Once on a time there was a king, who reigned over a great kingdom. He had a queen, but only a single daughter, a girl. The little girl was the apple of her parents' eyes; they loved her above everything else in the world, and their dearest thought was the pleasure they would take in her when she was older. But before the king's daughter began to grow up, the queen her mother fell ill and died. It is not hard to imagine the grief that reigned, not alone in the royal castle, but throughout the land; for the queen had been loved of all. The king grieved so that he would not marry again, and his one joy was the little princess.
A long time passed, and with each succeeding day the king's daughter grew taller and more beautiful, and her father granted her every wish. Now there were a number of women who had nothing to do but wait on the princess and carry out her commands. Among them was a woman who had formerly married and had two daughters. She had an engaging appearance, a smooth tongue and a winning way of talking, and she was as soft and pliable as silk. But at heart she was full of machinations and falseness. Now when the queen died, she at once began to plan how she might marry the king, so that her daughters might be kept like royal princesses. With this end in view, she drew the young princess to her, paid her the most fulsome compliments on everything she said and did, and was forever bringing the conversation around to how happy she would be were the king to take another wife. There was much said on this head, early and late, and before very long the princess came to believe that the woman knew all there was to know about everything. So she asked her what sort of a woman the king ought to choose for a wife.
The woman answered as sweet as honey, "It is not my affair to give advice in this matter; yet he should choose for queen someone who is kind to the little princess. For one thing I know, and that is, were I fortunate enough to be chosen, my one thought would be to do all I could for the little princess, and if she wished to wash her hands, one of my daughters would have to hold the wash-bowl and the other hand her the towel."
This and much more she told the king's daughter, and the princess believed it, as children will.
From that day forward the princess gave her father no peace, and begged him again and again to marry the good court lady. Yet he did not want to marry her. But the king's daughter gave him no rest; but urged him again and again, as the false court lady had persuaded her to do.
Finally, one day, when she again brought up the matter, the king cried, "I can see you will end by having your own way about this, even though it be entirely against my will. But I will do so only on one condition."
"What is the condition?" asked the princess.
"If I marry again," said the king, "it is only because of your ceaseless pleading. Therefore you must promise that, if in the future you are not satisfied with your stepmother or your stepsisters, not a single lament or complaint on your part reaches my ears."
This she promised the king, and it was agreed that he should marry the court lady and make her queen of the whole country.
As time passed on, the king's daughter had grown to be the most beautiful maiden to be found far and wide; the queen's daughters, on the other hand, were homely, evil of disposition, and no one knew any good of them. Hence it was not surprising that many youths came from East and West to sue for the princess's hand; but that none of them took any interest in the queen's daughters. This made the stepmother very angry; but she hid her rage, and was as sweet and friendly as ever.
Among the wooers was a king's son from another country. He was young and brave, and since he loved the princess dearly, she accepted his proposal and they plighted their troth. The queen observed this with an angry eye, for it would have pleased her had the prince chosen one of her own daughters. She therefore made up her mind that the young pair should never be happy together, and from that time on thought only of how she might part them from each other.
An opportunity soon came. News came that the enemy had entered the land, and the king was compelled to go to war. Now the princess began to find out what kind of stepmother she had. For no sooner had the king departed than the queen became just as harsh and unkind as she formerly had pretended to be friendly and obliging. Not a day went by without her scolding and threatening the princess; and the queen's daughters were every bit as malicious as their mother.
But the king's son, the lover of the princess, found himself in even worse position. He had gone hunting one day, had lost his way, and could not find his people. Then the queen used her black arts and turned him into a werewolf, to wander through the forest for the remainder of his life in that shape. When evening came and there was no sign of the prince, his people returned home, and one can imagine what sorrow they caused when the princess learned how the hunt had ended. She grieved, wept day and night, and was not to be consoled. But the queen laughed at her grief, and her heart was filled with joy to think that all had turned out exactly as she wished.
Now it chanced one day, as the king's daughter was sitting alone in her room, that she thought she would go herself into the forest where the prince had disappeared. She went to her stepmother and begged permission to go out into the forest to forget her grief. The queen did not want to grant her request, for she always preferred saying no to yes. But the princess begged her so winningly that at last she was unable to say no, and she ordered one of her daughters to go along with her and watch her. That caused a great deal of discussion, for neither of the stepdaughters wanted to go with her; each made all sorts of excuses, and asked what pleasures were there in going with the king's daughter, who did nothing but cry. But the queen had the last word in the end, and ordered that one of her daughters must accompany the princess, even though it be against her will.
So the girls wandered out of the castle into the forest. The king's daughter walked among the trees and listened to the song of the birds, and thought of her lover that she longed for, and who was now no longer there. And the queen's daughter followed her, vexed, in her malice, with the king's daughter and her sorrow.
