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Fairy Tales of Ludwig Bechstein
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  1. The Snake Crown
  2. The Dwarf's Cap
  3. The Journeyman
  4. The Boy Who Wanted to Learn Witchcraft

The Snake Crown

A pious and kind-hearted milkmaid served on a farm that belonged to a mean and stingy man. When the milkmaid went to the stable to milk and tend the cows, she always did it with robust care. The cowshed was the home of a white snake too. From its hole in a wall column it watched the milkmaid as she milked and cared for the cows and kept the shed in order. Sometimes the little snake crept out from its hole in the wall column, looked at her with wise eyes as if was expecting something from her. The milkmaid then used to let a little udder-warm cow's milk in a little saucer, and the snake drank the milk with pleasure. While it was drinking it turned and twisted its little head. At such times the milkmaid saw a tiny crown on its head. The crown glittered like a diamond in the rather dark stable.

The kind-natured milkmaid was glad to have the white snake in the cowshed, for she had heard that such snakes brought good luck. At any rate her cows were thriving and gave much more milk than other cows, and they were always healthy and got shapely little calves without a lot of trouble. The milkmaid was happy too.

Once the stingy farmer came into the stable when the white snake licked up its few droplets of milk that the girl just had put in the saucer. He flew into a rage at the sight, as if she had been giving away bucketfuls of milk.

"You miserable loafer," he shouted crassly. "So this is how you handle what is mine! Letting my cows have a poisonous snake around them in the stable so that it can suck their udders at night! It is outrageous!" He swore a lot and called her bad names. He was really unpleasant.

The poor milkmaid started weeping when she was so severely reproached for a little kindness, but the farmer did not mind that she wept. Instead he worked up a great fury, shouting and arguing vehemently and forgetting all the faithful and diligent work she had done. At last he cried: "Get off my farm right now! I need no snake to live here and steal milk! Pack your bundle at once! Get away from the village and never show up again, or I might report you to the police!"

Still weeping, the severely scolded milkmaid hurried out of the stable, went up to her chamber, packed her dresses in a sheet and made a bundle of it, knit the bundle tightly so that she could carry it with her when she walked away from the farm. Then she went out of the farmhouse and stepped into the yard. The farmer had left the stable. When she heard her pet cow lowing, she could not restrain herself, but went one more time into the stable to take leave of her dear cattle. She walked around and took leave of them, patting and stroking every cow and weeping. Her pet cow came up to her and licked her hand again - and there the little snake came crawling too.

"Farewell, little snake. There will be no one to feed you on this farm from now on."

The little snake raised its head as if it wanted to put it in the milkmaid's hand. Then suddenly its little crown dropped into the hand. It was as if the snake wanted the maid to have the crown. In the next moment the snake slid out of the barn door.

Now the young woman went away from there too. She was not aware that the snake crown she had got would bring her riches, for she had not heard everything about the while snakes and their crowns yet - that whoever owned such a crown and carried it with her, would have joy, luck and good renown and be widely liked too.

Just outside the village the girl met the son of the rich mayor who had died not long ago. The son was a fine young man. He fell in love with the girl at once from the moment he saw her. He greeted her and asked where she was going, and why she would leave the farm like this. She told him what had happened. At once he asked her to go to his mother and say he had sent her.

The girl walked to the former mayor's house and told the widow what her son had asked her to say. The old woman liked her at once, and asked her to stay in the house. When the men and maidservants came for supper, the guest had to say grace, and everyone was deeply moved. When supper was over and she had said grace again, the servants left the room. Then the rich young man took the milkmaid's hand, led her to his mother and said,

"Mother, I want to marry her or not marry at all. Give us your kind blessing, please."

"We all love her," said his old mother. I think she is as pious as she is pretty, and meek as well. I bless you both, and take her as gladly as if she were my own daugther."

The maid very soon became a happy bride and a very rich woman. But the foul farmer who got so cross and mean because she had given some drops of milk to a hungry animal that he drove her out of his house, soon came to grief. After the maid and the snake left, his luck abandoned him. Soon he had to sell his animals, then his fields - and everything was bought by the rich son of the former mayor.

Soon the happy wife could hang green garlands around the necks of the cows she was so fond of. She led them into their cowshed, stroked them, let them lick her hands, and milked and fed them as before.

