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  1. The Farmer and His Sons
  2. The Little, Good Mouse
  3. The Three Princes and Their Beasts

The Farmer and His Sons

Fairy tale A FARMER had seven sons, who could never agree among themselves. He had often told them how foolish they were to be always quarreling, but they kept on and paid no heed to his words. One day he called them before him, and showed them a bundle of seven sticks tied tightly together.

"See which one of you can break that bundle," he said.

Each one took the bundle in his hands, and tried his best to break it; but it was so strong that they could not even bend it. At last they gave it back to their father, and said:

"We cannot break it."

Then he untied the bundle, and gave a single stick to each of his sons.

"Now see what you can do," he said.

Each one broke his stick with great ease.

"My sons," said the Farmer, "you, like these sticks, will be strong if you will stand together, but weak while each is for himself."


The Little, Good Mouse

Fairy tale ONCE on a time there lived a king and queen who loved each other so much that they were never happy unless they were together. Day after day they went out hunting or fishing; night after night they went to balls or to the opera; they sang, and danced, and ate sugar-plums, and were the gayest of the gay, and all their subjects followed their example so that the kingdom was called the Joyous Land. Now in the next kingdom everything was as different as it could possibly be. The king was sulky and savage, and never enjoyed himself at all. He looked so ugly and cross that all his subjects feared him, and he hated the very sight of a cheerful face; so if he ever caught anyone smiling he had his head cut off that very minute. This kingdom was very appropriately called the land of tears. Now when this wicked king heard of the happiness of the jolly king, he was so jealous that he collected a great army and set out to fight him, and the news of his approach was soon brought to the king and queen. The queen, when she heard of it, was frightened out of her wits, and began to cry bitterly. "Sire," she said, "let's collect all our riches and run away as far as ever we can, to the other side of the world."

But the king answered:

"Fie, madam! I'm far too brave for that. It's better to die than to be a coward."

Then he assembled all his armed men, and after bidding the queen a tender farewell, he mounted his splendid horse and rode away. When he was lost to sight the queen could do nothing but weep, and wring her hands, and cry.

"Alas! If the king is killed, what will become of me and of my little daughter?" and she was so sorrowful that she could neither eat nor sleep.

The king sent her a letter every day, but at last, one morning, as she looked out of the castle window, she saw a messenger approaching in hot haste.

"What news, courier? What news?" cried the queen, and he answered:

"The battle is lost and the king is dead, and in another moment the enemy will be here."

The poor queen fell back insensible, and all her ladies carried her to bed, and stood round her weeping and wailing. Then began a tremendous noise and confusion, and they knew that the enemy had arrived, and very soon they heard the king himself stamping about the castle seeking the queen. Then her ladies put the little princess into her arms, and covered her up, head and all, in the bedclothes, and ran for their lives, and the poor queen lay there shaking, and hoping she wouldn't be found. But very soon the wicked king clattered into the room, and in a fury because the queen wouldn't answer when he called to her, he tore back her silken coverings and tweaked off her lace cap, and when all her lovely hair came tumbling down over her shoulders, he wound it three times round his hand and threw her over his shoulder, where he carried her like a sack of flour.

The poor queen held her little daughter safe in her arms and shrieked for mercy, but the wicked king only mocked her, and begged her to go on shrieking, as it amused him, and so mounted his great black horse, and rode back to his own country. When he got there he declared that he would have the queen and the little princess hanged on the nearest tree; but his courtiers said that seemed a pity, for when the baby grew up she would be a very nice wife for the king's only son.

The king was rather pleased with this idea, and shut the queen up in the highest room of a tall tower, which was very tiny, and miserably furnished with a table and a very hard bed on the floor. Then he sent for a fairy who lived near his kingdom, and after receiving her with more politeness than he generally showed, and entertaining her at a sumptuous feast, he took her up to see the queen. The fairy was so touched by the sight of her misery that when she kissed her hand she whispered:

"Courage, madam! I think I see a way to help you."

The queen, a little comforted by these words, received her graciously, and begged her to take pity on the poor little princess, who had met with such a sudden reverse of fortune. But the king got very cross when he saw them whispering together, and cried harshly:

"Make an end of these fine speeches, madam. I brought you here to tell me if the child will grow up pretty and fortunate."

Then the fairy answered that the princess would be as pretty, and clever, and well brought up as it was possible to be, and the old king growled to the queen that it was lucky for her that it was so, as they would certainly have been hanged if it were otherwise. Then he stamped off, taking the fairy with him, and leaving the poor queen in tears.

