked diligently, and
served his master faithfully, not sparing himself in any way.
When the day of reckoning had come the peasant led him into a
barn, and pointing to two full sacks, said: 'Take whichever of
these you choose.'
Martin examined the contents of the sacks, and seeing that one
was full of silver and the other of sand, he said to himself:
'There must be some trick about this; I had better take the
sand.' And throwing the sack over his shoulders he started out
into the world, in search of fresh work. On and on he walked,
and at last he reached a great gloomy wood. In the middle of the
wood he came upon a meadow, where a fire was burning, and in the
midst of the fire, surrounded by flames, was a lovely damsel,
more beautiful than anything that Martin had ever seen, and when
she saw him she called to him:
'Martin, if you would win happiness, save my life. Extinguish
the flames with the sand that you earned in payment of your
'Truly,' thought Martin to himself, 'it would be more sensible to
save a fellow-being's life with this sand than to drag it about
on one's back, seeing what a weight it is.' And forthwith he
lowered the sack from his shoulders and emptied its contents on
the flames, and instantly the fire was extinguished; but at the
same moment lo! and behold the lovely damsel turned into a
Serpent, and, darting upon him, coiled itself round his neck, and
whispered lovingly in his ear:
'Do not be afraid of me, Martin; I love you, and will go with you
through the world. But first you must follow me boldly into my
Father's Kingdom, underneath the earth; and when we get there,
remember this--he will offer you gold and silver, and dazzling
gems, but do not touch them. Ask him, instead, for the ring
which he wears on his little finger, for in that ring lies a
magic power; you have only to throw it from one hand to the
other, and at once twelve young men will appear, who will do your
bidding, no matter how difficult, in a single night.'
So they started on their way, and after much wandering they
reached a spot where a great rock rose straight up in the middle
of the road. Instantly the Serpent uncoiled itself from his
neck, and, as it touched the damp earth, it resumed the shape of
the lovely damsel. Pointing to the rock, she showed him an
opening just big enough for a man to wriggle through. Passing
into it, they entered a long underground passage, which led out
on to a wide field, above which spread a blue sky. In the middle
of the field stood a magnificent castle, built out of porphyry,
with a roof of gold and with glittering battlements. And his
beautiful guide told him that this was the palace in which her
father lived and reigned over his kingdom in the Under-world.
Together they entered the palace, and were received by the King
with great kindness. Turning to his daughter, he said:
'My child, I had almost given up the hope of ever seeing you
again. Where have you been all these years?'
'My father,' she replied, 'I owe my life to this youth, who saved
me from a terrible death.'
Upon which the King turned to Martin with a gracious smile,
saying: 'I will reward your courage by granting you whatever your
heart desires. Take as much gold, silver, and precious stones as
'I thank you, mighty King, for your gracious offer,' answered
Martin,' 'but I do not covet either gold, silver, or precious
stones; yet if you will grant me a favour, give me, I beg, the
ring from off the little finger of your royal hand. Every time
my eye falls on it I shall think of your gracious Majesty, and
when I marry I shall present it to my bride.'
So the King took the ring from his finger and gave it to Martin,
saying: 'Take it, good youth; but with it I make one condition--
you are never to confide to anyone that this is a magic ring. If
you do, you will straightway bring misfortune on yourself.'
Martin took the ring, and, having thanked the King, he set out on
the same road by which he had come down into the Under-world.
When he had regained the upper air he started for his old home,
and having found his mother still living in the old house where
he had left her, they settled down together very happily. So
uneventful was their life that it almost seemed as if it would go
on in this way always, without let or hindrance. But one day it
suddenly came into his mind that he would like to get married,
and, moreover, that he would choose a very grand wife--a King's
daughter, in short. But as he did not trust himself as a wooer,
he determined to send his old mother on the mission.
'You must go to the King,' he said to her, 'and demand the hand
of his lovely daughter in marriage for me.'
'What are you thinking of, my son?' answered the old woman,
aghast at the idea. 'Why cannot you marry someone in your own
rank? That would be far more fitting than to send a poor old
woman like me a-wooing to the King's Court for the hand of a
Princess. Why, it is as much as our heads are worth. Neither my
life nor yours would be worth anything if I went on such a fool's
'Never fear, little mother,' answered Martin. 'Trust me; all
will be well. But see that you do not come back without an
answer of some kind.'
And so, obedient to her son's behest, the old woman hobbled off
to the palace, and, without being hindered, reached the
courtyard, and began to mount the flight of steps leading to the
royal presence chamber. At the head of the landing rows of
courtiers were collected in magnificent attire, who stared at the
queer old figure, and called to her, and explained to her, with
every kind of sign, that it was strictly forbidden to mount those
steps. But their stern words and forbidding gestures made no
impression whatever on the old woman, and she resolutely
continued to climb the stairs, bent on carrying out her son's
orders. Upon this some of the courtiers seized her by the arms,
and held her back by sheer force, at which she set up such a yell
that the King himself heard it, and stepped out on to the balcony
to see what was the matter. When he beheld the old woman
flinging her arms wildly about, and heard her scream that she
would not leave the place till she had laid her case before the
King, he ordered that she should be brought into his presence.
And forthwith she was conducted into the golden presence chamber,
where, leaning back amongst cushions of royal purple, the King
sat, surrounded by his counsellors and courtiers. Courtesying
low, the old woman stood silent before him. 'Well, my good old
dame, what can I do for you?' asked the King.
'I have come,' replied Martin's mother--'and your Majesty must
not be angry with me--I have come a-wooing.'
'Is the woman out of her mind?' said the King, with an angry
But Martin's mother answered boldly: 'If the King will only
listen patiently to me, and give me a straightforward answer, he
will see that I am not out of my mind. You, O King, have a
lovely daughter to give in marriage. I have a son--a wooer--as
clever a youth and as good a son-in-law as you will find in your
whole kingdom. There is nothing that he cannot do. Now tell me,
O King, plump and plain, will you give your daughter to my son as
wife?' The King listened to the end of the old woman's strange
request, but every moment his face grew blacker, and his features
sterner; till all at once he thought to himself, 'Is it worth
while that I, the King, should be angry with this poor old fool?'
