Guerrino, only son of Filippomaria, King of Sicily, sets free from his father's prison a certain savage man. His mother, through fear of the king, drives her son into exile, and him the savage man, now humanized, delivers from many and measureless ills.I have heard by report, and likewise gathered from my own experience, most gracious and pleasure-loving ladies, that a kindly service done to another (although at the time the one served may seem in no sense grateful for the boon conferred) will more often than not come back to the doer thereof with abundant usury of benefit. Which thing happened to the son of a king who, having liberated from one of his father's prisons a wild man of the woods, was more than once rescued from a violent death by the captive he had freed. This you will easily understand from the fable which I intend to relate to you, and for the love I bear to all of you I will exhort you never to be backward in aiding others; because, even though you be not repaid by those in whose behalf you have wrought, God himself, the rewarder of all, will assuredly never leave your good deed unrecompensed; nay, on the contrary, he will make you partakers with him of his divine grace.
Sicily, my dear ladies (as must be well known to all of you), is an island very fertile and complete in itself, and in antiquity surpassing all the others of which we have knowledge, abounding in towns and villages which render it still more beautiful. In past times the lord of this island was a certain king named Filippomaria, a man wise and amiable and of rare virtue, who had to wife a courteous, winsome, and lovely lady, the mother of his only son, who was called Guerrino. The king took greater delight in following the chase than any other man in the country, and, for the reason that he was of a strong and robust habit of body, this diversion was well suited to him.
Now it happened one day that, as he was coming back from hunting in company with divers of his barons and huntsmen, he saw, coming out of a thick wood a wild man, tall and big and so deformed and ugly that they all looked upon him with amazement. In strength of body he seemed no whit inferior to any of them; wherefore the king, having put himself in fighting trim, together with two of the most valiant of his barons, attacked him boldly, and after a long and doughty struggle overcame him and took him a prisoner with his own hands.
Then, having bound him, they conveyed him back to the palace, and selected for him a safe lodging, fitted for the purpose, into which they cast him, and there under strong locks he was kept by the king's command closely confined and guarded. And seeing that the king set high store upon his captive, he ordained that the keys of the prison should be held in charge by the queen, and never a day passed when he would not for pastime go to visit him.
Before many days had gone by the king once more put himself in array for the chase, and, having furnished himself with all the various things which are necessary thereto, he set forth with a gallant company of courtiers, but before he left he gave into the queen's care the keys of the prison. And during the time that the king was absent on his hunting a great longing came over Guerrino, who was at that season a young lad, to see the wild man of the woods; so having betaken himself all alone, carrying his bow, in which he delighted greatly, to the prison grating, the creature saw him and straight way began to converse with him in decent orderly fashion. And while they talked the boy, dexterously snatched out of his hand the arrow, which was richly ornamented. Whereupon the boy began to weep, and could not keep back his tears, crying out that the savage ought to give him back his arrow.
But the wild man said to him: "If you will open the door and let me go free from this prison I will give you back your arrow, but if you refuse I will not let you have it."
The boy answered, "How would you that I should open the door for you and set you free, seeing that I have not the means therefor."
Then said the wild man, "If indeed you were in the mood to release me and to let me out of this narrow cell, I would soon teach you the way in which it might be done."
"But how?" replied Guerrino; "tell me the way."
To which the wild man made answer: "Go to the chamber of the queen your mother, and when you see that she is taking her midday sleep, put your hand softly under the pillow upon which she is resting, and take therefrom the keys of the prison in such wise that she shall not notice the theft, and bring them here and open my prison door. When you shall have done this I will give you back your arrow forthwith, and peradventure at some future time I may be able to make you a return for your kindness."
Guerrino, wishing beyond everything to get back his gilded dart, did everything that the wild man had told him, and found the keys exactly as he had said, and with these in his hand he returned to the prison, and said to him: "Behold! Here are the keys; but if I let you out of this place you must go so far from hence that not even the scent of you may be known, for if my father, who is a great huntsman, should find you and capture you again, he would of a surety kill you out of hand."
"Let not that trouble you, my child," said the captive, "for as soon as ever you shall open the prison and see me a free man, I will give you back your arrow and will get me away into such distant parts that neither your father nor any other man shall ever find me."
Guerrino, who had all the strength of a man, worked away at the door, and finally threw open the prison, when the wild man, having given back to him his arrow and thanked him heartily, went his way.
Now this wild man had been formerly a very handsome youth, who, through despair at his inability to win the favour of the lady he ardently loved, let go all dreams of love and urbane pursuits, and took up his dwelling amongst beasts of the forest, abiding always in the gloomy woods and bosky thickets, eating grass and drinking water after the fashion of a brute. On this account the wretched man had become covered with a great fell of hair; his skin was hard, his beard thick and tangled and very long, and, through eating herbs and grass, his beard, his hairy covering, and the hair of his head had become so green that they were quite monstrous to behold.
As soon as ever the queen awoke from her slumbers she thrust her hand under her pillow to seek for the keys she had put there, and, when she found they were gone, she was terrified amain, and having turned the bed upside down without meeting with any trace of them, she ran straightway like one bereft of wit to the prison, which was standing open.
When on searching further she found no sign of the wild man, she was so sore stricken with grief and fear that she was like to die, and, having returned to the palace, she made diligent search in every corner thereof, questioning the while now this courtier and now that as to who the presumptuous and insolent varlet was who had been brazen enough to lay hands upon the keys of the prison without her knowledge.
To this questioning they one and all declared that they knew nought of the matter which thus disturbed her.
And when Guerrino met his mother, and remarked that she was almost beside herself in a fit of passion, he said to her: "Mother see that you cast no blame on any of these in respect to the opening of the prison door, because if punishment is due to any thereanent it is due to me, for I, and I alone, unlocked it."
The queen, when she heard these words, was plunged in deeper sorrow than ever, fearing lest the king, when he should come back from his hunting, might kill his son through sheer anger at the fault he had committed, seeing that he had given into her charge the keys, to guard them as preciously as her own person.
Wherefore the queen in her desire to escape the consequences of a venial mistake fell into another error far more weighty, for without the shortest delay she summoned two of her most trusty servants, and her son as well, and, having given to them a great quantity of jewels and much money and divers fine horses, sent him forth to seek his fortune, at the same time begging the servants most earnestly to take the greatest care of Guerrino.
A very short time after son had departed from the presence of his mother, the king came back to the palace from following the chase, and as soon as he had alighted from his horse he betook himself straightway to the prison to go and see the wild man, and when he found the door wide open and the captive gone, and no trace of him left behind, he was forthwith inflamed with such violent anger that he determined in his mind to cause to be slain without fail the person who had wrought such a flagrant misdeed. And, having sought out the queen, who was sitting overcome with grief in her chamber, he commanded her to tell him what might be the name of the impudent, rash, and presumptuous varlet who had been bold enough of heart to open the doors of the prison and thereby give opportunity to the wild man of the woods to make his escape.
Whereupon the queen, in a meek and trembling voice, made answer to him: "O sire! be not troubled on account of this thing, for Guerrino our son (as he himself has made confession to me) admits that he has done this."
And then she told to the king everything that Guerrino had said to her, and he, when he heard her story, was greatly incensed with rage. Next she told him that, on account of the fear she felt lest he should slay his son, she had sent the youth away into a far distant country, accompanied by two of their most faithful servants, and carrying with him rich store of jewels and of money sufficient to serve their needs.
The king, when he listened to this speech of the queen, felt one sorrow heaping itself upon another, and he came within an ace of falling to the ground or of losing his wits, and, if it had not been for the courtiers who fell upon him and held him back, he would assuredly have slain his unhappy queen on the spot.
Now when the poor king had in some measure recovered his composure and calmed the fit of unbridled rage which had possessed him, he said to the queen: "Alas, my wife! What fancy was this of yours which induced you to send away into some unknown land our son, the fruit of our mutual love? Is it possible that you imagined I should hold this wild man of greater value than one who was my own flesh and blood?"
And without awaiting any reply to these remarks of his, he bade a great troop of soldiers mount their horses forthwith, and, after having divided themselves into four companies, to make a close search and endeavour to find the prince. But all their inquest was in vain, seeing that Guerrino and his attendants had made their journey secretly, and had let no one know who they might be.
Guerrino, after he had ridden far and traversed divers valleys and mountains and rivers, making a halt now in one spot and now in another, attained at last his sixteenth year, and so fair a youth was he by this time that he resembled nothing so much as a fresh morning rose.
But after a short time had passed, the servants who accompanied him were seized with the devilish thought of killing him, and then taking the store of jewels and money and parting it amongst themselves. This wicked plot, however, came to nought, because by the working of divine justice they were not able to agree amongst themselves. For by good fortune it happened that, one day while they were devising this wickedness, there rode by a very fair and graceful youth, mounted upon a superb steed, and accoutred with the utmost magnificence.
This youth bowed and graciously saluted Guerrino, and thus addressed him: "Most gracious sir, if it should not prove distasteful to you, I would fain make my journey in your company."
And to this Guerrino replied: "Your courtesy in making your request will not permit me to refuse it and the pleasure of your company. Therefore I give you cordial thanks, and I beg you as a special favour that you will accompany us on our road. We are strangers in this country and know but little of its highways, and you may be able of your kindness to direct our paths therein. Moreover, as we ride on together we can discuss the various chances which have befallen us, and thus our journey will be less irksome."
Now this young man was no other than the wild man whom Guerrino had set free from the prison of King Filippomaria his father. This youth, after wandering through various countries and strange lands, met one day by chance a very lovely and benignant fairy, who was at that time suffering from a certain distemper. She, when she looked upon him and saw how misshapen and hideous he was, laughed so violently at the sight of his ugliness that she caused to burst an imposthume which had formed in the vicinity of her heart -- an ailment which might well have caused her death by suffocation. And at that very moment she was delivered from all pain and trouble of this infirmity, as if she had never been afflicted therewith in the past, and restored to health.
Wherefore the good fairy, in recompense for so great a favour done to her, said to him, not wishing to appear ungrateful to him: "O thou creature, who art now so deformed and filthy, since thou hast been the means of restoring to me my health which I so greatly de sired, go thy ways, and be thou changed from what thou art into the fairest, the wisest, and the most graceful youth that may anywhere be found. And, besides this, I make you the sharer with me of all the power and authority conferred upon me by nature, whereby you will be able to do and to undo whatsoever you will according to your desire."
And having presented to him a noble horse endowed with magic powers, she gave him leave to go whithersoever he would.
Thus as Guerrino journeyed along with the young man, knowing nothing as to who he might be, but well known of him the while, they came at last to a mighty and strong city called Irlanda, over which at that time ruled King Zifroi. This King Zifroi was the father of two daughters, graceful to look upon, of modest manners, and in beauty surpassing Venus herself, one of them named Potentiana and the other Eleuteria. They were held so dear by the king their father, that he could see by no other eyes than theirs.
As soon as Guerrino entered the city of Irlanda with the unknown youth and with his train of servants, he hired a lodging of a certain householder who was the wittiest fellow in the whole of Irlanda, and who treated his guests with cheer of the best. And on the day following, the unknown youth made believe that he must needs depart and travel into another country, and went to take leave of Guerrino, thanking him in hearty wise for the boon of his company and good usage, but Guerrino, who had conceived the strongest love and friendship for him, would on no account let him go, and showed him such strong evidence of his good feeling that in the end the young man agreed to tarry with him.
In the country round about Irlanda there lived at this time two very fearful and savage animals, one of which was a wild horse, and the other a mare of like nature, and so ferocious and cruel were these beasts that they not only ravaged and devastated all the fair cultivated fields, but likewise killed all the animals and the men and women dwelling there in. And through the ruin wrought by these beasts the country had come to such piteous condition that no one was found willing to abide there, so that the peasants abandoned their farms and the homes which were dear to them and be took themselves to find dwelling-places in another land. And there was nowhere to be found any man strong and bold enough to face them, much less to fight with them and slay them.
Wherefore the king, seeing that the whole country was being made desolate of all victuals, and of cattle, and of human creatures, and not knowing how to devise any remedy for this wretched pass, gave way to dolorous lamentations, and cursed the hard and evil fortune which had befallen him.
The two servants of Guerrino, who during the journey had not been able to carry out their wicked intent through want of concord between themselves, and on account of the arrival of the unknown youth, now deliberated how they might compass Guerrino's death and remain possessors of the money and jewels, and said one to the other: "Let us now see and take counsel together how we may easiest take the life of our master."
But not being able to find any means thereto which seemed fitting, seeing that they would stand in peril of losing their own lives by the law if they should kill him, they decided to speak privily with their host and to tell him that Guerrino was a youth of great prowess and valour; furthermore, that he had often boasted in their presence that he would be ready to slay this wild horse without incurring any danger to himself.
Thus they reasoned with themselves: "Now this saying may easily come to the ears of the king, who, being so keenly set on the destruction of these two animals and on safeguarding the welfare of his country, will straightway command them to bring Guerrino before him, and will then inquire of the youth in what manner he means to accomplish this feat. Then Guerrino, knowing nothing what to say or to do, will at once be put to death by the king, and we shall remain sole masters of the jewels and the money."
And they forth with set to work to put this wicked plan of theirs into action.
The host, when he listened to this speech, rejoiced amain, and was as glad as any man in all the world, and without losing a moment of time he ran swiftly to the palace, and having knelt down be fore the king and made due reverence, he said to him secretly, "Gracious king, I have come to tell you that there is at present sojourning in my hostel a fair and gallant knight errant, who is called by name Guerrino. Now whilst I was confabulating about divers matters with his servants they told me, amongst other things, how their master was a man of great prowess and well skilled in the use and practice of arms, and that in this our time one might search in vain to find another who could be compared with him. Moreover, they had many and many a time heard him boast that of his strength and valour he could without difficulty overcome and slay the wild horse which is working such dire loss and damage to your kingdom."
When King Zifroi heard these words he immediately gave command that Guerrino should be brought before him. Whereupon the innkeeper, obedient to the word of the king, returned at once to his inn and said to Guerrino that he was to betake himself alone into the pres ence of the king, who greatly desired to speak with him. When Guerrino heard this he went straightway to the palace and presented himself to the king, and after saluting him with becoming reverence begged to be told for what reason he had been honoured with the royal commands.
To this Zifroi the king made answer: "Guerrino, the reason which has induced me to send for you is that I have heard you are a knight of great valour, and one excelling all the other knights now alive in the world. They tell me, too, that you have many and many a time declared that you are strong and valorous enough to overcome and slay the wild horse which is working such cruel ruin and devastation to this my kingdom, without risk of hurt to yourself or to others. If you can pluck up courage enough to make trial of an emprise so full of honour as this, and prove yourself a conqueror, I promise you by this head of mine to bestow upon you a gift which will make you a happy man for the rest of your days."
Guerrino, when he heard this proposition of the king, so grave and weighty, was mightily amazed, and at once denied that he had ever spoken such words as had been attributed to him.
The king, who was greatly disconcerted at this answer of Guerrino, thus addressed him: "Guerrino, it is my will that you should without delay undertake this task, and be sure if you refuse and fail to comply with my wishes I will take away your life."
