Fairy tales and stories (Andersen, Tegner)/The Traveling Companion
THE TRAVELING COMPANION
JOHANNES LAY ON HIS KNEES BY THE BED AND KISSED HIS DEAD FATHER'S HAND.
THE TRAVELING COMPANION
POOR Johannes was in great distress, for his father was very ill and was not expected to live. There was no one in the little room but the two; the lamp on the table was on the point of going out, and it was getting late in the evening.
"You have been a good son, Johannes," said the sick father; "God will help you on in the world"; and he looked at him with his mild, earnest eyes, drew a deep breath and died — it seemed as if he had only gone to sleep. But Johannes wept; he had now no one dear to him in the whole world, neither father nor mother, sister nor brother. Poor Johannes! He lay on his knees by the bed and kissed his dead father's hand, and wept many bitter tears; but at last his eyes closed and he fell asleep with his head resting on the hard edge of the bedstead.
Then he dreamed a strange dream; he saw how the sun and the moon were courtesying to him and he saw his father hale and hearty again and heard him laugh, as he always laughed, when he was in really good humor. A beautiful maiden with a golden crown on her long, lovely hair, held out her hand to Johannes, and his father said: "Do you see what a lovely bride you have got? She is the most beautiful in all the world." Then he awoke and the beautiful vision vanished; his father lay dead and cold on the bed and poor Johannes was left all by himself!
The following week the dead man was buried and Johannes walked close behind the coffin. He could no longer see the kind father who had loved him so much; he heard how they shoveled the earth down upon the coffin, of which he could now only see the last corner, but the next shovelful of earth which was thrown down into the grave hid that also from his view, and then he felt as if his heart would break under the weight of his great sorrow. Around him they were singing a hymn; it sounded so beautiful, and the tears came into his eyes; he wept, and this was a relief to him in his distress. The sun shone brightly on the green trees just as if it wanted to say: "You must not be so sad, Johannes! Do you see how beautiful the blue sky is? Your father is now up there, and is praying to the kind God that it may always fare well with you."
"I will always be good," said Johannes, "and then I shall go to heaven to my father. What joy it will be when we see each other again! How much I shall have to tell him, and he will show me so many things and teach me all about the glories of heaven, just as he taught me here on earth. Oh, what a joy that will be!"
Johannes pictured it so vividly to himself that he smiled while the tears were still running down his cheeks. The little birds sat in the chestnut-trees, twittering: "quivit, quivit!" They were so pleased and happy, although they had come to the funeral, but they seemed to know that the dead man was in heaven, that he had wings larger and much more beautiful than theirs, and that he was now happy, for he had been a good man here on earth, and all this made them happy. Johannes saw how they flew away from the green trees far out into the world, and then he felt a longing to fly away with them also. But first he made a large wooden cross to put on his father's grave, and when he brought it there in the evening he found the grave was strewn with sand and decked with flowers; this had been done by people who, although strangers to him, had greatly respected his dear father, who was now dead.
Early next morning Johannes packed his little bundle and hid his whole inheritance, which consisted of fifty dollars and a couple of smaller silver coins, in his belt, with which he was now going to set out into the world. But first he went to his father's grave in the churchyard, repeated the Lord's Prayer and said: "Farewell, my dear father! I will always try to be a good man, and so you may well ask the kind God that it may go well with me!"
Out in the fields, through which Johannes passed, all the flowers were standing so fresh and lovely in the warm sunshine, and they nodded with the wind just as if they wished to say: "Welcome into the green fields! Isn't it beautiful here?" But Johannes turned round once more to have a look at the old church where he was christened when quite a little child, and where he had gone every Sunday with his old father to worship and sing hymns. Then, high up in one of the openings of the church tower, he saw the little brownie with his pointed red cap standing, shading his face with his uplifted arm, so that the sun should not shine in his eyes. Johannes nodded farewell to him, and the little brownie waved his red cap, laid his hand on his heart, and kissed his hand to him many times to show him that he wished him all possible good and a safe and prosperous journey.