"How can I wish my little daughter to grow up pretty if she is to be married to that horrid little dwarf, the king's son," she said to herself, "and yet, if she is ugly we shall both be killed. If I could only hide her away somewhere, so that the cruel king could never find her."

As the days went on, the queen and the little princess grew thinner and thinner, for their hard-hearted gaoler gave them every day only three boiled peas and a tiny morsel of black bread, so they were always terribly hungry. At last, one evening, as the queen sat at her spinning-wheel - for the king was so avaricious that she was made to work day and night - she saw a tiny, pretty little mouse creep out of a hole, and said to it:

"Alas, little creature! what are you coming to look for here? I only have three peas for my day's provision, so unless you wish to fast you must go elsewhere."

But the mouse ran here and there, and danced and capered so prettily, that at last the queen gave it her last pea, which she was keeping for her supper, saying: "Here, little one, eat it up; I've nothing better to offer you, but I give this willingly in return for the amusement I've had from you."

She had hardly spoken when she saw on the table a delicious little roast partridge, and two dishes of preserved fruit. "Truly," said she, "a kind action never goes unrewarded; "and she and the little princess ate their supper with great satisfaction, and then the queen gave what was left to the little mouse, who danced better than ever afterwards. The next morning came the gaoler with the queen's allowance of three peas, which he brought in on a large dish to make them look smaller; but as soon as he set it down the little mouse came and ate up all three, so that when the queen wanted her dinner there was nothing left for her. Then she was quite provoked, and said:

"What a bad little beast that mouse must be! If it goes on like this I shall be starved." But when she glanced at the dish again it was covered with all sorts of nice things to eat, and the queen made a very good dinner, and was gayer than usual over it. But afterwards as she sat at her spinning-wheel she began to consider what would happen if the little princess didn't grow up pretty enough to please the king, and she said to herself:

"Oh! if I could only think of some way of escaping."

As she spoke she saw the little mouse playing in a corner with some long straws. The queen took them and began to plait them, saying:

"If only I had straws enough I would make a basket with them, and let my baby down in it from the window to any kind passer- by who would take care of her."

By the time the straws were all plaited the little mouse had dragged in more and more, till the queen had plenty to make her basket, and she worked at it day and night, while the little mouse danced for her amusement; and at dinner and supper time the queen gave it the three peas and the bit of black bread, and always found something good in the dish in their place. She really couldn't imagine where all the nice things came from. At last one day when the basket was finished, the queen was looking out of the window to see how long a cord she must make to lower it to the bottom of the tower, when she noticed a little old woman who was leaning on her stick and looking up at her. Presently she said:

"I know your trouble, madam. If you like I'll help you."

"Oh! my dear friend," said the queen. "If you really wish to be of use to me you'll come at the time that I'll appoint, and I'll let down my poor little baby in a basket. If you'll take her, and bring her up for me, when I'm rich I'll reward you splendidly."

"I don't care about the reward," said the old woman, "but there is one thing I should like. You must know that I'm very particular about what I eat, and if there is one thing that I fancy above all others, it's a plump, tender little mouse. If there is such a thing in your garret just throw it down to me, and in return I'll promise that your little daughter shall be well taken care of."

The queen when she heard this began to cry, but made no answer, and the old woman after waiting a few minutes asked her what was the matter.

"Why," said the queen, "there is only one mouse in this garret, and that's such a dear, pretty little thing that I can't bear to think of its being killed."

"What!" cried the old woman, in a rage. "Do you care more for a miserable mouse than for your own baby? Good-bye, madam! I leave you to enjoy its company, and for my own part I thank my stars that I can get plenty of mice without troubling you to give them to me."

And she hobbled off grumbling and growling. As to the queen, she was so disappointed that, in spite of finding a better dinner than usual, and seeing the little mouse dancing in its merriest mood, she could do nothing but cry. That night when her baby was fast asleep she packed it into the basket, and wrote on a slip of paper, "This unhappy little girl is called Margot!" This she pinned to its robe, and then very sadly she was shutting the basket, when in sprang the little mouse and sat on the baby's pillow.

"Ah! little one," said the queen, "it cost me dear to save your life. How shall I know now whether my Margot is being taken care of or no? Anyone else would have let the greedy old woman have you, and eat you up, but I couldn't bear to do it." Whereupon the mouse answered:

"Believe me, madam, you'll never repent of your kindness."

