There were once two brothers; one was rich, the other poor. The rich brother was a goldsmith, and had a wicked heart. The poor brother supported himself by making brooms, and was good and honest. He had two children, twin brothers, who resembled each other as closely as one drop of water resembles another. The two boys went sometimes to the house of their rich uncle to get the pieces that were left from the table, for they were often very hungry.
It happened one day that while their father was in the wood, gathering rushes for his brooms, he saw a bird whose plumage shone like gold – he had never seen in his life any bird like it. He picked up a stone and threw it at the bird, hoping to be lucky enough to secure it; but the stone only knocked off a golden feather, and the bird flew away.
The man took the feather and brought it to his brother, who, when he saw it, exclaimed, “That is real gold!” and gave him a great deal of money for it. Another day, as the man climbed up a beech tree, hoping to find the golden bird’s nest, the same bird flew over his head, and on searching further he found a nest, and in it lay two golden eggs. He took the eggs home and showed them to his brother, who said again, “They are real gold,” and gave him what they were worth. At last the goldsmith said, “You may as well get me the bird, if you can.”
So the poor brother went again to the wood, and after a time, seeing the bird perched on a tree, he knocked it down with a stone and brought it to his brother, who gave him a large heap of money for it. “Now,” thought he, “I can support myself for the future,” and went home to his house full of joy.
The goldsmith, however, who was clever and cunning, knew well the real value of the bird. So he called his wife, and said, “Roast the gold bird for me, and be careful that no one comes in, as I wish to eat it quite alone.”
The bird was, indeed, not a common bird; it had a wonderful power even when dead. For any person who ate the heart and liver would every morning find under his pillow a piece of gold. The goldsmith’s wife prepared the bird, stuck it on the spit, and left it to roast. Now, it happened that while it was roasting, and the mistress absent from the kitchen about other household work, the two children of the broom-binder came in and stood for a few moments watching the spit as it turned round. Presently two little pieces fell from the bird into the dripping-pan underneath. One of them said, “I think we may have those two little pieces; no one will ever miss them, and I am so hungry.” So the children each took a piece and ate it up.
In a few moments the goldsmith’s wife came in and saw that they had been eating something, and said, “What have you been eating?” “Only two little pieces that fell from the bird,” they replied.
“Oh!” exclaimed the wife in a great fright, “they must have been the heart and liver of the bird!” and then, that her husband might not miss them, for she was afraid of his anger, she quickly killed a chicken, took out the heart and liver, and laid them on the golden bird.
As soon as it was ready she carried it in to the goldsmith, who ate it all up, without leaving her a morsel. The next morning, however, when he felt under his pillow, expecting to find the gold-pieces, nothing was there.
The two children, however, who knew nothing of the good for- tune which had befallen them, never thought of searching under their pillow. But the next morning, as they got out of bed, some- thing fell on the ground and tinkled, and when they stooped to pick it up, there were two pieces of gold. They carried them at once to their father, who wondered very much, and said, “What can this mean?”
As, however, there were two more pieces the next morning, and again each day, the father went to his brother and told him of the wonderful circumstances. The goldsmith, as he listened, knew well that these gold-pieces must be the result of the children having eaten the heart and liver of the golden bird, and therefore that he had been deceived. He determined to be revenged, and though hard-hearted and jealous, he managed to conceal the real truth from his brother, and said to him, “Your children are in league with the Evil One; do not touch the gold, and on no account allow your children to remain in your house any longer, for the Evil One has power over them, and could bring ruin upon you through them.”
The father feared this power, and therefore, sad as it was to him, he led the twins out into the forest and left them there with a heavy heart.
When they found themselves alone the two children ran here and there in the wood to try and discover the way home, but they wandered back always to the same place. At last they met a hunter, who said to them, “Whose children are you?”
“We are a poor broom-binder’s children,” they replied, “and our father will not keep us any longer in the house because every morning there is a piece of gold found under our pillows.”
“Ah,” exclaimed the hunter, “that is not bad! Well, if you are honest, and have told me the truth, I will take you home and be a father to you.” In fact, the children pleased the good man, and as he had no children of his own, he gladly took them home with him.
While they were with him he taught them to hunt in the forest, and the gold-pieces which they found every morning under their pillows they gave to him; so for the future he had nothing to fear about poverty.
As soon as the twins were grown up their foster-father took them one day into the wood, and said, “Today you are going to make your first trial at shooting, for I want you to be free if you like, and to be hunters for yourselves.”
Then they went with him to a suitable point, and waited a long time, but no game appeared. Presently the hunter saw flying over his head a flock of wild geese, in the form of a triangle, so he said, “Aim quickly at each comer and fire.” They did so, and their first proof-shot was successful.
Soon after another flock appeared in the form of a figure 2. “Now,” he exclaimed, “shoot again at each comer and bring them down!” This proof-shot was also successful, and the hunter directly said, “Now I pronounce you free; you are quite accomplished sportsmen.”