After they had walked a while, they came to a little hut, lying deep in the dark forest. By then the king's daughter was very thirsty, and wanted to go into the little hut with her stepsister, in order to get a drink of water.
But the queen's daughter was much annoyed and said, "Is it not enough for me to be running around here in the wilderness with you? Now you even want me, who am a princess, to enter that wretched little hut. No, I will not step a foot over the threshold! If you want to go in, why go in alone!"
The king's daughter lost no time; but did as her stepsister advised, and stepped into the little hut. When she entered she saw an old woman sitting there on a bench, so enfeebled by age that her head shook. The princess spoke to her in her usual friendly way, "Good evening, motherkin. May I ask you for a drink of water?"
"You are heartily welcome to it," said the old woman. "Who may you be, who step beneath my lowly roof and greet me in so winning a way?"
The king's daughter told her who she was, and that she had gone out to relieve her heart, in order to forget her great grief.
"And what may your great grief be!" asked the old woman.
" I have lost my only love," said the princess, "and God knows whether I shall ever see him again."
And she also told her why it was, and the tears ran down her cheeks in streams, so that anyone would have felt sorry for her.
When she had ended the old woman said, "You did well in confiding your sorrow to me. I have lived long and may be able to give you a bit of good advice. When you leave here, you will see a lily growing from the ground. This lily is not like other lilies, however, but has many strange virtues. Run quickly over to it, and pick it. If you can do that, you need not worry, for then someone will appear who will tell you what to do."
Then they parted and the king's daughter thanked her and went her way, while the old woman sat on the bench and wagged her head. But the queen's daughter had been standing without the hut the entire time, vexing herself, and grumbling because the king's daughter had taken so long.
So when the lovely king's daughter stepped out, she had to listen to all sorts of abuse from her stepsister. Yet she paid no attention to her, and thought only of how she might find the flower of which the old woman had spoken. They went through the forest, and suddenly she saw a beautiful white lily growing in their very path. She was much pleased and ran up at once to pick it; but that very moment it disappeared and reappeared somewhat further away.
The king's daughter was now filled with eagerness, no longer listened to her stepsister's calls, and kept right on running; yet each time when she stooped to pick the lily, it suddenly disappeared and reappeared somewhat further away. Thus it went for some time, and the princess was drawn further and further into the deep forest. But the lily continued to stand, and disappear and move further away, and each time the flower seemed larger and more beautiful than before.
At length the princess came to a high hill, and as she looked toward its summit, there stood the lily high on the naked rock, glittering as white and radiant as the brightest star. The king's daughter now began to climb the hill, and in her eagerness she paid no attention to stones nor steepness. And when at last she reached the summit of the hill, lo and behold! the lily no longer evaded her grasp; but remained where it was, and the princess stooped and picked it and hid it in her bosom, and so heartfelt was her happiness that she forgot her stepsisters and everything else in the world.
For a long time she did not tire of looking at the beautiful flower. Then she suddenly began to wonder what her stepmother would say when she came home after having remained out so long. And she looked around, in order to find the way back to the castle. But as she looked around, behold, the sun had set and no more than a little strip of daylight rested on the summit of the hill. Below her lay the forest, so dark and shadowed that she had no faith in her ability to find the homeward path. And now she grew very sad, for she could think of nothing better to do than to spend the night on the hilltop. She seated herself on the rock, put her hand to her cheek, cried, and thought of her unkind stepmother and stepsisters, and of all the harsh words she would have to endure when she returned. And she thought of her father, the king, who was away at war, and of the love of her heart, whom she would never see again; and she grieved so bitterly that she did not even know she wept.
Night came and darkness, and the stars rose, and still the princess sat in the same spot and wept. And while she sat there, lost in her thoughts, she heard a voice say, "Good evening, lovely maiden! Why do you sit here so sad and lonely?"
She stood up hastily, and felt much embarrassed, which was not surprising. When she looked around there was nothing to be seen but a tiny old man, who nodded to her and seemed to be very humble.
She answered, "I have lost my dearest love, and now I have lost my way in the forest, and am afraid of being devoured by wild beasts."
"You need have no fear as to that," said the old man. "If you will do exactly as I say, I will help you."
This made the princess happy; for she felt that all the rest of the world had abandoned her. Then the old man drew out flint and steel and said, "Lovely maiden, you must first build a fire."
She did as he told her, gathered moss, brush and dry sticks, struck sparks and lit such a fire on the hilltop that the flame blazed up to the skies.
That done the old man said, "Go on a bit and you will find a kettle of tar, and bring the kettle to me."
This the king's daughter did.
The old man continued, "Now put the kettle on the fire."
And the princess did that as well. When the tar began to boil, the old man said, "Now throw your white lily into the kettle."
The princess thought this a harsh command, and earnestly begged to be allowed to keep the lily. But the old man said, "Did you not promise to obey my every command? Do as I tell you or you will regret it."
