Once upon a time there were two brothers, the one rich and the other poor. The rich brother was a goldsmith, and a wicked man at heart; the poor one supported himself by broom-making, and was good and upright.
The poor brother had two children, twin boys, as like one another as two peas. These children ran backwards and forwards between their home and their rich uncle′s house, and were often fed on the scraps from his table. It happened that, one day, the poor man having gone into the wood to gather brushwood, saw a bird, all of gold, and more beautiful than any he had ever seen before. He threw a small stone at it and hit it, but only one gold feather fell to the ground, and the bird flew away. He picked up the feather and took it to his brother, who examined it well, and then said "It is pure gold," and gave him a large sum of money for it.
The next morning, the same bird flew past him, as he was cutting off some of the upper branches of a birch-tree, and making further search, he came upon a nest in which lay a golden egg. He carried home the egg and showed it to his brother, who again said, "It is pure gold," and gave him its worth in money. Presently the goldsmith said, "I should very much like to have the bird itself." So the poor man went again to the wood, and this time he saw the bird sitting on the tree. He threw a stone at it, and the bird fell. He picked it up and took it to his brother, who gave him a large heap of money for it, and he returned home rejoicing. "I shall get on a bit now," thought the poor broom-maker.
The goldsmith, as will be seen, was clever and crafty, and he knew quite well what sort of a bird it was of which he had gained possession. He called his wife and said to her, "Roast this bird for me, and see that no part of it is lost; when it is ready I wish to eat it quite alone." For the bird was no ordinary bird, but of such a wonderful kind, that anyone who had eaten its heart and liver, found a gold piece every morning under his pillow. The wife prepared the bird and put it on the spit to roast. Now it happened that while the bird was still before the fire, and the wife was absent from the kitchen looking after other work, the two poor broom-maker′s children ran in. They went up to the hearth and began turning the spit; just then two small pieces fell from the bird into the dripping-pan. "Let us eat those two bits," said one of them, "I am so hungry, and nobody will miss them," and so the children ate them. At that moment the wife returned, and seeing that they were eating something, asked them what it was.
"Only two little bits that fell into the pan," they answered. "They must have been the heart and the liver," exclaimed the affrighted wife, and lest her husband should miss any part of the bird and be angry, she immediately killed a chicken, took out its heart and liver, and placed them with the bird.
When it was roasted, she took it up to her husband, who ate every bit of it himself, without leaving a scrap over. The next morning, however, when he put his hand under the pillow, expecting to pull out a gold piece, no money was to be found more than on other mornings.
The two children, meanwhile, were little aware of the good luck that had befallen them. As they were getting out of bed the following morning, something fell with a jingle on to the floor. They looked to see what it was, and there lay two gold pieces. They picked them up and ran to their father, who was very much puzzled, and said, "How can this have happened?" When, however, they continued to find the same thing every morning, he went and confided the matter to his brother. The goldsmith guessed at once what must have happened; he knew that the children had somehow eaten the heart and liver of the gold bird, and being an envious and cruel hearted man, he revenged himself by saying to their father, "Your children are in league with the evil one, do not touch the gold, and do not suffer them to remain in the house; for he has some power over them and may perhaps bring you also to ruin." The father was afraid of the evil one, and grieved as he was to do it, he led the twins into the wood and left them there, sorrowing the while at heart.
The two children ran about the wood trying to find their way home, but they took the wrong turnings and only strayed farther and farther away from the right path. At last they met a huntsman who asked, "To whom do you two children belong?"
"We are the poor broom-maker′s boys," they answered, and then proceeded to tell him how their father would not keep them at home any longer, because they found a gold piece every morning under their pillows.
"Well," said the huntsman, "that is not such a bad thing after all, provided you use the money honestly, and do not grow lazy," and as he had no children of his own, and had taken a fancy to these two, the good man took them home with him, telling them that he would be a father to them and bring them up.
So he taught them how to become excellent huntsmen, and saved up the money which they always found on rising, that it might be ready for them in case of need.
When they were both grown up, their foster-father took them with him one day into the wood, and said, "To-day you are both to make your trial shot, for since you are now fully trained huntsmen, I can then release you from your apprenticeship."
They started together in search of game, but could find nothing to shoot. At last the huntsman looked up and saw a flock of wild geese flying overhead in the shape of a triangle, so he said to one of the youths, "Shoot me down one from each corner." The boy did so, and thus successfully stood the required test.
A few minutes later another flock of geese passed overhead in the shape of the figure two. The huntsman gave the same order to the other brother, and he also brought down a bird from each corner, and so safely made his trial shot.