Then the two brothers went away into the wood together, to hold counsel with each other, and at last came to an agreement about what they wished to do.
In the evening, when they sat down to supper, one of them said to their foster-father, “We will not remain to supper, or eat one bit, till you have granted us our request.” “And what is your request?” he asked. “You have taught us to hunt, and to earn our living,” they replied, “and we want to go out in the world and seek our fortune. Will you give us permission to do so?”
The good old man replied joyfully, “You speak like brave hunters; what you desire is my own wish. Go when you will, you will be sure to succeed.” Then they ate and drank together joyfully.
When the appointed day came the hunter presented each of them with a new rifle and a dog, and allowed them to take as much as they would from his store of the gold-pieces. He accompanied them for some distance on the way, and before saying farewell he gave them each a white penknife, and said, ‘If at any time you should get separated from each other, the knife must be placed crossways in a tree, one side of the blade turning east, the other west, pointing out the road which each should take. If one should die the blade will rust on one side; but as long as he lives it will remain bright.”
After saying this he wished the brothers farewell, and they started on their way.
After traveling for some time they came to an immense forest, so large that it was impossible to cross it in one day. They stayed there all night, and ate what they had in their game-bags; but for two days they walked on through the forest without finding them- selves any nearer the end.
By this time they had nothing left to eat, so one said to the other, “We must shoot something, for this hunger is not to be endured.” So he loaded his gun, and looked about him. Presently an old hare came running by; but as he raised his rifle the hare cried,
“Dearest hunters, let me live;
I will to you my young ones give”
Then she sprang up into the bushes, and brought out two young ones, and laid them before the hunters. The little animals were so full of tricks and played about so prettily that the hunters had not the heart to kill them; they kept them, therefore, alive, and the little animals soon learned to follow them about like dogs.
By and by a fox appeared, and they were about to shoot him, but he cried also,
“Dearest hunters, let me live.
And I will you my young ones give”
Then he brought out two little foxes, but the hunters could not kill them, so they gave them to the hares as companions, and the little creatures followed the hunters wherever they went.
Not long after a wolf stepped before them out of the thicket, and one of the brothers instantly leveled his gun at him, but the wolf cried out,
“Dear, kind hunters, let me live;
I will to you my young ones give.”
The hunters took the young wolves and treated them as they had done the other animals, and they followed them also.
Presently a bear came by, and they quite intended to kill him, but he also cried out,
“Dear, kind hunters, let me live.
And I will you my young ones give.”
The two young bears were placed with the others, of whom there were already eight.
At last who should come by but a lion, shaking his mane. The hunters were not at all alarmed; they only pointed their guns at him. But the lion cried out in the same manner,
“Dear, kind hunters, let me live.
And I will you two young ones give.”
So he fetched two of his cubs, and the hunters placed them with the rest. They had now two lions, two bears, two wolves, two foxes, and two hares, who traveled with them and served them. Yet, after all, their hunger was not appeased.
So one of them said to the fox, “Here, you little sneak, who are so clever and sly, go find us something to eat.”
Then the fox answered, “Not far from here lies a town where we have many times fetched away chickens. I will show you the way.”
So the fox showed them the way to the village, where they bought some provisions for themselves and food for the animals, and went on further.
The fox, however, knew quite well the best spots in that part of the country, and where to find the hen-houses; and he could, above all, direct the hunters which road to take.
After traveling for a time in this way they could find no suitable place for them all to remain together, so one said to the other, ‘The only thing for us to do is to separate”; and to this the other agreed. Then they divided the animals so that each had one lion, one bear, one wolf, one fox, and one hare. When the time came to say fare- well they promised to live in brotherly love till death, stuck the knives that their foster-father had given them in a tree, and then one turned to the east, and the other to the west.
The youngest, whose steps we will follow first, soon arrived at a large town, in which the houses were all covered with black crape. He went to an inn, and asked the landlord if he could give shelter to his animals. The landlord pointed out a stable for them, and their master led them in and shut the door. But in the wall of the stable was a hole, and the hare slipped through easily and fetched a cabbage for herself. The fox followed, and came back with a hen; and as soon as he had eaten it he went for the cock also. The wolf, the bear, and the lion, however, were too large to get through the hole. Then the landlord had a cow killed and brought in for them, or they would have starved.
The hunter was just going out to see if his animals were being cared for when he asked the landlord why the houses were so hung with mourning crape. “Because,” he replied, “tomorrow morning our King’s daughter will die.” “Is she seriously ill, then?” asked the hunter. “No,” he answered; “she is in excellent health; still, she must die.” “What is the cause of this?” said the young man.
Then the landlord explained. “Outside the town,” he said, “is a high mountain in which dwells a dragon, who every year demands a young maiden to be given up to him, otherwise he will destroy the whole country. He has already devoured all the young maidens in the town, and there are none remaining but the King’s daughter. Not even for her is any favor shown, and tomorrow she must be delivered up to him.”
