THERE was once a young man who had wandered out into the world to seek his fortune. As he went his way he met an old man who asked him for alms. The lad told him that he had no money; but that he would gladly share with him what food he had, and this the old man gratefully accepted. They seated themselves beneath a tree, and the young man divided the food into two equal parts. When they had eaten he rose to go on his way; but the old man said, "You shared what you had with me, and in return I will give you this stick and this ball, for they will make your fortune. If you raise the stick in the air in front of you, you will become invisible; and if you strike the ball with the stick, it will roll in front of you, and show you the road you should take."
The young man thanked him for his gifts, cast the ball to the ground and struck it with the stick. The ball rolled swiftly in advance of him, and kept on rolling, until they came to a large city. Here he saw that the chopped-off heads of human beings had been planted all around the city walls. He asked the first person whom he met why this was, and learned that the whole country grieved because of the princess, who wore out twelve pair of golden shoes every night without anyone knowing how she did so. The old king was weary of it, and had vowed whoever could solve the mystery should receive the princess and half the kingdom beside; but whoever tried and could not solve it would have to lose his life. Now many princes and great lords had come and made the attempt, because the princess was surpassingly lovely; but all of them had had to yield their lives, and the old king was in deep sorrow because of it.
When the young man heard of this he had a great mind to undertake the adventure. He at once went to the castle and said he would make the attempt the following night. When the old king saw him, he felt sorry for him, and he advised him to give up the undertaking, since he was certain to have no better luck than his predecessors. But he held to his resolve, and the king said that he should sleep for three nights in the princess' room, and see whether he could discover anything; and if he had not discovered anything by the third day, he would have to take his way to the scaffold.
The young man was satisfied to have it so, and in the evening he was led into the princess' room, where a bed had been prepared for him. He leaned his stick against the bed, hung his knapsack on it, and lay down resolved not to close an eye the whole night. He stayed awake for a long time and did not notice anything; but suddenly he fell asleep, and when he woke up it was bright daylight. Then he was very angry with himself, and resolved firmly that he would keep a better watch the following night.
But the next night passed just as the first had, and now the young man had but a single night left.
When he lay down the third night, he pretended to fall asleep at once; and before long he heard a voice asking the princess whether he were sleeping. The princess answered, "Yes," and thereupon a maiden clad in white came to his bed and said, "I will test him, at any rate, to see whether he is really asleep," and she took a golden needle and thrust it into his heel. But he did not move, and she went away and left the needle behind her. Then he saw her, together with the princess, move aside the latter's bed, so that a flight of stairs came to view, and they went down the flight of stairs. He rose quickly, took the needle and put it in his knapsack on his back, and held his stick before him so that he was invisible. Then he followed them down the stairs, and they went on until they reached a forest that was all of silver trees, flowers and grass.
When they came to the end of the silver forest, he broke a branch from a tree, and put it in his knapsack. The princess heard the trees rustle and turned around; but she could see no one. "Oh, that is only the wind!" said the maiden with her.
Then they came to another forest, where all was of gold trees, flowers and grass; and when they reached the end of the golden forest, he broke a branch and put it in his knapsack. The princess turned around, and said it seemed as though someone were behind them; but the girl replied again that it was only the wind.
Then they came to a forest whose trees, flowers and grass were all of diamond, and when they reached the end of the diamond forest, he broke a branch from a tree and put it in his knapsack. Finally they reached a lake, and there lay a little boat, and the princess and the girl got in. But as they were about to push off, he leaped into the boat, and it rocked so strongly that the princess grew afraid, and cried out that now surely someone was behind them. But the girl replied it was only the wind.