The queen was immensely astonished when the mouse began to speak, and still more so when she saw its little sharp nose turn to a beautiful face, and its paws to hands and feet; then it suddenly grew tall, and the queen recognised the fairy who had come with the wicked king to visit her.

The fairy smiled at her astonished look, and said:

"I wanted to see if you were faithful and capable of feeling a real friendship for me, for you see we fairies are rich in everything but friends, and those are hard to find."

"It's not possible that you should want for friends, you charming creature," said the queen, kissing her.

"Indeed it's so," the fairy said. "For those who are only friendly with me for their own advantage, I don't count at all. But when you cared for the poor little mouse you couldn't have known there was anything to be gained by it, and to try you further I took the form of the old woman whom you talked to from the window, and then I was convinced that you really loved me." Then, turning to the little princess, she kissed her rosy lips three times, saying:

"Dear little one, I promise that you shall be richer than your father, and shall live a hundred years, always pretty and happy, without fear of old age and wrinkles."

The queen, quite delighted, thanked the fairy gratefully, and begged her to take charge of the little Margot and bring her up as her own daughter. This she agreed to do, and then they shut the basket and lowered it carefully, baby and all, to the ground at the foot of the tower. The fairy then changed herself back into the form of a mouse, and this delayed her a few seconds, after which she ran nimbly down the straw rope, but only to find when she got to the bottom that the baby had disappeared.

In the greatest terror she ran up again to the queen, crying:

"All is lost! my enemy Harriet has stolen the princess away. You must know that she is a cruel fairy who hates me, and as she is older than I'm and has more power, I can do nothing against her. I know no way of rescuing Margot from her clutches."

When the queen heard this terrible news she was heart-broken, and begged the fairy to do all she could to get the poor little princess back again. At this moment in came the gaoler, and when he missed the little princess he at once told the king, who came in a great fury asking what the queen had done with her. She answered that a fairy, whose name she didn't know, had come and carried her off by force. On this the king stamped on the ground, and cried in a terrible voice:

"You shall be hung! I always told you you should." And without another word he dragged the unlucky queen out into the nearest wood, and climbed up into a tree to look for a branch to which he could hang her. But when he was quite high up, the fairy, who had made herself invisible and followed them, gave him a sudden push, which made him lose his footing and fall to the ground with a crash and break four of his teeth, and while he was trying to mend them the fairy carried the queen off in her flying chariot to a beautiful castle, where she was so kind to her that but for the loss of Margot the queen would have been perfectly happy. But though the good little mouse did her very utmost, they couldn't find out where Harriet had hidden the little princess.

Thus fifteen years went by, and the queen had somewhat recovered from her grief, when the news reached her that the son of the wicked king wished to marry the little maiden who kept the turkeys, and that she had refused him; the wedding-dresses had been made, nevertheless, and the festivities were to be so splendid that all the people for leagues round were flocking in to be present at them. The queen felt quite curious about a little turkey-maiden who didn't wish to be a queen, so the little mouse conveyed herself to the poultry-yard to find out what she was like.

She found the turkey-maiden sitting on a big stone, barefooted, and miserably dressed in an old, coarse linen gown and cap; the ground at her feet was all strewn with robes of gold and silver, ribbons and laces, diamonds and pearls, over which the turkeys were stalking to and fro, while the king's ugly, disagreeable son stood opposite her, declaring angrily that if she wouldn't marry him she should be killed.

The turkey-maiden answered proudly:

"I never will marry you. You're too ugly and too much like your cruel father. Leave me in peace with my turkeys, which I like far better than all your fine gifts."

The little mouse watched her with the greatest admiration, for she was as beautiful as the spring; and as soon as the wicked prince was gone, she took the form of an old peasant woman and said to her:

"Good day, my pretty one! you have a fine flock of turkeys there."

The young turkey-maiden turned her gentle eyes on the old woman, and answered:

"Yet they wish me to leave them to become a miserable queen! what's your advice on the matter?"

"My child," said the fairy, "a crown is a very pretty thing, but you know neither the price nor the weight of it."

"I know so well that I've refused to wear one," said the little maiden, "though I don't know who was my father, or who was my mother, and I haven't a friend in the world."

"You have goodness and beauty, which are of more value than ten kingdoms," said the wise Fairy. "But tell me, child, how came you here, and how is it you have neither father, nor mother, nor friend?"

