Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/146

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
130
The Grateful Dead.

away in the care of two faithful servants, with whom he lives in obscurity till he is sixteen years old. Covetous of his wealth, they are about to kill him, when the wild man, transformed into a splendid knight by a grateful fairy, joins them. They go to a beautiful city called Ireland, which is devastated by a ferocious horse and an equally savage mare. The traitorous servants plot to destroy the prince by giving out, first, that he has boasted that he can overcome the horse, and, second, the mare. By the advice of his unknown friend and the help of the latter's fairy horse, he accomplishes these labours. He is told by the king that he may have one of his daughters in marriage, if he can tell which has hair of gold. He is told by his companion that a hornet, which he has released, will appear at the test and fly three times around the head of the princess whom he is to choose. The man explains at the same time the cause of his benevolence,—gratitude because by him he has been delivered from death. The prince is thus enabled to pick out the princess with golden hair, and is married to her, while his companion receives the sister.

In the Venetian tale, again a peculiar variant, twelve brothers seek twelve sisters as wives. Eleven of them go out at first, and are turned to stone. The youngest brother sets out after a year, and on the way has a poor dead man buried. Later, when he has saved his eleven brothers, they become envious, and throw him into a well. The thankful dead man then comes, draws him out with a cord, and explains who he is. The hero proceeds to his home and tells his story.

Sicilian is more extended but less difficult to place. The three orphaned sons of a rich man try to win the daughter of a certain king, who has announced that he will marry the princess to anyone who can make a ship that will travel alike on land and water. The eldest and middle brothers are unsuccessful because they are