And all the courtiers and counsellors were amazed when they saw
the hard lines round his mouth and the frown on his brow grow
smooth, and heard the mild but mocking tones in which he answered
the old woman, saying:
'If your son is as wonderfully clever as you say, and if there is
nothing in the world that he cannot do, let him build a
magnificent castle, just opposite my palace windows, in four and
twenty hours. The palace must be joined together by a bridge of
pure crystal. On each side of the bridge there must be growing
trees, having golden and silver apples, and with birds of
Paradise among the branches. At the right of the bridge there
must be a church, with five golden cupolas; in this church your
son shall be wedded to my daughter, and we will keep the wedding
festivities in the new castle. But if he fails to execute this
my royal command, then, as a just but mild monarch, I shall give
orders that you and he are taken, and first dipped in tar and
then in feathers, and you shall be executed in the market-place
for the entertainment of my courtiers.'
And a smile played round the King's lips as he finished speaking,
and his courtiers and counsellors shook with laughter when they
thought of the old woman's folly, and praised the King's wise
device, and said to each other, 'What a joke it will be when we
see the pair of them tarred and feathered! The son is just as
able to grow a beard on the palm of his hand as to execute such a
task in twenty-four hours.'
Now the poor old woman was mortally afraid and, in a trembling
voice she asked:
'Is that really your royal will, O King? Must I take this order
to my poor son?'
'Yes, old dame; such is my command. If your son carries out my
order, he shall be rewarded with my daughter; but if he fails,
away to the tar-barrel and the stake with you both!'
On her way home the poor old woman shed bitter tears, and when
she saw Martin she told him what the King had said, and sobbed
'Didn't I tell you, my son, that you should marry someone of your
own rank? It would have been better for us this day if you had.
As I told you, my going to Court has been as much as our lives
are worth, and now we will both be tarred and feathered, and
burnt in the public market-place. It is terrible!' and she
moaned and cried.
'Never fear, little mother,' answered Martin; 'trust me, and you
will see all will be well. You may go to sleep with a quiet
And, stepping to the front of the hut, Martin threw his ring from
the palm of one hand into the other, upon which twelve youths
instantly appeared, and demanded what he wanted them to do. Then
he told them the King's commands, and they answered that by next
morning all should be accomplished exactly as the King had
Next morning when the King awoke, and looked out of his window,
to his amazement he beheld a magnificent castle, just opposite
his own palace, and joined to it a bridge of pure crystal.
At each side of the bridge trees were growing, from whose
branches hung golden and silver apples, among which birds of
Paradise perched. At the right, gleaming in the sun, were the
five golden cupolas of a splendid church, whose bells rang out,
as if they would summon people from all corners of the earth to
come and behold the wonder. Now, though the King would much
rather have seen his future son-in-law tarred, feathered, and
burnt at the stake, he remembered his royal oath, and had to make
the best of a bad business. So he took heart of grace, and made
Martin a Duke, and gave his daughter a rich dowry, and prepared
the grandest wedding-feast that had ever been seen, so that to
this day the old people in the country still talk of it.
After the wedding Martin and his royal bride went to dwell in the
magnificent new palace, and here Martin lived in the greatest
comfort and luxury, such luxury as he had never imagined. But
though he was as happy as the day was long, and as merry as a
grig, the King's daughter fretted all day, thinking of the
indignity that had been done her in making her marry Martin, the
poor widow's son, instead of a rich young Prince from a foreign
country. So unhappy was she that she spent all her time
wondering how she should get rid of her undesirable husband. And
first she determined to learn the secret of his power, and, with
flattering, caressing words, she tried to coax him to tell her
how he was so clever that there was nothing in the world that he
could not do. At first he would tell her nothing; but once, when
he was in a yielding mood, she approached him with a winning
smile on her lovely face, and, speaking flattering words to him,
she gave him a potion to drink, with a sweet, strong taste. And
when he had drunk it Martin's lips were unsealed, and he told her
that all his power lay in the magic ring that he wore on his
finger, and he described to her how to use it, and, still
speaking, he fell into a deep sleep. And when she saw that the
potion had worked, and that he was sound asleep, the Princess
took the magic ring from his finger, and, going into the
courtyard, she threw it from the palm of one hand into the other.
On the instant the twelve youths appeared, and asked her what she
commanded them to do. Then she told them that by the next
morning they were to do away with the castle, and the bridge, and
the church, and put in their stead the humble hut in which Martin
used to live with his mother, and that while he slept her husband
was to be carried to his old lowly room; and that they were to
bear her away to the utmost ends of the earth, where an old King
lived who would make her welcome in his palace, and surround her
with the state that befitted a royal Princess.
'You shall be obeyed,' answered the twelve youths at the same
moment. And lo and behold! the following morning, when the King
awoke and looked out of his window he beheld to his amazement
that the palace, bridge, church, and trees had all vanished, and
there was nothing in their place but a bare, miserable-looking
Immediately the King sent for his son-in-law, and commanded him
to explain what had happened. But Martin looked at his royal
father-in-law, and answered never a word. Then the King was very
angry, and, calling a council together, he charged Martin with
having been guilty of witchcraft, and of having deceived the
King, and having made away with the Princess; and he was
condemned to imprisonment in a high stone tower, with neither
meat nor drink, till he should die of starvation.
Then, in the hour of his dire necessity, his old friends Schurka
(the dog) and Waska (the cat) remembered how Martin had once
saved them from a cruel death; and they took counsel together as
to how they should help him. And Schurka growled, and was of
opinion that he would like to tear everyone in pieces; but Waska
purred meditatively, and scratched the back of her ear with a
velvet paw, and remained lost in thought. At the end of a few
minutes she had made up her mind, and, turning to Schurka, said:
'Let us go together into the town, and the moment we meet a baker
you must make a rush between his legs and upset the tray from off
his head; I will lay hold of the rolls, and will carry them off
to our master.' No sooner said than done. Together the two
faithful creatures trotted off into the town, and very soon they
met a baker bearing a tray on his head, and looking round on all
sides, while he cried:
'Fresh rolls, sweet cake,
Fancy bread of every kind.