“Why do you not kill the dragon?” exclaimed the young hunter.
“Ah!” replied the landlord, “many young knights have sought to do so, and lost their lives in the attempt. The King has even promised his daughter in marriage to whoever will destroy the dragon, and also that he shall be heir to his throne.”
The hunter made no reply to this; but the next morning he rose early, and taking his animals with him climbed up the dragon’s mountain.
There stood near the top a little church, and on the altar inside were three full goblets, bearing this inscription: “Whoever drinks of these goblets will be the strongest man upon earth, and will discover the sword which lies buried before the threshold of this door.”
The hunter did not drink; he first went out and sought for the sword in the ground, but he could not find the place. Then he returned and drank up the contents of the goblets. How strong it made him feel! And how quickly he found the sword, which, heavy as it was, he could wield easily!
Meanwhile the hour came when the young maiden was to be given up to the dragon, and she came out accompanied by the. King, the marshal, and the courtiers.
They saw from the distance the hunter on the mountain, and the Princess, thinking it was the dragon waiting for her, would not goon. At last she remembered that to save the town from being lost, she must make this painful sacrifice, and therefore wished her father farewell. The King and the court returned home full of great sorrow. The King’s marshal, however, was to remain, and see from a distance all that took place.
When the King’s daughter reached the top of the mountain, she found, instead of the dragon, a handsome young hunter, who spoke to her comforting words, and, telling her he had come to rescue her, led her into the church, and locked her in.
Before long, with a rushing noise and a roar, the seven-headed dragon made his appearance. As soon as he caught sight of the hunter he wondered to himself, and said at last, “What business have you here on this mountain?” “My business is a combat with you!” replied the hunter.
“Many knights and nobles have tried that, and lost their lives,” replied the dragon; “with you I shall make short work!”
And he breathed out fire as he spoke from his seven throats.
The flames set fire to the dry grass, and the hunter would have been stifled with heat and smoke had not his faithful animals run forward and stamped out the fire. Then in a rage the dragon drew near, but the hunter was too quick for him; swinging his sword on high, it whizzed through the air and, falling on the dragon, cut off three of his heads.
Then was the monster furious; he raised himself on his hind legs, spat fiery flames on the hunter, and tried to overthrow him. But the young man again swung his sword, and as the dragon approached, he with one blow cut off three more of his heads. The monster, mad with rage, sank on the ground, still trying to get at the hunter; but the young man, exerting his remaining strength, had no difficulty in cutting off his seventh head, and his tail; and then, finding he could resist no more, he called to his animals to come and tear the dragon in pieces.
As soon as the combat was ended the hunter unlocked the church door, and found the King’s daughter lying on the ground; for during the combat all sense and life had left her, from fear and terror.
He raised her up, and as she came to herself and opened her eyes he showed her the dragon torn in pieces, and told her that she was released from all danger.
Oh, how joyful she felt when she saw and heard what he had done! She said, “Now you will be my dear husband, for my father has himself promised me in marriage to whoever should kill the dragon.” Then she took off her coral necklace of five strings, and divided it among the animals as a reward; the lion’s share being in addition the gold clasp. Her pocket handkerchief, which bore her name, she presented to the hunter, who went out, and cut the seven tongues out of the dragon’s heads, which he wrapped up carefully in the handkerchief.
After all the fighting, and the fire and smoke, the hunter felt so faint and tired that he said to the maiden, “I think a little rest would do us both good after all the fight and the struggles with the dragon that I have had, and your terror and alarm. Shall we sleep for a little while before I take you home safely to your father’s house?” “Yes,” she replied, “I can sleep peacefully now.”
So she laid herself down, and as soon as she slept he said to the lion, “You must lie near and watch that no one comes to harm us.” Then he threw himself on the ground, quite worn out, and was soon fast asleep.
The lion laid himself down at a little distance to watch; but he was also tired and overcome with the combat, so he called to the bear, and said, “lie down near me; I must have a little rest, and if any one comes, wake me up.”
Then the bear lay down; but he was also very tired, so he cried to the wolf, “Just lie down by me; I must have a little sleep, and if anything happens, wake me up.”
The wolf complied; but as he was also tired, he called to the fox, and said, “lie down near me; I must have a little sleep, and if anything comes, wake me up.”
Then the fox came and laid himself down by the wolf; but he too was tired, and called out to the hare, “Lie down near me; I must sleep a little, and, whatever comes, wake me up.”
The hare seated herself near the fox; but the poor little hare was very tired, and although she had no one to ask to watch and call her, she also went fast asleep. And now the King’s daughter, the hunter, the bear, the lion, the wolf, the fox, and the hare were all in a deep sleep, while danger was at hand.
The marshal, from the distance, had tried to see what was going on, and being surprised that the dragon had not yet flown away with the King’s daughter, and that all was quiet on the mountain, took courage, and ventured to climb up to the top. There he saw the mangled and headless body of the dragon, and at a little distance the King’s daughter, the hunter, and all the animals sunk in a deep sleep. He knew in a moment that the stranger hunter had killed the dragon, and, being wicked and envious, he drew his sword and cut off the hunter s head. Then he seized the sleeping maiden by the arm, and carried her away from the mountain.