The huntsman then declared them free from any further dependence upon himself, adding, "You are now both accomplished huntsmen."
So the brothers went off into the wood and consulted together, and finally agreed what they would do.
When they sat down to supper that evening, they said to their foster father:
"We will not touch a single morsel of food until you have granted us the request we have to make?"
"And what is the request?" he asked.
They answered, "We have been fully trained as huntsmen, but we still want experience, and what we ask is that you will let us leave you and go out into the world by ourselves."
The old man responded with delight, "You speak as brave hunstmen should, and what you wish is my desire also; go forth, all will, I know, be well with you."
After this they passed a happy evening, making merry over their supper.
When the appointed day came for their departure, the foster-father gave them each a good gun, and let them take as much as they wanted from the money he had saved for them. He went with them part of the way, and before finally saying good-bye to them, he made them a further present of a knife with a polished blade. "If later on," he said, "you should have to separate, stick this knife into a tree at the cross-ways, and when either of you wishes to know how his absent brother is faring, go back and look at the blade on the side facing the direction in which he went: if he is dead, the blade will be rusty, but as long as he is alive, it will remain bright."
The brothers travelled on and at last came to a forest which was too large to be traversed in a single day′s journey, so they encamped there for the night, and fed on what they had in their hunting-pouches. The next day, however, they found it equally impossible to get out of the forest, and as they had now nothing left to eat, one of them said, "We must shoot something for ourselves, or we shall starve," and he loaded his gun and looked about to see what he could find.
An old hare came running by, and he was just going to shoot her, when she cried -
"Dear young huntsman, if I may live,
Two of my young to thee I′ll give."
And with that she leaped into the underwood and brought out two of her young; but the little things were so lively, and gambolled so prettily, that the two huntsmen could not find it in their hearts to kill them. So they agreed to keep them, and the young animals followed them on foot.
Then a fox crept across their path, and they thought they would shoot him, but he cried -
"Dear young huntsman, if I may live,
Two of my young to thee I′ll give."
And he also brought out two of his cubs, but the huntsmen again did not like to kill them; so they gave them to the hares as companions, and the four followed together.
Soon after this, a wolf stepped out from the thicket, and the huntsmen aimed at her, but the wolf cried -
"Dear young huntsman, if I may live,
Two of my young to thee I′ll give."
The two young wolves were added to the other animals, and also followed along with them.
Next a bear appeared, who thought he should like to trot about a bit longer, and so he cried -
"Dear young huntsman, if I may live,
Two of my young to thee I′ll give."
These two cubs now brought the number of the animals up to eight.
And last of all, what came? a lion - shaking his mane. But the huntsmen were not to be frightened, and they pointed their guns at him, but the lion also cried -
"Dear young huntsman, if I may live,
Two of my young to thee I′ll give."
And he brought his young ones to them; and now the huntsmen had two lions, two bears, two wolves, two foxes, and two hares, and these all followed after them and were of service to them.
But with all this their hunger was not appeased, so they said to the foxes: "Listen, you sly ones, you are slim and artful, get us something to eat." They answered: "There is a village not far from here, from which we have stolen many a hen; we can show you the way thither." They went on therefore to the village, bought food for themselves and their animals, and then went further on their road. The foxes knew the neighbourhood well, and where all the best poultry-yards were to be found, so the huntsmen found them very useful as guides.
They wandered about like this for some time, but were unable to find any employment which would allow them to remain together, so they said to one another, "There is no help for it, we shall have to part." They divided the animals, so that they each had a lion, a bear, a wolf, a fox, and a hare; then they bade farewell to one another, vowed to love each other till death, and stuck the knife, which their foster-father had given them, into a tree; and this done, the one brother turned his steps to the east, the other to the west.
The younger of the two, accompanied by his animals, came to a town which was everywhere hung with black. He went into an inn and asked the innkeeper if he could give shelter to the animals, and the innkeeper put them in one of his stables. There was a hole in the wall of the stable, and the hare crept through and fetched herself a cabbage, and the fox followed and fetched himself a hen, and when he had eaten her up, he went out again and brought in the cock. The wolf, and the bear, and the lion were too big to get through the hole, and would have fared badly, if the innkeeper had not given them one of his cows.
Having attended to his animals, the huntsman now asked the innkeeper the cause of the general mourning. "It is because to-morrow," replied the innkeeper, "the king′s only daughter must die."
"Is she then so ill that she cannot recover?" asked the huntsman.