Come and buy, come and take,
Sure you'll find it to your mind,'
At that moment Schurka made a rush between his legs--the baker
stumbled, the tray was upset, the rolls fell to the ground, and,
while the man angrily pursued Schurka, Waska managed to drag the
rolls out of sight behind a bush. And when a moment later
Schurka joined her, they set off at full tilt to the stone tower
where Martin was a prisoner, taking the rolls with them. Waska,
being very agile, climbed up by the outside to the grated window,
and called in an anxious voice:
'Are you alive, master?'
'Scarcely alive--almost starved to death,' answered Martin in a
weak voice. 'I little thought it would come to this, that I
should die of hunger.'
'Never fear, dear master. Schurka and I will look after you,'
said Waska. And in another moment she had climbed down and
brought him back a roll, and then another, and another, till she
had brought him the whole tray-load. Upon which she said: 'Dear
master, Schurka and I are going off to a distant kingdom at the
utmost ends of the earth to fetch you back your magic ring. You
must be careful that the rolls last till our return.'
And Waska took leave of her beloved master, and set off with
Schurka on their journey. On and on they travelled, looking
always to right and left for traces of the Princess, following up
every track, making inquiries of every cat and dog they met,
listening to the talk of every wayfarer they passed; and at last
they heard that the kingdom at the utmost ends of the earth where
the twelve youths had borne the Princess was not very far off.
And at last one day they reached that distant kingdom, and, going
at once to the palace, they began to make friends with all the
dogs and cats in the place, and to question them about the
Princess and the magic ring; but no one could tell them much
about either. Now one day it chanced that Waska had gone down to
the palace cellar to hunt for mice and rats, and seeing an
especially fat, well-fed mouse, she pounced upon it, buried her
claws in its soft fur, and was just going to gobble it up, when
she was stopped by the pleading tones of the little creature,
saying, 'If you will only spare my life I may be of great service
to you. I will do everything in my power for you; for I am the
King of the Mice, and if I perish the whole race will die out.'
'So be it,' said Waska. 'I will spare your life; but in return
you must do something for me. In this castle there lives a
Princess, the wicked wife of my dear master. She has stolen away
his magic ring. You must get it away from her at whatever cost;
do you hear? Till you have done this I won't take my claws out
of your fur.'
'Good!' replied the mouse; 'I will do what you ask.' And, so
saying, he summoned all the mice in his kingdom together. A
countless number of mice, small and big, brown and grey,
assembled, and formed a circle round their king, who was a
prisoner under Waska's claws. Turning to them he said: 'Dear and
faithful subjects, who ever among you will steal the magic ring
from the strange Princess will release me from a cruel death; and
I shall honour him above all the other mice in the kingdom.'
Instantly a tiny mouse stepped forward and said: 'I often creep
about the Princess's bedroom at night, and I have noticed that
she has a ring which she treasures as the apple of her eye. All
day she wears it on her finger, and at night she keeps it in her
mouth. I will undertake, sire, to steal away the ring for you.'
And the tiny mouse tripped away into the bedroom of the Princess,
and waited for nightfall; then, when the Princess had fallen
asleep, it crept up on to her bed, and gnawed a hole in the
pillow, through which it dragged one by one little down feathers,
and threw them under the Princess's nose. And the fluff flew
into the Princess's nose, and into her mouth, and starting up she
sneezed and coughed, and the ring fell out of her mouth on to the
coverlet. In a flash the tiny mouse had seized it, and brought
it to Waska as a ransom for the King of the Mice. Thereupon
Waska and Schurka started off, and travelled night and day till
they reached the stone tower where Martin was imprisoned; and the
cat climbed up the window, and called out to him:
'Martin, dear master, are you still alive?'
'Ah! Waska, my faithful little cat, is that you?' replied a weak
voice. 'I am dying of hunger. For three days I have not tasted
'Be of good heart, dear master,' replied Waska; 'from this day
forth you will know nothing but happiness and prosperity. If
this were a moment to trouble you with riddles, I would make you
guess what Schurka and I have brought you back. Only think, we
have got you your ring!'
At these words Martin's joy knew no bounds, and he stroked her
fondly, and she rubbed up against him and purred happily, while
below Schurka bounded in the air, and barked joyfully. Then
Martin took the ring, and threw it from one hand into the other,
and instantly the twelve youths appeared and asked what they were
'Fetch me first something to eat and drink, as quickly as
possible; and after that bring musicians hither, and let us have
music all day long.'
Now when the people in the town and palace heard music coming
from the tower they were filled with amazement, and came to the
King with the news that witchcraft must be going on in Martin's
Tower, for, instead of dying of starvation, he was seemingly
making merry to the sound of music, and to the clatter of plates,
and glass, and knives and forks; and the music was so
enchantingly sweet that all the passers-by stood still to listen
to it. On this the King sent at once a messenger to the
Starvation Tower, and he was so astonished with what he saw that
he remained rooted to the spot. Then the King sent his chief
counsellors, and they too were transfixed with wonder. At last
the King came himself, and he likewise was spellbound by the
beauty of the music.
Then Martin summoned the twelve youths, spoke to them, saying,
'Build up my castle again, and join it to the King's Palace with
a crystal bridge; do not forget the trees with the golden and
silver apples, and with the birds of Paradise in the branches;
and put back the church with the five cupolas, and let the bells
ring out, summoning the people from the four corners of the
kingdom. And one thing more: bring back my faithless wife, and
lead her into the women's chamber.'
And it was all done as he commanded, and, leaving the Starvation
Tower, he took the King, his father-in-law, by the arm, and led
him into the new palace, where the Princess sat in fear and
trembling, awaiting her death. And Martin spoke to the King,
saying, 'King and royal father, I have suffered much at the hands
of your daughter. What punishment shall be dealt to her?'