Johannes then began to think of all the fine things he would now get to see in the great and glorious world, and walked on farther and farther, farther than he had ever been before; he did not know any of the towns through which he passed, or the people he met; he was now far away among strangers.
The first night he had to lay down and sleep under a haystack out in the fields; he had no other bed. But he thought it was quite grand; the king could not have it much finer. The whole of the field with the rivulet, the haystack, and the blue heavens above, made a most beautiful bedchamber. The green grass, with the little red and white flowers, was the carpet, the elder bushes and the wild rose hedges were bouquets of flowers, and for a wash-hand basin he had all the rivulet with the clear, fresh water, where the rushes courtesied to him and said both "Good evening" and "Good morning." The moon was a fine, big lamp, high up under the blue vault, without any risk of setting fire to the curtains, Johannes might sleep on in peace, which he did; he did not wake up till the sun rose and all the little birds were singing all around him: "Good morning! Good morning! Are you not up yet?"
The bells were ringing for church; it was Sunday. The people were on their way to hear the sermon and Johannes went with them, sang a hymn, and listened to the word of God; it seemed to him as if he were in his own church, where he had been christened, and had sung hymns with his father.
In the churchyard there were many graves, and on some of them the grass had grown high. Johannes then thought of his father's grave, which in time would look like these, now that he could not weed it and keep it in order. He sat down and plucked the grass from the graves, raised up the wooden crosses which had fallen down, and put back in their places the wreaths which the wind had blown away from the graves, for he thought: "Perhaps some one will do the same to my father's grave now that I cannot do it!"
Outside the churchyard gate stood an old beggar, leaning upon his crutch; Johannes gave him the small silver coins he had, and proceeded on his way, happy and pleased, into the wide world.
Toward evening the weather became terribly bad, and Johannes hurried on to get under shelter, but very soon the dark night set in; just then he at last reached a little church which lay quite by itself on the top of a hill. The door was fortunately ajar and he stole inside; here he would remain till the bad weather was over.
"I'll sit down here in a corner!" he said, "I am quite tired and sorely in want of a little rest!" And so he sat down, folded his hands and said his evening prayer, and in less than no time he was asleep and had begun to dream, while it thundered and lightened outside.
When he awoke it was midnight; the bad weather was over and the moon shone in upon him through the windows. In the middle of the aisle stood an open coffin with a dead man in it, for he had not yet been buried. Johannes was not afraid, for he had a good conscience, and knew that the dead do not harm anybody; it is living, wicked people who molest their fellow-creatures. Two such wicked men were standing close to the dead man, who had been placed inside the church before he was buried; they were evilly disposed toward him, and would not let him lie in peace in his coffin, but wanted to throw him outside the church door — poor, dead man!
"Why do you do that?" asked Johannes; "it is very bad and wicked! Let him rest in Christ's name!"
"What nonsense!" said the two wicked men; "he has made a fool of us! He owes us money, which he could not pay, and now that he is dead, we shall not get a penny. Therefore we will have our revenge; he shall lie like a dog outside the church door!"
"I have no more than fifty dollars," said Johannes, "that is the whole of my inheritance; but I will willingly give you the money if you will promise me on your honor to leave the poor dead man in peace. I shall be able to get on without the money; I have strong and sound limbs, and God will always help me."
"Well," said the horrible men, "if you will pay his debt, we shall not do anything to him, that you may be sure of!" And so they took the money that Johannes gave them, laughed quite loudly at his good-hearted-ness and went their way; but Johannes put the dead body right again in the coffin, folded its hands, took leave of it, and went away quite contentedly through the great forest.