One day when she was feeding the cows in the shed, she saw the white snake again. At once she took out the little crown she was carrying, "How good of you to come to me," she said to the white snake. "You shall have as much fresh milk as you like, every day. Here is your crown back, with many thanks that you have helped me so so greatly. I do not need the crown now, for I am rich and happy."

The white snake took its crown back and stayed in the stable of the young woman, and a great blessing rested on her and her husband and everything they owned.

[AT 672 C - Edited]


The Dwarf's Cap

There was once a miller who had three sons and a daughter. He loved his daughter dearly, but could not stand his sons. He was always unhappy with them and made their lives miserable by repeating that they could never do anything right. The greatly distressed brothers wanted to get away from their father's house, but all they could do was to sit together and sigh without knowing what to do.

One day, when the three brothers were sitting together like that, one of them sighed, "Oh, if only we had a dwarf's cap each! Then we could be well off!"

"A dwarf's cap? What's that?" asked one of his brothers.

"The dwarves who live in the green mountains have little caps. People sometimes call them mist caps. Those who wear the caps, become invisible. And that is a fing thing, dear brothers, for then you can avoid people who never care for you or talk nicely to you. You can go wherever you want, take what you want, and no one sees you as long as you wear the dwarf's cap."

"But how do we get such a rare little cap?" asked the third and youngest of the brothers.

The eldest brother answered, "The dwarves are quaint little people. They like to play, and sometimes they throw their little caps into the air for fun. In a flash you can see them - and in a flash they catch their little caps and put them back on their heads and are invisible again. What you have to do is to find a dwarf and catch his cap when he throws it into the air. Then the dwarf cannot make himself invisible and you can catch him. If you do, you will be the master of the dwarves, and can keep the little cap to make yourself invisible.

"There is still more: You may ask the dwarves to pay you to get the cap back. With what you get you may live well for the rest of your life, for the dwarves find metals in the earth, make secret remedies from plants and things in nature. They are so clever than that can make a fool a wise person; a lazy student a professor; and a lawyer's clerk a minister."

"That was something!" cried one of the brothers. "Go and get a little cap for us so we can get away from here!"

"I will," said the eldest brother. Soon he was on his way to the green mountains. It was a long way off. Before evening the boy came to the dwarf mountains. There he lay down in the green grass in a place where there were swirl marks in the grass, for he thought they were traces of dwarves dancing in the moonlight. After a while he saw quite a few dwarfs coming very near him. They were tumbling over each other and throwing little cap into the air and having fun. Soon a small cap fell beside him. He grasped for it but was not quick enough. The owner of the cap was quicker and got his cap back, shouting, "A thief! A thief!"

The call made the whole flock of dwarves throw themselves over the boy. He was unable to shake them off. The dwarves captured him and took him deep down into their underground dwellings.

When the eldest brother did not come back, his two younger brothers and sister all grieved, but the old miller gnarled, "What do I care!"

As the days passed and the boy did not come back, the father was all the more grumpy and hard with the two remaining brothers. The second brother said to the youngest, "If I go the the dwarf mountains I may get a dwarf's cap. Either our brother has got one and gone away to make his fortune, forgetting about us - or he has failed. In any case I will try to get a dwarf's cap! If I succeed I will certainly be back. In case I do not succeed, this may be our last farewell."

The brothers parted, and the second brother wandered to the green mountains. Everything that had happened to his brother there, happened to him. The dwarf he tried to snatch a cap from, was quicker than him and shouted "Thief! Thief!" At once a bunch of dwarves pounced on the boy and tied him so he could not move a limb. Then they took him deep into an underground dwelling-place.

At home in the mill the youngest brother waited for his brother to come back, but in vain. By and by he grew very sad, for he knew now that his middle brother had failed. His sister grieved too, but their father said, "Those who don't like it at home can go elsewhere - the world is wide. Let him run. I am glad he is out of sight, out of mind!"

The youngest brother had endured very much gruff treatment from his father, but before his two older brothers were gone, they had at least been three to share it. He said to his sister, "Dear sister, I do not think I can stand our father's language and degrading remarks any longer, now that I am only one to bear his abuses. They are a too heavy load to bear alone. Earlier we were at least three to share it. Father does not love me, and I cannot help it. So I will go away, and only if I succeed I will be back. Goodbye and good luck!"

The sister did not want her youngest brother to leave, for she loved him best of all, but all the same he left.