They crossed to the opposite shore, and there lay a great castle. An ugly troll came up, received the princess, led her in and asked her why she was so late. Then she told him she had suffered a great fright, and that someone had followed them, though she had seen no one. Then they seated themselves at the table, and the young man stood behind the princess' chair. When she had eaten, he took away her golden plate, her golden knife and her golden fork, and put them all in his knapsack. The troll and the princess could not imagine what had become of them; but the troll wasted no more thought on them, for now he wanted to dance. So they began to dance, and the princess danced twelve times with the troll, and each time she danced with him she completely wore out a pair of golden shoes. But when she had danced the last dance and thrown the shoes in the corner, the young man picked them up, and put them in his knapsack. When the dancing was over the troll led her back to the boat, and the young man crossed with them, and was the first to jump ashore and run home swiftly, so that he got there before they did, and could lie down in bed and pretend to be asleep when the princess arrived.
In the morning the old king came, and asked whether he had discovered anything; but he said he had fallen asleep, as he had the two nights preceding, and had not noticed anything. This made the old king very sad; but the princess was all the happier, and wished to see him beheaded herself. So the young man was led to the scaffold, and the king and the princess and the whole court went along.
And as he stood on the scaffold, he begged permission of the king to tell him a wonderful dream he had dreamt during the night just passed, and the king granted his request. So he told how he had dreamed that a girl clad in white had come to the princess and asked her whether he was asleep; and in order to make certain, the girl in white had thrust a golden needle into his heel. "'And I think this is the very needle," he said and drew it forth from his knapsack. "And then I dreamed that they pushed the princess' bed aside, and went down a flight of steps, hidden beneath the bed, and I went after them; and then I dreamed that we came to a forest where the trees, flowers and grass were all of silver, and I broke a branch from one of the trees. Here it is. Then we came to a forest where the trees, flowers and grass were of gold, and I broke a branch from one of those trees. Here it is. Then I dreamed we came to a forest where the trees, flowers and grass were of diamond, and I broke a branch from one of those trees. Here it is. Then I dreamed that we went on and came to a lake, where lay a boat, and the princess and the girl got into the boat. But when I leaped in the princess was frightened, and said that there was someone behind her, though she could not see me. We crossed the lake to a great castle, and there an ugly troll received the princess and led her into the castle, and sat down to dine with her; and I dreamed that I stood behind her chair, and that after she had eaten, I took her plate, her knife and her fork and put them in my knapsack. Here they are. And then I dreamed that the troll asked the princess to dance with him, and that she danced twelve times, and each time she danced she wore out a pair of golden shoes. But when she had danced the last dance, and flung the shoes aside, I picked them up, put them in my knapsack, and here they are. Then I dreamed the princess came home again; but I reached the castle before she did, and lay down in bed before she arrived."
When the old king had heard all this, his happiness was beyond bounds; but the princess was half-dead with fright, and could not imagine how it had all happened. The king now wished the young man to marry the princess; but he decided to pay the troll a visit first, and asked the princess to lend him her golden thimble. She gave it to him, and the young man descended the stairs, passed through the silver forest, the golden forest and the diamond forest by the lake, and rowed across to the troll's castle. When he found the troll, he thrust him through the heart with the golden needle that he had drawn from his heel, and held the princess' thimble beneath it. Three drops of blood fell into it, and the troll died.
Then he rowed back, and when he came to the diamond forest, he let one drop of blood fall to the ground. At once all the trees, flowers and grasses turned into as many men, women and children. They were so happy to be released from their enchantment that they begged him to be their king, for they were a whole nation. They followed him to the golden forest, and there he let another drop of blood fall to the ground; and there, too, all the trees, flowers and grasses turned into human beings, enough to people a kingdom. They went with him to the silver forest, and here he let the third drop of blood fall to the ground and all the trees, flowers and grasses likewise became human beings, praised him as their deliverer, and wished to make him their king. They went with him to the old king and told him of their deliverance, and he and the princess were also happy, now that she, too, had been released from her enchantment. Then the wedding was celebrated with great splendour, and he became king over all three kingdoms.