The king's daughter turned away her eyes, and threw the beautiful lily into the boiling tar. The moment she did so a hollow roar, like that of some wild beast, sounded from the forest. It came nearer, and turned into such a terrible howling that all the surrounding hills re-echoed it. Finally there was a cracking and breaking among the trees, the bushes were thrust aside, and the princess saw a great grey wolf come running out of the forest and straight up the hill. She was much frightened and would gladly have run away had she been able to. But the old man said, "Make haste, run to the edge of the hill and the moment the wolf comes along, upset the kettle on him!"
The princess was terrified, and hardly knew what she was about; yet she did as the old man said, took the kettle, ran to the edge of the hill, and poured its contents over the wolf just as he was about to run up. And then a strange thing happened: no sooner had she done so, than the wolf was transformed, cast off his thick grey pelt, and in place of the horrible wild beast there stood a handsome young man, looking up to the hill. And when the king's daughter gathered herself and looked at him, she saw that it was really and truly her lover, who had been turned into a werewolf.
The princess opened her arms and could neither ask questions nor reply to them, so moved and delighted was she. But the prince ran hastily up the hill, embraced her tenderly, and thanked her for delivering him. Nor did he forget the little old man, but thanked him with many civil expressions for his powerful aid. Then they sat down together on the hilltop and had a pleasant talk. The prince told how he had been turned into a wolf, and of all he had suffered while running about in the forest; and the princess told of her grief and the many tears she had shed while he had been gone. So they sat the whole night through, and never noticed it until the stars grew pale and it was light enough to see. When the sun rose, they saw that a broad path led from the hilltop straight to the royal castle; for they had a view of the whole surrounding country from the hilltop.
Then the old man said, "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything in that direction?"
"Yes," said the princess, "I see a horseman on a foaming horse, riding as fast as he can."
Then the old man said, "He is a messenger sent on ahead by the king your father. And your father with all his army is following him."
That pleased the princess immensely, and she wanted to descend the hill at once to meet her father. But the old man detained her and said, "Wait a while, it is too early yet. Let us wait and see how everything turns out."
Time passed and the sun was shining brightly, and its rays fell straight on the royal castle down below. Then the old man said, "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?"
"Yes," answered the princess, "I see a number of people coming out of my father's castle, and some are going along the road, and others into the forest."
The old man said, "Those are your stepmother's servants. She has sent some to meet the king and welcome him; but she has sent others to the forest to look for you."
At these words the princess grew uneasy, and wished to go down to the queen's servants. But the old man withheld her and said, "Wait a while, and let us first see how everything turns out."
More time passed, and the king's daughter was still looking down the road from which the king would appear, when the old man said, "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?"
"Yes," answered the princess, "there is a great commotion in my father's castle, and they are hanging it with black."
The old man said, "That is the work of your stepmother and her people. They will assure your father that you are dead."
Then the king's daughter felt bitter anguish, and she implored from the depths of her heart, "Let me go, let me go, so that I may spare my father this anguish!"
But the old man detained her and said, "No, wait, it is still too early. Let us first see how everything turns out."
Again time passed, the sun lay high above the fields, and the warm air blew over meadow and forest. The royal maid and youth still sat on the hill-top with the old man, where we had left them. Then they saw a little cloud rise against the horizon, far away in the distance, and the little cloud grew larger and larger, and came nearer and nearer along the road, and as it moved one could see it was agleam with weapons, and nodding helmets, and waving flags, one could hear the rattle of swords, and the neighing of horses, and finally recognize the banner of the king. It is not hard to imagine how pleased the king's daughter was, and how she insisted on going down and greeting her father. But the old man held her back and said, "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything happening at the castle?"
"Yes," answered the princess, "I can see my stepmother and stepsisters coming out, dressed in mourning, holding white kerchiefs to their faces, and weeping bitterly."
The old man answered, "Now they are pretending to weep because of your death. Wait just a little while longer. We have not yet seen how everything will turn out."
After a time the old man said again, "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?"
"Yes," said the princess, "I see people bringing a black coffin, and now my father is having it opened. Look, the queen and her daughters are down on their knees, and my father is threatening them with his sword!"
Then the old man said, "Your father wished to see your body, and so your evil stepmother had to confess the truth."
When the princess heard that she said earnestly, "Let me go, let me go, so that I may comfort my father in his great sorrow!
But the old man held her back and said, "Take my advice and stay here a little while longer. We have not yet seen how everything will turn out."
Again time went by, and the king's daughter and the prince and the old man were still sitting on the hill-top. Then the old man said, "Lovely maiden, turn around! Do you see anything down below?"
"Yes," answered the princess, "I see my father and my stepsisters and my stepmother with all their following moving this way."
The old man said, "Now they have started out to look for you. Go down and bring up the wolf's pelt in the gorge."
The king's daughter did as he told her. The old man continued, "Now stand at the edge of the hill."