Then the mild King answered: 'Beloved Prince and son-in-law, if
you love me, let your anger be turned to grace--forgive my
daughter, and restore her to your heart and favour.'
And Martin's heart was softened and he forgave his wife, and they
lived happily together ever after. And his old mother came and
lived with him, and he never parted with Schurka and Waska; and I
need hardly tell you that he never again let the ring out of his
THE FLOWER QUEEN'S DAUGHTER
 From the Bukowinaer. Von Wliolocki.
A young Prince was riding one day through a meadow that stretched
for miles in front of him, when he came to a deep open ditch. He
was turning aside to avoid it, when he heard the sound of someone
crying in the ditch. He dismounted from his horse, and stepped
along in the direction the sound came from. To his astonishment
he found an old woman, who begged him to help her out of the
ditch. The Prince bent down and lifted her out of her living
grave, asking her at the same time how she had managed to get
'My son,' answered the old woman, 'I am a very poor woman, and
soon after midnight I set out for the neighbouring town in order
to sell my eggs in the market on the following morning; but I
lost my way in the dark, and fell into this deep ditch, where I
might have remained for ever but for your kindness.'
Then the Prince said to her, 'You can hardly walk; I will put you
on my horse and lead you home. Where do you live?'
'Over there, at the edge of the forest in the little hut you see
in the distance,' replied the old woman.
The Prince lifted her on to his horse, and soon they reached the
hut, where the old woman got down, and turning to the Prince
said, 'Just wait a moment, and I will give you something.' And
she disappeared into her hut, but returned very soon and said,
'You are a mighty Prince, but at the same time you have a kind
heart, which deserves to be rewarded. Would you like to have the
most beautiful woman in the world for your wife?'
'Most certainly I would,' replied the Prince.
So the old woman continued, 'The most beautiful woman in the
whole world is the daughter of the Queen of the Flowers, who has
been captured by a dragon. If you wish to marry her, you must
first set her free, and this I will help you to do. I will give
you this little bell: if you ring it once, the King of the Eagles
will appear; if you ring it twice, the King of the Foxes will
come to you; and if you ring it three times, you will see the
King of the Fishes by your side. These will help you if you are
in any difficulty. Now farewell, and heaven prosper your
undertaking.' She handed him the little bell, and there
disappeared hut and all, as though the earth had swallowed her
Then it dawned on the Prince that he had been speaking to a good
fairy, and putting the little bell carefully in his pocket, he
rode home and told his father that he meant to set the daughter
of the Flower Queen free, and intended setting out on the
following day into the wide world in search of the maid.
So the next morning the Prince mounted his fine horse and left
his home. He had roamed round the world for a whole year, and
his horse had died of exhaustion, while he himself had suffered
much from want and misery, but still he had come on no trace of
her he was in search of. At last one day he came to a hut, in
front of which sat a very old man. The Prince asked him, 'Do you
not know where the Dragon lives who keeps the daughter of the
Flower Queen prisoner?'
'No, I do not,' answered the old man. 'But if you go straight
along this road for a year, you will reach a hut where my father
lives, and possibly he may be able to tell you.'
The Prince thanked him for his information, and continued his
journey for a whole year along the same road, and at the end of
it came to the little hut, where he found a very old man. He
asked him the same question, and the old man answered, 'No, I do
not know where the Dragon lives. But go straight along this road
for another year, and you will come to a hut in which my father
lives. I know he can tell you.'
And so the Prince wandered on for another year, always on the
same road, and at last reached the hut where he found the third
old man. He put the same question to him as he had put to his
son and grandson; but this time the old man answered, 'The Dragon
lives up there on the mountain, and he has just begun his year of
sleep. For one whole year he is always awake, and the next he
sleeps. But if you wish to see the Flower Queen's daughter go up
the second mountain: the Dragon's old mother lives there, and she
has a ball every night, to which the Flower Queen's daughter goes
So the Prince went up the second mountain, where he found a
castle all made of gold with diamond windows. He opened the big
gate leading into the courtyard, and was just going to walk in,
when seven dragons rushed on him and asked him what he wanted?
The Prince replied, 'I have heard so much of the beauty and
kindness of the Dragon's Mother, and would like to enter her
This flattering speech pleased the dragons, and the eldest of
them said, 'Well, you may come with me, and I will take you to
the Mother Dragon.'
They entered the castle and walked through twelve splendid halls,
all made of gold and diamonds. In the twelfth room they found
the Mother Dragon seated on a diamond throne. She was the
ugliest woman under the sun, and, added to it all, she had three
heads. Her appearance was a great shock to the Prince, and so
was her voice, which was like the croaking of many ravens. She
asked him, 'Why have you come here?'
The Prince answered at once, 'I have heard so much of your beauty
and kindness, that I would very much like to enter your service.'
'Very well,' said the Mother Dragon; 'but if you wish to enter my
service, you must first lead my mare out to the meadow and look
after her for three days; but if you don't bring her home safely
every evening, we will eat you up.'
The Prince undertook the task and led the mare out to the meadow.
But no sooner had they reached the grass than she vanished. The
Prince sought for her in vain, and at last in despair sat down on
a big stone and contemplated his sad fate. As he sat thus lost
in thought, he noticed an eagle flying over his head. Then he
suddenly bethought him of his little bell, and taking it out of
his pocket he rang it once. In a moment he heard a rustling
sound in the air beside him, and the King of the Eagles sank at
'I know what you want of me,' the bird said. 'You are looking
for the Mother Dragon's mare who is galloping about among the
clouds. I will summon all the eagles of the air together, and
order them to catch the mare and bring her to you.' And with
these words the King of the Eagles flew away. Towards evening
the Prince heard a mighty rushing sound in the air, and when he
looked up he saw thousands of eagles driving the mare before
them. They sank at his feet on to the ground and gave the mare
over to him. Then the Prince rode home to the old Mother Dragon,
who was full of wonder when she saw him, and said, 'You have
succeeded to-day in looking after my mare, and as a reward you
shall come to my ball to-night.' She gave him at the same time a
cloak made of copper, and led him to a big room where several
young he-dragons and she-dragons were dancing together. Here,
too, was the Flower Queen's beautiful daughter. Her dress was
woven out of the most lovely flowers in the world, and her
complexion was like lilies and roses. As the Prince was dancing
with her he managed to whisper in her ear, 'I have come to set
Then the beautiful girl said to him, 'If you succeed in bringing
the mare back safely the third day, ask the Mother Dragon to give
you a foal of the mare as a reward.'