ONCE on a time there was a fisherman who made his living fishing. One day, when he was out casting his nets, a bad storm came up, and it so happened that a merman swam up to him and asked him whether he would like to get home. "Yes," said the fisherman, he'd like to get home very much, but it did not look as though he would, since the weather was so bad, and he was alone in his little boat. "Well," said the merman, "if the fisherman would give him the youngest thing in the house when he got home, he should have good weather and fisherman's luck; and he would not demand the youngest thing in his house from him for full twelve years. Yes, said the man, the merman was welcome to the youngest thing in his home, for he thought that such, a condition might be susceptible to change.
The weather at once cleared up, and the fisherman caught so many fish that their number was past belief. Then he sailed to a trading port and sold them, and put out to sea again to catch more. He returned to port several times, sold his fish, and collected a great deal of money.
At home his wife had been mourning for him, because he had not returned with the other fishermen, and she thought he was dead. The others put out to sea again when the weather changed, and there they came across him, standing in his boat and hauling in the fishes as fast as he could.
"God be praised, there you are safe and sound!" 3 said they. "Your wife has been mourning for you, because she feels sure you have been drowned.'"
"She need not worry about me," said the man, "for I'm going home to her now.': He had money, he had fish, and he had all sorts of things that he had bought in the city, and so home he went. But when he came home there was a little baby boy waiting for him the youngest thing in the house. The fisherman said nothing about his talk with the merman, and that he would have to give up his child after twelve years. His fisherman's luck was constant, and he earned a great deal of money. In the course of time he bought a little farm and kept two horses.
The boy who had come into the world during his father's absence at sea, grew up and became strong. His name was Jack, and as soon as he was big enough, he learned to handle the plough. When his father was alone with the boy, he often had to cry.
Once, when the boy was nearly twelve years old, he asked his father why it was that he always cried. So his father told him it was useless to conceal it any longer, how he had been caught in a storm at sea, and had been obliged to promise a merman the youngest thing he would find in the house when he got home. But the merman did not want him until he was twelve years of age. The boy's twelfth birthday was near at hand, and he had to tell his wife. She would not be comforted: they had only this child, and now they were to lose it, and to lose it in such a way.
But Jack himself said, "I have no objection; if he wants to have me, he will probably do me no harm." And when he was about to leave, and his mother said that at least he ought to put on his best clothes, Jack answered, "'No, if he wants me, let him clothe and feed me, too!"
So his father took him out to sea, to the appointed place, where the merman was to receive him. And the merman came and took the boy with him, and his father went back home again, and his fisherman's luck remained constant as before.
Now when Jack came down to the merman's abode, all he had to do was to take care of a horse and a lion; it was his business to spread fire before, and oats behind them. Every day the merman drove his goats into the wood, and in the meantime Jack was left to shift for himself, and as has been said, was supposed to take care of the two animals.
One day the horse said to him, "That's not the way to do! You should lay the fire behind and the oats before us!"
"What!" cried Jack, "are you able to talk?"
"Yes," said the horse, "I have known how to talk for a number of years; but if you are true to us, you can deliver us and yourself as well."
"That is just what I'll do!" replied Jack.
Then the horse said, "Go into the great room! There you will see three bottles standing on the table, and a great sword hanging from the wall. Drink first from the one bottle, then from the next, and finally from the third. And then see whether you are able to lift the sword. And there is a comb lying on the table with which you must comb your hair."
Jack did as the horse told him. He went into the room, and there he saw the bottles. On the first one was written, "If you drink from this bottle you will be strong." And when he had drunk from it he was able to move the sword a little from its place. Then he took the second bottle. On it was written, "If you drink from this bottle you will become stronger." And when he had drunk from it he found he was able to lift down the sword from the wall. Then he took the third bottle. On it was written, "If you drink from this bottle your strength will be measureless." And when he had drunk from it, he tried the sword, and found that he could swing it with ease. Then he took the comb and combed his hair; and his hair grew so long that it reached to his heels, and it shone like gold. Then he returned to the horse, and told him he had done as he had been told, and that now he could swing the sword.
Then the horse said, "Now you must pack up all the eatables, and as much gold and silver as we can carry, and then put on the kirtle hanging on the wall, and gird on the sword." Jack did all this, mounted the horse, unloosed the lion, and rode off, the lion running after.