The king, having thus spoken, dismissed from his presence Guerrino, who returned to his inn overwhelmed with deep sorrow, which he did not dare to disclose to anyone. Whereupon the unknown youth, marking that Guerrino, contrary to his wont, was plunged in melancholy, inquired the reason why he was so sad and full of grief. Then Guerrino, on account of the brotherly love subsisting between them, and finding himself unable to refuse this just and kind request, told him word for word everything that had happened to him.
As soon as the unknown youth heard this, he said, "Be of good cheer, and put aside all doubts and fears, for I will point out to you a way by which you will save your life, and be a conqueror in your enterprise, and fulfil the wishes of the king. Return, therefore, to the king, and beg of him to grant you the service of a skilful blacksmith. Then order this smith to make for you four horseshoes, which must be thicker and broader by the breadth of two fingers than the ordinary measure of horseshoes, well roughed, and each one to be fitted behind with two spikes of a finger's length and sharpened to a point. And when these shoes are prepared, you must have my horse, which is enchanted, shod therewith, and then you need have no further fear of anything."
Guerrino, after he had heard these words, returned to the presence of the king, and told him everything as the young man had directed him. The king then caused to be brought before him a well-skilled marshal smith, to whom he gave orders that he should carry out whatever work Guerrino might require of him. When they had gone to the smith's forge, Guerrino instructed him how to make the four horseshoes according to the words of the young stranger, but when the smith understood in what fashion he was required to make these shoes, he mocked at Guerrino, and treated him like a madman, for this way of making shoes was quite strange and unknown to him.
When Guerrino saw that the marshal smith was inclined to mock him, and unwilling to serve him as he had been ordered, he went once more to the king, and complained that the smith would not carry out his directions. Wherefore the king bade them bring the marshal before him, and gave him express command that, under pain of his highest displeasure, he should at once carry out the duties which had been imposed upon him, or, failing this, he himself should forthwith make ready to carry out the perilous task which had been assigned to Guerrino. The smith, thus hard pressed by the orders of the king, made the horseshoes in the way described by Guerrino, and shod the horse therewith.
When the horse was thus shod and well-accoutred with everything that was necessary for the enterprise, the young stranger addressed Guerrino in these words: "Now mount quickly this my horse, and go in peace, and as soon as you shall hear the neighing of the wild horse dismount at once, and, having taken off from him his saddle and his bridle, let him range at will. You yourself climb up into a high tree, and there await the issue of the enterprise."
Guerrino, having been fully instructed by his dear companion in all that he ought to do, took his leave, and departed with a light heart.
Already the glorious news had been spread abroad through all the parts of Irlanda how a valiant and handsome young knight had undertaken to subjugate and capture the wild horse and to present him to the king, and for this reason everyone in the city, men and women alike, all flew to their windows to see him go by on his perilous errand.
When they marked how handsome and young and gallant he was, their hearts were moved to pity on his account, and they said one to another, "Ah, the poor youth! With what a willing spirit he goes to his death. Of a surety it is a piteous thing that so valiant a youth should thus wretchedly perish."
And they could none of them keep back their tears on account of the compassion they felt.
But Guerrino, full of manly boldness, went on his way blithely, and when he had come to the spot where the wild horse was wont to abide, and heard the sound of his neigh, he got down from his own horse, and having taken the saddle and bridle therefrom he let him go free, and himself climbed up into the branches of a great oak, and there awaited the fierce and bloody contest.
Scarcely had Guerrino climbed up into the tree when the wild horse appeared and forthwith attacked the fairy horse, and then the two beasts engaged in the fiercest struggle that the world had ever seen, for they rushed at one another as if they had been two unchained lions, and they foamed at the mouth as if they had been bristly wild boars pursued by savage and eager hounds. Then, after they had fought for some time with the greatest fury, the fairy horse dealt the wild horse two kicks full on the jaw, which was put out of joint thereby; wherefore the wild horse was at once disabled, and could no longer either fight or defend himself.
When Guerrino saw this he rejoiced greatly, and having come down from the oak, he took a halter which he had brought with him and secured the wild horse therewith, and led him with his dislocated jaw back to the city, where he was welcomed by all the people with the greatest joy. According to his promise he presented the horse to the king, who, together with all the inhabitants of the city, held high festival, and rejoiced amain over the gallant deed wrought by Guerrino.
But the servants of Guerrino were greatly overcome with grief and confusion, inasmuch as their evil designs had miscarried; wherefore, inflamed with rage and hatred, they once more let it come to the hearing of King Zifroi that Guerrino had vaunted that he could with the greatest ease kill the wild mare also when ever it might please him. When the king heard this he laid exactly the same commands on Guerrino as he had done in the matter of the horse, and because the youth refused to undertake this task, which appeared to him impossible, the king threatened to have him hung up by one foot as a rebel against his crown.
After Guerrino had returned to his inn, he told everything to his unknown companion, who smilingly said: "My good brother, fret not yourself because of this, but go and find the marshal smith, and command him to make for you four more horseshoes, as big again as the last, and see that they are duly furnished with good sharp spikes. Then you must follow exactly the same course as you took with the horse, and you will return here covered with greater honour than ever."
When therefore he had commanded to be made the sharply-spiked horseshoes, and had caused the valiant fairy horse to be shod therewith, he set forth on his gallant enterprise.
As soon as Guerrino had come to the spot where the wild mare was wont to graze, and heard her neighing, he did everything exactly in the same manner as before, and when he had set free the fairy horse, the mare came towards it and attacked it with such fierce and terrible biting that it could with difficulty defend itself against such an attack. But it bore the assault valiantly, and at last succeeded in planting so sharp and dexterous a kick on the mare that she was lamed in her right leg, whereupon Guerrino came down from the high tree into which he had climbed, and having captured her, bound her securely. Then he mounted his own horse and rode back to the palace, where he presented the wild mare to the king, amidst the rejoicings and acclamations of all the people. And everyone, attracted by wonderment and curiosity, ran to see this wild beast, which, on account of the grave injuries she had received in the fight, soon died. And by these means the country was freed from the great plague which had for so long a time vexed it.
Now when Guerrino had returned to his hostel, and had betaken himself to repose somewhat on account of the weariness which had come over him, he found that he was unable to get any sleep by reason of a strange noise which he heard somewhere in the chamber. Wherefore, having risen from his couch, he perceived that there was something, I know not what, beating about inside a pot of honey, and not able to get out. So Guerrino opened the honey-pot, and saw within a large hornet, which was struggling with its wings without being able to free itself from the honey around it. Moved by pity, he took hold of the insect and let it go free.
Now Zifroi the king had as yet given to Guerrino no reward for the two valiant deeds which he had wrought, but he was conscious in his heart that he would be acting in a very base fashion were he to leave such great valour without a rich guerdon, so he caused Guerrino to be called into his presence, and thus ad dressed him: "Guerrino, by your noble deeds the whole of my kingdom is now free from the scourge, therefore I intend to reward you for the great benefits you have wrought in our behalf; but as I can conceive of no other gift which would be worthy and sufficient for your merits, I have determined to give you one of my two daughters to wife. But you must know that of these two sisters one is called Potentiana, and she has hair braided in such marvellous wise that it shines like golden coils. The other is called Eleuteria, and her tresses are of such texture that they flash brightly like the finest silver. Now if you can guess -- the maidens being closely veiled the while -- which is she of the golden tresses, I will give her to you as your wife, together with a mighty dowry of money; but if you fail in this, I will have your head struck off your shoulders."
Guerrino, when he heard this cruel ordeal which was proposed by Zifroi the king, was mightily amazed, and turning to him spake thus: "O gracious sovereign! Is this a worthy guerdon for all the perils and fatigues I have undergone? Is this a reward for the strength I have spent on your behalf? Is this the gratitude you give me for having delivered your country from the scourge by which it was of late laid desolate? Alas! I did not merit this return, which of a truth is not a deed worthy of such a mighty king as yourself. But since this is your pleasure and I am helpless in your hands, you must do with me what pleases you best."
"Now go," said Zifroi, "and tarry no longer in my presence. I give you till tomorrow to come to a decision."
When Guerrino went out of the king's presence full of sadness, he sought his dear companion, and repeated to him everything that the king had said.
The unknown youth when he heard this seemed but little troubled thereanent, and said: "Guerrino, be of good cheer, and do not despair, for I will deliver you from this great danger. Remember how a few days ago you set free the hornet which you found with its wings entangled in the honey. Now this same hornet will be the means of saving you, for to morrow, after the dinner at the palace, when you are put to the test, it will fly three times buzzing and humming round the head of her with the golden hair, and she with her white hands will drive it away. And you, when you shall have marked her do this action three times, may know for certain that this is she who is to be your wife."
"Ah me!" cried Guerrino to his companion, "When will the time come when I shall be able to make you some repayment for all the kind offices you have done me? Certes, were I to live for a thousand years, I should never have it in my power to recompense you the very smallest portion thereof. But that one, who is the rewarder of all, will in this matter make up for me in that respect in which I am wanting."
To this speech of Guerrino his companion made answer: "Guerrino, my brother, there is in sooth no need for you to trouble yourself about making any return to me for the services I may have wrought you, but assuredly it is now full time that I should reveal to you, and that you should know clearly who I am. For in the same fashion as you delivered me from death, I on my part have desired to render to you the recompense you deserve so highly at my hands. Know, then, that I am the wild man of the woods whom you, with such loving compassion, set free from the prison-house of the king your father, and that I am called by name Rubinetto."
And then he went on to tell Guerrino by what means the fairy had brought him back into his former state of a fair young man. Guerrino, when he heard these words, stood like one bemused, and out of the great tenderness and pity he had in his heart he embraced Rubinetto, weeping the while, and kissed him, and claimed him as his own brother.
And forasmuch as the day was now approaching for Guerrino to solve the question to be set to him by King Zifroi, the two repaired to the palace, where upon the king gave order that his two beloved daughters, Potentiana and Eleuteria, should be brought into the presence of Guerrino covered from head to foot with white veils, and this was straightway done.
When the two daughters had come in so much alike in seeming that it was impossible to tell the one from the other, the king said: "Now which of these two, Guerrino, do you will that I should give you to wife?"
But Guerrino stood still in a state of doubt and hesitation, and answered no thing, but the king, who was mightily curious to see how the matter would end, pressed him amain to speak, crying out that time was flying, and that it behoved him to give his answer at once.
To this Guerrino made answer: "Most sacred majesty, time forsooth may be flying, but the end is not yet come to this day, which is the limit you have given me for my decision."
And all those standing by affirmed that Guerrino only claimed his right.
When, therefore, the king and Guerrino and all the others had stood for a long time in expectation, behold! there suddenly appeared a hornet, which at once began to fly and buzz round the head and the fair face of Potentiana of the golden hair. And she, as if she were afeared of the thing, raised her hand to drive it away, and when she had done this three times the hornet flew away out of sight. But even after this sign Guerrino remained uncertain for a short time, although he had full faith in the words of Rubinetto, his well-beloved companion.
Then said the king, "How now, Guerrino, what do you say? The time has now come when you must put an end to this delay, and make up your mind."
And Guerrino, having looked well first at one and then at the other of the maidens, put his hand on the head of Potentiana, who had been pointed out to him by the hornet, and said, "Gracious king, this one is your daughter of the golden tresses."
And when the maiden had raised her veil it was clearly proved that it was indeed she, greatly to the joy of all those who were present, and to the satisfaction of the people of the city. And Zifroi the king gave her to Guerrino as his wife, and they did not depart thence until Rubinetto had wedded the other sister.
After this Guerrino declared himself to be the son of Filippomaria, King of Sicily, hearing which Zifroi was greatly rejoiced, and caused the marriages to be celebrated with the greatest pomp and magnificence.
When this news came to the father and the mother of Guerrino they felt the greatest joy and contentment, seeing that they had by this time given up their son as lost. When he returned to Sicily with his dear wife and his well-loved brother and sister-in-law, they all received a gracious and loving welcome from his father and mother, and they lived a long time in peace and happiness, and he left behind him fair children as the heirs of his kingdom.
This touching story told by Eritrea won the highest praise of all the hearers.
"Perhaps he has had an accident," said the king, and the following day he sent out two other huntsmen who were to search for him, but they did not return either. Then on the third day, he summoned all his huntsmen, and said, "Search through the whole forest, and do not give up until you have found all three."
But none of these came home again either, nor were any of the hounds from the pack that they had taken with them ever seen again.
From that time on, no one dared to go into these woods, and they lay there in deep quiet and solitude, and all that one saw from there was an occasional eagle or hawk flying overhead.
This lasted for many years, when an unknown huntsman presented himself to the king seeking a position, and he volunteered to go into the dangerous woods.
The king, however, did not want to give his permission, and said, "It is haunted in there. I am afraid that you will do no better than did the others, and that you will never come out again."
The huntsman answered, "Sir, I will proceed at my own risk. I know nothing of fear."
The huntsman therefore set forth with his dog into the woods. It was not long before the dog picked up a scent and wanted to follow it, but the dog had run only a few steps when it came to a deep pool, and could go no further. Then a naked arm reached out of the water, seized the dog, and pulled it under.
When the huntsman saw that, he went back and got three men. They returned with buckets and baled out the water. When they could see to the bottom, there was a wild man lying there. His body was brown like rusty iron, and his hair hung over his face down to his knees. They bound him with cords and led him away to the castle.
Everyone was greatly astonished at the wild man. The king had him put into an iron cage in his courtyard, forbidding, on pain of death, that the cage door be opened. The queen herself was to safeguard the key.
From this time forth everyone could once again go safely into the woods.
The king had a son of eight years. One day he was playing in the courtyard, and during his game his golden ball fell into the cage.
The boy ran to the cage and said, "Give me my ball."
"Not until you have opened the door for me," answered the man.
"No," said the boy, "I will not do that. The king has forbidden it," and he ran away.
The next day he came again and demanded his ball.
The wild man said, "Open my door," but the boy would not do so.
On the third day the king had ridden out hunting, and the boy went once more and said, "Even if I wanted to, I could not open the door. I do not have the key."
Then the wild man said, "It is under your mother's pillow. You can get it there."
The boy, who wanted to have his ball back, threw all caution to the wind, and got the key. The door opened with difficulty, and the boy pinched his finger. When it was open, the wild man stepped out, gave him the golden ball, and hurried away.
The boy became afraid. He cried out and called after him, "Oh, wild man, do not go away, or I shall get a beating."
The wild man turned around, picked him up, set him on his shoulders, and ran into the woods.
When the king came home he noticed the empty cage and asked the queen how it had happened. She knew nothing about it, and looked for the key, but it was gone. She called the boy, but no one answered.
The king sent out people to look for him in the field, but they did not find him. Then he could easily guess what had happened, and great sorrow ruled at the royal court.
After the wild man had once more reached the dark woods, he set the boy down from his shoulders, and said to him, "You will never again see your father and mother, but I will keep you with me, for you have set me free, and I have compassion for you. If you do what I tell you, it will go well with you. I have enough treasures and gold, more than anyone in the world."