As he walked, he thought carefully over how to set about getting one of the dwarfs' caps. When he came to the green mountains, he too came across the rings in the grass and thought, "These show where the dwarfs play and dance at night." He lay down at dusk and waited till the dwarfs came, played, and threw their caps into the air.

One of the dwarves came quite close to him and threw his little cap into the air, but the clever boy did not reach for it. He thought, "I have plenty of time. I must make the little man come nearer to me."

The dwarf picked up again his little cap that had fallen down very close to the boy. It did not take long before a second small cap fell next to the boy, but still he did not reach for it. Finally a third cap came falling down - it even landed on his hand. In the wink of an eye he grasped it and quickly jumped up.

"Thief!" screamed the dwarf who owned the cap. A swarm of dwarves came to get it back, but before they got to the boy he had made himself invisible, and then, since he had the little cap, he was their master, and the dwarves could neither get him or harm him. They all started to wail and whine pitifully for the cap, He could get anyting he wanted for it, they promised.

"Where are my two brothers?" asked the boy.

"They are down in the green mountain!" answered the dwarf that owned the cap he had taken.

"And what are they doing down there?"

"They serve us!"

"Is that so! They serve you, and now you serve me. Take me down to my brothers; their service is over, and yours is about to begin!"

He had a cap, and had become their master! The grieving dwarves took him to an opening into the green mountain. Down below were glorious and large open spaces, large halls and small rooms and shelves, all formed to meet the needs of the dwarf people. The boy's brothers were brought to him. They exclaimed as soon as they saw him, "Have they got you too, dear brother? So we three are together again, but to toil deep in the mountains and never see the light of day again, the green forest and the golden fields!" the two brothers sobbed.

"Oh, just wait a little, dear brothers," said the youngest, "the tides are about to turn." Then he had the dwarves bring them good clothes, good food and milk, after they had been groomed. Afterwards the dwarves had to entertain them with song and play and ballet and pantomime, and then the brothers went to sleep in soft beds. The youngest brother held the cap firmly all the time, even in sleep.

When they woke up, the underground palace was lighted by many candles. The brothers got a glass carriage drawn by four horses, and drove to see what more was to be seen in the green mountains. Soon they came to gemstone caves silver and gold decor, splendor and glory.

Then it was time to strike a bargain with the dwarves. What to ask for instead of the cap? First, delicious herbs to heal their father's mind, if possible. Second, a good dowry for their dear sister. Third, enough precious stones and art devices to lighten their lives, and then a car full of money and another, comfortable car for the brothers, along with lessons in driving them.

The dwarves turned and writhed so pitifully that it could have made a stone pity them if a stone had a human heart, but it did not help them.

"If you do not want to give us these things," said the brother with the cap, "I may stay here and take all your caps. Then we will see what will happen. I may also gather toads and put them in your beds."

"Have mercy! Not toads!" The dwarves feared toads terribly.

"Now then," said the brother with the cap, "I did not ask for all you have, only a tiny, tiny bit. I could ask for more too and keep the cap, being your master continually, for by wearing the cap I would not die, you know. So will you give me the things I ask for from your bounty?"

"Yes, yes!" sighed and groaned the dwarves and went to work to make and get everything he had asked for.

In the meantime things were going poorly in the mill of the surly old miller. After the youngest brother had left, he grumbled, "He's off too! That is what you get when you raise children! The only ones left now are you and me, dear daughter."

She began to cry.

"Crying again!" grumbled the old man. "Do you want me to believe you are crying over your brothers? I rather think it is over the poor man you love and want to marry. But he has nothing, like an empty sack. He has nothing much, you have nothing much, and I have nothing much. We all three have nothing much. For can you hear the mill wheel turning? I can not hear anything. It stands still. The mill who is still, is a bad mill. I cannot grind, you cannot marry, and you cannot have a wedding, for that would have been a beggar's wedding."

The daughter had to listen to such speeches every day, and suffered in silence until one fine morning when three carriages came up to the mill and three finely dressed fellows stepped out. The miller and his daughter came out and stared at them.

"Good morning, good morning! Here we are again!" said the three brothers. The oldest handed a big cup of precious liquid to their old father, and he drank it. Then he cried and fell - his financial worries were over!

The sad sister got a good draught too. The young man who loved her came by at the same time, and they gave him enough to get a farm and marry too.

All of a sudden the mill wheels started turning after they had stood still for weeks. Round and round they turned, round and round.