She woke and screamed; but the marshal said, “You are in my power, and therefore you shall say that I have killed the dragon!” “I cannot say so,” she replied, “for I saw the hunter kill him, and the animals tear him in pieces.”
Then he drew his sword, and threatened to kill her if she did not obey him; so that to save her life she was forced to promise to say all he wished.
Thereupon he took her to the King, who knew not how to contain himself for joy at finding his dear child still alive, and that she had been saved from the monsters power.
Then the marshal said, “I have killed the dragon and freed the King’s daughter, therefore I demand her for my wife, according to the King’s promise.”
“ls this all true?” asked the King of his daughter.
“Ah, yes,” she replied, “I suppose it is true; but I shall refuse to allow the marriage to take place for one year and a day. For,” thought she, “in that time I may hear something of my dear hunter.”
All this while on the dragon’s mountain the animals lay sleeping near their dead master. At last a large bumble-bee settled on the hare’s nose, but she only whisked it off with her paw, and slept again. The bee came a second time, but the hare again shook him off, and slept as soundly as before. Then came the bumble-bee a third time, and stung the hare in the nose; thereupon she woke. As soon as she was quite aroused she woke the fox; the fox, the wolf; the wolf, the bear; and the bear, the lion.
But when the lion roused himself, and saw that the maiden was gone and his master dead, he gave a terrible roar, and cried, “Whose doing is this? Bear, why did you not wake me?” Then said the bear to the wolf, “Wolf, why did you not wake me?” “Fox,” cried the wolf, “why did you not wake me?” “Hare,” said the fox, “and why did you not wake me?”
The poor hare had no one to ask why he did not wake her, and she knew she must bear all the blame. Indeed, they were all ready to tear her to pieces, but she cried, “Don’t destroy my life! I will restore our master. I know a mountain on which grows a root that will cure every wound and every disease if it is placed in the person’s mouth; but the mountain on which it grows lies two hundred miles from here.” “Then,” said the lion, “we will give you twenty-four hours, but not longer, to find this root and bring it to us.”
Away sprang the hare very fast, and in twenty-four hours she returned with the root. As soon as they saw her the lion quickly placed the head of the hunter on the neck; and the hare, when she had joined the wounded parts together, put the root into the mouth, and in a few moments the heart began to beat, and life came back to the hunter.
On awaking he was terribly alarmed to find that the maiden had disappeared. “She must have gone away while I slept,” he said, “and is lost to me forever!”
These sad thoughts so occupied him that he did not notice anything wrong about his head, but in truth the lion had placed it on in such a hurry that the face was turned the wrong way. He first noticed it when they brought him something to eat, and then he found that his face looked backward. He was so astonished that he could not imagine what had happened, and asked his animals the cause. Then the lion confessed that they had all slept in consequence of being so tired, and that when they at last awoke they found the Princess gone, and himself lying dead, with his head cut off. The lion told him also that the hare had fetched the healing root, but in their haste they had placed the head on the wrong way. This mistake, they said, could be easily rectified. So they took the hunter’s head off again, turned it round, placed it on properly, and the hare stuck the parts together with the wonderful root. After this the hunter went away again to travel about the world, feeling very sorrowful, and he left his animals to be taken care of by the people of the town.
It so happened that at the end of a year he came back again to the same town where he had freed the King’s daughter and killed the dragon. This time, instead of black crape the houses were hung with scarlet cloth. “What does it mean?” he said to the landlord. “Last year when I came your houses were all hung with black crape, and now it is scarlet cloth.”
“Oh,” replied the landlord, ‘last year we were expecting our King’s daughter to be given up to the dragon, but the marshal fought with him and killed him, and tomorrow his marriage with the King’s daughter will take place; that is the cause of our town being so gay and bright – it is joy now instead of sorrow.”
The next day, when the marriage was to be celebrated, the hunter said, “Landlord, do you believe that I shall eat bread from the King’s table here with any one who will join me?” “1 will lay a hundred gold-pieces,” replied the landlord, “that you will do nothing of the kind.”
The hunter took the bet, and taking out his purse placed the gold-pieces aside for payment if he should lose.
Then he called the hare, and said to her, “Go quickly to the castle, dear Springer, and bring me some of the bread which the King eats.”
Now, the hare was such an insignificant little thing that no one ever thought of ordering a conveyance for her, so she was obliged to go on foot. “Oh,” thought she, “when I am running through the streets, suppose the cruel hound should see me.” Just as she got near the castle she looked behind her, and there truly was a hound ready to seize her. But she gave a start forward, and before the sentinel was aware rushed into the sentry-box. The dog followed, and wanted to bring her out, but the soldier stood in the doorway and would not let him pass, and when the dog tried to get in he struck him with his staff, and sent him away howling.