Round about him, where the moon shone in between the trees, he saw graceful little elves playing about quite merrily; they did not let themselves be disturbed, for they knew he was a good, unoffending creature. It is only wicked people who are not allowed to see the elves. Some of them were not bigger than one's finger, and had their long, golden hair fastened up with golden combs; they were rocking, two and two, on the large dewdrops, which had settled on the leaves and the long grass. Sometimes the dewdrops rolled off, when the elves would fall down between the stalks of the long grass, and then there was a regular outburst of laughter and merriment among the tiny little people. It was a rare frolic! They were singing, and Johannes plainly recognized all the pretty songs which he had learned when a little boy. Large and gaudy-colored spiders, with silver crowns on their heads, were spinning from one hedge to another long, hanging bridges and palaces which, when the fine mist settled on them, looked like shining crystal in the clear moonlight. This lasted until the sun rose. Then the little elves crept into the flower buds, and the wind caught hold of their bridges and palaces, which then sailed off through the air like big cobwebs.
Johannes had just got out of the forest when a strong, manly voice called out just behind him, "Hullo, comrade! Where are you going?"
"Out into the wide world," said Johannes. "I have neither father nor mother; I am only a poor boy, but God will help me."
"I'm also going out into the wide world," said the strange man. "Shall we two keep each other company?"
"Yes, certainly!" said Johannes, and so they went on together. They soon came to like one another very much, for they were both good people. But Johannes found that the stranger was much wiser than he. He had been nearly all over the world, and could tell him about every possible thing in existence.
The sun stood high in the heavens when they sat down under a big tree to eat their breakfast. Just then an old woman came along the road. She was very old and walked quite bent, leaning upon a crutch, and carrying on her back a bundle of firewood, which she had gathered in the forest. Her apron was fastened up, and Johannes saw three big rods, made of ferns and willow-twigs, projecting from it. Just when she was quite close to them, her foot slipped; she fell and gave a loud scream, for she had broken her leg — the poor old woman.
THEY SAT DOWN UNDER A BIG TREE TO EAT THEIR BREAKFAST Johannes proposed at once that they should carry her home to where she lived, but the stranger opened his bag, took out a jar and said he had a salve in it which could at once make her leg sound and well, so that she could walk home herself, just as if she never had broken it. But in return he wanted her to make him a present of the three rods she had in her apron.
"That's being well paid!" said the old woman, nodding her head quite strangely; she did not like very much to part with her rods; but on the other hand it was not very pleasant to lie there with a broken leg, so she gave him the rods, and as soon as he had rubbed the salve on her leg the old crone got on her legs and was able to walk even better than before. That was a proof of what the salve could do; but then it was not to be got at a chemist's either.
"What are you going to do with those rods?" asked Johannes of his traveling companion.
"They'll make three fine nosegays," said he, "just the sort I like, for I am a funny fellow, you know!"
And so they walked on for some distance.
"How the clouds are gathering!" said Johannes, pointing straight before them; "what awful, heavy clouds!"
"No, they are not clouds," said his traveling companion, "they are mountains, beautiful, great mountains, where you can get high up above the clouds into the pure air! It is delightful, I can assure you! Tomorrow we shall be a good bit on our way out into the world!"
They were not so near to them as they thought; they had to walk a whole day before they reached the mountains, where the dark forests grew straight up toward the heavens, and where there were stones as big as a whole town; it certainly was hard work to get right across them, and therefore Johannes and his traveling companion went into an inn to get a good rest and gather strength for the journey on the morrow.
Down in the large bar parlor in the inn a great many people were assembled, tor there was a man there with a puppet-show; he had just put up his little theater, and the people sat all round the room to see the play, but right in front of all an old fat butcher had taken a seat, the best of all; his big bulldog (ugh! how fierce he looked) sat by his side and stared like everybody else.