[Mot. F 451.3.3.8, F 451.5.1.5: Zwerge erhalten ihren Zauberhut nur gegen Belohnung zurück. Retold]


The Journeyman

There once was a butcher's widow with an only son. He had already begun to learn his father's trade when the butcher died. His mother let him finish his apprenticeship and said, "Now you are fully educated in your father's craft, but not yet a master butcher: First you are to go on a three-year working trip. After your journeyman years you may be admitted to a guild as a master. So 'first an apprentice, then a journeyman, and at last a master' - that is how your father became a butcher. And now the time has come for you to go travelling! Good luck!"

The son was to travel for three years and see the world and maybe find someone to teach him more he could use. The mother fitted out her son as well as she could and gave him her best dog, Grip, to go with him.

On his way the journeyman came to a large and dense forest. Robbers lived there. They fell on him to rob and even kill him, but the young man defended himself vigorously, and his dog stood by him bravely and wounded many of the robbers with angry bites until one of the robbers got so angry that he shot the faithful dog.

The journeyman escaped from the robbers and ran deeper into the large forest. There he got lost and did not know where he was. At last he saw a small house ahead of him. He hurried to it, knocked on the door, and went in. An old, grey woman was sitting there. She did not move a bit when he came in. All the same the young man began to tell her all that had happened to him and asked her to show him the way out of this forest. He loudly bewailed the loss of his dog Grip too.

Then said the old grey woman, " I too have good dogs too. You may pick one and take it with you." She shouted, "Rend-and-tear!"

A big dog came into the house at her call. The old woman asked: "Do you like this dog?"

"The dog looks good," said the fellow, "but mine was better."

Then the old woman called again, "Break-all-ties!" A bigger and better dog came in, and the old woman asked, "How do you like this one?"

"I like him quite well," answered the journeyman, "but still I liked my own dog better."

Then the old woman called again, "Fast-and-swift!" and in jumped a very big, bold and shapely dog. The journeyman did not wait for the old woman to ask him how he liked the dog, but exclaimed straight away, "I like this one! My own dog looked so like it that unless it had been shot dead in front of me I could have said it was the same dog!"

"Well," said the old woman, "I will give you all the three dogs if you will remember me when things go well with you, and if you will not be ashamed of me in my poverty then."

The lad promised this, and the old woman took out a little whistle and gave it to him, saying, "When you blow this whistle you call the three dogs to your aid at any time, from wherever they happen to be at the time. That can be useful if you get into trouble."

With many thanks the journeyman took leave of the good old woman and walked merrily along a path she had told him of. The three dogs rushed and leaped about, now behind him and now ahead of him, playing with each other. The young man amused himself over them.

As the evening began to get dark, the traveller and his dogs came to a soliary inn in the same wide forest. Outside the house a young maid was scrubbing wooden dishes. When she saw him she looked frightened and waved him away as if to warn him against entering the inn. She opened her mouth to say something too, but just then the door opened and the landlord came out and invited the guest and his dogs inside. After some talk he told he was a butcher, he too.

The young man was reluctant, for he felt suspicious even though he could not say why. But hungry and thirsty as he was, with the night coming on, he sat down in the living-room with his three dogs around him, and ordered something to eat. He did not have to wait long for a large piece of meat in a rich broth, and good bread with it.

The journeyman had his meal while the landlord was sitting on an bench in front of the oven and ensured that the meal tasted his only guest well, for there were no one else in the house that the journeyman could see, and there was time for that.

The door opened, and the landlady came in with a plate with three pieces of bread soaked in fat. The landlady came up to the journeyman, and he thanked her politely for the food.

"Now show him his bedroom!" said the landlady to her husband, and gave her husband a light to carry in the hand. The host opened the door to a room next to the sitting-room and walked ahead of the others, carrying the light. The landlady came last. She was still carrying the three fat breads, and threw one bread to the dogs behind her. One of the dogs grabbed it, but while he ate it the woman slammed the door and the dog was locked in.

They came into a room that was full of weapons, rifles, pistols, carbines, broadswords, cutlasses, etc., besides also chains, ropes, handcuffs and such things hung over, thus making the people defenseless.

"There are many weapons," said the surprised guest.

"Yes, for one has to be on guard and prepared for much in this solitary spot in the forest. I have people who know how to use these weapons."

The host opened a second door while he talked, and walked into another room. Behind the guest the landlady threw another bread on the floor. Another dog started to eat it, but meanwhile the woman slammed the door behind her, and the dog was locked up in the armory.