The ball came to an end at midnight, and early next morning the
Prince again led the Mother Dragon's mare out into the meadow.
But again she vanished before his eyes. Then he took out his
little bell and rang it twice.
In a moment the King of the Foxes stood before him and said: 'I
know already what you want, and will summon all the foxes of the
world together to find the mare who has hidden herself in a
With these words the King of the Foxes disappeared, and in the
evening many thousand foxes brought the mare to the Prince.
Then he rode home to the Mother-Dragon, from whom he received
this time a cloak made of silver, and again she led him to the
The Flower Queen's daughter was delighted to see him safe and
sound, and when they were dancing together she whispered in his
ear: 'If you succeed again to-morrow, wait for me with the foal
in the meadow. After the ball we will fly away together.'
On the third day the Prince led the mare to the meadow again; but
once more she vanished before his eyes. Then the Prince took out
his little bell and rang it three times.
In a moment the King of the Fishes appeared, and said to him: 'I
know quite well what you want me to do, and I will summon all the
fishes of the sea together, and tell them to bring you back the
mare, who is hiding herself in a river.'
Towards evening the mare was returned to him, and when he led her
home to the Mother Dragon she said to him:
'You are a brave youth, and I will make you my body-servant. But
what shall I give you as a reward to begin with?'
The Prince begged for a foal of the mare, which the Mother Dragon
at once gave him, and over and above, a cloak made of gold, for
she had fallen in love with him because he had praised her
So in the evening he appeared at the ball in his golden cloak;
but before the entertainment was over he slipped away, and went
straight to the stables, where he mounted his foal and rode out
into the meadow to wait for the Flower Queen's daughter. Towards
midnight the beautiful girl appeared, and placing her in front of
him on his horse, the Prince and she flew like the wind till they
reached the Flower Queen's dwelling. But the dragons had noticed
their flight, and woke their brother out of his year's sleep. He
flew into a terrible rage when he heard what had happened, and
determined to lay siege to the Flower Queen's palace; but the
Queen caused a forest of flowers as high as the sky to grow up
round her dwelling, through which no one could force a way.
When the Flower Queen heard that her daughter wanted to marry the
Prince, she said to him: 'I will give my consent to your marriage
gladly, but my daughter can only stay with you in summer. In
winter, when everything is dead and the ground covered with snow,
she must come and live with me in my palace underground.' The
Prince consented to this, and led his beautiful bride home, where
the wedding was held with great pomp and magnificence. The young
couple lived happily together till winter came, when the Flower
Queen's daughter departed and went home to her mother. In summer
she returned to her husband, and their life of joy and happiness
began again, and lasted till the approach of winter, when the
Flower Queen's daughter went back again to her mother. This
coming and going continued all her life long, and in spite of it
they always lived happily together.
THE FLYING SHIP
 From the Russian.
Once upon a time there lived an old couple who had three sons;
the two elder were clever, but the third was a regular dunce.
The clever sons were very fond of their mother, gave her good
clothes, and always spoke pleasantly to her; but the youngest was
always getting in her way, and she had no patience with him.
Now, one day it was announced in the village that the King had
issued a decree, offering his daughter, the Princess, in marriage
to whoever should build a ship that could fly. Immediately the
two elder brothers determined to try their luck, and asked their
parents' blessing. So the old mother smartened up their clothes,
and gave them a store of provisions for their journey, not
forgetting to add a bottle of brandy. When they had gone the
poor Simpleton began to tease his mother to smarten him up and
let him start off.
'What would become of a dolt like you?' she answered. 'Why, you
would be eaten up by wolves.'
But the foolish youth kept repeating, 'I will go, I will go, I
Seeing that she could do nothing with him, the mother gave him a
crust of bread and a bottle of water, and took no further heed of
So the Simpleton set off on his way. When he had gone a short
distance he met a little old manikin. They greeted one another,
and the manikin asked him where he was going.
'I am off to the King's Court,' he answered. 'He has promised to
give his daughter to whoever can make a flying ship.'
'And can you make such a ship?'
'Then why in the world are you going?'
'Can't tell,' replied the Simpleton.
'Well, if that is the case,' said the manikin, 'sit down beside
me; we can rest for a little and have something to eat. Give me
what you have got in your satchel.'
Now, the poor Simpleton was ashamed to show what was in it.
However, he thought it best not to make a fuss, so he opened the
satchel, and could scarcely believe his own eyes, for, instead of
the hard crust, he saw two beautiful fresh rolls and some cold
meat. He shared them with the manikin, who licked his lips and
'Now, go into that wood, and stop in front of the first tree, bow
three times, and then strike the tree with your axe, fall on your
knees on the ground, with your face on the earth, and remain
there till you are raised up. You will then find a ship at your
side, step into it and fly to the King's Palace. If you meet
anyone on the way, take him with you.'
The Simpleton thanked the manikin very kindly, bade him farewell,
and went into the road. When he got to the first tree he stopped
in front of it, did everything just as he had been told, and,
kneeling on the ground with his face to the earth, fell asleep.
After a little time he was aroused; he awoke and, rubbing his
eyes, saw a ready-made ship at his side, and at once got into it.
And the ship rose and rose, and in another minute was flying
through the air, when the Simpleton, who was on the look out,
cast his eyes down to the earth and saw a man beneath him on the
road, who was kneeling with his ear upon the damp ground.