As soon as the hare saw that the coast was clear she rushed out of the sentry-box and ran to the castle, and finding the door of the room where the Princess was sitting open, she darted in and hid under her chair. Presently the Princess felt something scratching her foot, and thinking it was the dog, she said, “Be quiet, Sultan; go away!” The hare scratched again at her foot, but she still thought it was the dog, and cried, “Will you go away, Sultan?” But the hare did not allow herself to be sent away, so she scratched the foot a third time. Then the Princess looked down and recognized the hare by her necklace. She took the creature at once in her arms, carried her to her own room, and said, “Dear little hare, what do you want?”
The hare replied instantly, “My master, who killed the dragon, is here, and he has sent me to ask for some of the bread that the King eats.”
Then was the King’s daughter full of joy; she sent for the cook, and ordered him to bring her some of the bread which was made for the King. When he brought it the hare cried, “The cook must go with me, or that cruel hound may do me some harm.” So the cook carried the bread, and went with the hare to the door of the inn.
As soon as he was gone she stood on her hind legs, took the bread in her fore-paws, and brought it to her master.
“There!” cried the hunter; “here is the bread, landlord, and the hundred gold-pieces are mine.” The landlord was much surprised, but when the hunter declared he would also have some of the roast meat from the King’s table, he said: “The bread may be here, but I’U warrant you will get nothing more.”
The hunter called the fox, and said to him, “My fox, go and fetch me some of the roast meat such as the King eats.”
The red fox knew a better trick than the hare: he went across the fields, and slipped in without being seen by the hound. Then he placed himself under the chair of the King’s daughter, and touched her foot. She looked down immediately, and recognizing him by his necklace, took him into her room. “What do you want, dear fox?” she asked.
“My master, who killed the dragon, is here,” he replied, “and has sent me to ask for some of the roast meat that is cooked for the King.”
The cook was sent for again, and the Princess desired him to carry some meat for the fox to the door of the inn. On arriving, the fox took the dish from the cook, and after whisking away the flies that had settled on it, with his tail, brought it to his master.
“See, landlord,” cried the hunter, “here are bread and meat such as the King eats, and now I will have vegetables.” So he called the wolf, and said, “Dear wolf, go and fetch me vegetables such as the King eats.”
Away went the wolf straight to the castle, for he had no fear of anything, and as soon as he entered the room he went behind the Princess and pulled her dress, so that she was obliged to look round. She recognized the wolf immediately by the necklace, took him into her chamber, and said, “Dear wolf, what do you want?” He replied, “My master, who killed the dragon, is here, and has sent me to ask for some vegetables such as the King eats.”
The cook was sent for again, and told to take some vegetables also to the inn door; and as soon as they arrived the wolf took the dish from him and carried it to his master.
“Look here, landlord,” cried the hunter, *1 have now bread, meat, and vegetables; but I will also have some sweetmeats from the King’s table.” He called the bear, and said, “Dear bear, I know you are fond of sweets. Now go and fetch me some sweetmeats such as the King eats.”
The bear trotted off to the castle, and every one ran away when they saw him coming. But when he reached the castle gates, the sentinel held his gun before him and would not let him pass in. But the bear rose on his hind legs, boxed his ears right and left with his fore-paws, and leaving him tumbled all of a heap in his sentry-box, went into the castle. Seeing the King’s daughter entering he followed her and gave a slight growl. She looked behind her and, recognizing the bear, called him into her chamber, and said, “Dear bear, what do you want?”
“My master, who killed the dragon, is here,” he replied, “and he has sent me to ask for some sweetmeats like those which the King eats.”
The Princess sent for the confectioner, and desired him to bake some sweetmeats and take them with, the bear to the door of the inn. As soon as they arrived the bear first licked up the sugar drips which had dropped on his fur, then stood upright, took the dish, and carried it to his master.
“See now, landlord,” cried the hunter, “I have bread, and meat, and vegetables, and sweetmeats, and I mean to have wine also, such as the King drinks.” So he called the lion to him, and said, “Dear lion, you drink till you are quite tipsy sometimes. Now go and fetch me some wine such as the King drinks.”
As the lion trotted through the streets all the people ran away from him. The sentinel, when he saw him coming, tried to stop the way; but the lion gave a little roar, and made him run for his life. Then the lion entered the castle, passed through the King’s apartment, and knocked at the door of the Princess’s room with his tail. The Princess, when she opened it and saw the lion, was at first rather frightened; but presently she observed on his neck the gold necklace clasp, and knew it was the hunter’s lion. She called him into her chamber, and said, “Dear lion, what do you want?”
“My master, who killed the dragon,” he replied, “is here, and he has sent me to ask for some wine, such as the King drinks.”
Then she sent for the King’s cup-bearer, and told him to give the lion some of the King’s wine.