He made a bed of moss for the boy, upon which he fell asleep. The next morning the man took him to a spring and said, "Look, this golden spring is as bright and clear as crystal. You shall sit beside it, and take care that nothing falls into it, otherwise it will be polluted. I shall come every evening to see if you have obeyed my order."
The boy sat down at the edge of the spring, and saw how sometimes a golden fish and sometimes a golden snake appeared from within, and took care that nothing fell into it. As he was thus sitting there, his finger hurt him so fiercely that he involuntarily put it into the water. He quickly pulled it out again, but saw that it was completely covered with gold. However hard he tried to wipe the gold off again, it was to no avail.
That evening Iron Hans came back, looked at the boy, and said, "What has happened to the spring?"
"Nothing, nothing," he answered, holding his finger behind his back, so the man would not be able to see it.
But the man said, "You have dipped your finger into the water. This time I will let it go, but be careful that you do not again let anything else fall in."
Very early the next morning the boy was already sitting by the spring and keeping watch. His finger hurt him again, and he rubbed it across his head. Then unfortunately a hair fell down into the spring. He quickly pulled it out, but it was already completely covered with gold.
Iron Hans came, and already knew what had happened. "You have let a hair fall into the spring," he said. "I will overlook this once more, but if it happens a third time then the spring will be polluted, and you will no longer be able to stay with me."
On the third day the boy sat by the spring and did not move his finger, however much it hurt him. But time passed slowly for him, and he looked at the reflection of his face in the water. While doing this he bent down lower and lower, wanting to look straight into his eyes, when his long hair fell from his shoulders down into the water. He quickly straightened himself up, but all the hair on his head was already covered with gold, and glistened like the sun. You can imagine how frightened the poor boy was. He took his handkerchief and tied it around his head, so that the man would not be able to see his hair.
When the man came, he already knew everything, and said, "Untie the handkerchief."
The golden hair streamed forth, and no excuse that the boy could offer was of any use.
"You have failed the test, and you can stay here no longer. Go out into the world. There you will learn what poverty is. But because you are not bad at heart, and because I mean well by you, I will grant you one thing: If you are ever in need, go into the woods and cry out, 'Iron Hans,' and then I will come and help you. My power is great, greater than you think, and I have more than enough gold and silver."
Then the prince left the woods, and walked by beaten and unbeaten paths on and on until at last he reached a great city. There he looked for work, but he was not able to find any, because he had not learned a trade by which he could make a living. Finally he went to the castle and asked if they would take him in.
The people at court did not at all know how they would be able to use him, but they took a liking to him, and told him to stay. Finally the cook took him into service, saying that he could carry wood and water, and rake up the ashes.
Once when no one else was at hand, the cook ordered him to carry the food to the royal table. Because he did not want them to see his golden hair, he kept his cap on. Nothing like this had ever before happened to the king, and he said, "When you approach the royal table you must take your hat off."
"Oh, sir," he answered, "I cannot. I have an ugly scab on my head."
Then the king summoned the cook and scolded him, asking him how he could take such a boy into his service. The cook was to send him away at once. However, the cook had pity on him, and let him trade places with gardener's boy.
Now the boy had to plant and water the garden, hoe and dig, and put up with the wind and bad weather.
Once in summer when he was working alone in the garden, the day was so hot that he took his hat off so that the air would cool him. As the sun shone on his hair it glistened and sparkled. The rays fell into the princess's bedroom, and she jumped up to see what it was.
She saw the boy and called out to him, "Boy, bring me a bouquet of flowers."
He quickly put on his cap, picked some wildflowers, and tied them together.
As he was climbing the steps with them, the gardener met him and said, "How can you take the princess a bouquet of such common flowers? Quick! Go and get some other ones, and choose only the most beautiful and the rarest ones."
"Oh, no," replied the boy, the wild ones have a stronger scent, and she will like them better."
When he got into the room, the princess said, "Take your cap off. It is not polite to keep it on in my presence."
He again responded, "I cannot do that. I have a scabby head."
She, however, took hold of his cap and pulled it off. His golden hair rolled down onto his shoulders, and it was a magnificent sight. He wanted to run away, but she held him by his arm, and gave him a handful of ducats. He went away with them, but he did not care about the gold.
He took the gold pieces to the gardener, saying, "I am giving these things to your children for them to play with."
The next day the princess called to him again, asking him to bring her a bouquet of wildflowers. When he went in with it, she immediately grabbed at his cap, and wanted to take it away from him, but he held it firmly with both hands. She again gave him a handful of ducats. He did not want to keep them, giving them instead to the gardener for his children to play with. On the third day it was no different. She was not able to take his cap away from him, and he did not want her gold.
Not long afterwards, the country was overrun by war. The king gathered together his people, not knowing whether or not fight back against the enemy, who was more powerful and had a large army.
Then the gardener's boy said, "I am grown up, and I want to go to war as well. Just give me a horse."
The others laughed and said, "After we have left, then look for one by yourself. We will leave one behind for you in the stable."
After they had left, he went into the stable, and led the horse out. It had a lame foot, and it limped higgledy-hop, higgledy-hop.
Nevertheless he mounted it, and rode away into the dark woods. When he came to the edge of the woods, he called "Iron Hans" three times so loudly that it sounded through the trees.
The wild man appeared immediately, and said, "What do you need?"
"I need a strong steed, for I am going to war."
"That you shall have, and even more than you are asking for."
Then the wild man went back into the woods, and before long a stable-boy came out of the woods leading a horse. It was snorting with its nostrils, and could hardly be restrained. Behind them followed a large army of warriors, outfitted with iron armor, and with their swords flashing in the sun.
The youth left his three-legged horse with the stable-boy, mounted the other horse, and rode at the head of the army. When he approached the battlefield, a large number of the king's men had already fallen, and before long the others would have to retreat. Then the youth galloped up with his iron army and attacked the enemies like a storm, beating down all who opposed him. They tried to flee, but the youth was right behind them, and did not stop, until not a single man was left.
However, instead of returning to the king, he led his army on a roundabout way back into the woods, and then called for Iron Hans.
"What do you need?" asked the wild man.
"Take back your steed and your army, and give me my three-legged horse again."
It all happened just as he had requested, and he rode home on his three-legged horse.
When the king returned to his castle, his daughter went to meet him, and congratulated him for his victory.
"I am not the one who earned the victory," he said, "but a strange knight who came to my aid with his army."
The daughter wanted to hear who the strange knight was, but the king did not know, and said, "He pursued the enemy, and I did not see him again."
She asked the gardener where his boy was, but he laughed and said, "He has just come home on his three-legged horse. The others have been making fun of him and shouting, 'Here comes our higgledy-hop back again.' They also asked him, 'Under what hedge have you been lying asleep all this time?' But he said, 'I did better than anyone else. Without me it would have gone badly.' And then they laughed at him all the more."
The king said to his daughter, "I will proclaim a great festival. It shall last for three days, and you shall throw a golden apple. Perhaps the unknown knight will come."
When the festival was announced, the youth went out into the woods and called Iron Hans.
"What do you need?" he asked.
"To catch the princess's golden apple."
"It is as good as done," said Iron Hans. "And further, you shall have a suit of red armor and ride on a spirited chestnut horse."
When the day came, the youth galloped up, took his place among the knights, and was recognized by no one. The princess came forward and threw a golden apple to the knights. He was the only one who caught it, and as soon as he had it, he galloped away.
On the second day Iron Hans had outfitted him as a white knight, and had given him a white horse. Again he was the only one who caught the apple. Without lingering an instant, he galloped away with it.
The king grew angry and said, "That is not allowed. He must appear before me and tell me his name."
He gave the order that if the knight who caught the apple, were to go away again, they should pursue him, and if he would not come back willingly, they were to strike and stab at him.
On the third day, he received from Iron Hans a suit of black armor and a black horse, and he caught the apple again. But when he was galloping away with it, the king's men pursued him, and one of them got so close to him that he wounded the youth's leg with the point of his sword. In spite of this he escaped from them, but his horse jumped so violently that his helmet fell from his head, and they could see that he had golden hair. They rode back and reported everything to the king.
The next day the princess asked the gardener about his boy.
"He is at work in the garden. The strange fellow has been at the festival too. He came home only yesterday evening. And furthermore, he showed my children three golden apples that he had won."
The king had him summoned, and he appeared, again with his cap on his head. But the princess went up to him and took it off. His golden hair fell down over his shoulders, and he was so handsome that everyone was amazed.
"Are you the knight who came to the festival every day, each time in a different color, and who caught the three golden apples?" asked the king.
"Yes," he answered, "and here are the apples," taking them out of his pocket, and returning them to the king. "If you need more proof, you can see the wound that your men gave me when they were chasing me. But I am also the knight who helped you to your victory over your enemies."
"If you can perform deeds like these then you are not a gardener's boy. Tell me, who is your father?"
"My father is a powerful king, and I have as much gold as I might need."
"I can see," said the king, "that I owe you thanks. Can I do anything for you?"
"Yes," he answered. "You can indeed. Give me your daughter for my wife."
The maiden laughed and said, "He does not care much for ceremony, but I already had seen from his golden hair that he was not a gardener's boy," and then she went and kissed him.
His father and mother came to the wedding, and were filled with joy, for they had given up all hope of ever seeing their dear son again.
While they sitting at the wedding feast, the music suddenly stopped, the doors opened, and a proud king came in with a great retinue. He walked up to the youth, embraced him, and said, "I am Iron Hans. I had been transformed into a wild man by a magic spell, but you have broken the spell. All the treasures that I possess shall belong to you."
One morning not long afterward it happened that the young prince was playing ball in the courtyard. The iron man came up to the bars and played with a ball that when thrown to the ground bounced much higher than the prince's ball. Furthermore, it was much more beautiful, being made entirely of gold. The boy asked for the ball very politely.
The iron man motioned for him to come closer to the bars, then said quietly, "Unlock the gate, and I'll give you the ball."
The boy crept quietly up to the gate and opened it. Then the iron man jumped out, gave him the ball, and ran across the field into the woods.
When the king discovered that the iron man had escaped he swore an oath that whoever had opened the gate should die. Then his dear little son came to him and admitted that he had released the iron man. The king was shocked that he had sworn an oath to kill his own son, but he would have to keep his word.
He sent two huntsmen into the woods with his son, where they were to kill him. However, the huntsmen pitied the beautiful boy, and they set him free, telling him in God's name to run as far as the heaven is blue. Then they shot a wild pig, cut out its eyes and its heart, which they took to the king, telling him they were the eyes and the heart of his son.
The boy wandered about the forest the entire day, and when evening came he sat down on a tree stump. Sobbing, he feared that wild animals would eat him come nightfall.
Then suddenly the iron man appeared before him, stroked his hair kindly with his iron hand, and said, "Fear not, my boy. You helped me, and I shall help you as well. I shall command the animals in my forest to do you no harm. Tomorrow morning I shall lead you out of these woods to the castle of a mighty king. You are to play with the golden ball before the princess's window, and with time you shall become an even greater king than is your father."
Then the boy lay down peacefully on the green moss and fell fast asleep. The golden stars glided quietly across the heaven in order not to awaken him. When the dear sun arose and smiled upon him, he jumped up. The iron man was already there, and together they walked through the woods. Leaving the forest, they came to a magnificent castle.
The iron man showed the boy the princess's window, saying, "When the princess sees the golden ball she will want to have it. You must not give it to her until she allows you to sleep for one night in her bedroom. After you have done this, come to me again."
And it happened just as the iron man had predicted. The boy had scarcely begun playing with the golden ball before the window when the princess came outside.
She was a pretty little girl, and said, "Oh, that is a beautiful ball that you have! Give it to me and I'll do a favor for you."
"What I want," said the boy, "is to sleep in your bedroom tonight."
"I'll ask my father if I can allow that," said the princess, and ran back into the castle. She came back soon and said, "Father says that I can allow it, if you will behave yourself properly."
Then they played with the ball the rest of the day, and in the evening they went into the maiden's bedroom. She lay down on her silken bed, but he lay down on the floor.
However, because the floor was so hard, the girl said, "Wait; I'll give you a bed so you can be more comfortable."
Then she gave him a bed, keeping one for herself. They said "Good night" and slept quietly until morning.
In the morning the boy took leave and went back into the woods, where he told the iron man everything that had happened. He stayed with the iron man an entire year, and every day he grew larger and better looking. At the end of the year the iron man gave him a ball made of transparent crystal. When one threw it into the air and the sun shone through it, it looked like clear water. The iron man told him to return to the castle and to play with it before the princess's window.
While he was thus playing with the ball the princess came to her window. She hardly recognized him, because he had grown so much. She was too shy to go to him and ask for the ball, so she asked her father to go to the handsome youth and request that he give the ball to her.
However, the father thought, "What does this lost boy want at my castle?"
He had the boy captured, gave the ball to his daughter, then sent the prince to the kitchen where for many weeks he had to do hard work as a kitchen boy, until finally he was able to escape. He ran back into the woods and complained to the iron man as to how badly things had gone for him.
The iron man comforted him, saying, "Fear not; everything will be all right. A mighty army is advancing against the king. I shall give you a horse and armor. Thus outfitted you are to join the king's army."
Then he led him to a hollow mountain wherein there were many thousands of horses and many thousands of battle outfits. With his iron hand he outfitted the youth with armor and weapons, and gave him good advice as well.
With this the prince entered a great battle, where he proved himself to be the bravest of all the knights. Through him the battle was won, and he saved the king's life as well. But he too was wounded, and the king bound his wound with his own scarf, then ordered his servants to care for him.
However, the prince rode away to the wild man in the woods, who was pleased that everything had gone so well. He gave him a ball, much more beautiful than the other two, and made of red ruby.
With this, and dressed in his ordinary clothes, he returned to the princess's window. When she saw the ball she was inconsolable that she could not have it.
Meanwhile the king had returned home with his army. The princess ran to him, kissed him repeatedly, then said, "Since you won the great battle and because I love you so much, I want to ask you for something, and you cannot say no."
The king promised to do whatever she asked.
"The handsome youth is here again," she said. "He has a ball of red ruby, and he'll give it to me if I give him what he wants. You must not do him any harm."
However, the youth would not accept any gold or other precious things for the ball, insisting instead that he be allowed to sleep the coming night with the princess in her bedroom.
The king agreed to this. However, when the two were asleep the king crept into the bedroom, intending to murder the prince. To his great surprise he saw that his own scarf was wrapped around the prince's arm. He recognized his rescuer, then awakened the two of them and asked if they wanted to become husband and wife.
They happily agreed to this and were married the following morning. That evening they went together into the woods to the iron man. They told him of their happiness and asked him to move into the castle with them. However, he told them that he had to remain in his woods and look after his animals. He asked them to visit him often, which they faithfully did.
Well, one day the king made up his mind to have this marsh, or swamp, thoroughly explored; so he gave orders for the place to be surrounded by his entire army, and for his soldiers then to pour down into the marsh from all sides.
When they had got about halfway through, they came upon a gigantic wild man, lying asleep, and before he could awake they had bound him fast, hand and foot, and then they brought him to the king's castle. He was a strange fellow to look at -- in form like a man, only much, much bigger, and covered with hair from top to toe; and he had but one eye, and that was in the middle of his forehead.