Now the play began; it was a pretty piece with a king and a queen in it; they sat on a velvet throne and had golden crowns on their heads and long trains to their robes, which, of course, they could very well afford. The most beautiful wooden dolls with glass eyes and big mustaches were standing at all the doors, and were opening and shutting them, so that some fresh air could get into the room. It was a beautiful play, and it was not at all tragic, but just as the queen stood up and walked across the floor, the big bulldog, — goodness knows what he could have been thinking about, — but as he was not kept back by the fat butcher, he made a spring right on to the stage, seized the queen round her slender waist, and one could hear her going "crick-crack!" It was really terrible!
The poor man, who managed the whole show, became very frightened, and was so sorry for his queen, for she was the most beautiful doll he had, and now that ugly bulldog had bitten her head off; but afterward when the people had gone away, the stranger, who was in Johannes's company, said he would soon put her right, and so he brought out his jar and rubbed the doll with the salve, with which he helped the poor old woman that broke her leg. No sooner had the doll been rubbed than she was all right again; yes, she could even move all her limbs of her own accord; it was not at all necessary to pull her by the string; the doll was just like a living being, except that she could not speak. The man who owned the little puppet-show was greatly pleased; now he need not hold this doll at all by the string, for she could dance by herself. None of the other dolls could do that.
Afterward, when night came on and all the people had gone to bed,some one began to sigh so heavily, and continued sighing so long, that everybody got up to see who it could be. The man who had the show went to his little theater, for it was from there the sighing came. All
THE KING LED JOHANNES OUT INTO THE PRINCESS'S GARDEN. IN EVERY TREE HUNG THREE OR FOUR SKELETONS OF PRINCES WHO HAD WOOED THE PRINCESS.
the wooden dolls lay mixed up together, the king and all his yeomen were sighing most pitifully, and staring with their big glass eyes, for they wanted so much to be rubbed a little, just like the queen, so that they too might be able to move about of themselves. The queen went down at once on her knees and held up her beautiful crown, while she begged: "Take it, oh, take it! But rub my consort and my courtiers!" The poor man who owned the theater and all the dolls could not help weeping, for
he really felt sorry for them; he promised the traveling companion at once that he would give him all the money he took at his show the next evening if he would only rub four or five of his finest dolls, but the traveling companion said he would not ask for anything but the big saber which the man wore by his side, and when he got it he rubbed six of the dolls, who at once began dancing, which they did so beautifully that all the girls, the real, living girls, who were looking on, took to dancing as well. The coachman and the cook, the footmen and the chamber-maid, and all the strangers danced; even the fire-shovel and the tongs wanted to join in the dance, but they toppled over at the very first jump they made — yes, it was indeed a merry sight!
Next morning Johannes and his traveling companion went away from all of them and continued their journey across the lofty mountains and through the large pine-forests. They got so high up that the church towers far down below them looked at last like small red berries among all the green, and they could see a long way off, for many, many miles off, far away to places where they had never been. Johannes had never before seen so much of the beauties of this lovely world all at once; the sun shone so warm through the fresh blue air, he heard the huntsmen blow their bugles among the mountains, so beautifully and gaily, that the tears came into his eyes with joy and he could not help saying: "I feel as if I could kiss you, dear Lord, because you are so kind to us all, and have given us all the loveliness there is in the world!"
The traveling companion also stood with folded hands, looking out over the forest and the cities that lay bathed in the warm sunshine. Just then they heard the most wonderful and lovely music over their heads; they looked up and saw a large white swan soaring above them in the air; it was very beautiful, and it sang as they never before had heard a bird sing; but the song grew fainter and fainter, the bird bent its head and dropped quite slowly down at their feet, where it lay dead — poor, beautiful bird!
"Two such beautiful wings," said the companion, "as white and large as those which this bird has, are worth a deal of money! I'll take them with me! You can now see it was a good thing I took the saber!" and with one blow he cut off both wings of the dead swan, which he wanted to keep.
They now traveled for many, many miles across the mountains, till at last they saw before them a great city, with over a hundred steeples, which shone like silver in the sunshine. In the middle of the city was a splendid marble palace, with a roof of red gold, and here lived the king.