“I will go with him,” said the lion, “and see that he draws the right sort.” So the lion went with the cup-bearer to the wine-cellar, and when he saw him about to draw some of the ordinary wine which the King’s vassals drank, the lion cried, “Stop! I will taste the wine first.” So he drew himself a pint, and swallowed it down at a gulp. “No,” he said, “that is not the right sort.”
The cup-bearer saw he was found out; however, he went over to another cask that was kept for the King’s marshal. “Stop!” cried the lion again, “I will taste the wine first.” So he drew another pint and drank it off. “Ah!” he said, “that is better, but still not the right wine.” Then the cup-bearer was angry, and said, “What can a stupid beast like you understand about wine?”
But the lion, with a lash of his tail, knocked him down, and before the man could move himself found his way stealthily into a little private cellar, in which were casks of wine never tasted by any but the King. The lion drew half a pint, and when he had tasted it, he said to himself, “That is wine of the right sort.” So he called the cup-bearer and made him draw six flagons full.
As they came up from the cellar into the open air the lion’s head swam a little, and he was almost tipsy; but as the cup-bearer was obliged to carry the wine for him to the door of the inn, it did not much matter. When they arrived, the lion took the handle of the basket in his mouth, and carried the wine to his master.
“Now, Master landlord,” said the hunter, “I have bread, meat, vegetables, sweetmeats, and wine, such as the King has, so I will sit down and with my faithful animals enjoy a good meal”; and, indeed, he felt very happy, for he knew now that the King’s daughter still loved him.
After they had finished, the hunter said to the landlord, “Now that I have eaten and drunk of the same provisions as the King, I will go to the King’s castle and marry his daughter.”
“Well,” said the landlord, “how that is to be managed I cannot tell, when she has already a bridegroom to whom she will today be married.”
The hunter, without a word, took out the pocket handkerchief which the King’s daughter had given him on the dragon’s mountain, and opening it, showed the landlord the seven tongues of the monster, which he had cut out and wrapped in the handkerchief. ‘That which I have so carefully preserved will help me,” said the hunter.
The landlord looked at the handkerchief and said, “I may believe all the rest, but I would bet my house and farm-yard that you will never marry the King’s daughter.”
“Very well,” said the hunter, “I accept your bet, and if I lose, there are my hundred gold-pieces”; and he laid them on the table.
That same day, when the King and his daughter were seated at table, the King said, “What did all those wild animals want who came to you today, going in and out of my castle?” “I cannot tell you yet,” she replied; “but if you will send into the town for the master of these animals, then I will do so.”
The King sent, on hearing this, a servant at once to the inn with an invitation to the stranger who owned the animals, and the servant arrived just as the hunter had finished his bet with the land- lord.
“See, landlord!” he cried, “the King has sent me an invitation by his servant; but I cannot accept it yet.” He turned to the man who waited, and said, “Tell my lord the King that I cannot obey his commands to visit him unless he sends me suitable clothes for a royal palace, and a carriage with six horses, and servants to wait upon me.”
The servant returned with the message, and when the King heard it he said to his daughter, ‘”What shall I do?”
“I would send for him as he requests,” she replied.
So they sent royal robes, and a carriage and six horses with servants, and when the hunter saw them coming he said to the landlord, “See! they have sent for me as I wished.”
He dressed himself in the kingly clothes, took the handkerchief containing the dragon’s tongues, and drove away to the castle.
As soon as he arrived the King said to his daughter, “How shall I receive him?” “I should go and meet him,” she replied.
So the King went to meet him, and led him into the royal apartment, and all his animals followed. The King pointed him to a seat by his daughter. The marshal sat on her other side as bridegroom, but the visitor knew it not.
Just at this moment the dragon’s seven heads were brought into the room to show to the company, and the King said: “These heads belonged to the dragon who was for so many years the terror of this town. The marshal slew the dragon, and saved my daughters life; therefore I have given her to him in marriage, according to my promise.”
At this the hunter rose, and advancing, opened the seven throats of the dragon, and said, “Where are the tongues?”
The marshal turned white with fear, and knew not what to do. At last he said in his terror, “Dragons have no tongues.”
“Liars get nothing for their pains,” said the hunter; “the dragon’s tongues shall prove who was his conqueror!”
He unfolded the handkerchief as he spoke. There lay the seven tongues. He took them up and placed each in the mouth of the dragon’s head to which it belonged, and it fitted exactly. Then he took up the pocket handkerchief which was marked with the name of the King’s daughter, showed it to the maiden, and asked her if she had not given it to him. “Yes,” she replied; “I gave it to you on the day you killed the dragon.”
He called his animals to him, took from each the necklace, and from the lion the one with the golden clasp, and asked to whom they belonged.
“They are mine,” she replied; “they are a part of my coral necklace which had five strings of beads, which I divided among the animals because they aided you in killing the dragon, and afterward tore him in pieces. I cannot tell how the marshal could have carried me away from you,” she continued, “for you told me to He down and sleep after the fatigue and fright I had endured.”
