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The Three Boxes

There was once a poor peasant woman who had a little girl named Anna Maria. Once, as Anna Maria was going to school, she met an old man who begged for a bit of something to eat. Anna Maria was a kind-hearted girl. She had compassion on him because others despised him, and gave him the greater part of what she had for breakfast.

As the old man left, he gave her three pretty boxes, and told her that she must not open them till three years had gone by. Anna Maria took the boxes, and the old man disappeared.

When three years had passed, Anna Maria's mother was dead, and the girl had got a wicked stepmother instead. It was now hard times for Anna Maria. The stepmother could not bear her, and when Anna Maria wept, she called her an everlasting cry-baby. Besides, she had to work harder than she had ever known in her life before.

Once she had to make a garment that should be as shining as the sun. And because she could not do it, she began to weep. Suddenly the thought of the three boxes came into her mind, and she ran home and opened one of them.

As she looked in she saw a beautiful garment, as shining as the sun. Full of joy, she took it out, ran to her step-mother, and gave it to her. The stepmother turned up her nose at the garment, and in a passion at once said said that Anna Maria must spin a linen garment, fifty ells broad, yet that might be passed through a finger-ring.

Anna Maria went away, and opened the second box, and took out a linen garment fifty ells broad, yet which went through the ring as easily as if it was nothing at all. Full of joy, she took it to her step-mother. But her step-mother was full of spite when she saw it, for she believed that it had been spun by Anna Maria.

Now the step-mother bade Anna Maria build a castle all of glass, as high as the highest mountain. Anna Maria went her way, took the last box, went out, opened it, when suddenly it disappeared, and instead of the box there stood the castle, all of glass, and as high as the highest mountain.

When the step-mother saw it, she came out and ran up the staircase. But when she was at the top, she stumbled, fell over, and broke her neck. Anna Maria came up after, and when she got to the top, a prince came to meet her, and soon he wedded her too. Anna Maria became a great queen; and if she is not dead by this time, then she is still living.


The Suitor

Once there was a king who had a very beautiful daughter. When she came of age, he sent messengers through the land to proclaim that only the man who could answer the questions proposed by her should win her for his wife. Many tried their luck, but none could answer the questions.

There lived in a village a peasant, who had three sons. Two of them were famed far and wide for their wisdom, and both went to the castle with confidence, yet had to return without having succeeded.

The third of the peasant's sons was said to be extremely stupid. He now also desired to go to the castle; and as all dissuasions were in vain, his father at last determined to go along with him.

When they got into the open country, Hans saw a nail lying on the ground. "The nail may be of use," said Hans, and put it in his pocket.

Soon after he found an egg, and this he also took. The father was vexed at the behaviour of his son. Hans, however, took no notice and went on his way. When they got into the castle-yard he picked up a lump of earth,

"Blockhead," said his father, "we shall be chased out of the castle if you play foolish tricks."

"Never mind," said Hans, rolling up the clod in a cloth and putting it in his pocket. Then they went into the hall where the test had to be undergone.

The pair were quite dazzled by the splendour there; but they had not much time to collect themselves.

The princess came in, and said to Hans, "I have a fire within me!"

"And I have an egg in my pocket, so we can seethe it," answered Hans.

She started; Hans had given quite an answer. "There is a hole in our pan!" she went on.

"And I have a nail to close the hole with," was the answer.

The princess got even more astonished, but she said, "Truly, a lump of dirt."

"I have that too in my bag," answered Hans quickly.

The princess hastened to the king, and with tears deplored that she must take such a clown for her husband.

The king called Hans, and said, "Some time ago I was robbed of a ring. I give you three days to find the thief, and if you bring me the ring, my daughter shall be your wife."

The young fellow remained in the castle, and had plenty to eat and to drink. The first day, when the servant brought his supper, Hans said, "Thank God, that's one of them!" He meant he had got through one of the days. The servant hurried away trembling, and told his two fellow thieves that the peasant fellow knew all about it.

The next eventing the huntsman came with the food, and Hans said, "There's the second I've seen through!"

The huntsman went in a fright out of the room and told the footman and the cook what Hans had said. Then they came and brought him the ring and two hundred gulden, and begged him not to give them out. Hans took the money and the ring and promised to say nothing about it.

The court were astonished when they saw the ring, and asked him how he had come by it. He answered that he had got it back by magic.