"No," answered the innkeeper, "she is young and in good health, but nevertheless to-morrow she dies."
"But how is that?" said the huntsman.
"Just beyond the town there rises a high mountain, and on it lives a dragon, and every year a young maiden must be given up to him, or he will devastate the whole country. But now he has had all the young maidens of the town, and only one remains, the king′s daughter; there is, therefore, no possibility of saving her, she must be sacrificed to him, and this is to take place to-morow."
"But why has no one killed the dragon?" said the huntsman.
"Ah!" answered the innkeeper, "many knights have lost their lives in the attempt, for the king has not only promised his daughter as wife to the man who kills the dragon, but will also leave his kingdom to him after his death."
The huntsman made no further remark, but the following morning he started off with his animals and climbed up the mountain. On reaching the top he found a little church, on the altar of which stood three full goblets inscribed with the words, "Whosoever drinks the contents of these goblets will at once become the strongest man on earth, and will be able to wield the sword that lies buried beyond the threshold of the church." The huntsman did not immediately drink of them but went first and looked for the buried sword, but he found it quite beyond his strength to move. Then he went back into the church and emptied the three goblets, and after that he had no difficulty in lifting the sword, and was able to wield it with the greatest ease. At last the hour came when the king′s daughter was to be delivered up to the dragon.
She was accompanied to the foot of the mountain by her father, the marshal, and others of the court.
She looked up from below and saw the huntsman on the mountain top, and thought it was the dragon awaiting her, and at first she would not begin the ascent. After a while, however, knowing that otherwise the whole town would be destroyed, she gathered courage, and began the last stage of her mournful journey. The king and the court turned sorrowfully homewards, only the marshal remained behind, as it was his duty to watch at a distance to the end. When the king′s daughter reached the summit of the mountain, she found there not the dragon she expected, but a young huntsman, who spoke words of comfort to her and promised to save her. He then led her into the church, and locked the door upon her. It was not long before the huntsman heard a hideous roar, and saw the seven-headed monster coming towards him. On seeing the huntsman, the dragon exclaimed in astonishment, "What have you to do here on this mountain?" The huntsman answered, "I have come to fight with you."
"Ah," said the dragon, "so many knights have said that and have ended by losing their lives, and I will make an end of yours too," and with this the fire came pouring out of his seven jaws and set fire to the surrounding grass. The huntsman was nearly suffocated by the heat and smoke, but his animals came running up and trod out the fire. The dragon now rushed towards him, but the huntsman swung up his sword, which came whistling down through the air and cut off three of the monster′s heads. Then the dragon in his fury, reared himself up, shot flames of fire towards the huntsman, and was about to fall on him, when he again lifted his sword and cut off three more heads. The monster sank exhausted, but roused himself to make one more attack on the huntsman. The latter, his strength almost at an end, with one last blow, cut off the dragon′s tail, and then unable to fight any more himself, he called his animals, and they tore the monster in pieces.
The fight now being over, the huntsman opened the church door. He found the king′s daughter lying on the floor in a swoon, into which she had fallen, overcome by distress and terror while the fighting was going on. He carried her out, and as she came to herself and opened her eyes, he showed her the torn carcass of the dragon, and told her that she was saved. In her joy she exclaimed, "Now I shall have you for my dear husband, for my father has promised me to the man who should kill the dragon." In recompense for what they had done, she then took off her coral necklace and divided it among the animals, giving the lion the gold clasp. Her handkerchief, on which her name was worked, she gave to the huntsman. He now went and cut out the dragon′s seven tongues, which he wrapped up in the handkerchief, and kept carefully by him.
This being done, feeling exhausted after the heat and the fighting, he said to the king′s daughter, "Let us sleep a little, we are both tired and faint." She agreed to this, and they lay down on the ground. Before sleeping, however, the huntsman said to the lion, "You must watch and see that no one surprises us while we are sleeping," and then he and the king′s daughter both fell asleep.
The lion placed himself near them, so as to watch, but he also was tired after the fight, so he called the bear, and said, "Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake me." The bear therefore laid himself down near the lion, but he was also tired, and so he called the wolf, and said, "Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake me." The wolf, therefore, laid himself down by the bear, but he was also tired, so he called the fox, and said, "Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake me." The fox, therefore, laid himself down near the wolf, but he was also tired, so he called the hare, and said, "Keep near me, for I must sleep a little while, and if you see anything coming, wake me."
So the hare sat down beside him, but the poor hare was also tired, and had no one to ask to watch by her, and she fell asleep. So now, the king′s daughter, the huntsman, the lion, the bear, the wolf, the fox, and the hare, had all fallen asleep, and were all sleeping soundly.