“I slept myself,” he replied, “for I was quite worn out with my combat, and as I lay sleeping the marshal came and cut off my head.”
“I begin to understand now,” said the King; “the marshal carried away my daughter, supposing you were dead, and made us believe that he had killed the dragon, till you arrived with the tongues, the handkerchief, and the necklace. But what restored you to life?” asked the King.
Then the hunter related how one of his animals had healed him and restored him to life through the application of a wonderful root, and how he had been wandering about for a whole year, and had only returned to the town that very day, and heard from the landlord of the marshal’s deceit.
Then said the King to his daughter, “Is it true that this man killed the dragon?”
“Yes,” she answered, “quite true, and I can venture now to expose the wickedness of the marshal; for he carried me away that day against my wish, and forced me with threats to keep silent. I did not know he had tried to kill the real slayer of the dragon, but I hoped he would come back, and on that account I begged to have the marriage put off for a year and a day.”
The King, after this, ordered twelve judges to be summoned to try the marshal, and the sentence passed upon him was that he should be torn to pieces by wild oxen. As soon as the marshal was punished the King gave his daughter to the hunter, and appointed him to the high position of stadtholder over the whole kingdom.
The marriage caused great joy, and the hunter, who was now a Prince, sent for his father and foster-father, and overloaded them with treasures.
Neither did he forget the landlord, but sent for him to come to the castle, and said, “See, landlord, I have married the King’s daughter, and your house and farm-yard belong to me.” ‘That is quite true,” replied the landlord.
“Ah,” said the Prince, “but I do not mean to keep them; they are still yours, and I make you a present of the hundred gold-pieces also.”
For a time the young Prince and his wife lived most happily together. He still, however, went out hunting, which was his great delight, and his faithful animals remained with him. They lived, however, in a wood close by, from which he could call them at any time; yet the wood was not safe, for he once went in and did not get out again very easily.
Whenever the Prince had a wish, to go hunting, he gave the King no rest till he allowed him to do so. On one occasion, while riding with a large number of attendants in the wood, he saw at a distance a snow-white deer, and he said to his people, “Stay here till I come back; I must have that beautiful creature, and so many will frighten her.”
Then he rode away through the wood, and only his animals followed him. The attendants drew rein, and waited till evening, but as he did not come they rode home and told the young Princess that her husband had gone into an enchanted forest to hunt a white deer, and had not returned.
This made her very anxious, more especially when the morrow came and he did not return; indeed, he could not, for he kept riding after the beautiful wild animal, but without being able to over- take it. At times, when he fancied she was within reach of his gun, the next moment she was leaping away at a great distance, and at last she vanished altogether.
Not till then did he notice how far he had penetrated into the forest. He raised his horn and blew, but there was no answer, for his attendants could not hear it; and then as night came on he saw plainly that he should not be able to find his way home till the next day, so he alighted from his horse, lit a fire by a tree, and determined to make himself as comfortable as he could for the night.
As he sat under the tree by the fire, with his animals lying near him, he heard, as he thought, a human voice. He looked round, but could see nothing. Presently there was a groan over his head; he looked up and saw an old woman sitting on a branch, who kept grumbling, “Oh, oh, how cold I am! I am freezing” “If you are cold, come down and warm yourself,” he said. “No, no,” she replied; “your animals will bite me.” ‘Indeed they will do no such thing. Come down, old mother,” he said kindly; “none of them shall hurt you.”
He did not know that she was a wicked witch, so when she said, “I will throw you down a little switch from the tree, and if you just touch them on the back with it they cannot hurt me,” he did as she told him, and as soon as they were touched by the wand the animals were all turned to stone. Then she jumped down, and touching the Prince on the back with the switch, he also was instantly turned into stone. Thereupon she laughed maliciously, and dragged him and his animals into a grave where several similar stones lay.
When the Princess found that her husband did not return, her anxiety and care increased painfully, and she became at last very unhappy.
Now, it so happened that just at this time the twin brother of the Prince, who since their separation had been wandering in the East, arrived in the country of which his brother’s father-in-law was King. He had tried to obtain a situation, but could not succeed, and only his animals were left to him.
One day, as he was wandering from one place to another, it occurred to his mind that he might as well go and look at the knife which they had stuck in the trunk of a tree at the time of their separation. When he came to it there was his brother’s side of the knife half -rusted, and the other half still bright.
In great alarm he thought, “My brother must have fallen into some terrible trouble. I will go and find him. I may be able to res- cue him, as the half of the knife is still bright.”
He set out with his animals on a journey, and while traveling west came to the town in which his brother’s wife, the King’s daughter, lived. As soon as he reached the gate of the town the watchman advanced toward him and asked if he should go and announce his arrival to the Princess, who had for two days been in great trouble about him, fearing that he had been detained in the forest by enchantment.
The watchman had not the least idea that the young man was any other than the Prince himself, especially as he had the wild animals running behind him. The twin brother saw this, and he said to himself, “Perhaps it will be best for me to allow myself to be taken for my brother; I shall be able more easily to save him.” So he followed the sentinel to the castle, where he was received with great joy.