'Hallo!' he called out, 'what are you doing down there?'
'I am listening to what is going on in the world,' replied the
'Come with me in my ship,' said the Simpleton.
So the man was only too glad, and got in beside him; and the ship
flew, and flew, and flew through the air, till again from his
outlook the Simpleton saw a man on the road below, who was
hopping on one leg, while his other leg was tied up behind his
ear. So he hailed him, calling out:
'Hallo! what are you doing, hopping on one leg?'
'I can't help it,' replied the man. 'I walk so fast that unless
I tied up one leg I should be at the end of the earth in a
'Come with us on my ship,' he answered; and the man made no
objections, but joined them; and the ship flew on, and on, and
on, till suddenly the Simpleton, looking down on the road below,
beheld a man aiming with a gun into the distance.
'Hallo!' he shouted to him, 'what are you aiming at? As far as
eye can see, there is no bird in sight.'
'What would be the good of my taking a near shot?' replied the
man; 'I can hit beast or bird at a hundred miles' distance. That
is the kind of shot I enjoy.'
'Come into the ship with us,' answered the Simpleton; and the man
was only too glad to join them, and he got in; and the ship flew
on, farther and farther, till again the Simpleton from his
outlook saw a man on the road below, carrying on his back a
basket full of bread. And he waved to him, calling out:
'Hallo! where are you going?'
'To fetch bread for my breakfast.'
'Bread? Why, you have got a whole basket-load of it on your
'That's nothing,' answered the man; 'I should finish that in one
'Come along with us in my ship, then.'
And so the glutton joined the party, and the ship mounted again
into the air, and flew up and onward, till the Simpleton from his
outlook saw a man walking by the shore of a great lake, and
evidently looking for something.
'Hallo!' he cried to him,' what are you seeking?
'I want water to drink, I'm so thirsty,' replied the man.
'Well, there's a whole lake in front of you; why don't you drink
some of that?'
'Do you call that enough?' answered the other. 'Why, I should
drink it up in one gulp.'
'Well, come with us in the ship.'
And so the mighty drinker was added to the company; and the ship
flew farther, and even farther, till again the Simpleton looked
out, and this time he saw a man dragging a bundle of wood,
walking through the forest beneath them.
'Hallo!' he shouted to him, 'why are you carrying wood through a
'This is not common wood,' answered the other.
'What sort of wood is it, then?' said the Simpleton.
'If you throw it upon the ground,' said the man, 'it will be
changed into an army of soldiers.'
'Come into the ship with us, then.'
And so he too joined them; and away the ship flew on, and on, and
on, and once more the Simpleton looked out, and this time he saw
a man carrying straw upon his back.
'Hallo! Where are you carrying that straw to?'
'To the village,' said the man.
'Do you mean to say there is no straw in the village?'
'Ah! but this is quite a peculiar straw. If you strew it about
even in the hottest summer the air at once becomes cold, and snow
falls, and the people freeze.'
Then the Simpleton asked him also to join them.
At last the ship, with its strange crew, arrived at the King's
Court. The King was having his dinner, but he at once despatched
one of his courtiers to find out what the huge, strange new bird
could be that had come flying through the air. The courtier
peeped into the ship, and, seeing what it was, instantly went
back to the King and told him that it was a flying ship, and that
it was manned by a few peasants.
Then the King remembered his royal oath; but he made up his mind
that he would never consent to let the Princess marry a poor
peasant. So he thought and thought, and then said to himself:
'I will give him some impossible tasks to perform; that will be
the best way of getting rid of him.' And he there and then
decided to despatch one of his courtiers to the Simpleton, with
the command that he was to fetch the King the healing water from
the world's end before he had finished his dinner.
But while the King was still instructing the courtier exactly
what he was to say, the first man of the ship's company, the one
with the miraculous power of hearing, had overheard the King's
words, and hastily reported them to the poor Simpleton.
'Alas, alas!' he cried; 'what am I to do now? It would take me
quite a year, possibly my whole life, to find the water.'
'Never fear,' said his fleet-footed comrade, 'I will fetch what
the King wants.'
Just then the courtier arrived, bearing the King's command.
'Tell his Majesty,' said the Simpleton, 'that his orders shall be
obeyed; 'and forthwith the swift runner unbound the foot that was
strung up behind his ear and started off, and in less than no
time had reached the world's end and drawn the healing water from
'Dear me,' he thought to himself, 'that's rather tiring! I'll
just rest for a few minutes; it will be some little time yet
before the King has got to dessert.' So he threw himself down on
the grass, and, as the sun was very dazzling, he closed his eyes,
and in a few seconds had fallen sound asleep.
In the meantime all the ship's crew were anxiously awaiting him;
the King's dinner would soon be finished, and their comrade had
not yet returned. So the man with the marvellous quick hearing
lay down and, putting his ear to the ground, listened.
'That's a nice sort of fellow!' he suddenly exclaimed. 'He's
lying on the ground, snoring hard!'
At this the marksman seized his gun, took aim, and fired in the
direction of the world's end, in order to awaken the sluggard.
And a moment later the swift runner reappeared, and, stepping on
board the ship, handed the healing water to the Simpleton. So
while the King was still sitting at table finishing his dinner
news was brought to him that his orders had been obeyed to the
What was to be done now? The King determined to think of a still
more impossible task. So he told another courtier to go to the
Simpleton with the command that he and his comrades were
instantly to eat up twelve oxen and twelve tons of bread. Once
more the sharp-eared comrade overheard the King's words while he
was still talking to the courtier, and reported them to the
'Alas, alas!' he sighed; 'what in the world shall I do? Why, it
would take us a year, possibly our whole lives, to eat up twelve
oxen and twelve tons of bread.'
'Never fear,' said the glutton. 'It will scarcely be enough for
me, I'm so hungry.'
So when the courtier arrived with the royal message he was told
to take back word to the King that his orders should be obeyed.
Then twelve roasted oxen and twelve tons of bread were brought
alongside of the ship, and at one sitting the glutton had
devoured it all.