In the evening, when the merman came back with his goats, he found Jack, the horse and the lion gone. He grew furiously angry and began to pursue them. Then the horse said to Jack, "Turn around and look back!"
"It seems to me as though the sky were getting quite black and grey behind us," said Jack.
"Yes, it is the merman, who is chasing us," replied the horse. "Tear a hair out of my tail, and one out of my mane, and order so great a forest to grow behind us, that the merman will not be able to pass through, and will have to go home to get axe and saw, in order to chop his way through."
And the merman came to the forest, and had he not been furious before, he would surely have become so now; for he had to turn back and get axe and saw in order to chop his way through the trees. Now they had a long, good start; but suddenly the horse said, "Turn around and look back!"
"Yes," said Jack, "it again seems to me as though the sky were getting black and grey behind us; but it is much worse this time than before."
"Tear a hair out of my tail, and one out of my mane," said the horse, "and order so deep a sea to spread out behind us, that the merman cannot pass through it until he has brought his goats to drink it up."
"When the merman reached the sea, he grew still more furious, ran back home and brought his goats to drink it up. Now they had another long, good start. After a while the horse said, "Look around once more. Is there anything to be seen?"
"Yes," said Jack. "Now it seems to me as though there were a fire burning behind us, high up in the air."
"Well," said the horse, "the merman is really furious now. He is so furious that one could strike sparks from his eyes. Pull a hair out of my tail, and one out of my mane, and order such a hot fire to burn behind us that the merman cannot cross it unless he goes home and fetches his steel pole to help him leap across."
So the merman had to go back and fetch his steel pole, and he nearly missed finding it. He looked in every nook and corner, and at last came to his old mother, who sat in one of them.
"What is the matter, little son?" said she. "Why are you so angry?" For he darted about everywhere, dealing blows and punches. Well, said he, it was no wonder that he was angry, for the lad whom he had brought up, had stolen all his property, and though he had pursued him, he could not reach him. First he had planted a forest in front of him, and the second time a sea, and now it was a fire; and he could not cross the fire unless he found his steel pole, to help him jump across.
"Heaven above!" cried the old woman. "Had not I better go along with you? I think I could jump more lightly than you could!"
So he took her on his back and dragged her along. When they came to the fire, he thrust the pole into the middle of it so that the old woman could take hold and jump across; and she jumped and jumped right into the flames. There she sat and cried, "Heaven above, little son, do come and help me out of the fire!" So he jumped into the fire in turn, and there they both sat and were burned up.
Then the horse said, "Well, now we are rid of the merman. Can you give us something to eat? For we are hungry, and whatever you can eat we can eat as well." "When they had eaten, the horse spoke again, "There is a king's castle here in this forest. You can go there and take service; but you must come out here every evening, and bring us something to eat."
Jack went to the castle and was taken in as a stable boy. He had to wash, groom and curry the horses, and the head groom was very well satisfied with him. When they gave him his supper in the evening, he took it out into the forest to the horse, who asked him, "Well, what luck did you have, Jack?"
"I'm in the stable," said Jack, "and they treat me very well indeed."
"That will never do," said the horse. "You cannot stay there. Tomorrow, after you have washed the horses, rub dust and straw into their coats."
And Jack did as he said. The following morning, after he had washed and curried the horses, he took dust and straw and rubbed it into their coats. The head groom came and saw what he had done, grew angry, took his whip and gave Jack a terrible flogging. When the cook of the castle saw that, he felt sorry for the boy and he said, "It is a sin and a shame to beat the little fellow so unmercifully!"
No, said the head groom, he had deserved it, because he had rubbed dust and straw into the horses' coats after he had washed them.
"Give the boy to me," said the cook, "I can make good use of such a lad."