"A fairy called Harriet is the cause of my being here," answered she, "for while I lived with her I got nothing but blows and harsh words, till at last I could bear it no longer, and ran away from her without knowing where I was going, and as I came through a wood the wicked prince met me, and offered to give me charge of the poultry-yard. I accepted gladly, not knowing that I should have to see him day by day. And now he wants to marry me, but that I'll never consent to."

On hearing this the fairy became convinced that the little turkey-maiden was none other than the princess Margot.

"What's your name, my little one?" said she.

"I'm called Margot, if it please you," she answered.

Then the fairy threw her arms round the princess's neck, and nearly smothered her with kisses, saying:

"Ah, Margot! I'm a very old friend of yours, and I'm truly glad to find you at last; but you might look nicer than you do in that old gown, which is only fit for a kitchen-maid. Take this pretty dress and let's see the difference it will make."

So Margot took off the ugly cap, and shook out all her fair shining hair, and bathed her hands and face in clear water from the nearest spring till her cheeks were like roses, and when she was adorned with the diamonds and the splendid robe the fairy had given her, she looked the most beautiful princess in the world, and the fairy with great delight cried:

"Now you look as you ought to look, Margot: what do you think about it yourself?"

And Margot answered:

"I feel as if I were the daughter of some great king."

"And would you be glad if you were?" said the fairy.

"Indeed I should," answered she.

"Ah, well," said the fairy, "tomorrow I may have some pleasant news for you."

So she hurried back to her castle, where the queen sat busy with her embroidery, and cried:

"Well, madam! will you wager your thimble and your golden needle that I'm bringing you the best news you could possibly hear?"

"Alas!" sighed the queen, "since the death of the jolly king and the loss of my Margot, all the news in the world isn't worth a pin to me.

"There, there, don't be melancholy," said the fairy. "I assure you the princess is quite well, and I've never seen her equal for beauty. She might be a queen tomorrow if she chose; "and then she told all that had happened, and the queen first rejoiced over the thought of Margot's beauty, and then wept at the idea of her being a turkey-maiden.

"I won't hear of her being made to marry the wicked king's son," she said. "Let's go at once and bring her here."

In the meantime the wicked prince, who was very angry with Margot, had sat himself down under a tree, and cried and howled with rage and spite till the king heard him, and cried out from the window:

"What's the matter with you, that you're making all this disturbance?"

The prince replied:

"It's all because our turkey-maiden won't love me!"

"Won't love you? eh!" said the king. "We'll very soon see about that!" So he called his guards and told them to go and fetch Margot. "See if I don't make her change her mind pretty soon!" said the wicked king with a chuckle.

Then the guards began to search the poultry-yard, and could find nobody there but Margot, who, with her splendid dress and her crown of diamonds, looked such a lovely princess that they hardly dared to speak to her. But she said to them very politely:

"Pray tell me what you're looking for here?"

"Madam," they answered, "we are sent for an insignificant little person called Margot."

"Alas!" said she, "that's my name. What can you want with me?"

So the guards tied her hands and feet with thick ropes, for fear she might run away, and brought her to the king, who was waiting with his son.

When he saw her he was very much astonished at her beauty, which would have made anyone less hard-hearted sorry for her. But the wicked king only laughed and mocked at her, and cried: "Well, little fright, little toad! why don't you love my son, who is far too handsome and too good for you? Make haste and begin to love him this instant, or you shall be tarred and feathered."

Then the poor little princess, shaking with terror, went down on her knees, crying:

"Oh, don't tar and feather me, please! It would be so uncomfortable. Let me have two or three days to make up my mind, and then you shall do as you like with me."

The wicked prince would have liked very much to see her tarred and feathered, but the king ordered that she should be shut up in a dark dungeon. It was just at this moment that the queen and the fairy arrived in the flying chariot, and the queen was dreadfully distressed at the turn affairs had taken, and said miserably that she was destined to be unfortunate all her days. But the fairy bade her take courage.

"I'll pay them out yet," said she, nodding her head with an air of great determination.

That very same night, as soon as the wicked king had gone to bed, the fairy changed herself into the little mouse, and creeping up on to his pillow nibbled his ear, so that he squealed out quite loudly and turned over on his other side; but that was no good, for the little mouse only set to work and gnawed away at the second ear till it hurt more than the first one.