The king was very pleased with the capture he had made. He felt certain that the wild man possessed vast hidden treasures, and he longed to have some of them himself. But to all they said the wild man spake never a word in answer. So the king had him put in a big iron cage, which he placed in a tower built of huge blocks of granite. Every day food and drink were thrust through the iron bars of his cage, but the keys of the tower were in the king's own keeping.
Now it so fell out that the king had to go away to the wars, to help another king in defending his land, for in those days there were many kings in England. The keys of the tower he gave into the queen's keeping, bidding her take good care of them, for he vowed a solemn vow that if any one, whosoever it might be, let the wild man escape, he should thereby forfeit his own life. So the queen promised she would never let the keys out of her keeping, day or night; and then the king set out.
Now this king and queen had an only child, a pretty, clever little fellow of seven years. He was in the garden one day playing ball with a golden apple, and quite by accident he threw the apple so that it fell between the bars of the iron cage in the tower. The boy ran to the cage, and begged the wild man to throw the apple back to him. But the wild man said no, he should not have his apple again unless he came in and fetched it; and then he told him how to steal the keys of the tower from his royal mother.
So the prince ran in to the queen, and laid his head in her lap, and said: "Oh, mother, there is something tickling my ear! Do see what it is!"
Then the queen looked, and said: "No, there is nothing there."
Meanwhile the boy had stolen the keys out of her pocket; and he ran away to the tower, and opened the outer door.
"Now give me my golden apple," said he.
"No, you must open the next door, too!" replied the wild man.
The prince did so, and then asked again for his apple.
But the wild man answered: "You must first open the innermost door."
And when the prince had done this, he got back his golden apple.
But at the same moment the wild man stepped out of his cage; and he gave the prince a little whistle, saying: "If ever you find yourself in trouble, just sound this whistle, and call me. I will come to your assistance."
And with that the wild man ran off to the marsh.
The prince grew hot with fright when he saw the wild man make off, for he knew what his father had vowed concerning any one who should set the captive free.
Then he locked all the doors again, and, running back to the queen, he laid his head in her lap, and said: "Oh, there is something tickling my ear! Do see what it is!"
So the queen looked.
"Nonsense! there is nothing there," she said.
But meanwhile the prince had managed to slip the keys back into his mother's pocket.
Next day, when they went to feed the wild man, they found he had gone, and no one could conceive how he had got through the locked doors. The queen was dreadfully frightened, but she had her suspicions as to how it had happened. However, she said nothing, neither to her son nor to any one else, but waited quietly till the king should come home from the wars.
The king was furious when he learned that the wild man was gone, and he said what he had sworn that he would hold to, and that the queen, who had had possession of the keys, must answer for what had happened; she must know who had let him out.
But the queen said she had not done it, that she had never let any one have the keys, and that she knew nothing whatever about it.
Then the king condemned her to pay the forfeit with her life, and she was led away to the place of execution.
But now the prince stepped forward, and said that his mother was innocent; that he had stolen the keys out of her pocket, and slipped them in again; and that he had unlocked the doors of the wild man's cage in order to get back his golden apple. So the queen was set free.
But now, according to the king's vow, her son must pay the forfeit with his life.
His father, however, would not shed his blood, but commanded that he should be immediately conveyed to the wild marsh, and driven down into it, where he would certainly perish, and thus the king's oath would be kept.
So the prince was led away to the wild marsh; and he was told that, supposing he made his escape, if he, on any pretext whatever, showed himself outside the marsh, his life would forthwith pay the forfeit. So there was nothing for him to do but to betake himself to the wild marsh, and to try to pick out the driest spots, and to beware of pools and swamps.
For a while he continued to make his way through the marsh, which stretched along for many a mile on either side, thickly overgrown with underwood, reeds, and rushes.
It was already getting toward evening when the prince was set down in the wild marsh, and by the time he had gone as far as he could find his way it was quite dark; so he set about climbing a tree, that he might remain there till daylight came again.
Then he found that something he had about him had caught in a little twig of this tree, and when he looked to see what it might be he saw it was the whistle the wild man had given him. He had never given it a thought before, but now he set to and blew the best he could, and then he shouted at the top of his voice, "Wild man! Wild man!"
At the same instant the wild man stood before him, looking at him in the most friendly manner out of the one eye that he had in the middle of his forehead.
"Get up on my back," said he.
And the boy was not slow to obey, clasping him round the neck with both legs, and holding on to his shaggy locks with both hands.
So the wild man ran with him farther into the marsh; and then all at once down they sank, deep down below the earth, for it was there the wild man lived in a grand castle of his own.
There the prince was served with a good meal, and a comfortable bed was given him, where he slept soundly all the night through. In the morning the wild man came to the prince, and said:
"Here shalt thou live, and here shalt thou stayand then by that time you will have learned how to make your own way in the world."
Till seven long years have passed away,
Then he took the boy to the stables, and showed him all his horses, and some were brown and some were black and some were white. After that he led him round the outside of the castle. There were meadows and gardens; there were also a fencing court and a racecourse. Every day the prince took lessons in riding and racing, in fighting and fencing; he also learned to swim and to shoot, and how to handle lance and spear.
Seven years had passed away thus, and the prince was now fourteen years old; but he might well have passed for eighteen, so tall and so strong, so straight and so slim was he, and handsome and graceful into the bargain.
Then the wild man said to him: "Now you must dip your head in this stream."
And he did so, and his hair became the colour of the purest gold. After that the wild man presented him with a suit of clothes, very plain and simple in make and material, and told him he must put them on, and then set out to seek his fortune through the wide world.
That same evening the wild man took the prince upon his back, and he ran with him all through that night. The youth could not see whether they went over land or water; but they travelled fast, and had gone a very long way by the time the gray dawn broke. Then the wild man set him down, and bade him farewell.
"There is a king's castle close by," said he. "You must go and take service there; take what ever you can get, whatever they offer you. Never speak of your home, nor where you come from; and so long as you remain in a lowly station, so long must you keep your hat upon your head, that none may get a glimpse of your golden hair. What else you have to do you will soon find out for yourself. But all that I possess, horses or armour or weapons, you can always obtain by wishing for them, and you can be rid of them again whenever you will. And you need never hesitate to wish."
With that the wild man vanished, and the youth went his way to the king's castle, and asked if he might take service there. Yes, he might be the gardener's boy, and learn to dig and hoe, and plant and sow, and to water the royal gardens. He was very pleased at this, and went and presented himself to the head gardener.
"Off with your hat when you speak to me," said the head gardener, who was very proud of his position.
"I may not take off my hat, for I am bald headed," said the prince.
"Ugh! what a misfortune!" cried the head gardener. "Well, I can't have you in my house; but you may sleep in the outhouse!"
And the prince was quite content to do so.
The gardener's apprentice paid great attention to his duties, and everyone marvelled to see the amount of work he could get through, and how everything prospered that he undertook. And this is how it happened. When he stuck his spade into the earth, he just wished that the piece of ground was all dug up, and that very instant it was all dug! When he stuck a stick into the ground, he just wished it might grow, and so it always came to pass that what he planted in the evening was full-grown by the following morning. The gardener soon perceived this, and he was very well pleased to have such an apprentice.
Early one morning, after passing the night as usual in the outhouse, the prince came out and washed himself in the stream, and then he took off his hat, and combed his long golden locks.
Now it so happened that the king's youngest daughter (he had three daughters, all young and fair to look upon) had risen very early that morning, and stood at her window, which looked out upon the garden. She saw something shining through the trees, and thought at first it was the sunrise. But on looking again she saw it was the under-gardener's long hair, that shone like the purest gold. She was greatly struck by this, for she had always noticed that on meeting her sisters or herself in the garden the youth had never once lifted his hat -- indeed, he declined to bare his head to royalty as resolutely as he had refused to take off his hat to the head gardener.
From that hour she watched him narrowly, and she could not help thinking him the very handsomest serving-man she had ever seen, and she felt sure that he was not what he gave himself out to be.
Both her sisters teased her for casting an eye of favour upon a poor bald-headed serving man, for she could not help looking at him when they met him. And once, when she was taking a noonday stroll in the garden with her father and her two sisters, and they came upon the gardener's boy lying asleep on a grassy bank, she even could not refrain from going up to him and lifting his cap. Her sisters laughed at her, and her father rated her soundly for having anything to do with a mere peasant; but she cared not a jot, for she had caught a glimpse of his golden hair.
So time passed on. Then the king determined to marry his three daughters to the three most gallant knights who should win the three best prizes in a tournament. The tournament was to last three days, and whoever remained victor, and beat all the other knights out of the lists, he should receive a golden apple from the hand of that princess whose day it was, and he should be her betrothed husband.
On the first day the hand of the eldest princess was to be contended for. A great many princes and knights were gathered together from the king's own land and from other lands.
Then the gardener's boy went out into the wood, and wished for his brown horse out of the wild man's stables, with accoutrements and coat-of-mail of glittering steel. Springing into the saddle, he galloped off to the spot where the tournament was being held. It was a lance tournament, and they rode and they strove, and many a lance-thrust was given and parried, many a brave knight was thrown from his horse, and many another lost life or limb. But the steel-clad knight on the brown charger was victorious over all, and to him was given the princess's golden apple. Then he galloped off and vanished, none knew whither. But as he went he threw the golden apple to a knight in brave attire who had not entered the lists, having no desire to risk his dainty doublet.
The following day they were to strive for the hand of the second princess, and there were no fewer combatants than there had been the day before, for princes and knights from many a land were desirous of winning the prize.
Then the gardener's boy went out into the wood again, and he wished for his coal-black steed out of the wild man's stables, with coat-of-mail and accoutrements of shining silver. And he rode and he strove with the other knights till he had conquered them all, and so he won the second golden apple. He gave that to an earl's son, whom he had unhorsed, and then he rode away into the wood, and put on his everyday garments once more.
The third day the youngest princess was to be fought for. She was the most beautiful of the three, and there was no less rivalry among the combatants than on the previous days. That day the gardener's boy wished for his milk-white steed out of the wild man's stables, and for a coat-of-mail and accoutrements of purest gold. Then he loosed his golden hair, so that it fell down over his shoulders, and galloped to the courtyard where the tournament was being held; and all who saw him thought he looked more like an angel than a mere man. And he rode and he strove so that none could withstand him. And so he received the golden apple from the hand of the youngest princess. But he did not give that away; he held it fast in his closed hand, and galloped away, none knew whither. However, he only rode as far as the wood, and wished himself back in his old clothes, with his golden hair hidden beneath his fur cap.
And now those knights who had won the prizes on the three days were summoned to appear. And the duke's son, who had been so bravely apparelled, and the earl's son, who had been unhorsed, stepped forward with haughty mien, each carrying his golden apple. So they were betrothed each to his princess. But no knight in golden armour made his appearance; no one knew what had become of him.
The two eldest princesses were delighted with their betrothed husbands, and they made great fun of their sister, whom "no one would have," they said.
"But, after all, you have a lover too!" cried they. "There is your bald-headed gardener's boy; send for him."
And they did send for him; and he came in his old clothes and wearing his fur cap, but in his hand was the princess's golden apple.
Then the king came to him in haste, and said: "You found that in the courtyard; it does not belong to you."
And the gardener's boy answered: "Nay, but I won it in the courtyard, and the princess belongs to me."
Then the youngest princess went up to him, and gave him her hand, and said that he who had her golden apple was her true love.
The king, however, considered this an absurd and shameful proceeding. He felt convinced that the golden knight had lost the apple, and was even now searching for it; that this was the reason why he had not come, but that he would come, and that would clear up the whole thing.
The two elder princesses seemed to find it a most amusing joke to see their sister make herself thus ridiculous, and could not find ways enough to torment and make a mock of her and her peasant lover. But the youngest princess was quite clear in her own mind, for she had recognised in the golden knight the humble serving lad; so she remained calm and cheerful, and was not disturbed even when her father drove him back into the garden, whilst the others betook themselves to the banqueting hall, where the two elder princesses were forthwith betrothed.
The day went on, but no golden knight made his appearance.
The king was terribly put out, and the sisters taunted the youngest princess, saying: "He would neither win thee nor woo thee, so he threw the apple away and took himself off. But thou hast still thy bald-headed gardener's boy."
"Aye, surely I have, and he is good enough for me," said she.
When they left the dining hall, the youngest princess went down into the garden and sought out the gardener's boy, and as she came he saw her, and he lifted his cap, and his golden hair rolled down on to his shoulders. He kissed her hand, and he kissed her mouth, and he told her who he was: that, like herself, he was of royal birth, and that he would bring no shame upon her. He told her also that it was he who had won all three golden apples, but that he had given away the two first, as he did not wish to have either of the two elder princesses; he only wanted her whom he had now won, and who had been to him so loving and so true. Not many days hence, he said, they should give him the place of honour at the king's table.
The following morning the two high-born lovers rode forth to the hunt, and the two eldest princesses, anxious to carry on their merry jests of yesterday, declared that the third lover must go too. So the gardener's boy was sent for, and they equipped him for the hunt in a style that these laughter-loving princesses deemed appropriate. They gave him a little gray donkey to ride, and, instead of a gun, they fetched a pitchfork from the cow house, and thus equipped he rode out of the courtyard with the two young noblemen, and the two princesses nearly killed themselves with laughter as they watched the party pass.
When they had got a little distance from the king's castle they came to two crossroads -- to the right was a beautiful wood, to the left a wild marsh overgrown with brushwood. The two young nobles struck off to the right, but the gardener's boy turned his donkey to the left -- the road leading to the marsh. And when he had gone a little way he wished for his good cross bow from the wild man's castle, and then he wished he might see some hares and stags and foxes and wild boars, and he very soon had bagged as much game as his donkey could carry. So he went back to the place where the crossroads met.
Towards evening the two noblemen came riding homewards with a crestfallen air; they had not killed so much as a hare. When they saw the donkey so laden with game, they begged the gardener's boy, with many soft words and civil speeches, to sell it to them.
He was quite willing to do this, but they must give him their golden apples in exchange, or they should not have so much as a single hare. And they were obliged to agree to that. Then they shared the game between them, and rode proudly into the castle yard. But the gardener's boy came lumbering after them on his little gray donkey, and with his pitchfork on his shoulder. And this gave the princesses fresh food for laughter.
Next day the two noblemen went hunting again, and again the gardener's boy had to go with them, riding his little gray donkey and carrying his pitchfork on his shoulder. The young nobles took the same road as yesterday, hoping for better luck this time, and the gardener's boy went to the marsh as he had done before. And the same thing happened again. In the evening, when the noblemen came to the place where the crossroads met, they were empty handed, whereas the gardener's boy had as much game as his donkey could carry. So they tried to bargain with him again to buy the game of him.
But this time he would not sell it unless they each gave him a strip of their skins.
"I will cut it off where it won't be seen," said he.
And so, as they could make no easier bargain, and wished to be considered as skilful sportsmen as they were gallant knights, they consented to that arrangement.
Then the gardener's boy drew from his pocket a rusty old knife, and he cut off a strip from the back of each of the young noblemen, who were all the time in a cold perspiration from fright.