So Jack came into the kitchen, where he was even better placed than he had been in the stable. He was given leavings of bread and meat and his supper as well, and could take it all out to the horse. In the evening he went into the forest, and told him what had happened, that now he was in the kitchen, and was treated very well. But the horse said, "That will not do either; you cannot stay there. Tomorrow morning, after you have cleaned and rinsed, you must dirty the dishes again, so that they will drive you out."
"But then I'll get such a hard beating," said Jack.
"You must pay no attention to that," said the horse, "you will be compensated for your beating in due time."
And Jack did as the horse told him. The next day, after he had rinsed the dishes, he dirtied them again. When the cook saw this, he fell into a rage, seized his poker and gave the boy a good thrashing. Jack cried and wailed till the gardener came along and heard him.
"Why, how can you beat that poor boy so?" he cried.
"Because he is so mischievous," said the cook. "First he rinses the dishes, and then he dirties them again."
"Give me the little fellow," said the gardener. "I can make good use of him in the garden."
So Jack went to the garden with the gardener, and in the evening, when he had been given his supper, he ran out into the forest to the horse.
"I'm in the garden now, and they treat me very well," said Jack.
"Well, see to it that you stay there," said the horse. And Jack was glad to hear him say so, for he had no mind to change service again, as he had been doing.
Jack stayed with the gardener and was well treated, and every evening he went out to see the horse. The king had three daughters, and the gardener was accustomed to make up a bouquet for each of them every Saturday. On the first day that Jack was there he begged the gardener to let him make up a bouquet. But the gardener would not risk it; he was afraid that Jack would not attend to it properly, and he had just enough flowers to answer his purpose. But Jack begged and begged until finally he was given permission, and he made up a little bouquet which was much prettier than any ever made up by the gardener. And now they had to bring the bouquets Jack wanted to deliver his in person to a certain door, through which the princesses passed at a given hour, and received the flowers. Here Jack saw the princesses for the first time, and he looked carefully to find the one to whom he would best like to give his bouquet, and lo and behold, it was the youngest princess! Jack was wearing an old dirty cap, that covered his wonderful hair, and this cap he never took off. When he came to the door where the princesses and the courtiers were standing, he was told to take off his cap.
"No, I am scabby!" said Jack, and from that time on every one called him "Scabby Jack." And when the royal family would go down into the gardens and walk there, they often amused themselves by saying to Jack, "Take off your cap!" for then he would always answer, "I am scabby."
So he gave his bouquet to the youngest princess, and she tipped him with gold pieces. He showed these to the gardener, and said how odd it was that she should have given him counters. Then the gardener relieved him of the gold pieces, and gave him copper coins instead; for those he recognized.
When Saturday came around again the gardener wanted Jack to make up all three of the bouquets; but Jack would only make up one, and that he gave to the youngest princess. She told him again to take off his cap, but he again said no, that he was scabby. So she tipped him again with gold pieces for which the gardener gave him copper coins. Time passed, and people began to tease the princess about Scabby Jack, and she had to hear his name every hour of the day.
Now it happened that a war broke out, and the whole country was besieged by the army of the foe. All who had not already gone to the war then wished to take part in it, and everyone was given a horse. Scabby Jack asked for a horse, too; but there was nothing but an old mare left, who could only move on three legs. So they gave the mare to Jack, and he rode off on the three-legged beast, with every one laughing and grinning behind his back. He rode away from the others into the wood, where the horse and the lion had stayed, and where he had hidden his sword and kirtle. There he hid his ragged old jacket and his old cap, tied his three-legged mare to a tree, and mounted the merman's horse. His golden hair hung down his back, he had his sword at his side, and the lion followed him. In this wise he rode to the battle-field, and halted a short distance away to see how matters stood. The enemy was so powerful that he was about to gain the upper hand. So the horse said to Jack, "'Blow into the handle of your sword!" And soldiers rose from the earth in such numbers, horsemen and footmen, that one could not see the ground. Then Jack hewed about him with his sword, and the lion bit and clawed, and they slew many of the enemy. And when the enemy had been defeated the horse said to Jack, "Now blow into the other end of your sword!" And then all the soldiers disappeared. An armistice was then proclaimed until the following day, when the battle was to go on.