Meanwhile the marshal, whose duty it had been to watch from a distance, when he saw no dragon re-appear carrying off the king′s daughter, and heard no further sound of any kind on the mountain top, summoned up courage to climb to the summit and ascertain the cause of the silence. There lay the torn and dismembered carcass of the dragon, and near it the king′s daughter, and a huntsman and his animals, all sunk in deep sleep; and when the marshal saw this, being a wicked and treacherous man, he drew his sword and cut off the huntsman′s head, took the king′s daughter in his arms, and carried her down the mountain. Thereupon she awoke, and was seized with fear. "You are now in my power," said the marshal to her, "you are to tell everyone that it was I who killed the dragon."
"I cannot do that," she answered, "for it was a huntsman with his animals who saved me." But he drew his sword and threatened to kill her, if she refused to do as he commanded, and she was at last forced to promise what he wished. Then he took her back to the palace, and the king did not know what to say or do, so overcome with joy was he to see his beloved daughter, whom he had believed to be devoured by the dragon, still alive. The marshal told him that he it was who had killed the dragon, and had thus delivered both his daughter and the whole kingdom, and he claimed her as his bride, according to the king′s promise. The king asked his daughter if what the marshal told him was true.
"Yes," she answered, "it must I suppose be true; but I will not consent to the marriage taking place until a year and a day have passed," for, she thought to herself, during that time I may hear something from my dear huntsman.
All this while the animals continued sleeping beside their dead master. A large humble-bee now came and settled on the nose of the hare, but she brushed it off with her paw and went to sleep again. The bee came a second time, but the hare again brushed it off and continued to sleep. Then the bee came a third time and stung her on the nose, and this awoke her. As soon as she was awake, she woke the fox, and he woke the wolf, and the wolf the bear, and the bear the lion. And when the lion awoke, and saw that the maiden was no longer there and that his master was dead, he gave a terrible roar, and cried, "Who has done this? Bear, why did you not wake me?" And the bear asked the wolf, "Why did you not wake me?" and the wolf the fox, "Why did you not wake me?" and the fox the hare, "Why did you not wake me?" The poor hare was the only one who could not give an answer, and so the blame rested with her, and the other animals were ready to fall upon her and kill her, but she begged and prayed, and said, "Do not kill me, I will bring our master to life again. I know of a mountain where grows a root, which cures every disease and heals every kind of wound if placed in the person′s mouth; the mountain, however, is two hundred leagues from here."
"You must be there and back in four and twenty hours," said the lion, "and must bring the root with you." The hare set off racing, and in four and twenty hours she was back, bringing the root with her. The lion then fixed on his master′s head again, and the hare put the root in his mouth, and the head was at once joined on to the body, and the heart began to beat and life returned. The huntsman was very much alarmed when he awoke and found the king′s daughter no longer there, and he thought to himself, "She wanted to be rid of me, that is why she went away while I was sleeping." Now the lion in his haste had put on his master′s head wrong side before, but the huntsman was so full of trouble thinking on the king′s daughter, that he never noticed this until he was about to begin his midday meal. He could not understand why his head should be turned the wrong way, and asked the animals what had befallen him while he was asleep. Then the lion related to him how he and the other animals had been so tired that they had all fallen asleep, and on awaking, had found him dead and his head cut off, and how the hare had fetched the root that brought him to life again, and how he, the lion, had in his haste put the head on the wrong way, but he assured his master that he could soon make it all right again. And with that, he cut off his master′s head for the second time, turned it round, and the hare fastened it on again with the healing root.
Nevertheless the huntsman was very sad at heart, as he travelled about with his animals, and let them dance before the people. Now it came to pass that a year had just elapsed when he found himself once more in the same town in which the king lived, whose daughter he had rescued from the dragon, but this time the town was hung with scarlet.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked the innkeeper; "a year ago when I was here the town was everywhere hung with black, why is it decked out to-day with scarlet?"
"It is just a year ago," replied the innkeeper, "that the king′s daughter was rescued from the dragon by the marshal, who fought with it and killed it, and to-morrow their marriage is to be celebrated; that is the reason that the town was then full of mourning, but to-day is full of rejoicing."
The day following, which was the one fixed for the marriage, as the hour for the midday meal drew near, the huntsman said to the innkeeper, "Will you believe me if I tell you that I shall eat some of the bread from the king′s table in your house to-day?"