Johannes and his companion would not go straight into the city, but stopped at the inn outside it, so that they might make themselves tidy, for they wanted to look respectable when they got into the streets. The landlord told them that the king was such a good man, that he never did any injustice or harm to any one, either in one way or another, but as for his daughter — -well, heaven preserve us, she was a very wicked princess indeed! Beauty she possessed enough, — no one could be more beautiful and fascinating than she, — but what good could that be? She was a wicked witch, who was the cause of so many handsome princes having lost their lives. She had given permission to all men to woo her; everybody might come and try his luck, whether he was a prince or a beggar, that did not matter as far as she was concerned; the suitor would only have to guess three things which she would ask him. If he guessed rightly she would marry him, and he should be king of the whole country when her father died; but if he could not guess the three things she would order him to be hanged or beheaded — so cruel and wicked was this beautiful princess! Her father, the king, was much distressed at all this, but he could not forbid her wicked proceedings, for he had once said he would have nothing at all to do with her love affairs; she might do just as she pleased. Every prince who came and tried his luck at guessing, in order to win the princess, was sure to fail, and so he was hanged or beheaded; they had all been warned in time, and, of course, they need not have gone a-courting. The old king was so grieved at all this misery and wretchedness that he lay on his knees a whole day every year with all his soldiers, and prayed that the princess might mend her wicked ways; but she was not at all in the humor for that! All the old women, who were fond of spirits, colored it quite black before they drank it. That was the way in which they mourned, and what more could they do?
"What a terrible princess!" said Johannes; "she really ought to be birched, that might do her some good. If only I were the old king, I would whip her till she was sore all over her body!"
Just then they heard the people outside shouting "hurrah!" The princess was on her way past the house; she was really so beautiful that everybody forgot how wicked she was, and therefore they cried "hurrah!" Twelve beautiful maidens, all dressed in white silk dresses and with golden tulips in their hands, rode by her side on coal-black horses. The princess herself had a snow-white horse, decked with diamonds and rubies; her riding habit was woven of pure gold, and the whip she held in her hand looked like a sunbeam. The golden crown on her head glittered as if it were set with small stars from the heavens, and her mantle was made of thousands of beautiful butterflies' wings, but nevertheless she herself was much more beautiful than all her clothing.
As soon as Johannes saw the princess his face became as red as blood, and he could scarcely utter a word, for the princess was the exact image of the beautiful maiden with a golden crown about whom he had dreamed the night his father died. He thought her so beautiful that he could not help falling in love with her. Surely it could not be true that she was a wicked witch who would hang or behead people if they could not guess what she was thinking about. "Everyone is allowed to woo her," he said, "even the poorest beggar. I will go up to the palace; I cannot help myself!"
They all said he should not do it; it was sure to go with him as with all the others. His traveling companion dissuaded him from it also, but Johannes thought he would be all right, so he brushed his boots and coat, washed his hands and face, combed his beautiful yellow hair, and went all by himself into the city and up to the palace.
"Come in!" said the old king, when Johannes knocked at the door. Johannes opened it, and the old king in his dressing-gown and embroidered slippers came to meet him; he had the crown on his head and carried the scepter in one hand, and the golden apple in the other. "Wait a bit," he said, and put the apple under his arm, so that he could hold out his hand to Johannes. But as soon as he heard he was a suitor for his daughter's hand he began to cry so violently that both the scepter and the apple fell on the floor, and he had to dry his tears on his dressing-gown — poor old king!
"Don't think of it," he said, "you'll fare as badly as all the others. Now just come and see!" and so he led Johannes out into the princess's pleasure garden. There a terrible sight met his eyes. In every tree hung three or four princes, who had wooed the princess, but had not been able to guess what she had been thinking of. Every gust of wind made the skeletons rattle, so that the little birds were frightened away and never dared to come into the garden; all the flowers were fastened up to human bones, and in the flower-pots were placed grinning skulls. That was certainly a strange garden for a princess.