The king ordered his people to bring him the man who had won the battle. But Jack rode back into the forest, and they could not find him. When he got there, he unsaddled his horse, hid his kirtle and his sword, stuffed his wonderful hair under his cap, got on his three-legged mare and rode back to the castle. He was the first to get back, and was able to tell all that had happened; how someone had come with a great number of soldiers and had beaten the foe.
On the following day the same thing happened. Jack came and asked for a horse, so that he might ride out and look on. Well, said the king, since he was to be his son-in-law some day, he would have to give him a horse. For that was the jest that they played on the youngest princess, saying that she was to marry Scabby Jack. So he was once more given the three-legged mare, rode out to the forest, tied her to a tree, and mounted his own horse, with his sword at his side, his golden hair hanging down his back, and the lion following after him. Thus he rode on and drew rein by the king's army, and watched the enemy slay the king's soldiers. Then the horse said to him, "Blow into the handle of your sword!" And soldiers rose from the earth in such numbers, horsemen and footmen, that it was impossible to count them. And Jack hewed and thrust, and the lion bit and clawed so many of the foe that the latter were again defeated. Then the horse said, "Blow into the other end of your sword!" And the soldiers, every last man of them, disappeared.
The king and his people were well aware that the same person had helped them once more, and they rode after him; but he reached the forest before anyone caught up with him. The king could not understand where the soldiers who had aided him came from, for he had asked no other nation's help. Jack unsaddled his horse again, hid his kirtle and his sword, stuffed his hair under his cap, put on his old rags and rode home on the three-legged mare. He was the first one to get back, and all crowded around him to hear what had happened. Jack informed them that strange troops had once more appeared, and had aided them and defeated the enemy. There was an armistice declared until the third day, and then the battle was to be resumed.
When the others rode off, Jack also wanted to go along and watch. And, as he had the last time, the king said that Jack should have a horse, since after all, he was to become his son-in-law. The three-legged mare was the only horse left, and was once more given to him. He rode to the forest, took off his old jacket and put on his war mantle, mounted his own horse, and with his sword at his side, his golden hair hanging down his back, and followed by the lion, he drew rein by the army and looked on. Now this day the king himself took part in the battle, for he wanted to end the war. And the enemy were about to capture the king, when the horse said, "Blow into the handle of your sword!" And at once so many soldiers rose from the earth, horsemen and footmen, that they hid the ground. Jack rode on the enemy, hewed and thrust, and the lion bit and tore to pieces all who got in his way. This went on till not one of the enemy was left, for they had all fallen. Then the horse said, "Blow into the other end of your sword!" And all the soldiers, every last man of them disappeared. The king had them blow the alarm, to encircle the stranger, whoever he might be, for he was the same who had now appeared for the third time. And they formed so thick a ring around Jack that he saw no way out. Yet it seemed to him he could glimpse a little gap in the ranks near the king, and he tried to break through there; but the king struck out at him so lustily that he wounded him in the leg. Nevertheless, Jack rode quickly to the forest, unsaddled his horse, hid his sword, put on his old clothes, stuffed his hair beneath his cap, mounted his three-legged mare again, and was the first back at the castle.
When he reached home, the youngest princess was standing in the door, and asked how her father had fared; for she well knew that matters must have come to a serious pass when he himself had gone to battle. Jack told her that the same stranger who had already twice appeared, had come again that day, and had destroyed the enemy to the last man; but no one knew who he might be. Jack's leg was bleeding, and he asked whether she could not give him something to tie around it. The three-legged mare had run into a tree with him in the forest, he said. The princess had a silk handkerchief in her hand, embroidered with her name, and she gave it to him to tie around his leg. Then the others came back from the war, the king among them, and the war was over.