And the princess did that, too. Now one could see the queen and her daughters coming along the way, and stopping just below the hill. Then the old man said, "Now throw down the wolf's pelt!"
The princess did as he told her, and threw down the wolf's pelt as he commanded. It fell directly on the evil queen and her daughters. No sooner had the pelt touched the three evil women than they at once changed shape, and turning into three horrible werewolves, they ran away as fast as they could into the forest, howling dreadfully.
No more had this happened than the king himself arrived at the foot of the hill with his whole retinue. When he looked up and recognised the princess, he could not at first believe his eyes; but stood motionless, thinking her a vision. Then the old man cried, "Lovely maiden, now hasten, run down and make your father happy!"
There was no need to tell the princess twice. She took her lover by the hand and they ran down the hill. When they came to the king, the princess ran on ahead, fell on her father's neck, and wept with joy. And the young prince wept as well, and the king himself wept; and their meeting was a pleasant sight for everyone. There was great joy and many embraces, and the princess told of her evil stepmother and stepsisters and of her lover, and all that she had suffered, and of the old man who had helped them in such a wonderful way. But when the king turned around to thank the old man he had completely vanished, and from that day on no one could say who he had been or what had become of him.
The king and his whole retinue now returned to the castle, where the king had a splendid banquet prepared, to which he invited all the able and distinguished people throughout the kingdom, and bestowed his daughter on the young prince.
The wedding was celebrated with gladness and music and amusements of every kind for many days. I was there, too, and when I rode through the forest I met a wolf with two young wolves. It was the stepmother and her two daughters.
Once on a time there was a king who had a queen he loved greatly. But after a time the queen died, and all he had left was an only daughter. And now that the king was a widower, his whole heart went out to the little princess. He cherished her as the apple of his eye. She grew up into the most lovely maiden ever known.
When the princess was nearing sixteen year' birthday, a great war broke out, and her father had to march against the foe.
But there was no one that the king could entrust his daughter to while he was away at war; so he had great tower built out in the forest, provided it with a plenteous store of supplies, and in it shut up his daughter and a maid. He also had it proclaimed that every man, no matter who he might be, was forbidden under pain of death to approach the tower where he had placed his daughter and the maid.
Now the king thought he had taken every precaution to protect his daughter, and went off to war. In the meantime the princess and her maid sat in the tower. But in the city there were a number of brave young sons of kings and other young men who would have liked to have talked to the beautiful maiden. And when they found that this was forbidden them, they came to hate the king. At length they took counsel with an old woman who was wiser than most folk, and told her to arrange matters in such wise that the king's daughter and her maid might come into disrepute, without their having anything to do with it. The old hag promised to help them, enchanted some apples, laid them in a basket, and went to the lonely tower where the maidens lived.
When the king's daughter and her maid saw the old woman sitting beneath the window, they got eager to taste the beautiful apples. So they called out and asked how much she wanted for her apples; but the old woman said they were not for sale. Yet as the girls kept on pleading with her, the old woman said she would give each of them an apple; all they had to do was to let down a little basket from the tower. The princess and her maid, in all innocence, did as the witch told them and got an apple each.
But the enchanted fruit had a strange effect, for in due course of time heaven sent them each a child. The king's daughter called her son Silverwhite, and the son of her maid got the name of Lillwacker.
The two boys grew up larger and stronger than other children, and were very handsome also. They looked as much alike as one cherry-pit does to another.
Seven years had passed, and the king was expected home from the war. Then both girls were terrified, and they took counsel together as to how they might hide their children. When at length they could find no other way out of the difficulty, they very sorrowfully bade their children farewell, and let them down from the tower at night, to seek their fortune in the wide, wide world. At parting the king's daughter gave Silverwhite a costly knife, but the maid had nothing to give her son.
The two foster-brethren now wandered out into the world. After they had gone a while, they came to a dark forest. And in this forest they met a man, strange-looking and very tall. He wore two swords at his side, and was accompanied by six great dogs. He gave them a friendly greeting, "Good-day, little fellows, where do you come from, and where do you go?"
The boys told him they came from a high tower, and were going out .into the world to seek their fortune.
The man answered, "If such be the case, I know more about your origin than anyone else. And that you may have something to remember your father by, I will give each of you a sword and three dogs. But you must promise me one thing, that you will never part from your dogs; but take them with you wherever you go."
The boys thanked the man for his kind gifts, and promised to do as he had told them. Then they bade him farewell and went their way.
When they had travelled for some time they reached a cross-road. Then Silverwhite said, "It seems to me that it would be the best for us to try our luck singly, so let us part."
Lillwacker answered, "Your advice is good; but how am I to know whether or not you are doing well out in the world?"
"I will give you a token by which you may tell," said Silverwhite, "so long as the water runs clear in this spring you will know that I am alive; but if it turns red and roiled, it will mean that I am dead."