The young guest did not notice what happened, for he was already in the the other room, and saw there were barrels of money there, and on the walls hang costly garments and in glass cabinets he glimpsed jewelry, gold, silver gemstones. "How can all these things be in a solitary forest inn?" the journeyman started to wonder.

The host now opened up a third room, and when he and the journeyman went in there, the landlady threw the third fat bread on the floor in the room they had left, and when the third dog at it, she hurried and locked the door. Thus the second dog was trapped in the treasury, and his master did not know it, for he was curious to see what the hosts had in the third room, but that room did not appeal very much to him.. The walls were stained with blood, and on the floor were dead, mangled people lying around.

The innkeeper said harshly. "Here is the workshop I run. Stay with me, or you will be slaughtered like the others here."

The journeyman took courage and said, "I would rather die than be such a butcher!"

"It's up to you!" said the landlord.

The fellow was troubled and scared, and looked around for his three dogs, but saw none of them. He was alone and helpless.

His host picked up a heavy axe.

The workman said, "Let me say a little prayer."

"All right!" said the host.

The journeyman started to pray, but while he did so, he happened to touch the whistle he had got, and whistled boldly for the three dogs.

The host and hostess were grealy astonished. "Is this a way to pray, lad?" cried the host angriy, but before he could strike with the axe the three dogs came running through the closed door and tore him to pieces.

"Well done!" said the journeyman to them.

The landlady fell on her knees and cried, "Praise God! Now I am saved!" "No, you are not," shouted the journeyman angrily. "You have been in on this!"

"O, mercy!" cried the landlady. "I was forced to do as the butcher wanted. He once caught me and has kept me here since. If you let me live I will give you a snuff box of gold."

"I do not take snuff!" said the journeyman.

"You do not have to either," said the landlady. "But if anyone takes snuff out of this box and you rotate the cover to the right, she or he cannot but stand, lie or sit without moving till you turn the cover to the left again. Let me live, for you are still not out of danger. I am the only one who know where my husband's cronies are. It is a whole gang of robbers and murderers."

"Well, tell me and I will let you live," said the youth.

The landlady and her servants thanked him for freeing them from the horrible butche and showed the journeyman the entrance to the secret hideout of the gang of murderers. The journeyman let his three dogs in, and after a while they came out again and there were no robbers left.

The young butcher now gave some of the treasures to the the formerly enslaved servants, especially the good-natured girl who tried to warn him when he first came to the inn. He also sent a man with a load of treasures to the old, grey woman who had given him her three dogs and the whistle; another load to his mother at home; and then he went on his way with the three dogs: Although he had riches enough now, he had promised his mother to walk about for three years, see the world, and maybe learn how to be a better butcher too.

One day the journeyman met a carriage that was all black, the coachman was in black and the horses too. The journeyman stopped, and suddenly the carriage stopped too, and a princess dressed in black came out of the carriage. She said, "My father has promised me to a devil. He has brought famine on the country, and will end it only if I marry him. My father was forced to agree to this. Since then, all my servants have deserted me. What is more, I fear the coachman is in leage with the devil."

The journeyman said, "If so, allow me to go with you as your servant! I hope to be able to save you from that devil."

The princess was glad that the youth would stay with her, and accepted his offer. The journeyman climbed into the carriage. After some time they came to a tree stump where an ugly fellow was sitting. It was the devil, and he had been waiting there a long time. It surprised him that the princess did not come alone. The young man went up to the devil and explained that he was the servant of the princess, and offered the devil a pinch of snuff from his golden box. The devil put his fingers into the box and took a large pinch.

"There," said the journeyman and pulled the lid of his golden snuff-box to the right and snapped his fingers. "You are now stuck fast as long as I like."

"You fool!" cried the devil and wanted to jump up. But he was powerless and had to sit there as if glued to the stub.

"How long is this going to last?" asked the devil and was furious.

The journeyman answered, "It will help you if you freely give me this princess, renounce any rights to her, to our souls, and vow never again to cause inconveniences, troubles and famines in this land. It must all be put in writing and signed by you. After that I will not see you again."

The devil groaned and screeched, sweated and writhed, but it did not help him at all. At last he agreeed to the deal and signed. The young man stepped back a bit, and then turned the lid of the snuff-box to the left. In a thrice the devil flew into the air and flew away like a roaring storm.

The princess and the journeyman got back into her carriage, and the princess was so grateful that she said, "I want to marry you for saving me!"

