Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 290
Publication Date: 1890
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A collection of 60 folk-tales, split into the following stories: Bohemian; Moravian; Hungarian-Slovenish; Upper and Lower Lusatian; Kashubian; Polish; White Russian; Little Russian Stories (from Galicia); Little Russian Stories (from South Russia); Great Russian; Bulgarian; Serbian; Serbian Stories From Bosnia; Serbian Stories From Carniola; Croatian; and, Illyrian-Slovenish.
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THERE was a king, who was already old, and had but one son. Once upon a time he called this son to him, and said to him, 'My dear son! you know that old fruit falls to make room for other fruit. My head is already ripening, and maybe the sun will soon no longer shine upon it; but before you bury me, I should like to see your wife, my future daughter. My son, marry!' The prince said, 'I would gladly, father, do as you wish; but I have no bride, and don't know any.' The old king put his hand into his pocket, took out a golden key and showed it to his son, with the words, 'Go up into the tower, to the top story, look round there, and then tell me which you fancy.' The prince went without delay. Nobody within the memory of man had been up there, or had ever heard what was up there.
When he got up to the last story, he saw in the ceiling a little iron door like a trap-door. It was closed. He opened it with the golden key, lifted it, and went up above it. There there was a large circular room. The ceiling was blue like the sky on a clear night, and silver stars glittered on it; the floor was a carpet of green silk, and around in the wall were twelve high windows in golden frames, and in each window on crystal glass was a damsel painted with the colours of the rainbow, with a royal crown on her head, in each window a different one in a different dress, each handsomer than the other, and it was a wonder that the prince did not let his eyes dwell upon them. When he had gazed at them with astonishment, the damsels began to move as if they were alive, looked down upon him, smiled, and did everything but speak.
Now the prince observed that one of the twelve windows was covered with a white curtain; he drew the curtain to see what was behind it. There there was a damsel in a white dress, girt with a silver girdle, with a crown of pearls on her head; she was the most beautiful of all, but was sad and pale, as if she had risen from the grave. The prince stood long before the picture, as if he had made a discovery, and as he thus gazed, his heart pained him, and he cried, 'This one will I have, and no other.' As he said the words the damsel bowed her head, blushed like a rose, and that instant all the pictures disappeared.
When he went down and related to his father what he had seen and which damsel he had selected, the old king became sad, bethought himself, and said, 'You have done ill, my son, in uncovering what was curtained over, and have placed yourself in great danger on account of those words. That damsel is in the power of a wicked wizard, and kept captive in an iron castle; of all who have attempted to set her free, not one has hitherto returned. But what's done cannot be undone; the plighted word is a law. Go! try your luck, and return home safe and sound!'
The prince took leave of his father, mounted his horse, and rode away in search of his bride. It came to pass that he rode through a vast forest, and through the forest he rode on and on till he lost the road. And as he was wandering with his horse in thickets and amongst rocks and morasses, not knowing which way to turn, he heard somebody shout behind him, 'Hi! stop!' The prince looked round, and saw a tall man hastening after him. 'Stop and take me with you, and take me into your service, and you won't regret it!' 'Who are you,' said the prince, 'and what can you do?' 'My name is Long, and I can extend myself. Do you see a bird's nest in that pine yonder? I will bring you the nest down without having to climb up.'
Long then began to extend himself; his body grew rapidly till it was as tall as the pine; he then reached the nest, and in a moment contracted himself again and gave it to the prince. 'You know your business well, but what's the use of birds' nests to me, if you can't conduct me out of this forest?' 'Ahem! that's an easy matter,' said Long, and began to extend himself till he was thrice as high as the highest fir in the forest, looked round, and said: 'Here on this side we have the nearest way out of the forest.' He then contracted himself, took the horse by the bridle, and before the prince had any idea of it, they were beyond the forest. Before them was a long and wide plain, and beyond the plain tall gray rocks, like the walls of a large town, and mountains overgrown with forest trees.
'Yonder, sir, goes my comrade!' said Long, and pointed suddenly to the plain; 'you should take him also into your service; I believe he would serve you well.' 'Shout to him, and call him hither, that I may see what he is good for.' 'It is a little too far, sir,' said Long; 'he would hardly hear me, and it would take a long time before he came, because he has a great deal to carry. I'll jump after him instead.' Then Long again extended himself to such a height that his head plunged into the clouds, made two or three steps, took his comrade by the arm, and placed him before the prince. He was a short, thick-set fellow, with a paunch like a sixty-four gallon cask. 'Who are you?' demanded the prince, 'and what can you do?' 'My name, sir, is Broad; I can widen myself.' 'Give me a specimen.' 'Ride quick, sir, quick, back into the forest!' cried Broad, as he began to blow himself out.
The prince didn't understand why he was to ride away; but seeing that Long made all haste to get into the forest, he spurred his horse, and rode full gallop after him. It was high time that he did ride away, or else Broad would have squashed him, horse and all, as his paunch rapidly grew in all directions; it filled everything everywhere, just as if a mountain had rolled up. Broad then ceased to blow himself out, and took himself in again, raising such a wind that the trees in the forest bowed and bent, and became what he was at first. 'You've played me a nice trick,' said the prince, 'but I shan't find such a fellow every day; come with me.'