But for all that they came riding into the king's castle yard as proudly as ever, and thanks and compliments were showered upon them for their clever sportsmanship; whereas the gardener's boy came hobbling after them, leaning on his pitchfork and dragging the donkey by the reins.
The next day there was to be a great banquet given in the king's castle in honour of the betrothal of the two princesses. But that same night came news of an invasion of the king's domains by a horde of sea robbers, who were ravaging the land with fire and sword. So all the king's soldiers set out to meet the enemy, and the two high-born lovers were forced to go too. Then the gardener's boy mounted his little gray donkey, shouldered his two-pronged pitchfork, and rode forth with the rest.
The way led along by a great peat marsh, and when they came to a steep bank the two noblemen set upon the gardener's boy and rode him down, so that the donkey stuck fast in the bog; and the more the poor beast struggled to free himself, the deeper he sank into the mire. Then the gardener's boy begged the two noblemen to help him out; but they saw that he would be sure to sink to the bottom, so that no one would ever hear about their golden apples, or about their skin that had been stripped off; so they rode away and left him to sink into his miry grave.
As soon as they were out of sight, the gardener's boy wished himself back on dry ground; then he wished for his milk-white steed and for his harness and coat-of-mail, all of purest gold, just as when he had ridden in the tournament for the hand of the youngest princess. And he rode on till he came to the battlefield.
There things were going badly for the king's men. The enemy were pressing them hard, and a part of the royal army had already turned to fly, and the two grand lovers, now that their men were running away, were first and foremost in their eagerness to get away too. But the knight in golden armour dashed to the front, cutting his way through the enemy right and left, and roused the sinking courage of the king's soldiers. The fortune of the day turned once more, and the enemy, after the loss of half their numbers, turned and fled back to their ships.
All agreed that to the golden knight was due the honour of the victory, and he was invited to return to the king's castle. And the duke's son and the earl's son came and greeted the prince, for they could see at a glance that he was a king's son; so they thanked him for his good services, and bade him beforehand right welcome to the royal castle. They told him they remembered seeing him at the tournament, and how he was going to be their brother-in-law, and of the talk his unaccountable absence during the last three days had given rise to.
The youngest princess, whom he had won, was a charming girl, they said, though not so clever as her elder sisters; she was, in fact, somewhat simple, for she had contracted a sort of half engagement with a low-born, bald-headed gardener's boy, who had found the golden apple that the prince must have lost. But when once she saw him, all that nonsense would of course come to an end. More over, they believed that the boy was now lying at the bottom of the peat bog.
The prince let them chatter without interruption as he rode with them to the Castle, where the king himself came out to receive him. The news of the battle had already reached him, and he had also been told that the golden knight who had won it was the same who, three days before, had won the youngest princess.
And the king now led forth his youngest daughter by the hand, and betrothed her to the unknown prince. Then there was a splendid banquet given, where the golden prince was seated at the head of the table, exactly opposite the king, and every one showed him the deepest respect.
During the feast he drew forth the golden apple he had received from his betrothed when he won her in the tournament, and at the same time also the golden apple he had played ball with in his father's castle yard, and upon which his name and crown were engraved; and he presented them both as a betrothal gift to his youthful bride.
The king sat there expecting to see the two knights do the same; but they sat on, pretending not to take any notice.
So, after a while, the golden prince drew forth another golden apple, and then again another, and gave them to his young bride, saying: "Like seeks like; these two shall also be thine."
The king thought he recognised these apples; and when they were given to him to look at, he discovered the names of his two eldest daughters engraved on them, and so he knew they were the same golden apples he had given to the victors on the first and second days of the tournament. He now asked how the prince had come by them.
Then the prince told the whole story -- how that he was no other than he whom they had called the low-born, bald-headed gardener's boy, that it was he who had won the three prizes in the tournament, and that he had given away the first two apples to the other two betrothed knights. Then he told them how the knights had sold the apples to him again for the game which he, and not they, had killed, and how at last they had been forced, each of them, to give him a strip of skin.
When the king heard this he was furious, and declared that the two good-for-nothings should leave his castle directly, and that they might take their betrothed brides with them. And the princesses did go with them, for they did not care to stop at home any longer now.
But the King of England's son was married to the youngest princess, and as long as the king lived he was to rule over half the kingdom, and when the king died he was to have the whole. And so they live there still, in great joy and splendour, he and his true-hearted queen.
One day he saw an old peasant passing by with sable, marten, beaver, and fox skins; and he asked him: "Old man! whence do you come?"
"Out of the village, father. I serve the wood-sprite with the iron hands, the cast-iron head, and the body of bronze."
"How do you catch so many animals?"
"The wood-sprite lays traps, and the animals are stupid and go into them."
"Listen, old man; I will give you gold and wine. Show me where you put the traps."
So the old man was persuaded, and he showed the king, who instantly had the wood-sprite arrested and confined in a narrow tower. And in all the wood-sprite's forests the king himself laid traps.
The wood-sprite forester sat in his iron tower inside the royal garden, and looked out through the window. One day, the tsarevich, with his nurses and attendants and very many faithful servant-maids, went into the garden to play.
He passed the door, and the wood-sprite cried out to him: "Tsarevich, if you will set me free, I will later on help you."
"How shall I do this?"
"Go to your mother and weep bitterly. Tell her: 'Please, dear Mother, scratch my head.' Lay your head on her lap. Wait for the proper instant, take the key of my tower out of her pocket, and set me free."
Ivan Tsarevich did what the wood-sprite had told him, took the key; then he ran into the garden, made an arrow, put the arrow on a catapult, and shot it far away. And all the nurses and serving-maids ran off to find the arrow. Whilst they were all running after the arrow Ivan Tsarevich opened the iron tower and freed the wood-sprite. The wood-sprite escaped and destroyed all the king's traps.
Now the king could not catch any more animals, and became angry, and attacked his wife for giving the key away and setting the wood-sprite free. He assembled all the boyars, generals, and senators to pronounce the queen's doom, whether she should have her head cut off, or should be merely banished.
So the tsarevich was greatly grieved; he was sorry for his mother, and he acknowledged his guilt to his father. Then the king was very sorry, and didn't know what to do to his son.
He asked all the boyars and generals, and said: "Is he to be hanged or to be put into a fortress?"
"No, your majesty!" the boyars, and generals, and senators answered in one voice. "The scions of kings are not slain, and are not put in prison; they are sent out into the white world to meet whatever fate God may send them."
So Ivan Tsarevich was sent out into the white world, to wander in the four directions, to suffer the midday winds and the stress of the winter and the blasts of the autumn; and was given only a birch-bark wallet and Dyad'ka, his servant. So the king's son set out with his servant into the open fields. They went far and wide over hill and dale. Their way may have been long, and it may have been short; and they at last reached a well.
Then the tsarevich said to his servant, "Go and fetch me water."
"I will not go!" said the servant.
So they went further on, and they once more came to a well.
"Go and fetch me water -- I feel thirsty," the tsarevich asked him a second time.
"I will not go."
Then they went on until they came to a third well. And the servant again would not fetch any water. And the tsarevich had to do it himself.
When the tsarevich had gone down into the well the servant shut down the lid, and said: "You be my servant, and I will be the tsarevich; or I will never let you come out!"
The tsarevich could not help himself, and was forced to give way; and signed the bond to his servant in his own blood. Then they changed clothes and rode on, and came to another land, where they went to the tsar's court, the servant-man first, and the king's son after.
The servant-man sat as a guest with the tsar, ate and drank at his table.
One day he said: "Mighty tsar, send my servant into the kitchen!"
So they took the tsarevich as scullion, let him draw water and hew wood. But very soon the tsarevich was a far finer cook than all the royal chefs. Then the tsar noticed and began to like his young scullion, and gave him gold. So all the cooks became envious and sought some opportunity of getting rid of the tsarevich. One day he made a cake and put it into the oven, so the cooks put poison in and spread it over the cake. And the tsar sat at table, and the cake was taken up.
When the tsar was going to take it, the cook came running up, and cried out: "Your majesty, do not eat it!"
And he told all imaginable lies of Ivan Tsarevich. Then the king summoned his favourite hound and gave him a bit of the cake. The dog ate it and died on the spot.
So the tsar summoned the prince and cried out to him in a thundering voice: "How dared you bake me a poisoned cake! You shall be instantly tortured to death!"
"I know nothing about it; I had no idea of it, your majesty!" the tsarevich answered. "The other cooks were jealous of your rewarding me, and so they have deliberately contrived the plot."
Then the tsar pardoned him, and he made him a horse-herd. One day, as the tsarevich was taking his drove to drink, he met the wood-sprite with the iron hands, the cast-iron head, and the body of bronze.
"Good-day, tsarevich; come with me, visit me."
"I am frightened that the horses will run away."
"Fear nothing. Only come."
His hut was quite near.
The wood-sprite had three daughters, and he asked the eldest: "What will you give Ivan Tsarevich for saving me out of the iron tower?"
"I will give him this tablecloth."
With the tablecloth Ivan Tsarevich went back to his horses, which were all gathered together, turned it round and asked for any food that he liked, and he was served, and meat and drink appeared at once.
Next day he was again driving his horses to the river, and the wood-sprite appeared once more.
"Come into my hut!"
So he went with him.
And the wood-sprite asked his second daughter, "What will you give Ivan Tsarevich for saving me out of the iron tower?"
"I will give him this mirror, in which he can see all he will."
And on the third day the third daughter gave him a pipe, which he need only put to his lips, and music, and singers, and musicians would appear before him.
And it was a merry life that Ivan Tsarevich now led. He had good food and good meat, knew whatever was going on, saw everything, and he had music all day long: no man was better. And the horses! They -- it was really wonderful -- were always well fed, well set up, and shapely.
Now, the fair tsarevna had been noticing the horse-herd for a long time, for a very long time, for how could so fair a maiden overlook the beautiful boy? She wanted to know why the horses he kept were always so much shapelier and statelier than those which the other herds looked after.
"I will one day go into his room," she said, "and see where the poor devil lives."
As everyone knows, a woman's wish is soon her deed. So one day she went into his room, when Ivan Tsarevich was giving his horses drink. And there she saw the mirror, and looking into that she knew everything. She took the magical cloth, the mirror, and the pipe.
Just about then there was a great disaster threatening the tsar. The seven-headed monster, Idolishche, was invading his land and demanding his daughter as his wife.
"If you will not give her to me willy, I will take her nilly!" he said.
And he got ready all his immense army, and the tsar fared ill. And he issued a decree throughout his land, summoned the boyars and knights together, and promised any who would slay the seven-headed monster half of his wealth and half his realm, and also his daughter as his wife.
Then all the princes and knights and the boyars assembled together to fight the monster, and amongst them Dyad'ka. The horse-herd sat on a pony and rode behind.
Then the wood-sprite came and met him, and said: "Where are you going, Ivan Tsarevich?"
"To the war."
"On this sorry nag you will not do much, and still less if you go in your present guise. Just come and visit me."
He took him into his hut and gave him a glass of vodka. Then the king's son drank it.
"Do you feel strong?" asked the wood-sprite.
"If there were a log there fifty puds, I could throw it up and allow it to fall on my head without feeling the blow."
So he was given a second glass of vodka.
"How strong do you feel now?"
"If there were a log here one hundred puds, I could throw it higher than the clouds on high."
Then he was given a third glass of vodka.
"How strong are you now?"
"If there were a column stretching from heaven to earth, I should turn the entire universe round."
So the wood-sprite took vodka out of another bottle and gave the king's son yet more drink, and his strength was increased sevenfold. They went in front of the house; and he whistled loud, and a black horse rose out of the earth, and the earth trembled under its hoofs. Out of its nostrils it breathed flames, columns of smoke rose from its ears, and as its hoofs struck the ground sparks arose. It ran up to the hut and fell on its knees.
"There is a horse!" said the wood-sprite.
And he gave Ivan Tsarevich a sword and a silken whip,
So Ivan Tsarevich rode out on his black steed against the enemy. On the way he met his servant, who had climbed a birch tree and was trembling for fear. Ivan Tsarevich gave him a couple of blows with his whip, and started out against the hostile host. He slew many people with the sword, and yet more did his horse trample down. And he cut off the seven heads of the monster.
Now Marfa Tsarevna was seeing all this, because she kept looking in the glass, and so learned all that was going on.
After the battle she rode out to meet Ivan Tsarevich, and asked him: "How can I thank you?"
"Give me a kiss, fair maiden!"
The tsarevna was not ashamed, pressed him to her very heart, and kissed him so loud that the entire host heard it!
Then the king's son struck his horse one blow and vanished. Then he returned to his room, and sat there as though nothing had happened, whilst his servant boasted that he had gone to the battle and slain the foe. So the tsar awarded him great honours, promised him his daughter, and set a great feast. But the tsarevna was not so stupid, and said she had a severe headache.
What was the future son-in-law to do?
"Father," he said to the tsar, "give me a ship, I will go and get drugs for my bride; and see that your herdsman comes with me, as I am so well accustomed to him."
The tsar consented; gave him the ship and the herdsman. So they sailed away, may be far or near. Then the servant had a sack sewn, and the prince put into it, and cast him into the water. But the tsarevna saw the evil thing that had been done, through her magic mirror; and she quickly summoned her carriage and drove to the sea, and on the shore there the wood-sprite sat weaving a great net.
"Wood-sprite, help me on my way, for Dyad'ka the servant has drowned the king's son!"
"Here, maiden, look, the net is ready. Help me with your white hands."
Then the tsarevna threw the net into the deep; fished the king's son up, took him home, and told her father the whole story. So they celebrated a merry wedding and held a great feast. In a tsar's palace mead has not to be brewed or any wine to be drawn; there is always enough ready.
Then the servant in the meantime was buying all sorts of drugs, and came back. He came to the palace, was seized, but prayed for mercy. But he was too late, and he was shot in front of the castle gate.
The wedding of the king's son was very jolly, and all the inns and all the beerhouses were opened for an entire week, for everybody, without any charge.
I was there. I drank honey and mead, which came up to my moustache, but never entered my mouth.
Then Ivan Tsarevich went into the royal stables to choose a good steed; and he thought that if he could find one on whose back he could lay his hand, without the horse's going on his knees, it would be just the one to suit him. So he looked in all the stalls, but found no horse to his mind, and he went his way with a heavy heart.
Then he took his crossbow and arrows and roved about in the open fields to drive away his sadness. As he was walking thus along, he saw high in the air a swan, and he drew his bow and shot; but he missed the swan, and his arrow vanished from his sight. Then Ivan was sad at losing a favourite arrow, and with tears in his eyes he sought for it the whole field over.
At last he came to a little hill, and heard a man's voice calling to him: "Come hither, Ivan Tsarevich!"
Ivan wondered to himself not a little at hearing a voice and seeing no one. But the voice called again; and Ivan went toward the spot whence it came, and remarked in the hill a little window, with an iron lattice; and at the window he saw a man, who beckoned to him with the hand. Ivan came up, and the man said to him: "Why are you so sad, my good lad, Ivan Tsarevich?"
"How can I help grieving?" replied Ivan; "I have lost my favourite arrow, and can find it nowhere, and my sorrow is the greater because I can not discover a steed to please me."