"Yes, yes," answered the young man, "but I want to wait a while, for I have to wander in the world and learn something useful first. I promised my mother to do it. But in a few years I will be back, if you want me to."

The princess reluctantly had to make do with that. Soon they were on their way back toward her father's castle.

When they came to a crossroads, the journeyman left the carriage, kissed her hand and said, "We are engaged to be married! Trust your bridegroom-to-be!"

The coachman had heard everything. He was a bad fellow and wanted to become the new king himself. After a little stopped the carriage and said to the princess, "I want to marry too! Marry you! So tell your father at home that I was the one who saved you, and marry me! If you do not say yes, I will not drive you home, but to the devil."

The princess sobbed and wept, but finally gave in. Then she was taken home. People rejoiced when she returned and thought the coachman had saved her and that she now would marry him out of gratitude. But the princess regularly postponed the marriage. One time she ruined her wedding dresses, another time she fell ill, a third times he had religious vows to fulfil, a fourth time she was waiting for jewelry to be sent her - and all the while she was hoping her true bridegroom would come.

The coachman, however, grew more and more impatient, and at long last a wedding-day was set. The princess sighed and wept much the night before the wedding-day, for she did not know that her true bridegroom at last had come with his three dogs. He stayed at an inn where the host at first would not welcome him, for he looked like a vagabond. But when the journeyman gave him a gold piece, he was - eh - good enough.

Soon a barber and a tailor were called for. The stranger shaved himself clean and was carefully groomed and dressed up in neat, warm, good clothes. He sat down and wrote a letter to the princess, sealed it and let his faithful dog Fast-and-swift take it to the princess. The dog speeded off and dropped the letter in the lap of the princess as she was sitting by the table, eating. The others in the room were scared of the large dog, but the princess recognised him, and so did the false bridegroom. He thought, "If that dog is here, the owner is near." Then he quietly left the castle, the city and the country, for he thought it was best for him.

The next morning a royal carriage stopped outside the inn. The princess had sent a servant to say she would be happy to meet her real bridegroom. The stranger was carried to the castle in the carriage, with his three dogs running beside it.

As soon as the princess told the king who had saved her, and who had threatened to take her to the devil again, he liked the real bridgegroom better than the false one. The wedding was stately, and the bride and bridegroom were happy.

Soon after the bridegroom sent a carriage filled with gold to the old woman in the forest, and sent for his old mother to come and live with him.

[AT 300. Abridged]


The Boy Who Wanted to Learn Witchcraft

There was once a boy who had heard so much about witchcraft that he wanted to learn it. But those he asked about it said they did not know it and did not want to know it either. The boy went alone into a dark forest and called out loud several times, "Who will teach me the craft of witches?" An echo sounded back from deep within the forest, "Witches . . . witches."

After a while came an old, little woman crawling through the bushes. She had not one tooth left in her mouth, and her eyes were awfully red. Her back was bent, her hair was white and in tangles that moved friskly in the wind. Her voice sounded like the white bird that cries, "Come, come!" And that was just what she said as she beckoned him to follow her and learn witchcraft.

The boy followed, and she led him deeper and deeper into the forest. At last they came to a marshy bog where there were alder trees and a ramshacle old cottage. The cottage walls were made of peat, with moss pressed into the space between some of pieces of peat. The roof was thatched with reeds. Inside the cottage was a pretty young girl, Liz. The old woman did not say whether it was her daughter or her granddaughter or who she was. There were three large toads there too. In the cauldron that hung over the hearth was a dark broth with meat bones from a hare or something in it.

The woman put one of the toads outside the door to keep watch. The second toad was sent up in the attic to prepare a bed for the boy, the third toad was placed on the table to give light. This toad did its best, but although its green eyes glowed somewhat, it was less than the light of a glowworm.

Then the old woman and Liz ate their supper out of the cauldron, and offered some of the broth to the boy, but he could not touch it. He excused himself and said he was very tired and needed to sleep, so the old woman told him a straw bed was ready for him upstairs. He soon fell asleep on the bed, thinking that next morning he would start learning witchcraft, and that it would be very nice if Liz would give him lessons.

But downstairs the old witch whispered to the girl: "Another prisoner - Wake me up very early tomorrow morning, before the sun rises, for then we will deal with him further, all the way to the pot of broth."