"I will sooner wager a hundred gold pieces that such a thing will not happen," answered the innkeeper. The huntsman accepted the wager, and put down another hundred gold pieces out of his purse. Then he called the hare and said to her, "Go, my dear little nimble one, and fetch me some of the bread that the king himself eats."
The hare was the least important of the animals, and could not therefore ask one of the others to take her place, so she had to make use of her own legs and do the business herself. "Ah!" she thought with a shudder, "when I go jumping along the streets all by myself, the butchers′ dogs will be after me."
It happened as she had anticipated, for the dogs ran after her, and wanted to tear her pretty coat; but she gave a leap - you know how they do it - and hid herself in a sentry-box, unseen by the soldier on guard; so when the dogs followed her up to try and get her out, he did not see the joke of it, and drove them all off, crying and howling, with the butt end of his rifle.
As soon as the hare saw that the coast was clear, she sprang towards the castle, and went straight to where the king′s daughter was sitting, crept under her chair and scratched her foot. "Will you go away," said the king′s daughter, thinking it was her dog. The hare scratched again, and again, thinking it was her dog, she said, "Will you go away." The hare, however, did not let this turn her from her purpose, and she scratched a third time, and this time the king′s daughter looked down and saw the hare and recognized her by her collar. Then she took her up in her arms and carried her to her own room, and said, "What is it you want, dear hare?" She answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here and has sent me to ask for one of the loaves, such as the king himself eats." The king′s daughter was delighted to hear this, and sent and ordered the baker to bring one of the king′s loaves. "But," said the little hare, "the baker must carry me back, so that the butchers′ dogs may not get at me." So the baker carried her to the door of the inn, where he set her down on her hind legs, and she then took the bread in her front paws and carried it to her master.
"Well," said the huntsman to the innkeeper, "you see, my friend, the hundred gold pieces are mine." The innkeeper was filled with astonishment, but now the huntsman said, "The bread I have got, now I wish for some of the roast meat that is served at the king′s table." The innkeeper was too wise to bet again, and only exclaimed, "I should like to see you get it."
This time the fox was sent for, and the huntsman said to him, "Little fox, go and fetch me some of the roast meat, such as the king himself eats." The fox knew more tricks than the hare, and he crept round corners and ran along the side-cuts, so that the dogs never caught sight of him at all, and so he made his way till he got under the chair of the king′s daughter and scratched her foot. She looked down and recognised the fox by his collar, and she took him into her room, and said, "What is it you want, dear fox?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here and has sent to ask for some of the roast meat that the king himself eats." So she ordered the cook to prepare a dish of roast meat, such as was served to the king, and to carry the fox back to the inn; there the fox took the dish from him, brushed off the flies, that had settled upon it on the way, with his tail, and carried it in to his master.
"See now," said the huntsman to the innkeeper, "I have both bread and meat, but I must still have some of the vegetables from the king′s table," and he sent for the wolf, and said, "go and fetch me some vegetables, such as the king himself eats." The wolf went straight off to the castle, for he was not afraid of anyone, and when he reached the room of the king′s daughter, he went behind her and pulled her dress, so that she looked round. She recognised him by his collar, and taking him apart, said, "What is it you want, dear wolf?" "My master, who killed the dragon, is here and has sent me to ask for some vegetables, such as the king himself eats." Then she ordered the cook to prepare some vegetables, such as were served at the king′s table, and to carry them to the inn; there the wolf took the dish from him and carried it to his master.
"See now," said the huntsman, "I have bread, meat, and vegetables, but I must still have some of the sweetmeats such as the king himself eats," and calling the bear, he said, "Dear bear, you like the taste of sweet things, fetch me some of the sweetmeats that are sent up to the king′s table." So the bear went trotting along to the castle, and everybody got out of his way, till he came to the sentries, and they tried to bar his entrance with their rifles, but he lifted himself on his hind legs and dealt them such blows right and left with his paws, that they all fell one upon the other. Then he made his way straight to the king′s daughter, went behind her, and gave a little growl. She looked round and recognised the bear, and bidding him follow her to her room, said, "What is it you want, dear bear?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here and has sent me to ask for some sweetmeats, such as the king himself eats." So she sent for the confectioner, and ordered him to make some sweetmeats such as were sent up to the king′s table, and to carry them to the inn; there the bear first licked up the little sugar balls that had fallen on to the ground, then stood up on his hind legs, took the dish, and carried it to his master.