"Here you can see!" said the old king, "it will fare with you as with all the others you see here. Let it therefore be! You really make me unhappy, for I take it so much to heart!"
Johannes kissed the hand of the good old king and said that things Would come all right, for he was very much in love with the lovely princess.
At this moment the princess herself came riding into the palace yard with all her ladies; they therefore went out to meet her and say "Good morning" to her. She was really very beautiful; she held out her hand to Johannes, who now could not help loving her more than ever; she could not be the cruel, wicked witch that all the people said she was. They all went into the hall, where little pages offered them sweetmeats and ginger-nuts, but the old king was so distressed that he could not touch anything at all; besides, the ginger-nuts were too hard for him.
It was then arranged that Johannes should come up to the palace again next morning; the judges and the whole council would then be assembled and hear how clever he was at guessing. If he got on well the first time, he was to come twice more, but as yet no one had ever succeeded in guessing right the first time, and so they lost their lives.
Johannes was not at all anxious as to how he would fare; he was quite pleased and only thought of the beautiful princess, and believed firmly that God would help him, but how, he did not know, nor did he want to think of it either. He went dancing along the high road on his way back to the inn, where his companion was waiting for him.
Johannes never tired of telling him how nice the princess had been to him and how beautiful she was; he was already longing greatly for the next day, when he was to go to the palace and try his luck at guessing.
But his companion shook his head and was greatly troubled. "I am very fond of you!" he said, "we might still have kept together for a long time, and now I am going to lose you already! Poor, dear Johannes! I could almost cry, but I will not disturb your happiness on the last evening, perhaps, we are to be together. We will be merry, quite merry! Tomorrow when you are gone, I can cry!"
All the people in the city had soon got to know that a new suitor for the princess's hand had arrived, and there was therefore great sorrow among THE TRAVELING COMPANION FLEW BEHIND THE PRINCESS AND KEPT ON WHIPPING HER WITH HIS ROD. them. The playhouse was closed, all the women who sold cakes and sweets in the streets tied black crape round their sugar-pigs, and the king and the parsons lay on their knees in the church ; there was such lamentation, for Johannes would surely not fare better than all the other suitors.
In the evening the traveling companion brewed a large bowl of punch and told Johannes that now they were going to be really merry and drink the health of the princess. But when Johannes had drunk two glasses, he became so sleepy that it was not possible for him to keep his eyes open, and at last he fell asleep. His companion then lifted him quite gently from the chair and laid him on the bed, and when it was quite dark he took the two large wings which he had cut off the swan, tied them fast to his shoulders, and the biggest rod which he had got from the old woman who fell and broke her leg, he put in his pocket; he then opened the window and flew over the city straight to the palace, where he hid himself in a corner up under the window which led into the princess's bedchamber.
Everything was quiet all over the town; the clock now struck a quarter to twelve, the window was opened and the princess, with long black wings on her shoulders and dressed in a large white cloak, flew away over the city to a great mountain; but the traveling companion, who had made himself invisible so that she could not see him, flew behind her and kept on whipping her with his rod till there were actually signs of blood where he had struck her. Ugh! what a journey through the air! The wind caught hold of her cloak so that it spread out on all sides just like a big sail on a ship, and the moon shone through it.