Then the king cried "Murder!" and "Thieves!" and all his guards ran to see what was the matter, but they could find nothing and nobody, for the little mouse had run off to the prince's room and was serving him in exactly the same way. All night long she ran from one to the other, till at last, driven quite frantic by terror and want of sleep, the king rushed out of the castle crying:

"Help! help! I'm pursued by rats."

The prince when he heard this got up also, and ran after the king, and they had not gone far when they both fell into the river and were never heard of again.

Then the good fairy ran to tell the queen, and they went together to the black dungeon where Margot was imprisoned. The fairy touched each door with her wand, and it sprang open instantly, but they had to go through forty before they came to the princess, who was sitting on the floor looking very dejected. But when the queen rushed in, and kissed her twenty times in a minute, and laughed, and cried, and told Margot all her history, the princess was wild with delight. Then the fairy showed her all the wonderful dresses and jewels she had brought for her, and said:

"Don't let's waste time; we must go and harangue the people."

So she walked first, looking very serious and dignified, and wearing a dress the train of which was at least ten ells long. Behind her came the queen wearing a blue velvet robe embroidered with gold, and a diamond crown that was brighter than the sun itself. Last of all walked Margot, who was so beautiful that it was nothing short of marvellous.

They proceeded through the streets, returning the salutations of all they met, great or small, and all the people turned and followed them, wondering who these noble ladies could be.

When the audience hall was quite full, the fairy said to the subjects of the wicked king that if they would accept Margot, who was the daughter of the jolly king, as their queen, she would undertake to find a suitable husband for her, and would promise that during their reign there should be nothing but rejoicing and merry-making, and all dismal things should be entirely banished. On this the people cried with one accord, "We will, we will! we've been gloomy and miserable too long already." And they all took hands and danced round the queen, and Margot, and the good Fairy, singing: "Yes, yes; we will, we will!"

Then there were feasts and fireworks in every street in the town, and early the next morning the fairy, who had been all over the world in the night, brought back with her, in her flying chariot, the most handsome and good-tempered prince she could find anywhere. He was so charming that Margot loved him from the moment their eyes met, and as for him, of course he couldn't help thinking himself the luckiest prince in the world. The queen felt that she had really come to the end of her misfortunes at last, and they all lived happily ever after.

[La bonne vetite Souris by Madame d'Aulnoy - #2.3]


The Three Princes and Their Beasts

Fairy tale ONCE on a time there were three princes, who had a step-sister. One day they all set out hunting together. When they had gone some way through a thick wood they came on a great grey wolf with three cubs. Just as they were going to shoot, the wolf spoke and said, "Don't shoot me, and I'll give each of you one of my young ones. It will be a faithful friend to you."

So the princes went on their way, and a little wolf followed each of them.

Soon after they came on a lioness with three cubs. And she too begged them not to shoot her, and she would give each of them a cub. And so it happened with a fox, a hare, a boar, and a bear, till each prince had quite a following of young beasts padding along behind him.

Towards evening they came to a clearing in the wood, where three birches grew at the crossing of three roads. The eldest prince took an arrow, and shot it into the trunk of one of the birch trees. Turning to his brothers he said:

"Let each of us mark one of these trees before we part on different ways. When any one of us comes back to this place, he must walk round the trees of the other two, and if he sees blood flowing from the mark in the tree he'll know that that brother is dead, but if milk flows he'll know that his brother is alive."

So each of the princes did as the eldest brother had said, and when the three birches were marked by their arrows they turned to their step-sister and asked her with which of them she meant to live.

"With the eldest," she answered. Then the brothers separated from each other, and each of them set out down a different road, followed by their beasts. And the step-sister went with the eldest prince.

After they had gone a little way along the road they came into a forest, and in one of the deepest glades they suddenly found themselves opposite a castle in which there lived a band of robbers. The prince walked up to the door and knocked. The moment it was opened the beasts rushed in, and each seized on a robber, killed him, and dragged the body down to the cellar. Now, one of the robbers was not really killed, only badly wounded, but he lay quite still and pretended to be dead like the others. Then the prince and his step-sister entered the castle and took up their abode in it.