"See now," said the huntsman, "I have bread, meat, vegetables, and sweetmeats, but I must still have some wine, such as the king himself drinks." He called his lion, and said, "Dear lion, you are fond of a good draught of wine yourself, go and fetch me some such as the king himself drinks." The lion stalked along the streets, and everybody fled before him: when he came to the sentries they were going to bar his passage, but he gave one roar, and they all sprang aside. The lion went up to the door of the royal chamber, and knocked on it with his tail. The king′s daughter came out, and for a moment was alarmed at the sight of the lion, but she recognised him by the gold clasp of the necklace, and bidding him come to her room, said, "What is it you want, dear lion?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here and has sent me to ask for some wine, such as the king himself drinks." So she sent for the cup-bearer, and ordered him to let the lion have some of the king′s wine. "I will go with him," said the lion, "and see that I get the right kind." So he went down to the cellar with the cup-bearer, and when there, the latter wanted to draw him some of the ordinary kind, such as was drunk by the king′s servants, but the lion cried, "Stop! I will taste the wine first," and drawing himself a pint, he gulped it down at a draught. "No," he said, "that is not the right kind." The cup-bearer gave him a side glance, and was going to draw some wine from another cask that was kept for the king′s marshal, but the lion cried, "Stop! I will taste the wine first." He drew himself a pint and drank it off. "That is better, but not the right kind yet." The cup-bearer now lost his temper and exclaimed, "What should a stupid animal like you know about wine." Whereupon the lion gave him such a blow behind the ear, that he fell none too softly to the ground, and after he had picked himself up again, he did not say any more but led the lion into a small cellar, set apart for the king′s wine, which no one else was ever allowed to touch. The lion again drew off a pint and tasted the wine. "We have come to the right sort now," he said, and ordered the cup-bearer to fill six bottles for him. After that they went upstairs, but as he passed from the cellar into the open air, the lion began to be rather unsteady on his feet, and the cup-bearer was obliged to carry the wine for him to the inn; the lion then took the handle of the basket in his mouth, and brought it to his master.
"See now," said the huntsman, "I have bread, meat vegetables, sweetmeats, and wine, such as the King himself has; now I and my animals will have our dinner," and he sat down to the table and ate and drank, and gave food and drink also to the hare, the fox, the wolf, the bear, and the lion, and was of good cheer, for he was certain that the king′s daughter still cared for him. After dinner, he said to the innkeeper, "I have eaten and drunk, as the king eats and drinks, now I will go to the king′s court and marry the king′s daughter." The host asked how that could be, since there was already a bridegroom, and that very day the marriage was to be celebrated. The huntsman drew out the handkerchief that had been given him on the dragon′s mountain by the king′s daughter, and in which he had kept the monster′s seven tongues. "That which I hold in my hand," he answered, "will help me to it." The innkeeper looked at the handkerchief, and said, "I can believe everything but that, I will wager my house and farm you do not succeed."
The huntsman drew out a purse containing a thousand gold pieces, and laid it on the table: "And I will wager that much that I do," was his response.
While this was going on at the inn, the king was sitting at his own table with his daughter, and said to her, "What did all those wild animals that have been running in and out of my castle, want with you?" She answered, "I cannot tell you that, but you will do well to send and fetch hither the master of those animals." So the king despatched a servant to the inn with an invitation from him to the stranger, and the servant arrived just as the huntsman had completed his wager with the innkeeper. "You see, Mr Innkeeper, the king has sent his servant to invite me," he said; "but I do not intend to go like that," and turning to the servant he continued, "I pray you beg of the king that he send me some royal robes and a carriage with six horses, and servants to wait upon me."
When the king received this answer, he turned to his daughter, and asked, "What am I to do?" She replied, "You will do well to send for him as he desires." Accordingly the king sent the royal robes and the carriage with six horses, and servants to wait upon the huntsman. When the latter saw them coming, "See, Mr Innkeeper," he said, "they have sent to fetch me as I desired," and he put on the royal robes and drove off to the castle, taking with him the handkerchief and the dragon′s tongues.
When the king saw him coming, he asked his daughter, "How shall I receive him?" She replied, "You will do well to go and meet him." So the king went out to meet him and led him up to the banqueting-room, the animals following meanwhile. The king gave him a seat beside himself and his daughter, the marshal, as bridegroom, was seated on the other side, but he did not recognise the huntsman.
The dragon′s heads were now carried round for all the company to see. "Those are the seven heads of the dragon that was slain by the marshal," said the king; "it is in return for that deed that I am this day giving him my daughter for wife." The huntsman now stood up and one by one opened the seven jaws, and asked, "What has become of the seven tongues of the dragon?" Then a great fear seized the marshal, and he turned pale and did not know what to answer; till at last he said in his terror, "Dragons have no tongues."