'I call that a small meal,' he said. 'I wish they'd brought me
Next, the King ordered that forty casks of wine, containing forty
gallons each, were to be drunk up on the spot by the Simpleton
and his party. When these words were overheard by the
sharp-eared comrade and repeated to the Simpleton, he was in
'Alas, alas!' he exclaimed; 'what is to be done? It would take
us a year, possibly our whole lives, to drink so much,'
'Never fear,' said his thirsty comrade. 'I'll drink it all up at
a gulp, see if I don't.' And sure enough, when the forty casks
of wine containing forty gallons each were brought alongside of
the ship, they disappeared down the thirsty comrade's throat in
no time; and when they were empty he remarked:
'Why, I'm still thirsty. I should have been glad of two more
Then the King took counsel with himself and sent an order to the
Simpleton that he was to have a bath, in a bath-room at the royal
palace, and after that the betrothal should take place. Now the
bath-room was built of iron, and the King gave orders that it was
to be heated to such a pitch that it would suffocate the
Simpleton. And so when the poor silly youth entered the room, he
discovered that the iron walls were red hot. But, fortunately,
his comrade with the straw on his back had entered behind him,
and when the door was shut upon them he scattered the straw
about, and suddenly the red-hot walls cooled down, and it became
so very cold that the Simpleton could scarcely bear to take a
bath, and all the water in the room froze. So the Simpleton
climbed up upon the stove, and, wrapping himself up in the bath
blankets, lay there the whole night. And in the morning when
they opened the door there he lay sound and safe, singing
cheerfully to himself.
Now when this strange tale was told to the King he became quite
sad, not knowing what he should do to get rid of so undesirable a
son-in-law, when suddenly a brilliant idea occurred to him.
'Tell the rascal to raise me an army, now at this instant!' he
exclaimed to one of his courtiers. 'Inform him at once of this,
my royal will.' And to himself he added, 'I think I shall do for
him this time.'
As on former occasions, the quick-eared comrade had overheard the
King's command and repeated it to the Simpleton.
'Alas, alas!' he groaned; 'now I am quite done for.'
'Not at all,' replied one of his comrades (the one who had
dragged the bundle of wood through the forest). 'Have you quite
In the meantime the courtier, who had run all the way from the
palace, reached the ship panting and breathless, and delivered
the King's message.
'Good!' remarked the Simpleton. 'I will raise an army for the
King,' and he drew himself up. 'But if, after that, the King
refuses to accept me as his son-in-law, I will wage war against
him, and carry the Princess off by force.'
During the night the Simpleton and his comrade went, together
into a big field, not forgetting to take the bundle of wood with
them, which the man spread out in all directions--and in a moment
a mighty army stood upon the spot, regiment on regiment of foot
and horse soldiers; the bugles sounded and the drums beat, the
chargers neighed, and their riders put their lances in rest, and
the soldiers presented arms.
In the morning when the King awoke he was startled by these
warlike sounds, the bugles and the drums, and the clatter of the
horses, and the shouts of the soldiers. And, stepping to the
window, he saw the lances gleam in the sunlight and the armour
and weapons glitter. And the proud monarch said to himself, 'I
am powerless in comparison with this man.' So he sent him royal
robes and costly jewels, and commanded him to come to the palace
to be married to the Princess. And his son-in-law put on the
royal robes, and he looked so grand and stately that it was
impossible to recognise the poor Simpleton, so changed was he;
and the Princess fell in love with him as soon as ever she saw
Never before had so grand a wedding been seen, and there was so
much food and wine that even the glutton and the thirsty comrade
had enough to eat and drink.
THE SNOW-DAUGHTER AND THE FIRE-SON
 From the Bukowinaer Tales and Legends. Von Wliolocki.
There was once upon a time a man and his wife, and they had no
children, which was a great grief to them. One winter's day,
when the sun was shining brightly, the couple were standing
outside their cottage, and the woman was looking at all the
little icicles which hung from the roof. She sighed, and turning
to her husband said, 'I wish I had as many children as there are
icicles hanging there.' 'Nothing would please me more either,'
replied her husband. Then a tiny icicle detached itself from the
roof, and dropped into the woman's mouth, who swallowed it with a
smile, and said, 'Perhaps I shall give birth to a snow child
now!' Her husband laughed at his wife's strange idea, and they
went back into the house.
But after a short time the woman gave birth to a little girl, who
was as white as snow and as cold as ice. If they brought the
child anywhere near the fire, it screamed loudly till they put it
back into some cool place. The little maid throve wonderfully,
and in a few months she could run about and speak. But she was
not altogether easy to bring up, and gave her parents much
trouble and anxiety, for all summer she insisted on spending in
the cellar, and in the winter she would sleep outside in the
snow, and the colder it was the happier she seemed to be. Her
father and mother called her simply 'Our Snow-daughter,' and this
name stuck to her all her life.
One day her parents sat by the fire, talking over the
extraordinary behaviour of their daughter, who was disporting
herself in the snowstorm that raged outside. The woman sighed
deeply and said, 'I wish I had given birth to a Fire-son!' As she
said these words, a spark from the big wood fire flew into the
woman's lap, and she said with a laugh, 'Now perhaps I shall give
birth to a Fire-son!' The man laughed at his wife's words, and
thought it was a good joke. But he ceased to think it a joke
when his wife shortly afterwards gave birth to a boy, who
screamed lustily till he was put quite close to the fire, and who
nearly yelled himself into a fit if the Snow-daughter came
anywhere near him. The Snow-daughter herself avoided him as much
as she could, and always crept into a corner as far away from him
as possible. The parents called the boy simply 'Our Fire-son,' a
name which stuck to him all his life. They had a great deal of
trouble and worry with him too; but he throve and grew very
quickly, and before he was a year old he could run about and
talk. He was as red as fire, and as hot to touch, and he always
sat on the hearth quite close to the fire, and complained of the
cold; if his sister were in the room he almost crept into the
flames, while the girl on her part always complained of the great
heat if her brother were anywhere near. In summer the boy always
lay out in the sun, while the girl hid herself in the cellar: so
it happened that the brother and sister came very little into
contact with each other--in fact, they carefully avoided it.