"How it hails! How it hails!" the princess said at every blow she got from the rod, and well she deserved them all. At last she reached the mountain and knocked for admission. There was a rumbling sound like the roll of thunder, and then the mountain opened and the princess went in. The traveling companion followed her, for no one could see him as he was invisible. They went through a great long passage where strange lights were seen sparkling on the walls; over a thousand glowing spiders were running up and down the walls, shining like fire. They then came to a great hall, built of silver and gold; red and blue flowers as large as sun-flowers shone from the walls, but no one could pluck any of these flowers, for the stems were horrible poisonous snakes, and the flowers were fiery flames, which blazed out of their mouths. The whole of the ceiling was covered with shining glow-worms and azure blue bats, which were flapping away with their thin wings; it was quite a wonderful sight. In the middle of the hall was a throne, supported by the skeletons of tour horses with harness made of red, fiery spiders; the throne itself was of milk-white glass, and the cushion for sitting on consisted of little black mice biting each other's tails. Above it was a canopy of rose-colored spiders' webs, studded with beautiful little green flies, which sparkled like diamonds. On the throne sat an old troll with a crown on his ugly head and a scepter in his hand. He kissed the princess on the forehead and let her sit by his side on the costly throne, and then the music began. Great black grasshoppers played on Jews' harps, and the owl struck herself on the stomach, for she had no drum. It was a funny concert! Little brownies with will-o'-the-wisps in their caps danced round the hall. Nobody could see the traveling companion; he had taken a place just behind the throne and could hear and see everything. The courtiers, who nowcame into the hall, looked nice and grand enough, but any one with his wits about him could see what they really were. They were nothing more or less than broomsticks with cabbage heads on their ends to which
JOHANNES UNTIED HIS HANDKERCHIEF AND SHOWED THE PRINCESS THE UGLY HEAD OF THE TROLL
"Just listen," said the troll, "I'll tell you something. You must think of something very easy, for then he won't guess it at all! Think of one of your shoes. He won't guess that. Then have his head cut off, but don't forget when you come here tomorrow night to bring his eyes with you, for I want to eat them!" The princess courtesied quite low, and said she would not forget the eyes. The troll then opened the mountain for her and she flew home again, but the traveling companion followed behind and whipped her so hard with the rod that she groaned heavily at the severe hailstorm, as she thought, and made all the haste she could to get back to her bedchamber through the window, but the traveling companion flew back to the inn, where Johannes was still asleep, took off his wings and lay down on his bed, for he might well be tired.
It was quite early in the morning when Johannes awoke; his companion also got up and told him he had had a very wonderful dream in the night about the princess and one of her shoes, and he therefore begged Johannes to be sure to ask her if she might not have been thinking of one of her shoes. For that was what he had heard from the troll in the mountain, but he would not tell Johannes anything about that; he begged him only to ask if she had been thinking of one of her shoes.
"I may as well ask about one thing as another," said Johannes; "it may be quite true what you have dreamt, for I always believe that God will be sure to help me! But still I will say farewell to you, for if I guess wrong I shall never see you any more!"
They then kissed each other and Johannes went into the city and thence straight to the palace. The whole hall was filled with people; the judges sat in their easy chairs, with eider-down cushions at the back of their heads, for they had so much to think about. The old king stood up and dried his eyes with a white handkerchief. The princess now entered the hall; she was still more lovely than the day before and greeted everybody in the most friendly manner, but to Johannes she gave her hand and said: "Good morning to you!"
Johannes was now to guess what she had been thinking of. Goodness, what a kind look she gave him! But no sooner had she heard him say the one word "shoe," than she turned as pale as death and trembled all over; but that could not help her, for he had guessed right.My gracious! How glad the old king was! He turned a somersault that made every one stare, and all the people clapped their hands at him and Johannes, who had now guessed right the first time.
The traveling companion was beaming with delight when he got to know how successful Johannes had been; but Johannes folded his hands and thanked God, who, no doubt, would also help him on the second and third occasions. Next day the guessing was to begin again.
In the evening things happened in just the same way as on the previous one. When Johannes was asleep, the traveling companion flew behind the princess to the mountain and birched her still more than on the last occasion, for now he had taken two of the rods with him. No one saw him, while he heard everything. This time the princess was going to think of her glove, and this he told to Johannes, just as if it had come to him in a dream. Johannes was thus once more able to guess right, and there were in consequence great rejoicings at the palace. The whole court began turning somersaults, just as they had seen the king do on the first day, but the princess lay on a sofa and would not speak a word. All now depended on whether Johannes could guess right the third time. If all went well he would have the beautiful princess and inherit the whole kingdom when the old king was dead; if he guessed wrong he would lose his life, and the troll would eat his beautiful blue eyes.