Then the king bade his daughter prepare to marry Hans. She wept and begged that he might be put to one moree test. The king finally agreed, and had a great banquet prepared. Hans tasted of the dishes and troubled himself little about the approaching decisive trial. After a while a covered dish was placed on the table. Hans was to guess what was on it. Quietly he said. "I have guessed so much already, I will guess this nut too."

The cover was removed, and it was seen that Hans had guessed rightly. Hans had won the game, and the wedding was celebrated to the great grief of the princess.


The Seven Ravens

There was once a woman who had seven sons and one daughter. The sons gave the mother much trouble because of their appetite. When on one occasion she made fritters, the seven snatched one after the other from the dish. Then the mother fell into a rage and said, "Boys, you snatch like ravens. May you be changed into ravens that I get rid of you."

She had hardly spoken these words when she saw to her horror that her sons actually changed into ravens and flew out of the window.

Many years passed by after this sad happening. Meanwhile the daughter grew up and daily asked her mother what had become of her brothers. At last the woman told her daughter, who at once made up her mind to deliver her brothers, regardless of the tears and prayers of her mother -

After she had journeyed several days she came into a great forest where she lost her way. As the night came on, she roamed about for a long time, till she suddenly saw the twinkling of a tiny light. She walked toward it till she came to a hut. A woman came out and said, "Child, go quickly on, for my husband is the wind who eats all human beings that come near him."

But the maiden would not be turned away and said, "Only let me in and I will hide in the floor under the tub which stands there."

For some time the woman resisted, but at last gave in and said, "Very well, sit there under the tub and I will roast a fat hen for my husband. Perhaps that will soften his temper."

At this moment a blustering announced that the Lord of the Winds returned home. He came in, as big as a giant and after a while said, "Wife, I smell human blood. You have hidden somebody and I shall have him for supper at once." The man began at once to seek, but could not find the maiden. Meanwhile the woman, who had not dared to contradict him, came with the roast hen and said, "Give up that seeking and eat this fat hen instead."

As the giant glanced at his favourite dish, his anger passed away and he said, "Now I will not hurt the hidden creature; so let him come forth!"

The girl now left her hiding-place at the call of the good wife and placed herself at the table. The Lord of the Winds meantime ate the hen and instead of casting the bones on the ground as he usually did, he laid them on the dish. The maiden had now to tell him how she had come into the hut and what she was seeking.

When she had finished, the Wind said, "Take the bones that lie there one the dish and take good care of them, for you will need them. Early tomorrow morning you shall come with me when I go forth, and then go in the direction in which I sway the trees."

Next day early she went away with the Wind and walked in the direction in which he swayed the trees. After some days she came to a castle of glass. It had neither door nor gate. She thought it would be in vain to press her way in, when suddenly she remembered the hen bones she was carrying. She now placed the leg bones stair-wise on one another against the glass wall and got up to the window, Then she went down through the window and found herself in a large hall where there were seven beds and seven tables. On each table stood a bowl with food. She ate from one of the bowls, then threw in her ring and hid herself under the bed.

Scarcely had she crept into her lurking-place when twelve ravens flew in at the window. They settled on the ground and were changed to men. In the first seven she at once recognised her brothers; the other five who were quite green, first served the others at table and then flew off again.

Then the eldest brother found in his bowl a ring. At once they searched all round the room, found the maiden and recognised their sister.

"I have come to deliver you," said she.

But the brothers sadly said, "Dear sister, do not, for in that case you would then have to remain dumb for seven years."

But the maiden insisted on it and from that hour spoke not a word more. She now remained with her brothers and looked after their house.

Once the brothers who were ravens by day, undertook a wide flight; and she went into the forest to seek fir-cones. There she suddenly heard the huntsmen of the king who ruled over the land where the crystal castle stood. Hastily she took refuge in a hollow tree, that she might not be forced to break silence in the last year.

When the dogs came up, they sniffed and sniffed about the tree till the king's attention was excited. He had the tree examined and the girl was found. As she gave no answer to any question, the king ordered her to be cast into prison. But even in prison all the tortures which they applied to force her to speak were in vain. And so orders were given that she should be executed.

But the seven years of silence were passed; and just as she was mounting the gallows, her brothers came flying up and saved the maiden from death. The king learned the heroic spirit of the maiden and chose her for his queen. Then the brothers fetched their old mother to the court and all now lived happy and content.

[Source: "The most beautiful fairy tales from Austria"]

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Those who are not lucky do not go fishing. (Proverb from Trentino)

There is no need to make a greater effort than what is possible. (Proverb from Trentino)

Whoever runs to the moon does not make a fortune. (Proverb from Trentino)



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