The young Princess had no idea that this was not her husband, and asked him why he had remained away so long.
He replied, “I rode a long distance into the wood, and could not find my way out again.” At night he was taken to the royal bed, but he laid a two-edged sword between him and the young Princess; she did not know what that could mean, but did not venture to ask. In a few days he discovered all about his brother that he wished to know, and was determined to go and seek for him in the en- chanted wood. So he said, “I must go to the hunt just once more.”
The King and the young Princess said all they could to dissuade him, but to no purpose, and at length he left the castle with a large company of attendants.
When he reached the wood all happened as it had done with his brother. He saw the beautiful white deer, and told his attendants to wait while he went after it, followed only by his animals; but neither could he overtake it; and the white deer led him far down into the forest, where he found he must remain all night.
After he had lighted a fire he heard, as his brother had done, the old woman in the tree, crying out that she was freezing with cold, and he said to her, “If you are cold, old mother, come down and warm yourself!” “No,” she cried, “your animals will bite me!” “No, indeed they will not,” he said. “I can’t trust them!” she cried; “here, I will throw you a little switch, and if you gently strike them across the back, then they will not be able to hurt me.”
When the hunter heard that he began to mistrust the old woman, and said, “No; I will not strike my animals; you come down, or I will fetch you.” “Do as you like,” she said; “you can’t hurt me.” “If you don’t come down,” he replied, “I will shoot you.” “Shoot away,” she said; “your bullet can do me no harm.”
He pointed his gun and shot at her; but the witch was proof against a leaden bullet. She gave a shrill laugh, and cried, “It is no use trying to hit me.”
The hunter knew, however, what to do; he cut off three silver buttons from his coat, and loaded his gun with them. Against these she knew all her arts were vain; so as he drew the trigger she fell suddenly to the ground with a scream. Then he placed his foot upon her, and said, “Old witch, if you do not at once confess where my brother is, I will take you up and throw you into the fire.”
She was in a great fright, begged for pardon, and said, “He is lying with his animals, turned to stone, in a grave.”
Then he forced her to go with him, and said, “You old cat, if you don’t instantly restore my brother to life, and all the creatures that are with him, over you go into the fire.”
She was obliged to take a switch and strike the stones, and immediately the brother, his animals, and many others – traders, mechanics, and shepherds – stood before him, alive and in their own forms.
Thankful for having gained their freedom and their lives, they all hastened home; but the twin brothers, when they saw each other again, were full of joy, and embraced and kissed each other with great affection. They seized the old witch, bound her, and placed her on the fire, and as soon as she was burned the forest became suddenly clear and light, and the King’s castle appeared at a very little distance.
After this the twin brothers walked away together toward the castle, and on the road related to each other the events that had happened to them since they parted. At last the youngest told his brother of his marriage to the King’s daughter, and that the King had made him lord over the whole land.
“I know all about it,” replied the other; “for when I came to the town, they all took me for you and treated me with kingly state; even the young Princess mistook me for her husband, and made me sit by her side.”
But as he spoke his brother became so fierce with jealousy and anger that he drew his sword and cut off his brother’s head. Then as he saw him lie dead at his feet his anger was quelled in a moment, and he repented bitterly, crying, “Oh, my brother is dead, and it is I who have killed him!” and kneeling by his side he mourned with loud cries and tears.
In a moment the hare appeared and begged to be allowed to fetch the life-giving root, which she knew would cure him. She was not away long, and when she returned, the head was replaced and fastened with the healing power of the plant, and the brother restored to life, while not even a sign of the wound remained to be noticed.
The brothers now walked on most lovingly together, and the one who had married the King’s daughter said, “I see that you have kingly clothes, as I have; your animals are the same as mine. Let us enter the castle at two opposite doors, and approach the old King from two sides together.”
So they separated; and as the King sat with his daughter in the royal apartment a sentinel approached him from two distant entrances at the same time, and informed him that the Prince, with his animals, had arrived. “That is impossible!” cried the King; “one of you must be wrong; for the gates at which you watch are quite a quarter of a mile apart.”
But while the King spoke the two young men entered at opposite ends of the room, and both came forward and stood before the King.
With a bewildered look the King turned to his daughter, and said, “Which is your husband? For they are both so exactly alike I cannot tell.”
She was herself very much frightened, and could not speak; at last she thought of the necklace that she had given to the animals, and looking earnestly among them she saw the glitter of the golden clasp on the lion’s neck. “See,” she cried in a happy voice, “he whom that lion follows is my husband!”
The Prince laughed, and said, “Yes; you are right; and this is my twin brother.”
So they sat down happily together and told the King and the young Princess all their adventures.
When the King’s daughter and her husband were alone she said to him, “Why have you for the last several nights always laid a two-edged sword in our bed? I thought you had a wish to kill me.” Then the Prince knew how true and honorable his twin brother had been.