"That is no great matter to grieve for," said the man; "I will get you a good horse, and give you back your arrow since it flew down to me here; but what will you give me for it?"
"Anything you ask," replied Ivan, "if you will give me what you promise."
"Nay," said the man, "I want nothing more than that you will free me from this place."
"And how and by whom were you caged up thus?"
"Your father imprisoned me here," replied the man. "I was a famous robber, and was called Bulat the Brave Companion. He was enraged against me, and ordered me to be taken and imprisoned; and here I have been confined for three-and-thirty years."
"Hark ye, Bulat, Brave Companion," said Ivan, "I cannot set you free without my father's consent; were he to hear of it he would be wroth."
"Fear not," replied Bulat; "your father will hear nothing; for as soon as you set me at liberty I shall go into other lands and not live here."
"Well then," said Ivan Tsarevich, "I consent, only on condition that you give me back my arrow and tell me where I can find a trusty steed."
"Go into the open fields," said Bulat the Brave Companion, "and there you will see three green oaks; and, on the ground under these oaks, an iron door, with a copper ring. Under the door is a stable, in which stands a good steed, shut in by twelve iron doors with twelve steel locks. Heave up this door, strike off the twelve steel locks, and open the twelve doors; there you will find a horse; mount him and come to me; I will give you back your arrow, and then you will let me out of this prison."
When Ivan Tsarevich heard this he went into the open fields, saw the three green oaks, and found the iron door with the copper ring. So he hove up the door, knocked off the twelve locks, and opened the twelve doors, and entered a stable, where he beheld a knightly steed and a suit of armour.
Then Ivan Tsarevich laid his hand upon the horse, and the horse fell not upon his knees, but merely bent himself a little. And as soon as the horse saw a knight standing before him, he neighed loudly, and let Ivan saddle and bridle him. Ivan Tsarevich took the steed, the battle-axe, and sword, led the horse out of the stable, leaped into the Tcherkess saddle, and took the silken bridle in his white hand. Then Ivan wished to try his steed, and struck him on the flank: the horse chafed his bit, and rose from the ground, and away he went over the tall forests and under the flying clouds, left hill and dale beneath his feet, covered small streams with his tail, bounded over wide rivers and marshes.
And so at last Ivan came to Bulat the Brave Companion, and said with a loud voice: "Now give me back my arrow, Bulat my brave fellow, and I will let you out of your cage."
So Bulat instantly gave him back his arrow, and Ivan set him free.
"I thank you, Ivan Tsarevich," said Bulat, "for giving me freedom. I will, in return, render you good service; whenever you are in any difficulty, and want me, only say: 'Where is my Bulat, the Brave Companion?' and I will instantly come to you and serve you faithfully in your need."
So saying, Bulat cried with a loud voice:
Sivka Burka! he!Instantly a steed stood before Bulat the Brave, who crept into his ear, ate and drank his fill, and then crept out at the other ear; and he became such a handsome youth as no one can imagine, no pen can describe, nor story tell.
Fox of Spring! Appear!
Like a grass blade, here
Stand before me!
Then Bulat mounted his horse and galloped off, exclaiming: "Farewell, then, for the present, Ivan Tsarevich!"
Ivan now mounted his good steed and rode to his father, and with tears in his eyes, took leave of him; then, taking with him his squire, he rode forth into foreign lands. And after they had ridden for some time they came to a wood; the day was bright and hot, and Ivan Tsarevich grew thirsty. So they wandered all about the wood, seeking water, but could find none.
At length they found a deep well, in which there was some water; and Ivan said to his squire: "Go down the well and fetch me up some water; I will hold you by a rope to prevent you being drowned."
"Nay, Ivan Tsarevich," said the squire, "I am heavier than you, and you cannot hold me up; you had better descend, for I can support you."
So Ivan followed his squire's advice, and let himself down into the well.
And when Ivan had drunk enough, he told the squire to draw him up; but the squire answered: "Nay, I will not draw you out until you give me your word in writing that you are my servant and I am your master, and that my name is Ivan Tsarevich; if you refuse this I will drown you in the well."
"My dear squire," cried Ivan, "do not drown me, but draw me up, and I will do all you desire."
"No, I don't believe you," said the squire; "swear me an oath."
So Ivan swore that he would be true.
Thereupon the squire drew him out, and Ivan Tsarevich took a piece of paper, wrote the writing, and gave it to the squire. Then he took off his own cloak, and exchanged it for the squire's, and they went on their way. After some days they came to the kingdom of the Tsar Panthui. And when the Tsar heard of the arrival of Ivan Tsarevich he went out to meet him; and, greeting the false Tsarevich, he took him by the white hands, conducted him into his marble halls, seated him at his oaken table, and they feasted and made merry.
Then Tsar Panthui asked the false tsarevich what had brought him to his kingdom, and he answered: "My gracious lord, I am come to sue for the hand of your daughter, the fair Princess Tseria."
"Gladly will I give you my daughter to wife," replied Panthui.
In the course of their talk the false Ivan said to the Tsar Panthui: "Let my servant, I pray, do the lowest work in the kitchen, for he has greatly annoyed me on my journey."
So the Tsar immediately commanded Ivan to be set to do the most menial work, whilst his squire feasted and made merry with the Tsar.
A few days after this an army was seen marching against the kingdom of Panthui, threatening to lay it waste and take the Tsar prisoner.
Thereupon Panthui called the false Ivan and said: "My dear future son-in-law, a hostile army has come to attack my dominions: drive the enemy back and I will give you my daughter, but only on this condition."
And the squire answered; "Well and good, I will do as you desire; but only by night -- in the day I have no luck in fight."
As soon as night drew on and everyone in the castle had gone to rest, the false Ivan went out into the open court, called to him the true Tsarevich, and said: "Ivan Tsarevich, be not angry with me for taking your place; forget it all, do me one service, and drive the enemy from this kingdom."
And Ivan answered: "Go and lie down to sleep all shall be accomplished."
Then the squire went and lay down to sleep, and Ivan cried with a loud voice: "Where is my Bulat, the Brave Companion?"
In an instant Bulat stood before him, and asked: "What service do you require now? 'What is your need? Tell me forthwith."
Then Ivan Tsarevich told him his need, and Bulat desired him to saddle his horse and put on his armour; and then cried with a loud voice:
Sivka Burka! he!The horse bounded till the ground shook; from his ears rose a column of steam, and from his nostrils issued flames; but when he came up to Bulat he stood still. Then Bulat the Brave Companion mounted the horse, and Ivan Tsarevich seated himself upon his steed, and so they rode forth from the courtyard. Meanwhile the Princess Tseria, who was not yet asleep, was sitting at the window, and overheard all that Ivan Tsarevich had spoken with the squire and Bulat the Brave Companion.
Fox of Spring! Appear!
Like a grass blade, here
Stand before me!
As soon as they reached the hostile army, Bulat said to Ivan: "Fall thou upon the enemy on the right, I will attack them on the left."
And so they began to mow down this mighty army with the sword, and to trample them down with their horses' hoofs; and in an hour's time they had stretched on the earth a hundred thousand men. Then the hostile King fled with the small remains of his army back into his own kingdom, and Ivan Tsarevich returned with Bulat the Brave Companion to the castle of the Tsar Panthui, unsaddled his steed, led him into the stable, and gave him white wheat to eat. After that he took leave of Bulat the Brave Companion, went back into the kitchen, and lay down to sleep.
Early the next morning the Tsar went out on to his balcony, and looked forth over the country where the hostile army lay; and when he saw that it was all cut down and destroyed, he called to him the false Ivan, and thanked him for having saved his kingdom; he rewarded him with a rich present and promised soon to give him his daughter to wife. After a fortnight the same Tsar marched again with a fresh army and besieged the city.
And the Tsar Panthui in terror called again upon the false Ivan and said: "My dear friend, Ivan Tsarevich, save me once more from the enemy, and drive them from my kingdom, and I will immediately give you my daughter to wife."
And so it all fell out again exactly as before, and the enemy were quite driven away by Ivan and Bulat the Brave.
The hostile king, however, soon returned to attack Tsar Panthui a third time, and over and over again he was driven back, until at last he was himself killed. Then Ivan and Bulat the Brave Companion went back, unsaddled their steeds, and put them into the stable.
Thereupon Bulat took leave of Ivan Tsarevich, and said: "You will never see me more."
With this he mounted his horse and rode forth; and Ivan went into the kitchen and lay down to sleep.
Early the next morning the Tsar went again on to his balcony, and looked forth over the country where the hostile army had been; and when he saw that it was all destroyed, he sent for his future son-in-law and said: "Now I will give you my daughter to wife."
Then all the preparations were made for the wedding; and a few days after, the squire married the fair Princess Tseria; and when they had returned from church, and were sitting at table, Ivan Tsarevich begged the head cook to let him go into the banquet hall and see his master and his bride seated at the table. So the cook consented, and gave him a change of dress. When Ivan entered the royal hall he stationed himself behind the other guests and gazed at his squire and the fair Tseria.
But the princess espied Ivan, and recognised him instantly; then she jumped up from the table, took him by the hand, led him to the Tsar, and said: "This is the true bridegroom and the saviour of your kingdom, and not yon man who was betrothed to me."
Then the Tsar Panthui asked his daughter what it all meant, and begged her to explain the mystery. And when the Princess Tsaria had related to him all that had passed, Ivan Tsarevich was placed at the table beside her, and his squire was shot at the gate for his treacherous conduct. Ivan married the Princess, and returned with her to his father's kingdom. Tsar Chodor placed the crown upon his head, and Ivan mounted the throne, and ruled over the kingdom.
The king had already put ninety-nine people to death, when a little swineherd came to him who had two dogs; one was called "Psst," and the other "Hush"; and the boy told the king that he would watch over the ricks.
When it grew dark he climbed up on the top of the fourth rick, from where he could see the whole field. About eleven o'clock he thought he saw someone going to a rack and putting a light to it.
"Just you wait," thought he, and called out to his dogs: "Hi! Psst, Hush, catch him!"
But Psst and Hush had not waited for orders, and in five minutes the man was caught.
Next morning he was brought bound before the king, who was so pleased with the boy that he gave him a thousand crowns at once. The prisoner was all covered with hair, almost like an animal; and altogether he was so curious to look at that the king locked him up in a strong room and sent out letters of invitation to all the other kings and princes asking them to come and see this wonder.
That was all very well; but the king had a little boy of ten years old who went to look at the hairy man also, and the man begged so hard to be set free that the boy took pity on him. He stole the key of the strong room from his mother and opened the door. Then he took the key back, but the hairy man escaped and went off into the world.
Then the kings and princes began to arrive one after another, and all were most anxious to see the hairy man; but he was gone! The king nearly burst with rage and with the shame he felt. He questioned his wife sharply, and told her that if she could not find and bring back the hairy man he would put her in a hut made of rushes and burn her there. The queen declared she had had nothing to do with the matter; if her son had happened to take the key it had not been with her knowledge.
So they fetched the little prince and asked him all sorts of questions, and at last he owned that he had let the hairy man out. The king ordered his servants to take the boy into the forest and to kill him there, and to bring back part of his liver and lungs.
There was grief all over the palace when the king's command was known, for he was a great favourite. But there was no help for it, and they took the boy out into the forest. But the man was sorry for him, and shot a dog and carried pieces of his lungs and liver to the king, who was satisfied, and did not trouble himself any more.
The prince wandered about in the forest and lived as best he could for five years. One day he came upon a poor little cottage in which was an old man. They began to talk, and the prince told his story and sad fate. Then they recognised each other, for the old fellow was no other than the hairy man whom the prince had set free, and who had lived ever since, in the forest.
The prince stayed here for two years; then he wished to go further. The old man begged him hard to stay, but he would not, so his hairy friend gave him a golden apple out of which came a horse with a golden mane, and a golden staff with which to guide the horse. The old man also gave him a silver apple out of which came the most beautiful hussars and a silver staff; and a copper apple from which he could draw as many foot soldiers as ever he wished, and a copper staff. He made the prince swear solemnly to take the greatest care of these presents, and then he let him go.
The boy wandered on and on till he came to a large town. Here he took service in the king's palace, and as no one troubled themselves about him he lived quietly on.
One day news was brought to the king that he must go out to war. He was horribly frightened for he had a very small army, but he had to go all the same.
When they had all left, the prince said to the housekeeper: "Give me leave to go to the next village -- I owe a small bill there, and I want to go and pay it"; and as there was nothing to be done in the palace the housekeeper gave him leave.
When he got beyond the town he took out his golden apple, and when the horse sprang out he swung himself into the saddle. Then he took the silver and the copper apples, and with all these fine soldiers he joined the king's army.
The king saw them approach with fear in his heart, for he did not know if it might not be an enemy; but the prince rode up, and bowed low before him. "I bring your majesty reinforcements," said he.
The king was delighted, and all dread of his enemy at once disappeared. The princesses were there too, and they were very friendly with the prince and begged him to get into their carriage so as to talk to them. But he declined, and remained on horseback, as he did not know at what moment the battle might begin; and whilst they were all talking together the youngest princess, who was also the loveliest, took off her ring, and her sister tore her handkerchief in two pieces, and they gave these gifts to the prince.
Suddenly the enemy came in sight. The king asked whether his army or the prince's should lead the way; but the prince set off first and with his hussars he fought so bravely that only two of the enemy were left alive, and these two were only spared to act as messengers.
The king was overjoyed and so were his daughters at this brilliant victory. As they drove home they begged the prince to join them, but he would not come, and galloped off with his hussars.
When he got near the town he packed his soldiers and his fine horse all carefully into the apple again, and then strolled into the town. On his return to the palace he was well scolded by the housekeeper for staying away so long. Well, the whole matter might have ended there; but it so happened that the younger princess had fallen in love with the prince, as he had with her. And as he had no jewels with him, he gave her the copper apple and staff.
One day, as the princesses were talking with their father, the younger one asked him whether it might not have been their servant who had helped him so much. The king was quite angry at the idea; but, to satisfy her, he ordered the servant's room to be searched. And there, to everyone's surprise, they found the golden ring and the half of the handkerchief. When these were brought to the king he sent for the prince at once and asked if it had been he who had come to their rescue.
"Yes, your majesty, it was I," answered the prince.
"But where did you get your army?"
"If you wish to see it, I can show it you outside the city walls."
And so he did; but first he asked for the copper apple from the younger princess, and when all the soldiers were drawn up there were such numbers that there was barely room for them.
The king gave him his daughter and kingdom as a reward for his aid, and when he heard that the prince was himself a king's son his joy knew no bounds. The prince packed all his soldiers carefully up once more, and they went back into the town.
Not long after there was a grand wedding; perhaps they may all be alive still, but I don't know.
As luck would have it, the dungeon where the creature was confined was just below the sleeping room of the king's youngest son. Now the wild man cried and groaned incessantly to be set free, and these unceasing lamentations at length so moved the young prince that one night he went down and opened the dungeon door, and let out the prisoner.
Next morning the king and all the courtiers and servants were exceedingly astonished to hear no longer the usual sounds of wailing from the dungeon, and the king, suspecting something amiss, went down himself to see what had become of his captive. When he found the den empty he flew into a great passion, and demanded fiercely who had presumed to disobey his commands and let out the wild man.
