Page:The Grateful Dead.djvu/85

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
69
The Poison Maiden.

a castle, where to win the king's daughter the prince has to guess her thoughts for three days in succession. The companion flies with her each night when she goes to her wizard for counsel, and learns that the prince must say "bread," "the princess's jewels," and "the wizard's head" in turn. On the last night he cuts off the wizard's head and brings it to his master, who displays it at court and so breaks the spell. When the couple are married, the companion explains that he is the spirit of the dead man, and disappears.

This variant obviously belongs to the same type as those preceding. As in Irish I. and II. the hero is a prince instead of a youth of low birth; but there is no general uniformity in this trait. The agreement of division and the violent dispossession of the heroine have disappeared. Indeed, so far has The Water of Life supplanted the other motives that the position of the tale is only evident when it is placed side by side with other versions of the same class. When so considered, however, the peculiar features of the succession of feats by which the bride is won appear very prominently, and establish the type.

Harz I. stands closer to Norwegian II. than the preceding. A youth pays his all for the burial of a poor man, whose ghost joins him. They go to a city, where a bespelled princess kills all her suitors who cannot answer a riddle. The companion spirit tells the youth to save her, explaining his own identity. He gives wings and an iron rod to the hero, who flies with the princess to a mountain spirit, and hears that he must guess that she is thinking of her father's white horse. The next night the youth follows her with two rods and is thus enabled to guess that she is thinking of her father's sword. The third night he follows her with two rods and a sword, with which he cuts off the monster's head. This he shows her in the morning when asked