"Liars should have none," exclaimed the huntsman, "but the dragon′s tongues are the trophies which distinguish the victor," and with that he unfolded the handkerchief, and taking up the tongues that he had uncovered, he placed one in each of the dragon′s mouths, and they all fitted exactly. Then handing the handkerchief on which her name was embroidered to the king′s daughter, he asked her to whom she had given it. She answered, "To him who killed the dragon." Calling his animals to him, he took the ornaments off their necks, among them the gold clasp from the lion′s neck, and showing them to her, asked to whom they belonged. "The necklace and the clasp were mine," she answered, "and I divided them among the animals who helped to destroy the dragon." Then the huntsman spoke further. "As I was resting and sleeping after the fatigue of the fight, the marshal came and cut off my head. He carried away the king′s daughter, and pretended that it was he who had killed the dragon; but that he lied is here proved by these tongues, this handkerchief, and this necklace." He continued to relate how he had been healed by a wonderful root brought to him by his animals, and how he and they had been wandering about during the last year, and had then come again to the town where he had learnt from the innkeeper the treacherous behaviour of the marshal. Upon this, the king said to his daughter, "Is it true that it was this man who killed the dragon?" And she answered, "Yes, it is true; and since it is through no doing of mine that it has come to light, I am no longer afraid to speak of the marshal′s shameful deed. He forced me by his threats to keep silence, but it was on that account that I refused to have the marriage celebrated before a year and a day had elapsed." The king now summoned twelve of his councillors to pronounce sentence on the marshal, and he was condemned to be torn in pieces by wild oxen. The marshal thus received the just due of his deeds, while the huntsman was rewarded with the hand of the king′s daughter, and was also appointed governor of the whole kingdom. The marriage was celebrated with great rejoicings, and the young king sent for his father and foster-father, and loaded them with gifts. He did not forget the innkeeper either, but sent for him, and said, "You see, Mr Innkeeper, I have married the king′s daughter, so your house and farm are mine." "Yes," replied the innkeeper, "that is right according to justice."
"I will make it right, however, according to mercy," said the young king. "House and farm you shall keep, and I make you a present besides of the thousand gold pieces."
The young king and queen were now very happy, and led a pleasant life together. He often went out hunting, as that was one of his chief enjoyments, and his animals always accompanied him. It happened that there was a forest in the neighbourhood, said to be enchanted and unsafe for travellers, for anyone once within it was not able easily to get out again. This made the young king very anxious to see what it was like, and he did not rest until he had obtained the old king′s permission to go and hunt there. He rode out with a large following, and had just reached the edge of the forest, when he caught sight of a white doe among the trees, and he called out to his men, "Stay here till I return; I must go after that beautiful creature," and off he rode into the forest, only his animals with him. His followers stood and waited till evening, but the young king never returned, so they rode back and told the young queen that her husband had gone into the enchanted forest to hunt a white doe, and had not returned. She was now in a terrible state of anxiety. Meanwhile the young king had gone riding on after the doe, but had not been able to overtake her; each time he thought her within reach of a shot, she again sprang far ahead of him, and at last she disappeared. He now became aware that he had ridden a great distance into the forest, and he took his horn and blew; no answer came, however, for his followers were too far off to hear his call. The night now fell, and the young king saw that it would be impossible for him to get out of the forest that day, so he dismounted, lit a fire under one of the trees and prepared to spend the night there.
As he was sitting by the fire, his animals lying near him, he thought he heard the sound of a human voice; he looked about, but could see nothing. A little while after he again heard what sounded like a groan above his head, and looking up he saw an old woman sitting on the tree, moaning to herself, and saying, "Oh! Oh! Oh! how cold I am!" So he called to her, "Come down and warm yourself if you are so cold." But she answered, "I am afraid to come down, your animals will bite me." "No, no," said the huntsman, "they will do you no harm, old mother, come along down." But the old woman was really a witch, and so she said, "I will throw you down a wand, and if you will strike them across the back with it, they will not then touch me," and so saying she threw him the wand, and he gave each of the animals a stroke with it, which silenced them, for they were immediately turned into stone. Feeling safe now from the animals, the old woman sprang down, and with another wand she had in her hand she touched the huntsman, and he was also turned into stone. At this she laughed, and took the man and his animals and laid them in a hollow, where there were already many stones of the same kind.