Now they both went to bed, but Liz could not sleep, for she felt so sorry for the handsome boy that the witch wanted to kill while he was asleep. She got up from her bed and stood beside his, gazing at him. He looked like a sleeping angel. Liz detested that she had to serve the old witch who had stolen her from her parents long ago, when she was a little child. The witch had carried her off into the forest. There Liz had learned witchcraft, she too, so she knew how to fly through the air; become invisible; and change her shape as she wanted.

As she stood beside his bed and looked at him, she came to feel so deeply for him that she wanted to save him from the old witch if she could. So she woke him gently, and whispered, "Get up, dear, and follow me! Only death is in store for you here!"

"Won't I learn witchcraft here?" asked the boy, Fredrick.

"It would be better for you never to learn it," answered Liz. "In any case, you do not have time for it here andnow. Escape as fast as you can, and I will come along with you!"

"With you I will do it," said the boy, "I do not want to stay with the nasty old woman and the three toads."

"Come, then!" said Liz and quietly opened the cottage door after she had checked that the old woman was asleep. It was in the middle of the night, and some hours until early morning. While the old witch was asleep, Liz and Fredrick could slip away unnoticed. As Liz walked over the threshold she spat on it for some reason, and then they both ran away.

When they opened and closed the door to the cottage, the door made a little noise. The old woman woke up and called, "Liz! Get up! I think it will be day soon!"

Liz had put a spell on the spittle on the threshold, and the spittle answered the witch, "I'm up already!"

The old woman laid down again, as the fleeing couple hurried away from the cottage as fast as their legs could carry them. But the old woman could not go to sleep again, and some time later she called again, "Liz, is the fire on the hearth burning?"

The spittle on the threshold answered, "No. I have not blown up the fire."

The old woman stayed in bed a little longer while the boy and girl ran farther and farther away from the hut. Meanwhile the sun rose, and the old woman who had dozed off at that time, woke up and got out of bed, calling for Liz, "The sun is rising and you never woke me! Where are you?"

The witch got no answer, for by this time the sun had dried the spittle on the threshold. The witch hurried to find her, first inside the house and then outside. The boy was gone and Liz was gone also. The cottage was not swept and there was no wood burning on the hearth. The old woman got angry, grasped a broomstick and ran out of the house. Well outside, she struck at the door with the broomstick, and the house became invisible. And when she stepped on a puffball, a cloud of spores rose. Then she sat down on her broomstick and travelled through the air in that cloud. From above she could see the footprints of the fleeing couple, and speeded in their direction.

But Liz kept looking around and behind her shoulders, for she knew what the old witch was capable of doing. She said to Fredrick: "Do you see that brown cloud high in the sky behind us? It is the witch. Now it is no use running further, for she will catch up with us soon. I will have to try to outwit her. I will change into a sloe, and you will be a berry on the bush." In the wink of an eye Liz was a sloe with many berries, and the berry furthest down on the bush ws Fredrick.

The flying got thirsty, and when she saw the sloe she said to herself, "The air is so dry today. But here is a fine sloe! I will fly down to it and have some berries!" This she did. She plucked one berry after another until just one berry was left, and that berry was Fredrick. The old woman reached for the last berry many times, but there were so many thorns around it, and they pricked her thin fingers. She did not give up anyway.

But while she kept groping for the last berry among the thorns, it fell off and rolled downwards in the grass. Suddenly the sloe bush changed into a lake and the berre fell into the lake and became a duck. It was all through the magic that Liz had learned from the old woman. Then the old witch threw one of her slippers up in the air, and the slipper changed into a bird of prey that swooped down on the duck. But the duck dived quickly, and as soon as the beak of the bird of prey touched the water, it was hit by a wave that suddenly rose, dragged it down into the deep and drowned it. And then the duck came up again to the surface water-

The furious witch threw her second slipper into the water, and this slipper turned into a crocodile that swam after the duck to eat him. In response the duck flew into the air and settled again in another place in the lake, but the water around the crocodile's jaws turned into stone, so that the crocodile became too heavy to swim, sank and drowned too.

Now the old witch lay down at the water's edge. She wanted to drink up the water, for without it, the duck would not have a chance to escape but turn into a boy again. But the water the old woman drank turned to fire inside her, and she burst with a loud clap.

The duck changed into a boy again, and the fire turned back into Liz. They walked hand in hand to the house where the boy lived, and stayed there until they were grown up. Then they got married and lived happily together.

[AT 313 A]



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