All the courtiers were so terrified at the sight of the king's angry countenance, that not one of them dared speak, not even to assert their innocence. However, the young prince, the king's son, went forward at last and confessed that the pitiful crying of the poor creature had so disturbed him day and night, that at length he himself had opened the door. When the king heard this, it was his turn to be sorry, for he found himself compelled to put his own son to death or give his own proclamation the lie.
However, some of his old counselors, seeing how greatly the king was perplexed and troubled, came and assured his majesty that the proclamation would in reality be carried out if the prince, instead of being put to death, was simply banished from the kingdom forever.
The king was very glad to find this way of getting out of the dilemma, and so ordered his son to leave the country, and never come back to it. At the same time he gave him many letters of recommendation to the king of a very distant kingdom, and directed one of the court servants to go with the young prince to wait upon him. Then the unhappy young prince and his servant started on their long journey.
After traveling some time, the young prince became very thirsty, and, seeing a well not far off, went up to it to drink. However, there happened to be no bucket at the well, nor anything in which to draw water, though the well was pretty full.
Seeing this, the young prince said to his servant, "Hold me fast by the heels, and let me down into the pit that I may drink."
So saying, he bent over the well, and the servant let him down as he was directed.
When the prince had quenched his thirst, and wished to be pulled back, the servant refused, saying, "Now I can let you fall into the pit in a moment, and I shall do so unless you consent at once to change clothes and places with me. I will be the prince henceforth, and you shall be my servant."
The king's son, seeing that he had foolishly placed himself in the power of the servant, promised readily everything his servant asked, and begged only to be drawn up.
But the faithless servant, without noticing his master's prayers, said roughly, "You must make a solemn oath that you will not speak a word to anyone about the change we are going to make."
Of course, since the prince could not help himself, he took the oath at once, and then the servant drew him up, and they changed clothes. Then the wicked servant dressed himself in his master's fine clothes, mounted his master's horse, and rode forward on the journey, whilst the unfortunate prince, disguised in her servant's dress, walked beside him.
In this way they went on until they came to the court of the king to which the exiled son had been recommended by his father. Faithful to his promise, the unfortunate prince saw his false servant received at the court with great honors as the son of a great king, whilst he himself all unnoticed, stood in the waiting room with the servants, and was treated by them with all familiarity as their equal.
After having some time enjoyed to his heart's content the hospitalities the king lavished upon him, the false servant began to be afraid that his master's patience might be wearied out soon under all the indignities to which he was exposed, and that one day he might be tempted to forget his oath and proclaim himself in his true character. Filled with these misgivings, the wicked man thought over all possible ways by which he could do away with his betrayed master without any danger to himself.
One day, he thought he had found out a way to do this, and took the first opportunity to carry out his cruel plan.
Now you must know that the king at whose court this unhappy prince and the false servant were staying, kept in his gardens a great number of wild beasts fastened up in large cages.
One morning, as the seeming prince was walking in these gardens with the king, he said suddenly, "Your majesty has a large number of very fine wild beasts, and I admire them very much. I think, however, it is a pity that you keep them always fastened up, and spend so much money over their food. Why not send them under a keeper to find their own food in the forest? I dare say your majesty would be very glad if I recommended a man to you who could take them out in the morning and bring them back safely at night?"
The king asked, "Do you really think, prince, that you can find me such a man?"
"Of course, I can," replied the cruel man unhesitatingly. "Such a man is now in your majesty's court. I mean my own servant. Only call him and threaten that you will have his head cut off if he does not do it, and compel him to accept the task. I dare say he will try to excuse himself, and say the thing is impossible, but only threaten him with the loss of his head whether he refuses or fails. For my part, I am quite willing your majesty should have him put to death, if he disobeys."
When the king heard this, he summoned the disguised prince before him, and said, "I hear that you can do wonders, that you are able to drive wild beasts out like cattle to find their own food in the forest, and bring them back safely at night into their cages. Therefore, I order you this morning to drive all my bears into the forest, and to bring them back again in the evening. If you don't do this, your head will pay for it; so beware!"
The unlucky prince answered, "I am not able to do this thing, so your majesty had better cut off my head at once."
But the king would not listen to him, only saying, "We will wait until evening; then I shall surely have your head cut off unless you bring back all my bears safely to their cages."
Now nothing was left for the poor prince to do but open the cage doors and try his luck in driving the bears to the forest. The moment he opened the doors all the bears rushed out wildly, and disappeared quickly among the trees. The prince followed them sadly into the forest, and sat down on a fallen tree to think over his hard fortunes. As he sat thus, he began to weep bitterly, for he saw no better prospect before him than to lose his head at night.
As he sat thus crying, a creature in form like a man, but covered all over with thick hair, came out of a neighboring thicket, and asked him what he was crying for. Then the prince told him all that had happened to him, and that as all the bears had run away he expected to be beheaded at night when he returned without them.
Hearing this, the wild man gave him a little bell, and said kindly, "Don't be afraid! Only take care of this bell, and when you wish the bears to return, just ring it gently, and they will all come back and follow you quietly into their cages."
And having said this he went away.
When the sun began to go down, the prince rang the little bell gently, and, to his great joy, all the bears came dancing awkwardly around him, and let him lead them back to the gardens, following him like a flock of sheep, whilst he, pleased with his success, took out a flute and played little airs as he walked before them. In this way he was able to fasten them up again in their dens without the least trouble.
Everyone at the court was astonished at this, and the false servant more than all the others, though he concealed his surprise, and said to the king, "Your majesty sees now that I told you the truth. I am quite sure the man can manage the wolves just as well as the bears, if you only threaten him as before."
Thereupon, the next morning the king called the poor prince, and ordered him to lead out the wolves to find their food in the forest and to bring them back to their cages at night.
"Unless you do this," said his majesty as before, "you will lose your head."
The prince pleaded vainly the impossibility of his doing such a thing; but the king would not hear him, only saying, "You may as well try, for whether you refuse or fail, you will certainly lose your head."
So the prince was obliged to open the cages of the wolves, and the moment he did this the wild animals sprang past him into the thickets just as the bears had done, and he, following them slowly, went and sat down to bewail his ill luck.
Whilst he sat thus weeping, the wild man came out of the wood and asked him, just as he had done the day before, what he was crying for.
The prince told him, whereupon the creature gave him another little bell, and said, "When you want the wolves to come back, just ring this bell, and they will all come and follow you." Having said this he went back into the wood, and left the prince alone.
Just before it grew dark, the prince rang his bell, and to his great joy all the wolves came rushing up to him from all quarters of the forest, and followed him quietly back to their cages.
Seeing this, the false servant advised the king to send out the birds also, and to threaten the disguised prince with the loss of his head if he failed to bring them also back in the evening.
Accordingly the next morning the king ordered the prince to let out all the wild doves, and to bring them all safely to their different cages before night set in. The instant the poor young man opened the cage doors the wild doves rose like a cloud into the air, and vanished over the tops of the trees. So the prince went into the forest and sat down again on the fallen tree. As he sat there, thinking how hopeless a task he had now before him he could not help crying aloud and bewailing all his past misfortunes and present miserable fate.
Hardly had he begun to lament, however, before the same wild man came from the bushes near him and asked what fresh trouble had befallen him. Then the prince told him.
Thereupon the wild man gave him a third bell, saying, "When you wish the wild doves to return to their cages you have only to ring this little bell."
And so it indeed happened, for the moment the prince began ringing softly, all the doves came flying about him, and he walked back to the palace gardens and shut them up in their different cages without the least trouble.
Now, happily for the prince, the king had just at this time much more important business on his hands than finding his wild beasts and birds in food without paying for it. No less a matter, in fact, began to occupy him than finding a suitable husband for his daughter. For this purpose he sent out a proclamation that he would hold races during three days, and would reward the victor of each day with a golden apple. Whosoever should succeed in winning all three apples should have the young princess for his wife.
Now this princess was far more beautiful than any other princess in the world, and an exceedingly great number of knights prepared to try and win her. This, the poor prince, in his servant's dress, watched with great dismay; for he had fallen deeply in love with the fair daughter of the king. So he puzzled himself day and night with plans how he, too, could try his luck in the great race.
At last he determined to go into the forest and ask the wild man to help him. When the wild man heard the prince calling, he came out of the thicket, and listened to all he had to say about the matter.
Seeing how much the prince was interested in the young princess, who was to be the prize of the victor, the wild man brought out some handsome clothes and a fine horse, and gave them to the prince, saying, "When you start in the race, do not urge your horse too much, but at the end, when you are getting near the goal, spur him, and then you will be sure to win. Don't forget, however, to bring me the golden apple as soon as you receive it."
All came to pass just as the wild man had said. The prince won the apples the two first days; but as he disappeared as soon as he received them from the king, no one in the court recognized him in his fine attire, and all wondered greatly who the stranger knight might be. As for the king, he was more perplexed and curious than all the rest, and determined not to let the stranger escape so easily the third day. So he ordered a deep, wide ditch to be dug at the end of the race course, and a high wall built beyond it, thinking thus to stop the victor and find out who he was.
The prince, hearing of the king's orders, and guessing the reason of them, went once again into the forest to ask help from his wild friend. The wild man, thereupon, brought out to him a still more beautiful racer, and a suit of splendid clothes; and, thus prepared, the prince took his place as before among the knights who were going to try for the prize. He won the gold apple this third time also; but, to the surprise of the king and the whole court, who hoped now to find out who he was, he made his horse spring lightly over the ditch, and the great wall, and vanished again in the forest.
The king tried every way to find out who had won the three golden apples, but all in vain. At last, one day, the princess, walking in the gardens of the palace, met the prince disguised in his servant's dress, and saw the shining of the three apples which he carried in his bosom. Thereupon she ran at once to her father, and told him what she had seen, and the king, wondering very much, called the servant before him.
Now the prince thought it time to put an end to all his troubles, and therefore told the king frankly all his misfortunes. He related how he had offended the king, his father, and been exiled for life; how his false servant had betrayed him; and how the wild man he had set free had come to help him out of the fearful snares the wicked servant had spread for him.
After hearing all this, the king very gladly gave him the princess for wife, and ordered the false servant to be put to death immediately.
As for the prince, he lived with his beautiful princess very happily for many years after this, and when the king, his father-in-law, died, he left to them both the kingdom.
One day as he was out walking, a monk met him on the road, and, seeing the king so moody, he asked him, "Sir King, what is the matter that thou art so sad? Always moody is your majesty!"
"Eh, my good monk," says the king to him, "Every stick has its own smoke, you know. I am moody because one day I shall be undone; they will take from me all my towns, because I have no soldiers."
"Oh! Is that why thou art sorrowful, my king? I will tell thee what to do. In a certain place there is a wild man whom all the world fears for his strength. Collect thy soldiers, and send them to seize him; and when thou possessest such a wild man, no king can menace thee."
Then the king was somewhat heartened and said, "My good monk, I will give thee whatever thou may'st desire, if only this is accomplished and the wild man brought to me, as thou sayest."
And when he returns to the palace, he calls immediately his twelve councillors and tells them what the monk had said to him. The twelve, when they heard his words, rejoiced on the one hand, but looked grave on the other, for how was it possible to bring that wild man?
So they said to the king, "O Sir King, thou sayest that in a certain place away in the wilderness is to be found a wild man; but we must see if it is possible to bring him hither. We see no easier way than that he who told thee of this man should himself bring him."
The next day, accordingly, very early in the morning, the king gets up and goes to seek the monk; and when he had arrived at the same spot, the monk again presented himself, and said, "Eh, what hast thou done, my king?"
Then the king replies, "Alas, my good monk, I have done nothing. For I told my twelve, and they said to me that no other could bring him save he who had given me the tidings."
"Very well, Sir King, if thou biddest me, I will bring him to thee. Give me forty thousand soldiers; make me a chain of copper weighing a hundred thousand kantars, and an iron cage each bar of which must be like a column; and then I will bring him to thee, otherwise nothing can be done."
"I will gladly make for thee," said the king, "anything thou askest me."
And he takes him, and brings him to the palace, and at once gives orders to the Gypsies to collect all the copper in the city for the chain. In a week all is ready. And the monk takes the soldiers, the chain and the cage, and goes for the wild man; and after two or three months' time they arrive at the place where he was to be found. The soldiers immediately set to work and encircled the mountain with the chain, and took every precaution against his escaping at any spot. They did in fact everything the monk told them. And about noontide they felt the mountain tremble, and from that they understood that the wild man was coming forth. They look this way and that, but see nothing; but when they look upwards, they see -- my eyes! -- they see coming down from the summit the wild man, a sight which made them tremble. But the monk encouraged them.
"Ah, my pallikars, let us seize the monster! Bring hither the chain!"
So then they took a little courage, and began to shout and drag the chain closer, and so approach him. But, as if he had wings, the wild man fled away, and so they could not entangle him. Not to make a long story of it, six months passed, and they had not yet caught him. But about the end of the sixth month the wild man became one day at last weary; and they entangle him in the chain, and bind him, and put him in the cage.
Then the monk says to them, "Now, my boys, you may rest, for we have him safe!"
They take him and bring him to the king, and put the cage in the courtyard of the palace. You should have seen the king when they brought him!
He made great rejoicings, and embraced the monk, and kissed him tenderly, and said to him, "What gift dost thou desire in return for the favour thou hast done me?"
"I want nothing," he replied, "but thy love."
"No," said the king to him, "am I not able to reward thee?"
And he took and gave him many royal gifts, and the monk bade him adieu, and departed.
Let us return to the king. Sorrow and care had departed from him since the day on which they brought him the wild man, and he leapt for joy. In a short time, however, his grief returned, and you will see how.
Two weeks had not passed when one day the little prince was standing on the steps of the palace, playing with a golden apple. As he played, it slipped from his fingers, and rolled, and rolled, until it got inside the cage where was the wild man, and he picked it up. The boy runs to the cage and asks for his apple.
And then, for the first time, the wild man speaks, and says to the prince, "If thou wilt take the key and open the door of the cage that I may take the air a little who have been so long imprisoned, then I will give thee thy golden apple."
The prince, like the child that he was, goes and takes the key from the guard-house without anyone seeing him, and opens the door; the wild man gives him back the apple, and then gives him a kick, and -- if you see him, so do I!
In a short time the king comes, and as soon as he enters the courtyard, he goes to look at the wild man, as was his custom, for he was his consolation. And when he saw that the cage was open, and the wild man gone, he lost his senses, and drew his sword to kill the guard who kept the key.
Just as he was going to cut off his head, this man cried, "Sir King, you kill me unjustly, I have done no wrong! My prince came and took the keys without my knowledge, and went and opened the cage, and the wild man ran away."
"Is that true?" asked the king, frantically.
"It is true, Affendi!"
So he left him and ran to kill his son. But the queen, when she heard of it, seized the prince in her arms, and cried, and besought the king -- "In God's name, my king, do not such a thing as to kill your only son in your anger," she cried, and much more.
Then all the people in the palace fell at his feet, and "Forbear, my king! Forbear!" they cried. "Slay not our prince!"