Now the king had not the slightest idea of where he was to look for the stranger who had aided him, though he much desired to know who he was. So he had them proclaim in his own and in every other kingdom that whoever had been wounded in the leg should have his daughter and half the kingdom, and after his death the whole of it, if he could appear in the costume worn by the unknown stranger. And high and low came from his own kingdom, and from foreign countries. Many had wounded themselves in one leg, others in another; they thought perhaps that would answer, and that they would receive the princess and the kingdom and be made kings. At last they had all appeared, but not one could show the wound given by the king. Now there was only Scabby Jack left, who had also looked on at the battles, and had ridden the three-legged mare. So he was told to put in an appearance, though he said it was foolish, since he had only ridden out on the old three-legged mare, and looked on. But he had to show himself, nevertheless.
When he came to the castle, the servants said to him, "Take off your cap, Jack!"
"I am scabby," said Jack. He went on and came to the king.
"Take off your cap, Jack!" said the courtiers, "the king wants to speak to you."
"I am scabby," said Jack. The princesses were in the room in which he was to show himself, and both the older princesses nudged each other, and laughed at the youngest: here was Scabby Jack, surely he was the one who had defeated the enemy, and now he would get his princess. The king greeted Jack and said, this was his son-in-law coming, he had been to the wars as well as the rest, and wanted to show himself. A couple of courtiers who were standing there helped him show his leg. Yes, said he, he knew he had a bad leg, the old three-legged mare had run against a tree with him in the forest. The king wished to see the wound, and when it came to be exposed, there was the princess's handkerchief wound around it. And if they had not already teased her enough about Scabby Jack they did now, and every one had his joke. But when the king had looked at his leg he saw at once that it was the very wound he himself had made. He gave Jack's cap a knock, so that it rolled all the way to the door, and his golden hair fell down over his back. Then the king said, "You are not the man we thought you were. I see that we were mistaken about you."
Now his leg was properly dressed, so that it would heal again, and the king told him to come to him in the same costume he had worn in battle. For he saw that Jack had been his deliverer, and that he had the right to choose the one he preferred among his daughters. Jack begged him to wait while he went to the forest, and promised to be back in a moment. So he hurried there and threw; away his old rags, for which he had no further use. Then he went to the horse and told him all that had happened. Yes, said the horse, he knew all about it. Then Jack asked the horse which of the king's daughters he should choose.
"You must take the youngest," said the horse, "they made fun of her because of you, so she is the one you should choose."
Then Jack put on his cloak and mounted the horse. With his sword at his side, his golden hair hanging down his back, and the lion following after, he rode to the castle. And now it was plain to all that he was the one who had been the hero in the war. Everyone went to meet him, and the king asked which one of his daughters he wanted. Jack answered, just as the horse had told him to, that he chose the youngest, because they had made so much fun of her on his account that now he liked her best of all. The wedding-day was set and Jack was made king.
The horse and the lion were led to the stable, and Jack went there every day to talk to the horse, which ate just what Jack did. On his wedding-day Jack was down in the stable with the horse, as usual, when the latter said to him, "Now that I have rescued you from the merman, and helped you to make yourself king, will you deliver me?"
"Why, of course, was Jack's answer, he would if he could possibly do so.
"Then you must chop off my head, and put it where my tail is, and you must chop off my tail and put it where my head was."
"I cannot do that," said Jack, "you have been so kind to me that I could not treat you so."
"If you do not do it," said the horse, "you shall once more be just as unhappy as you were when the merman was after us."
So Jack had to do it. But no sooner was it done than the horse turned into the handsomest prince one could wish to see. He went up into the castle with Jack to see the king, and the king recognized him at once he was the crown prince of his own land. And the king was much alarmed, for he had already given the kingdom to Jack.
"That makes no difference," said the prince, "for if it had not been for Jack, I should never have been delivered. And if I had not been delivered, then Jack would never have become king; so I do not begrudge Jack the kingdom."
And the prince remained Jack's friend and trusty counsellor. The lion was a lion, and remained a lion, who went to war with them, and overcame all who fought with him. But the fame of the sword had become so widespread that after a time none dared to go to war with Jack, and all of them spent their lives in peace and quiet.