Silverwhite then drew runes in the water of the spring, said farewell to his brother, and each of them went on alone. Lillwacker soon came to a king's court, and took service there; but every morning he would go to the spring to see how his brother fared.
Silverwhite continued to wander over hill and dale, until he reached a great city. But the whole city was in mourning, the houses were hung in black, and all the inhabitants went about full of grief and care, as though some great misfortune had occurred.
Silverwhite went through the city and asked what was the cause of all the unhappiness he saw. They answered, "You must have come from far away, since you do not know that the king and queen were in danger of being drowned at sea, and he had to promise to give up their three daughters in order to escape. Tomorrow morning the sea-troll is coming to carry off the oldest princess."
This news pleased Silverwhite; for he saw a fine opportunity to wealth and fame, if fortune should favour him. And next morning he hung his sword at his side, called his dogs to him, and wandered down to the sea-shore alone. As he sat on the strand, he saw the king's daughter led out of the city, and with her went a courtier who had promised to rescue her. But the princess was very sad and cried bitterly.
Then Silverwhite stepped up to her with a polite greeting. When the king's daughter and her escort saw the fearless youth, they were much frightened, because they thought he was the sea-troll. The courtier was so alarmed that he ran away and took refuge in a tree.
When Silverwhite saw how frightened the princess was, he said, "Lovely maiden, do not fear me, for I will do you no harm." The king's daughter answered:
"Are you the troll who is coming to carry me away?"
"No," said Silverwhite, "I have come to rescue you."
Then the princess was glad to think that such a brave hero was going to defend her, and they had a long, friendly talk. At the same time Silverwhite begged the king's daughter to comb his hair. She complied, and Silverwhite laid his head in her lap; but when he did so the princess drew a golden ring from her finger and, unbeknown to him, wound it into his locks.
Suddenly the sea-troll rose from the deeps, setting the waves whirling and foaming far and near. When the troll saw Silverwhite, he grew angry and said, "Why do you sit there beside my princess?"
The youth answered, "It seems to me that she is my princess, not yours."
The sea-troll answered, "Time enough to see which of us is right; but first our dogs shall fight."
Silverwhite was not at all unwilling. He set his dogs at the dogs of the troll, and there was a fierce struggle. But at last the youth's dogs got the upper hand and bit the dogs of the sea-troll to death. Then Silverwhite drew his sword with a great sweep, rushed on the sea-troll, and gave him such a tremendous blow that the monster's head rolled on the sand. The troll head gave a fearsome cry, while the body flung himself back into the sea so that the water spurted toward the skies.
The youth drew out his silver-mounted knife, cut out the troll's eyes and put them in his pocket. Then he saluted the lovely princess and went away.
Now when the battle was over and the youth had disappeared, the courtier crawled down from his tree and threatened to kill the princess if she did not say before all the people that he, and none other, had rescued her. The king's daughter did not dare to refuse, since she feared for her life. So she returned to her father's castle with the courtier, and they were received with great distinction.
Joy reigned throughout the land when the news spread that the oldest princess had been rescued from the troll.
On the following day everything repeated itself. Silverwhite went down to the strand and met the second princess, just as she was to be delivered to the troll.
When the king's daughter and her escort saw him, they were very much frightened, thinking he was the sea-troll. The courtier climbed a tree, just as he had before; but the princess granted the youth's petition, combed his hair as her sister had done, and also wound her gold ring into his long curls.
After a time there was a great tumult out at sea, and a sea-troll rose from the waves. He had three heads and three dogs. But Silverwhite's dogs overcame those of the troll, and the youth killed the troll himself with his sword. Afterwards he took out his silver-mounted knife, cut out the troll's eyes, and went his way.
The courtier lost no time. He climbed down from his tree and forced the princess to promise to say that he and no one else had rescued her. Then they returned to the castle, where the courtier was acclaimed as the greatest of heroes.
On the third day Silverwhite hung his sword at his side, called his three dogs to him, and again wandered down to the sea-shore. As he was sitting by the strand, he saw the youngest princess led out of the city, and with her the courtier who claimed to have rescued her sisters. But the princess was very sad and cried bitterly. Then Silverwhite stepped up and greeted the lovely maiden politely. Now when the king's daughter and her escort saw the handsome youth, they were very much frightened, for they believed him to be the sea-troll, and the courtier ran away and hid in a high tree that grew near the strand.
When Silverwhite noticed the maiden's terror, he said, "Lovely maiden, do not fear me, for I will do you no harm."
The king's daughter answered, "Are you the troll who is coming to carry me away?"
"No," said Silverwhite, "I have come to rescue you."
Then the princess was very glad to have such a brave hero fight for her, and they had a long, friendly talk with each other. At the same time Silverwhite begged the lovely maiden to do him a favour and comb his hair. This the king's daughter was most willing to do, and Silverwhite laid his head in her lap.