Now when the young king never came back, the queen became more and more anxious and distressed. It happened that just at this time the other brother, who had travelled east at parting, arrived in the kingdom. He had not been able to obtain service under any one, and had therefore wandered about, letting his animals dance before the people. One day it occurred to him that he should like to go and look at the knife, to ascertain how his brother was faring. When he came to it and looked at the blade on the side towards which his brother had travelled, he found half of it bright and half rusty. This filled him with alarm, and he thought to himself, "some great misfortune must have befallen my brother, but since half of the blade is still bright, I may yet be able to save him." He turned to the west with his animals, and when he reached the city gate, the guard met him, and asked him if he should announce his return to his wife, "for," he added, "the young queen has been in great anxiety at your absence for many days past, as she feared that you had perished in the enchanted forest." The guard, in short, thought that he was no other than the young king himself, seeing his likeness to his brother and the wild animals running after him. The huntsman saw at once that he was mistaken for his brother, and thought, "it will be better for me to pretend I am he, as I may find it easier to deliver him." Accordingly he let the guard go with him into the castle, and there he was received with joyful greetings. The young queen herself never doubted that it was her husband, and asked him why he had remained such a long time away. He answered, "I lost myself in the forest, and I could not find my way out before."
During the next few days he made enquiries about the mysterious forest, and finally said that he must go and hunt there again. The king and the young queen did all they could to dissuade him from this, but he insisted upon going, and rode off, accompanied by a large following. When he reached the forest, he saw the same white doe that had appeared to his brother, and he said to his people, "Wait here until I return, I must go after this beautiful creature," and he rode into the forest, his animals running after. But he could not overtake the doe, and at last found himself so far within the forest that he was obliged to spend the night there.
He had just made himself a fire when he heard a voice groaning overhead, "Oh! Oh! Oh! how cold I am!" He looked up, and there was the same old witch sitting on the tree. He called up to her, "If you are cold, old mother, come down and warm yourself."
"I am afraid your animals will bite me," she answered.
"They will not do you any harm," he said; but she called to him, "I will throw you down a wand; if you will hit them with it over their backs, they will not hurt me." When the huntsman heard this, he replied, "I am not going to hit my animals; come down or I will fetch you."
"What is it you want then?" she cried; "you have no power to touch me."
"If you don′t come down I will shoot you," he answered again.
"Shoot at me then," she said, "I am not afraid of your bullets." So he aimed and fired at her, but being a witch she was proof against all leaden bullets, and laughed till she yelled, crying, "You haven′t hit me yet." The huntsman, however, knew something about these matters, and he pulled three silver buttons off his coat and loaded his rifle with them, and as all her witchcraft was of no avail against these, he no sooner hit her, than she fell with a scream to the ground.
Then he put his foot on her, and said, "Old witch, if you do not at once tell me where my brother is, I will take you up and throw you in the fire." Full of terror, she begged for mercy, and told him that his brother and his animals were lying in a hollow of the forest, turned to stone. Then he made her go along with him, threatening her the while, saying, "Old Sea-cat, you will make my brother and all the other creatures lying with him, alive again, or into the fire you go." She took a wand and touched the stones, and immediately his brother and the animals came to life again, and with them many others, merchants, artisans, shepherds, who all rose up, thanked the huntsman for having released them, and returned home. The twin brothers, however, when they saw each other again, kissed one another and rejoiced greatly together. But they seized the old witch and burnt her to death, and as soon as she was dead, the forest opened of itself and became full of light and cheerfulness, and the royal castle could be seen three leagues away.
As the brothers were walking home together, the youngest said, "You and I look exactly alike, and are both dressed in the same royal robes, and are followed by the same animals; let us go in at opposite doors, and appear before the king at the same moment from different sides of the castle." So they separated, and the guard came from the one door and the other at the same time, to announce to the old king the return of the young king from the chase with his animals.
"It is not possible," said the king, "the gates are a league apart from one another." But as he spoke, a brother appeared at either gate, entered the castle court, and mounted the stairs.
The king turned to his daughter: "Make known to me which is your husband," he said; "I cannot tell one from the other." But the young queen was herself sore perplexed, and could not decide which was which, until she suddenly thought of the necklace that she had given the animals. So she looked, and found the gold clasp on one of the lions′ necks, and cried out gleefully, "He whom this lion follows is my rightful husband." The young king laughed at this, and said, "Yes, that is the right one," and then all sat down together, and ate and drank, full of good cheer. When the young king learnt from his wife that evening how good and faithful his brother had been to him, he loved him more than ever.
TURNBULL AND SPEARS, PRINTING, ENDINBURGH.