The next morning the prince went out hunting. Before leaving he told his step-sister that she might go into every room in the house except into the cave where the dead robbers lay. But as soon as his back was turned she forgot what he had said, and having wandered through all the other rooms she went down to the cellar and opened the door. As soon as she looked in the robber who had only pretended to be dead sat up and said to her:

"Don't be afraid. Do what I tell you, and I'll be your friend. If you marry me you'll be much happier with me than with your brother. But you must first go into the sitting-room and look in the cupboard. There you'll find three bottles. In one of them there is a healing ointment which you must put on my chin to heal the wound; then if I drink the contents of the second bottle it will make me well, and the third bottle will make me stronger than I ever was before. Then, when your brother comes back from the wood with his beasts you must go to him and say, "'Brother, you're very strong. If I were to fasten your thumbs behind your back with a stout silk cord, could you wrench yourself free?'" And when you see that he can't do it, call me."

When the brother came home, the step-sister did as the robber had told her, and fastened her brother's thumbs behind his back. But with one wrench he set himself free, and said to her, "Sister, that cord isn't strong enough for me."

The next day he went back to the wood with his beasts, and the robber told her that she must take a much stouter cord to bind his thumbs with. But again he freed himself, though not so easily as the first time, and he said to his sister:

"Even that cord isn't strong enough."

The third day, on his return from the wood he consented to have his strength tested for the last time. So she took a very strong cord of silk, which she had prepared by the robber's advice, and this time, though the prince pulled and tugged with all his might, he couldn't break the cord. So he called to her and said: "Sister, this time the cord is so strong I can't break it. Come and unfasten it for me."

But instead of coming she called to the robber, who rushed into the room brandishing a knife, with which he prepared to attack the prince.

But the prince spoke and said:

"Have patience for one minute. I would like before I die to blow three blasts on my hunting horn—one in this room, one on the stairs, and one in the courtyard."

So the robber consented, and the prince blew the horn. At the first blast, the fox, which was asleep in the cage in the courtyard, awoke, and knew that his master needed help. So he awoke the wolf by flicking him across the eyes with his brush. Then they awoke the lion, who sprang against the door of the cage with might and main, so that it fell in splinters on the ground, and the beasts were free. Rushing through the court to their master's aid, the fox gnawed the cord in two that bound the prince's thumbs behind his back, and the lion flung himself on the robber, and when he had killed him and torn him in pieces each of the beasts carried off a bone.

Then the prince turned to the step-sister and said:

"I won't kill you, but I'll leave you here to repent " And he fastened her with a chain to the wall, and put a great bowl in front of her and said, "I won't see you again till you have filled this bowl with your tears."

So saying, he called his beasts, and set out on his travels. When he had gone a little way he came to an inn. Everyone in the inn seemed so sad that he asked them what was the matter.

"Ah," replied they, "today our king's daughter is to die. She is to be handed over to a dreadful nine-headed dragon."

Then the prince said: "Why should she die? I'm very strong, I'll save her."

And he set out to the sea-shore, where the dragon was to meet the princess. And as he waited with his beasts round him a great procession came along, accompanying the unfortunate princess: and when the shore was reached all the people left her, and returned sadly to their houses. But the prince remained, and soon he saw a movement in the water a long way off. As it came nearer, he knew what it was, for skimming swiftly along the waters came a monster dragon with nine heads. Then the prince took counsel with his beasts, and as the dragon approached the shore the fox drew his brush through the water and blinded the dragon by scattering the salt water in his eyes, while the bear and the lion threw up more water with their paws, so that the monster was bewildered and could see nothing. Then the prince rushed forward with his sword and killed the dragon, and the beasts tore the body in pieces.

Then the princess turned to the prince and thanked him for delivering her from the dragon, and she said to him:

"Step into this carriage with me, and we will drive back to my father's castle." And she gave him a ring and half of her handkerchief. But on the way back the coachman and footman spoke to one another and said:

"Why should we drive this stranger back to the castle? Let's kill him, and then we can say to the king that we slew the dragon and saved the princess, and one of us shall marry her."

So they killed the prince, and left him dead on the roadside. And the faithful beasts came round the dead body and wept, and wondered what they should do. Then suddenly the wolf had an idea, and he started off into the wood, where he found an ox, which he straightway killed. Then he called the fox, and told him to mount guard over the dead ox, and if a bird came past and tried to peck at the flesh he was to catch it and bring it to the lion. Soon after a crow flew past, and began to peck at the dead ox. In a moment the fox had caught it and brought it to the lion. Then the lion said to the crow:

"We won't kill you if you'll promise to fly to the town where there are three wells of healing and to bring back water from them in your beak to make this dead man alive."

So the crow flew away, and she filled her beak at the well of healing, the well of strength, and the well of swiftness, and she flew back to the dead prince and dropped the water from her beak on his lips, and he was healed, and could sit up and walk.