When the princess saw the gold rings her sisters had wound in his locks, she was much surprised, and added her own to the others.
Suddenly the sea-troll came shooting up out of the deep with a terrific noise, so that waves and foam spurted toward the skies. This time the monster had six heads and nine dogs. When the troll saw Silverwhite sitting with the king's daughter, he fell into a rage and cried, "What are you doing with my princess?"
The youth answered, "It seems to me that she is my princess rather than yours."
The troll said, "Time enough to see which of us is right; but first our dogs shall fight each other."
Silverwhite did not delay, but set his dogs at the sea-dogs, and they had a royal battle But in the end the youth's dogs got the upper hand and bit all nine of the sea-dogs to death. Finally Silverwhite drew out his bare sword, flung himself on the sea-troll, and stretched all six of his heads on the sand with a single blow. The monster head uttered a terrible cry, and the body rushed back into the sea so that the water spurted to the heavens. Then the youth drew his silver-mounted knife, cut out all twelve of the troll's eyes, saluted the king's young daughter, and hastily went away.
Now that the battle was over, and the youth had disappeared, the courtier climbed down from his tree, drew his sword and threatened to kill the princess unless she promised to say that he had rescued her from the troll, as he had her sisters.
The king's daughter did not dare refuse, since she feared for her life. So they went back to the castle together, and when the king saw that they had returned in safety, without so much as a scratch, he and the whole court were full of joy, and the courtier was rewarded with great honours. And at court the courtier was quite another fellow from the one who had hid away in the tree. The king had a splendid banquet prepared, with amusements and games, and the sound of string music and dancing, and bestowed the hand of his youngest daughter on the courtier in reward for his bravery.
In the midst of the wedding festivities, when the king and his whole court were seated at table, the door opened, and in came Silverwhite with his dogs.
The youth stepped boldly into the hall of state and greeted the king. And when the three princesses saw who it was, they were full of joy, leaped up from their places, and ran over to him, much to the king's surprise, who asked what it all meant. Then the youngest princess told him all that had happened, from beginning to end, and that Silverwhite had rescued them while the courtier sat in a tree. To prove it beyond any chance of doubt, each of the king's daughters showed her father the ring she had wound in Silverwhite's locks. But the king still did not know quite what to think of it all, until Silverwhite said, "Good king! So that you need not doubt what your daughters have told you, I will show you the eyes of the sea-trolls I slew."
Then the king and all the rest saw that the princesses had told the truth. The traitorous courtier received his just punishment; but Silverwhite was paid every honour and was given the youngest daughter and half of the kingdom with her.
After the wedding Silverwhite established himself with his young bride in a large castle belonging to the king, and there they lived quietly and happily.
One night, when all were sleeping, it chanced that he heard a knocking at the window, and a voice said, "Come, Silverwhite, I have to talk to you!"
The king did not want to wake his young wife, and rose hastily, girded on his sword, called his dogs and went out. When he reached the open air, there stood a huge and savage-looking troll.
The troll said, "Silverwhite, you have slain my three brothers, and I have come to bid you go down to the sea-shore with me, that we may fight with one another."
This proposal suited the youth, and he followed the troll without protest. When they reached the sea-shore, there lay three great dogs belonging to the troll. Silverwhite at once set his dogs at the troll-dogs, and after a hard struggle the troll-dogs had to give in. The young king drew his sword, bravely attacked the troll and dealt him many a mighty blow. It was a tremendous battle. But when the troll noticed he was getting the worst of it, he grew frightened, quickly ran to a high tree, and clambered into it. Silverwhite and the dogs ran after him, the dogs barking as loudly as they could.
Then the troll begged for his life and said, "Dear Silverwhite, I will be satisfied with some money for my brothers, only bid your dogs be still, so that we may talk."
The king bade his dogs be still, but in vain, they only barked the more loudly. Then the troll tore three hairs from his head, handed them to Silverwhite and said, "Lay a hair on each of the dogs, and then they will be as quiet as can be."
The king did so and at once the dogs fell silent, and lay motionless as though they had grown fast to the ground. Now Silverwhite realized that he had been deceived; but it was too late. The troll was already descending from the tree, and he drew his sword and again began to fight. But they had exchanged no more than a few blows, before Silverwhite received a mortal wound, and lay on the earth in a pool of blood.
But now we must tell about Lillwacker. The next morning he went to the spring by the crossroad and found it red with blood. Then he knew that Silverwhite was dead. He called his dogs, hung his sword at his side, and went on until he came to a great city. And the city was in festal array, the streets were crowded with people, and the houses were hung with scarlet cloths and splendid rugs.
Lillwacker asked why everybody was so happy, and they said, "You must come from distant parts, since you do not know that a famous hero has come here by the name of Silverwhite. He rescued our three princesses, and is now the king's son-in-law."
