Danish Fairy and Folk Tales/The Bull and the Princess at the Glass Mountain

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THE BULL AND THE PRINCESS AT THE GLASS MOUNTAIN


IN a certain town there once lived two families, each of which consisted of a man, his wife, and a grown son. When the one man's wife and the other wife's man died, the remaining couple was married, and thus the two boys came to live together. The man's son took care of the cows and a bull which was so large and savage that every one was afraid of him. The boy never had anything but dry bread-crusts to eat; but one day the bull asked him if he did not feel hungry. The boy told him he did. "Stroke my back, then," said the bull. The boy complied, receiving at once a butter-cake and a large piece of sausage which tasted splendidly. In the evening, when he returned home, he was unable to eat his supper, and his step-mother asked him, therefore, if the bull had not already given him some. This he denied, however.

The next day she sent her own son along to the pastures, and told him to watch and see if his step-brother received anything from the bull. It happened exactly as on the day before; he stroked the bull's back, and received a delicious butter-cake and a large piece of sausage. He could eat no supper at night, and his step-mother at once declared that both the boy and the bull must be burned. There was now a large pile of wood heaped up, and the boy and the bull placed on top of it. But the boy at once seated himself on the animal's back, whereupon the bull rushed up to the woman, who was looking on, seized her on his horns, and threw her straight into the fire.

The bull now darted into the woods with the boy. In a little while they noticed some apple-trees bearing the most beautiful-looking apples. He was warned by the animal not to touch them, but the more he looked at them, the more he wished to eat one. The very moment he made this wish the forest began to quiver, and the bull asked whether he had not broken the rules and taken an apple. He denied having done so. "Feel in your pockets," said the bull. There was, indeed, an apple in one of his pockets, but he was willing to throw it away. "That would not help us," said the bull again. At the same moment a troll with three heads came running towards them, roaring: "Why do you steal my apples?" "Come, if you dare!" cried the bull; and seizing the troll on his horns, he threw him high in the air. "You may have them all," shouted the troll, "if you will leave me alone." "That depends upon your giving us the black horse which is now in your stable," answered the bull. No, that would not do. So the bull again seized him, throwing him into the air as high as the tree-tops. "Yes, yes," yelled the troll; he was willing to give them what they wanted, if they would leave him alone. So they took the horse and departed.

When they came far into the forest, they saw some apples which were prettier even than the first ones, and the boy could not help wishing that one of them was his. He had hardly realized his wish before the forest commenced quivering, and a troll with six heads appeared before them. "Come here, if you dare!" cried the bull, seizing the troll and throwing him into the tree-tops. "Stop, stop!" called the troll. "Well," resumed the bull, "will you give us the spade and shovel which you have at home?" No, they could not have them. The bull again caught and pitched him from one tree-top into another. "Yes, yes," yelled the troll, "you may have them, if you will leave me alone." This they did.

After resuming their journey they reached in a little while some trees with apples more beautiful than those which they had already seen. "Now be sure and take none!" said the bull. The boy could not help wishing for some, however, and no sooner had his wish been realized than a troll with nine heads came forward. Like the two others, he was kicked about by the bull, until he promised to give them a bag of mist which he had in his possession.

They now proceeded on their journey until they arrived at two hills; here they stopped, and the bull said to the boy: "Dig a hole in the ground and bury me here; place the spade and the shovel on top of me, and cover me with earth. When you have done this, you must go to the palace yonder and apply for a position as groom. A year from to-day you must return and dig me up. Remember, however, to bring one dish of water, one of blood, and one of milk with you." He promised to remember and to obey, but of course he did not like to bury his friend. Having done so, nevertheless, he walked up to the palace, where he had no difficulty in securing a place as groom. Afterwards he was told that in a few days a troll was to come and carry the beautiful princess who lived there away with him. She would be placed on the top of a glass mountain, however, and if any one could ride up to her and take a silver apple from her hand on the first day, a golden apple on the second day, and kiss her on the third day, he would be allowed to marry her. Of course there was a great stir and doings around the palace, when, on the appointed day, a large number of men tried to ascend the mountain. No one was able to reach the top, and several even broke their arms and legs in attempting. Finally the boy came riding on his black horse. He was dressed in black, and rode straight up to the princess, from whose hand he took the apple. She, too, was dressed all in black.