Then he set out for the town, accompanied by his faithful beasts. And when they reached the king's castle they found that preparations for a great feast were being made, for the princess was to marry the coachman.

So the prince walked into the castle, and went straight up to the coachman and said: "What token have you got that you killed the dragon and won the hand of the princess? I've her token here—this ring and half her handkerchief."

And when the king saw these tokens he knew that the prince was speaking the truth. So the coachman was bound in chains and thrown into prison, and the prince was married to the princess and rewarded with half the kingdom.

One day, soon after his marriage, the prince was walking through the woods in the evening, followed by his faithful beasts. Darkness came on, and he lost his way, and wandered about among the trees looking for the path that would lead him back to the castle. As he walked he saw the light of a fire, and making his way to it he found an old woman raking sticks and dried leaves together, and burning them in a glade of the wood.

As he was very tired, and the night was very dark, the prince determined not to wander further. So he asked the old woman if he might spend the night beside her fire.

"Of course you may," she answered. "But I'm afraid of your beasts. Let me hit them with my rod, and then I shall not be afraid of them."

"Very well," said the prince, "I don't mind'; and she stretched out her rod and hit the beasts, and in one moment they were turned into stone, and so was the prince.

Now soon after this the prince's youngest brother came to the cross-roads with the three birches, where the brothers had parted from each other when they set out on their wanderings. Remembering what they had agreed to do, he walked round the two trees, and when he saw that blood oozed from the cut in the eldest prince's tree he knew that his brother must be dead. So he set out, followed by his beasts, and came to the town over which his brother had ruled, and where the princess he had married lived. And when he came into the town all the people were in great sorrow because their prince had disappeared.

But when they saw his youngest brother, and the beasts following him, they thought it was their own prince, and they rejoiced greatly, and told him how they had sought him everywhere. Then they led him to the king, and he too thought that it was his son-in-law. But the princess knew that he was not her husband, and she begged him to go out into the woods with his beasts, and to look for his brother till he found him.

So the youngest prince set out to look for his brother, and he too lost his way in the wood and night overtook him. Then he came to the clearing among the trees, where the fire was burning and where the old woman was raking sticks and leaves into the flames. And he asked her if he might spend the night beside her fire, as it was too late and too dark to go back to the town.

And she answered: "Certainly you may. But I'm afraid of your beasts. May I give them a stroke with my rod, then I shall not be afraid of them."

And he said she might, for he didn't know that she was a witch. So she stretched out her rod, and in a moment the beasts and their master were turned into stone.

It happened soon after that the second brother returned from his wanderings and came to the cross-roads where the three birches grew. As he went round the trees he saw that blood poured from the cuts in the bark of two of the trees. Then he wept and said:

"Alas! both my brothers are dead." And he too set out towards the town in which his brother had ruled, and his faithful beasts followed him. When he entered the town, all the people thought it was their own prince come back to them, and they gathered round him, as they had gathered round his youngest brother, and asked him where he had been and why he had not returned. And they led him to the king's castle, but the princess knew that he was not her husband. So when they were alone together she besought him to go and seek for his brother and bring him home. Calling his beasts round him, he set out and wandered through the woods. And he put his ear down to the earth, to listen if he could hear the sound of his brother's beasts. And it seemed to him as if he heard a faint sound far off, but he didn't know from what direction it came. So he blew on his hunting horn and listened again. And again he heard the sound, and this time it seemed to come from the direction of a fire burning in the wood. So he went towards the fire, and there the old woman was raking sticks and leaves into the embers. And he asked her if he might spend the night beside her fire. But she told him she was afraid of his beasts, and he must first allow her to give each of them a stroke with her rod.

But he answered her:

"Certainly not. I'm their master, and no one shall strike them but I myself. Give me the rod'; and he touched the fox with it, and in a moment it was turned into stone. Then he knew that the old woman was a witch, and he turned to her and said:

"Unless you restore my brothers and their beasts back to life at once, my lion will tear you in pieces."

Then the witch was terrified, and taking a young oak tree she burnt it into white ashes, and sprinkled the ashes on the stones that stood around. And in a moment the two princes stood before their brother, and their beasts stood round them.

Then the three princes set off together to the town. And the king didn't know which was his son-in-law, but the princess knew which was her husband, and there were great rejoicings throughout the land.

[Lithuanian - #1.5]


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