Lillwacker then asked how it had all come about, and then went his way, and in the evening he reached the royal castle where Silverwhite lived with his beautiful queen
When Lillwacker entered the castle gate, all greeted him as though he were the king. For he looked like his foster-brother, and so closely that none could tell one from the other.
"When the youth came to the queen's room, she also took him for Silverwhite. She went up to him and said, "My lord king, where have you been so long? I have been waiting for you with great anxiety."
Lillwacker said little, and was very taciturn. Then he lay down on a couch in a corner of the queen's room. The young woman did not know what to think of his actions; for her husband did not act queerly at other times. However, she thought, "One should not try to discover the secrets of others," and said nothing.
In the night, when all were sleeping, there was a knocking at the window, and a voice cried, "Come, Lillwacker, I have to talk to you!"
The youth rose hastily, took his good sword, called his dogs and went. When he reached the open air, there stood the same troll who had slain Silverwhite. He said, "Come with me, Lillwacker, and then you shall see your foster-brother!"
Lillwacker at once agreed to this, and the troll led the way. When they came to the sea-shore, there lay the three great dogs whom the troll had brought with him. Somewhat further away, where they had fought, lay Silverwhite in a pool of blood, and beside him his dogs were stretched out on the ground as though they had taken root in it.
Then Lillwacker saw how everything had happened, and thought that he would gladly venture his life, if he might in some way call his brother back from the dead. He at once set his dogs at the troll-dogs, and they had a hard struggle, but Lillwacker's dogs won the victory. Then the youth drew his sword and attacked the troll with mighty blows. But when the troll saw that he was getting the worst of it, he took refuge in a lofty tree. Lillwacker and his dogs ran after him and the dogs barked loudly.
Then the troll humbly begged for his life, and said, "Dear Lillwacker, I will give you some money to compensate for your brother, only bid your dogs be still, so that we may talk." At the same time the troll handed him three hairs from his head and added, "Lay one of these hairs on each of your dogs, and then they will soon be quiet."
But Lillwacker saw through his cunning scheme, took the three hairs and laid them on the troll-dogs, which at once fell on the ground and lay like dead.
When the troll saw that his attempt had failed, he was much alarmed and said, "Dearest Lillwacker, I will pay you for your brother, if you will only leave me alone."
But the youth answered, "What is there you can give me that will compensate for my brother's life?"
The troll answered, "Here are two flasks. In one is a liquid. If you anoint a dead man with it, it will restore him to life. But if you moisten anything with the liquid in the other flask and someone touches the place you have moistened, he will be unable to move from the spot. I think it would be hard to find anything more precious than the liquid in these flasks."
Lillwacker said, "We will see about that. I may accept what you offer as soon as you release my brother's dogs."
The troll agreed, climbed down from the tree, breathed on the dogs and thus freed them. Then Lillwacker took the two flasks and went away from the sea-shore with the troll. After they had gone a while they came to a great flat stone, lying near the highway. Lillwacker hastened on in advance and moistened it with liquid from the second flask. Then, as he was going by, Lillwacker suddenly set all six of his dogs at the troll, who stepped back and touched the stone. There he stuck, and could move neither forward nor backward. After a time the sun rose and shone on the stone. And when the troll saw the sun he burst and was as dead.
Lillwacker now ran back to his brother and sprinkled him with the liquid in the other flask, so that he came to life again, and they were both very happy, as may well be imagined.
The two foster-brothers then returned to the castle, recounting the story of their experiences and adventures on the way. Lillwacker told how he had been taken for his brother. He even mentioned that he had lain down on a couch in a corner of the queen's room, and that she had never suspected that he was not her rightful husband.
When Silverwhite heard that, he thought that Lillwacker had slept with his wife, and he grew angry and fell into such a rage that he drew his sword and thrust it into his brother's breast. Lillwacker fell to earth dead, and Silverwhite went home to the castle alone. But Lillwacker's dogs would not leave their master, and lay around him, whining and licking his wound.
In the evening, when the young king and his wife retired, the queen asked him why he had been so taciturn and serious the evening before. Then the queen said, "I am very curious to know what has befallen you during the last few days, but what I would like to know most of all, is why you lay down on a couch in a corner of my room the other night."
Now it was clear to Silverwhite that the brother he had slain was innocent of all offense, and he felt bitter regret at having repaid his faithfulness so badly. So King Silverwhite at once rose and went to the place where his brother was lying. He poured the water of life from his flask and anointed his brother's wound, and in a moment Lillwacker was alive again, and the two brothers went joyfully back to the castle.
When they got there, Silverwhite told his queen how Lillwacker had rescued him from death, and all the rest of their adventures. All at the royal court were happy and paid the youth the greatest honours and compliments. After he had stayed there a time he asked the second princess if she would marry him, and she said yes.