And amid the cries and tears, here from the queen, and there from the rest, the boy found means to escape. The king called and sought him, but his nurse had hidden him.
After a while, when the king had become a little calmer, he made an oath, and said, "Let him not appear before me, nor let mine eyes see him, for I will not leave life in him so long as I remember how much I spent to bring hither that wild man, and he to let him go! I cannot stomach it! Let the boy go so far away that I cannot hear of him, for he knows what will otherwise happen to him."
The poor queen, when she heard such hard words from the mouth of his father, seeks to make her son flee quickly, and goes at once to order him a pair of iron shoes, and puts in each one fifty gold pieces, takes whatever else is necessary for him, and carries them to the place where they had hidden him, and says to him, "My boy, as fate has overshadowed thee, and thou hast done such a deed; and as thy father has made a solemn oath to kill thee if ever again he set eyes on thee, thou must change thy name and thy dress, and go to live in a foreign land until we can see what turn things will take. And one thing only I beg of thee, that in whatever place thou bidest, thou wilt learn letters, because for that purpose I have put in thy shoes a hundred pieces of gold."
And then she takes and strips him of his royal garments, and puts on him rustic clothes, gives him all that is necessary, and speeds him with her prayers and her blessing.
Let us now leave the king and the queen to their sorrow, and follow the poor prince, who took to the hills without knowing whither he went. He journeys one week, he journeys two, and in about a month's time he comes upon a swineherd who was tending a thousand pigs.
"Good day, swineherd!" said he to him.
"Well met, my lad, and what art thou seeking here?"
"My fortune," replied the prince. "I am a poor boy, and I have come out to find work so that I may earn my own living and help my parents."
"Ah, is that it? Eh, what sayest thou? Will thy bones hold good to look after these swine?"
"Bravo!" replies the prince. "They will hold good."
"Then stay with me, for I am only fifteen days from the end of my time; and come with me in the evening to my master, and I will tell him that I am going away -- for I am weary of this trade, and you can take my place."
When God brought the evening, the pair of them took the pigs to the fold, where they found the master. When he saw the youth, he asked the herd, "What is the matter that thou hast brought this lad here with thee?"
"Did I not tell thee that when my time was up I should go away? And thou saidst that I could not go unless I brought another in my stead? Well, then, I have brought him!"
"Very well," he replied, "let the fifteen days pass, and I will pay thee and thou mayst go about thy business. Only during these fifteen days thou must take him with thee and teach him where and when to go with the pigs, lest perchance he take them to some strange place, and we lose them."
But the youth soon found his way into the hearts of his master and mistress. For whenever he went to the house he did not sit with crossed hands, but took at once the broom and swept, lighted the fire, and amused the children until one cried "Tourou! Tourou!" and the other "Niá! Niá!" and he did all the work of the house. In fifteen days he became a better herd than the first. And he brought good luck with him, too. For from the time that the other herd had left, the pigs were bursting with fat, not one got lost, not one fell lame, but they were just like young lions; and the master loved the boy from his heart, for, from the time he had come into the house, everything had prospered. And so well did he love him that he told him he would make him his son-in-law.
But the prince remembered his mother's words and how she had told him to go on with his studies, and not to become a mere shepherd. So one evening when he returned home, he pretended to be very melancholy.
His master, the apple of whose eye he was, observed his sadness and said, "What ails thee that I see thee sad? If thou hast lost a pig, and art anxious, never mind! It matters not so that thou art well."
"How shall I tell you, Affendi? It is not that, but I am melancholy because I must soon leave you. For I have received a letter saying that my mother is dying, and now I must go and receive her blessing."
"Stay where thou art, my boy. Who knows if thou wilt find her living?"
"No, Affendi, you will give me leave to go and see my mother?"
"My boy, if thy longing is so great, thou art free to go; I will not detain thee."
And with these wiles he deceived his master, who would not have otherwise allowed him to depart. So again he takes to the road, and tramps, and tramps, and after a time he comes to a town. As he was passing along a street he saw a shoemaker's shop, and stopped before the door.
The master, seeing him, asked, "What dost thou want, my boy?"
"What do I want? I am a poor lad, and want to learn a trade in order to live, and assist my family," as he had said to the herd.
His reply was uttered in such a plaintive tone that the master had pity on him, and said, "Eh, wouldst thou become a shoemaker?"
"Oh, that God may dispose thee to such an act of charity!"
"Come in then, my boy, for thou art the lucky fellow." And when he was come in, he saw a man polishing a pair of shoes. He seized the brush, and in a moment he had turned them into looking-glasses, while all in the shop wondered at his cleverness. The master then sent him to his house with a jar of water, and when he was come there -- not to repeat it all over again -- he did as he had done with his first master. And everybody was pleased with him, and he was even more beloved than he had been at the swineherd's house.
When two or three months had passed, and he saw how fond they were of him, he said one day to the shoemaker, "Master, I would ask you a favour!"
"Ask two, my boy," was the reply, "what is thy wish?"
"When, Master, I left home, I had learnt a little, but now I have nearly forgotten all I knew; and I shall remain half blind, for it is well said that 'they who are learned have four eyes.'" Perhaps you will say, 'There is no need for thee to study, learn the trade!' and you will be right, Master. But my mother told me that, whatever trade I might learn, it would be necessary for me to have some schooling. And now I pray you, if possible, to find me a teacher, that I may do lessons but two hours a day, and the rest of the time I will work at my trade."
"Very good, my dear boy," was the reply. As good luck would have it, his master knew a clever schoolmaster who was one of his customers. And the boy's good luck brought this man past the shop at the very moment they were talking.
So the master called, "Schoolmaster! Schoolmaster! Come in! You will do me the favour to give lessons to this youth two hours a day, and I shall be much obliged to you."
"If anyone else had asked me, Mástro Ghiorghi " -- for this was the shoemaker's name -- "I should have said 'No'; but I cannot say that to Mástro Ghiorghi. Let him come at noon to my house, and I will examine him, and then I will do my best with him for the two hours, and it shall be as if he studied all day."
So at noon, as the schoolmaster had said, the prince goes to his house and asks him how much he must pay him for his lessons.
"Bre, my dear boy," he replies, "I see that thou art poor; what can I ask from thee?"
"But tell me though, for I can raise the money somehow and pay you."
"What shall I say? My trouble may be worth some thirty or forty piastres. But I don't want to gain anything by thee -- give me whatever thou conveniently canst."
Then the boy took off his shoe, and took out of it the fifty sequins and gave them to the schoolmaster, who, when he saw them, smiled -- for, as they say, "What is given to Christ is received back again" -- and he said, "Never mind about the money, my boy, if thou pleasest me, I also will content thee."
The disguised prince then made the schoolmaster do his best; and in a short time he had finished his studies, and became a lamp of learning. And afterwards he hired another schoolmaster to whom he gave the other fifty sequins, to teach him mathematics; and at the same time he learned to make shoes well. At last the master wanted to make him a bridegroom -- and, in short, he played him the same trick as he had played his former master. And again he takes to the hills and runs and runs, until he meets with a herd who was tending a thousand goats.
"Good day, my goatherd!"
"Welcome, my boy!" And after they had exchanged a few words the goatherd goes away, and leaves him in charge of the goats. And the goats again, as formerly the pigs, prospered; none ever fell lame, or got lost out of his hand, and his master was delighted with him.
One day, as he was driving the goats home to the fold, one she-goat strayed away from the rest, and as he was very unwilling to lose her, he followed after. She crossed one hill ridge, and stopped, and then another, and stopped, and the youth ran after her to catch her. Well, what are you expecting?
She crossed seven ridges, and finally stopped content; and when the youth approached her, there appeared before him the wild man who, when he had embraced and kissed him, exclaimed, "My prince, for my sake thou hast suffered this adversity, and art become a shepherd and a shoemaker! But I have been ever near thee, that evil might not befall thee; and now I will make thee the greatest king upon earth! It was I who today enticed away the goat, that I might show myself to thee, and put an end to thy misfortunes. So sit thee down and rest thyself."
"No," replied the prince, "I cannot. I must first take back the goat to my master, and then, if thou desire it, I will return, but now I cannot."
Go, then, and come back quickly!"
So he takes the goat, and goes back, and finds the rest all together, and leads them to his master, and tells him that he cannot remain, as he has received tidings from his parents who bid him come, for they are in trouble. And so he arose and went away to meet the wild man. And when he was come again to the same ridge the wild man appeared before him, and took off his old clothes, and dressed him in royal cloth of gold.
He then showed the prince a cave filled with sequins, and said to him, "Seest thou all that? -- For thee have I kept it."
Then he took him to another place where was a marble slab with an inscription upon it.
And when the wild man had read aloud the inscription he removed the slab, and said to the prince, "Now thou wilt descend three hundred steps, and when thou art at the bottom thou wilt see forty chambers, and in each one of them a Nereid. When thou hast entered the first chamber, the first Nereid will appear before thee, and her first words will be to ask thee to marry her. Thou must reply, 'With all my heart, that is what I am come for!' and she will be pleased, and will bestow on thee a gift; and so thou must deceive them all, and when thou hast gained the forty gifts, escape and come back to me."
So the prince descended the three hundred steps, and when he came to the first chamber as the wild man had said, the first Nereid immediately appeared, and asked him, "What seekest thou? Wilt thou marry me?"
"Certainly, my lady," he replied. "It is for that I have come."
Then she said, "May'st thou shine like the sun!"
Then he goes to the next, and she says to him, "May'st thou become a philosopher!"
In a word, they endowed him with forty gifts.
Then he fled from them, remounted the three hundred steps, and returned to the wild man, who, when he saw him, said, "Well done! Now we are all right, you only lack a beautiful wife. In the nearest city is a beautiful princess who sets a task, and the task is this: She has a ring which is hung on the roof of the tower, and whoso is able to leap up and seize the ring, may marry her; but if he fails she cuts off his head. And already many princes and kings' sons have decorated the tower with their heads, and but one is wanting. So now let us go and fulfill this condition; and if perchance thou art afraid of the leap, do but jump upwards and I will give the ring into thine hand, and we will win the princess. And give no heed to the people who, when they see such a youth as thou art, will say, 'For God's sake, leap not! Lose not so unjustly thy beautiful young life!' but do as I have told thee."
Then he presented the prince with a mare all golden from head to foot, and with trappings of diamonds -- a wonder to behold; and she was so swift that she went like the wind. They mounted her, and, as soon as you could wink your eye, they found themselves outside that city, when the wild man disappeared, and the prince was left alone. The people stared and knew not which to admire more, the mare or the prince. When the princess saw such a handsome youth, she lost her senses; and all prayed God that the prince might win, and marry the princess; and on the other hand they pitied his youth, and begged him not to attempt the task.
The prince, however, heeded them not, but thought of what the wild man had said to him.
And he hastened to the tower, all the crowd following him, weeping and crying, "The poor prince! Ah, the poor, dear prince!"
When he arrived at the tower, and saw how high it was, his courage failed; but he was ashamed to show it, and said within himself, "Come, aid me with thy prayers, my mother!"
And he took a leap, and found the ring in his hand.
Then was their lamentation changed into laughter and joy! And the king decreed that the wedding should take place that very evening.
But the wild man presently came and said to the prince, "Do not be married this evening, but betrothed only, for thy father has been dead six months, and another has come forward to claim the kingdom. On the morrow thou must set out, for there is no time to be lost."
So the prince told the king that he had such and such business on hand. Then he took the ring which he had won, and gave his own to the princess; and when they had said farewell to each other, he went away. Mounting his mare, he was soon in his native country. But when he alighted at the palace gate and asked for his mother, the servants told him that since the death of the king of blessed memory, the queen had covered herself with seven black veils, and would see no man.
"And so," they added, "we cannot tell you where she is." (For how should they know, poor things, after so many years, that he was the prince?)
Then he begged them to let him go in because he had a secret to tell the queen, which would do her good to learn. So earnestly did he plead with them that at last they relented, and went to tell the queen.
And when the prince was led to the door of his mother's chamber, he rushed in and cried, "Queen! I am thy son!"
But his mother, without seeing him at all, replied, "Go, good youth, and good luck go with you! They drive me mad every hour with their news of my son! -- 'Your boy is found, and tomorrow he will be seen on the road!'"
"Am I not, mother mine, the prince, whose father of blessed memory sent the monk to find the wild man; and one day I was playing with the golden apple, and it fell into the cage, and I took the key and opened it, and the wild man escaped?"
"Those are things that have happened, my boy; and thou hast heard, and repeatest them."
"Am I not he whom thou didst embrace and didst save from my father, and didst send to a foreign land, because my father had made an oath to kill me?"
"Those are things that have happened, my boy; and thou hast learnt, and repeatest them."
"Am I not that prince into whose shoes thou didst put a hundred sequins that I might finish my studies?"
When the queen heard these words, she cast off her black coverings, and threw herself on his neck, saying, "Thou art my son! O live, my light! Thou hast come back safely! Thou art my consolation!" and much besides.
When it was known in the town that the real prince had come back, the people ran to meet him, and made great rejoicings; and the prince had no concern save for the grief of his mother, who was still sorrowing for the king. After a few days the queen consented to go with him to fetch his bride, who, until he returned, was wasting like a candle, for she thought he did not love her. But when she heard that the prince had arrived with his mother, she was like to burst with joy. And the king ran, and the twelve ran, and small and great ran to welcome the prince, and led them to the palace. In due time they crowned the young couple with the wedding crowns, and again there was staring and wondering!
When the wedding ceremonies and the rejoicings at last came to an end, the prince took his mother and the princess, bade adieu to his father-in-law, and returned to his own kingdom. When they arrived, the wild man appeared, and told the prince to give him fifty camels to bring away the treasure from the cave. And he loaded them with treasure, brought them back to the palace, and remained there himself. And the prince at last began to enjoy his life.
But, look you, a time comes when the other kings learn that he has wealth and gear, and they envy him; and seven kings and seven princes come against him, and soldiers without number, to fight against him, and to take from him his towns, and his treasures, and his wife.
When the prince heard this, he, too, began to prepare for war; but what could he do against so many soldiers? And so his heart quaked with the fear of losing his kingdom.
Then the wild man said to him, "Thou hast me, and yet thou art afraid! And not only with regard to this matter, but whatever may happen, let it not even make thine ear sweat! For so long as the wild man lives, thou needest neither raise soldiers, nor do anything but amuse thy sweet one."
So the prince took courage, and troubled himself no more as to whether he was at war or not. And when his good wild man knew that the enemy had come quite close to the borders of his kingdom, he arose and went and fell upon them, first on this hand and then on the other, till he had destroyed them all.
Then he took the seven kings and the seven princes, and bound them, and brought them before the prince, and said, "Here are thine enemies, do with them as thou wilt, my king!"
Then they began to weep, and to beg the prince to spare their lives, and they would pay him tribute every year.
Then the prince had pity on them, and said, "Be off then, I give you your lives! But truly ye shall, each one of you, pay me so much tribute every year."
Then he released them, and they fell down and did homage to him as their overlord, and each one went about his business. And so the prince became, as the wild man had promised, the greatest king in the world, and feared no one. And so he lived happily, and more than happily. And we more happily still!
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Revised February 14, 2017.