The next day the same thing was repeated. No one but the young man reached the top of the mountain. He was dressed, like the princess, in yellow, and having reached her, he seized the golden apple from her hand.

On the third day the boy appeared in a white dress. He rode up to the princess, who was herself dressed in white. But when he bent down and kissed her, she managed to tear a small piece of cloth from his coat, and put it aside. All the spectators were, of course, very anxious to know the name of the clever person who had been able to ride where a great many skilled and practised noblemen had broken their limbs. Hence, they surrounded the mountain from all sides to meet him when he came back; but when he perceived this, he opened the bag of mist which he had carried along with him, emptied it at the top of the mountain, and thus produced such a fog that no one saw him when he passed, in spite of their careful watch.

As they were very anxious to know who had saved the princess, the king issued invitations for a great party to all who had taken part in the chivalrous sport. He intended to find out if the man whom all desired to see were among them. The jewellers now became very busy. Every one who could afford it had silver and gold apples made, but none of them was found to be the right one. Finally the groom came forward on his black horse. Riding up to the princess, he threw his silver apple in her lap, and she recognized it at once as her own; but the young man immediately rode away again.

The next day all the guests were required to produce their golden apples. Many came and showed their treasures, but the right one was not found. At last the groom came riding along, dressed in yellow, and flung his apple into the lap of the princess, who knew it again as her own. He rode away at once, however, before any one had seen him.

On the third day the king ordered that if the stranger should appear, the gates must be closed as soon as he entered the palace, in order that it might be known who he was. The young man appeared in due time, mounted on his horse and dressed in white, and the gates were promptly closed as soon as he had entered the court-yard. It did not seem to affect him in the least; he rode forward, apparently unconcerned. Of course every one recognized him as the one who had ascended the glass mountain, and they perceived that a corner of his coat was missing. Now all became very busy in tearing off bits of their coats, but to no effect at all; for when they were all brought into the presence of the princess, the piece of cloth in her possession fitted exactly, and only, to the groom's coat, and she was at once sure that he, and no one else, had saved her, and wished to be married to him. At first the king was not quite satisfied, hearing that the young man was only his groom; but as the princess insisted, and as the boy was also willing to be married to her, it was determined that the wedding should take place at once. Now the boy asked permission to drive out for a few hours; when he returned he would be ready for the ceremonies. This was granted, a carriage made ready for him, and as the princess desired to join him, they drove away together. She thought it singular that he took milk, and blood, and water with him, but said nothing.

Of course he intended to go to the place where he had buried the bull, for this was the day exactly a year ago when he had consigned him to the grave. At the time that the carriage arrived in the neighborhood of the two hills, he bid the coachman stop, and alighted, carrying his articles with him. The princess asked permission to follow, but this he refused.

He soon found the place. When some of the earth had been removed, the spade and the shovel did the rest of the work, and before long the bull stood before him, saying: "Cut off my head, place it at my tail, and wash it in the blood, the milk, and the water." As soon as this was done, a beautiful prince stood there in place of the animal. He told the boy how the queen, his step-mother, had converted him into a bull. The king, his father, thought him dead long ago.

The prince then seated himself on the horse which had come running after them, and they went together to the princess who was waiting in the carriage. When she recognized her long-lost brother, she expressed unbounded joy over his return. All three returned to the palace, where a great sorrow had in the mean time prevailed, on account of the sudden death of the queen. When, however, the rescued prince told how she had treated him, and how it was decreed that she must die the moment he was set free, there were no grounds for distress, and the king declared it served her right. The marriage was now celebrated with much pomp and splendor. Afterwards the king felt sorry that the prince, his son, was unable to inherit the throne after him. "However," he said, "you may marry the princess in the country next to mine." "So I will," declared the prince, and accordingly he went over to another country, married the princess, and inherited her father's throne, and there they lived agreeably and well contented.