The wedding was celebrated with great pomp, and Silverwhite divided his half of the kingdom with his foster-brother. The two brothers continued to live together in peace and unity, and if they have not died, they are living still.
Once on a time a lad who tended the cattle in the wood was eating his noontide meal in a clearing in the forest. As he was sitting there, he saw a rat run into a juniper-bush. His curiosity led him to look for it; but as he bent over, down he went, head over heels, and fell asleep. And he dreamed that he was going to find the princess on the Mount of the Golden Queen; but that he did not know the way.
The following day he once more pastured his cattle in the wood, when he came to the same clearing, and again ate his dinner there. And again he saw the rat and went to look for it, and again when he bent down he went head over heels, and fell fast asleep. And again he dreamed of the princess on the Mount of the Golden Queen. He also dreamt that in order to get her he would need seventy pounds of iron and a pair of iron shoes.
He awoke from the dream and made up his mind to find the Mount of the Golden Queen, and went home with his herd.
On the third day, when he led out his cattle, he could not reach the clearing of his happy dream too soon. Again the rat showed itself and when he went to look for it, he fell asleep as he had done each preceding day. And again he dreamed of the princess on the Mount of the Golden Queen. In his dream she came to him, and laid a letter and a band of gold in his pocket.
Then he awoke and to his indescribable surprise he found in his pocket both the letter and the band he had dreamed of. Now he had no time to attend to the cattle any longer, but drove them straight home. Then he went into the stable, led out a horse, sold it, and bought seventy pounds of iron and a pair of iron shoes with the money. He made the tholepins out of the iron, put on his iron shoes, and started on his journey.
For a time he travelled by land; but at last he came to the lake that he had to cross. He saw nothing but water before and behind him, and rowing so long and steadily that he wore out one tholepin after another, he at length reached land, and a green meadow where no trees grew. He walked all around the meadow, and at last found a mound of earth. Smoke was rising from it. While he looked more closely, out came a woman who was nine yards long. He asked her to tell him the way to the Mount of the Golden Queen.
But she answered, "That I do not know. Go ask my sister, who is nine yards taller than I am, and who lives in an earth-mound you can find without any trouble."
So he left her and came to a mound of earth that looked just like the first, with smoke rising from it. A woman at once came out. She was tremendously tall, and he asked for the way to the Mount of the Golden Queen.
"That I do not know," said she. "Go ask my brother, who is nine yards taller than I am. He lives in a hill a little further away."
After some time he came to the hill. Smoke was rising from it. He knocked. A man at once came out. It was a veritable giant, twenty-seven yards high. The lad asked the way to the Mount of the Golden Queen. Then the giant took a whistle and whistled in every direction, to call together all the animals to be found around. Some animals came from the woods, foremost among them a bear. The giant asked him about the Mount of the Golden Queen, but he knew nothing of it. Again the giant blew his whistle in every direction to call together the fishes in the waters around. They came at once, and he asked them about the Mount of the Golden Queen; but they knew nothing of it. One more time the giant blew his whistle in every direction, and called together birds of the air. They came, and he asked the eagle about the Mount of the Golden Queen, and whether he knew where it might be.
The eagle said, "Yes!"
"Well then, take this lad there," said the giant "but do not treat him unkindly!"
This the eagle promised, allowed the youth to seat himself on his back, and then off they were through the air, over fields and forests, hill and dale, and before long they were above the ocean, and could see nothing but sky and water. Then the eagle dipped the youth in the ocean up to his ankles and asked, "Are you afraid?"
"No," said the youth. Then the eagle flew on a while, and again dipped the youth into the water, up to his knees and said, "Are you afraid?"
"Yes," answered the youth, "but the giant said you were not to treat me unkindly."
"Are you really afraid?" asked the eagle once more.
"Yes," answered the youth.
Then the eagle said, "The fear you now feel is the very same fear I felt when the princess thrust the letter and the golden band into your pocket."
"What?" said the boy, and was astounded.
With that they had reached a large, high mountain in one side of which was a great iron door. They knocked, and a serving-maid appeared to open the door and admit them. The youth remained and was well received, but the eagle said farewell and flew back to his native land. The youth asked for a drink, and was handed a beaker that contained a refreshing draught. When he had emptied it and returned the beaker, he let the golden band drop into it.
When the maid brought back the beaker to her mistress who was the princess of the Mount of the Golden Queen, the princess looked into the beaker, and there lay a golden band that she recognized as her own. So she asked, "Is there someone visiting us here?"
When the maid answered yes, the princess said, "Bid him come in!"
And as soon as the youth entered, she asked him if he chanced to have a letter. The youth drew out the letter he had got in such a strange a manner, and gave it to the princess.
When she had read it she cried, full of joy, "Now I am delivered!" And at that very moment the mountain turned into a most handsome castle, with all sorts of precious things, servants, and every sort of convenience, each for its own purpose.
(A wedding should be a proper ending of the tale).