Just as the girl grew up into a beautiful woman, her father and
mother both died one after the other. Then the Fire-son, who had
grown up in the meantime into a fine, strong young man, said to
his sister, 'I am going out into the world, for what is the use
of remaining on here?'
'I shall go with you,' she answered, 'for, except you, I have no
one in the world, and I have a feeling that if we set out
together we shall be lucky.'
The Fire-son said, 'I love you with all my heart, but at the same
time I always freeze if you are near me, and you nearly die of
heat if I approach you! How shall we travel about together
without being odious the one to the other?'
'Don't worry about that,' replied the girl, 'for I've thought it
all over, and have settled on a plan which will make us each able
to bear with the other! See, I have had a fur cloak made for
each of us, and if we put them on I shall not feel the heat so
much nor you the cold.' So they put on the fur cloaks, and set
out cheerfully on their way, and for the first time in their
lives quite happy in each other's company.
For a long time the Fire-son and the Snow-daughter wandered
through the world, and when at the beginning of winter they came
to a big wood they determined to stay there till spring. The
Fire-son built himself a hut where he always kept up a huge
fire, while his sister with very few clothes on stayed outside
night and day. Now it happened one day that the King of the land
held a hunt in this wood, and saw the Snow-daughter wandering
about in the open air. He wondered very much who the beautiful
girl clad in such garments could be, and he stopped and spoke to
her. He soon learnt that she could not stand heat, and that her
brother could not endure cold. The King was so charmed by the
Snow-daughter, that he asked her to be his wife. The girl
consented, and the wedding was held with much state. The King
had a huge house of ice made for his wife underground, so that
even in summer it did not melt. But for his brother-in-law he
had a house built with huge ovens all round it, that were kept
heated all day and night. The Fire-son was delighted, but the
perpetual heat in which he lived made his body so hot, that it
was dangerous to go too close to him.
One day the King gave a great feast, and asked his brother-in-
law among the other guests. The Fire-son did not appear till
everyone had assembled, and when he did, everyone fled outside to
the open air, so intense was the heat he gave forth. Then the
King was very angry and said, 'If I had known what a lot of
trouble you would have been, I would never have taken you into my
house.' Then the Fire-son replied with a laugh, 'Don't be angry,
dear brother! I love heat and my sister loves cold--come here
and let me embrace you, and then I'll go home at once.' And
before the King had time to reply, the Fire-son seized him in a
tight embrace. The King screamed aloud in agony, and when his
wife, the Snow-daughter, who had taken refuge from her brother
in the next room, hurried to him, the King lay dead on the ground
burnt to a cinder. When the Snow-daughter saw this she turned on
her brother and flew at him. Then a fight began, the like of
which had never been seen on earth. When the people, attracted
by the noise, hurried to the spot, they saw the Snow-daughter
melting into water and the Fire-son burn to a cinder. And so
ended the unhappy brother and sister.
THE STORY OF KING FROST 
 From the Russian.
There was once upon a time a peasant-woman who had a daughter and
a step-daughter. The daughter had her own way in everything, and
whatever she did was right in her mother's eyes; but the poor
step-daughter had a hard time. Let her do what she would, she
was always blamed, and got small thanks for all the trouble she
took; nothing was right, everything wrong; and yet, if the truth
were known, the girl was worth her weight in gold--she was so
unselfish and good-hearted. But her step-mother did not like
her, and the poor girl's days were spent in weeping; for it was
impossible to live peacefully with the woman. The wicked shrew
was determined to get rid of the girl by fair means or foul, and
kept saying to her father: 'Send her away, old man; send her
away--anywhere so that my eyes sha'n't be plagued any longer by
the sight of her, or my ears tormented by the sound of her voice.
Send her out into the fields, and let the cutting frost do for
In vain did the poor old father weep and implore her pity; she
was firm, and he dared not gainsay her. So he placed his
daughter in a sledge, not even daring to give her a horse-cloth
to keep herself warm with, and drove her out on to the bare, open
fields, where he kissed her and left her, driving home as fast as
he could, that he might not witness her miserable death.
Deserted by her father, the poor girl sat down under a fir-tree
at the edge of the forest and began to weep silently. Suddenly
she heard a faint sound: it was King Frost springing from tree to
tree, and cracking his fingers as he went. At length he reached
the fir-tree beneath which she was sitting, and with a crisp
crackling sound he alighted beside her, and looked at her lovely
'Well, maiden,' he snapped out, 'do you know who I am? I am King
Frost, king of the red-noses.'
'All hail to you, great King!' answered the girl, in a gentle,
trembling voice. 'Have you come to take me?'
'Are you warm, maiden?' he replied.
'Quite warm, King Frost,' she answered, though she shivered as
Then King Frost stooped down, and bent over the girl, and the
crackling sound grew louder, and the air seemed to be full of
knives and darts; and again he asked:
'Maiden, are you warm? Are you warm, you beautiful girl?'
And though her breath was almost frozen on her lips, she
whispered gently, 'Quite warm, King Frost.'
Then King Frost gnashed his teeth, and cracked his fingers, and
his eyes sparkled, and the crackling, crisp sound was louder than
ever, and for the last time he asked her:
'Maiden, are you still warm? Are you still warm, little love?'
And the poor girl was so stiff and numb that she could just gasp,
'Still warm, O King!'
Now her gentle, courteous words and her uncomplaining ways
touched King Frost, and he had pity on her, and he wrapped her up
in furs, and covered her with blankets, and he fetched a great
box, in which were beautiful jewels and a rich robe embroidered
in gold and silver. And she put it on, and looked more lovely
than ever, and King Frost stepped with her into his sledge, with
six white horses.
In the meantime the wicked step-mother was waiting at home for
news of the girl's death, and preparing pancakes for the funeral
feast. And she said to her husband: 'Old man, you had better go