The evening before the third trial Johannes went early to bed, said his prayers, and slept quite peacefully; but his companion fastened the wings to his back, and the sword to his side, and took all the three rods with him and flew off to the palace.
The night was pitch dark and a storm was raging, so that the tiles flew off the houses, and the trees in the garden, on which the skeletons were hanging, swung to and fro like reeds before the wind; every moment there were flashes of lightning and the thunder rolled as if in one continuous clap which lasted the whole of the night. The window was now thrown open and the princess flew out; she was as pale as death, but she laughed at the bad weather and thought it was not bad enough; her white cloak whirled round in the air like a large sail, but the traveling companion whipped her so hard with his three rods that the blood trickled down on the ground, and at last she was scarcely able to fly any farther. But at length she got to the mountain.
"It is hailing and blowing," she said; "never have I been out in such weather."
"Yes, one can have too much of a good thing," said the troll. The princess then told him that Johannes had guessed right again the second time; if he should succeed again the next day he would win, and she would never be able to come to him in the mountain any more, and never be able to try her hand at witchcraft as before; and therefore she was quite distressed in her mind.
"He shall not guess it," said the troll; "I will think of something that has never entered his head, or else he must be a greater troll than I. But now we will make merry! " And so he took the princess by both hands, and they danced round with all the little brownies and will-o'-the-wisps in the room; the red spiders ran quite merrily up and down the walls, and the fiery flowers seemed to throw out sparks of fire. The owl beat the drum, the crickets chirped, and the grasshoppers played on the Jews' harp. It was, indeed, a merry ball!
After they had danced enough, the princess had to think of getting home, or else she might be missed at the palace. The troll said he would go with her, and they would then be together for a little while longer. So away they flew in the bad weather, while the traveling companion lashed their backs with all his three rods till they were worn into shreds; never before had the troll been out in such a hail-storm. Outside the palace he said farewell to the princess and whispered to her at the same time: "Think of my head"; but the traveling companion heard it sure enough, and just at the moment when the princess was slipping through the window into her bed-chamber, and when the troll was going to turn back, he seized him by his long black beard, and with his saber cut off the ugly head of the troll close to the shoulders, so quickly that the troll did not even see him. The body he threw into the sea to the fishes, but the head he only dipped into the water and then tied it up in his silk handkerchief, took it with him home to the inn and lay down to sleep.
Next morning he gave Johannes the handkerchief, but told him that he must not open it till the princess asked him what she was thinking of.
There were so many people in the large hall of the palace that they were standing up against one another like radishes tied up in a bundle. The council sat in their chairs with their soft cushions, and the old king had put on new clothes, and the gold crown and scepter had been polished up, till everything looked quite grand; but the princess was quite pale and wore a coal-black dress, as if she were going to a funeral.
"What have I been thinking of?" she said to Johannes, who at once untied the handkerchief and became quite frightened himself when he saw the ugly head of the troll. All the people shuddered, for it was a terrible sight, but the princess sat like an image in stone, and could not utter a single word. At last she rose and gave Johannes her hand, for he had now guessed right enough. She did not look at anybody, but sighed quite deeply: "Now you are my master! This evening we will celebrate our wedding!"
"That's what I like!" cried the old king, "that's what we like to see!" All the people shouted "hurrah!" the military band played in the streets, the bells were rung, and the women who sold cakes took the black crape off their sugar-pigs, for now there was joy in the land. Three whole roasted oxen, filled with ducks and fowls, were placed in the middle of the market-place, where every one might cut a piece for himself; the fountains ran with the finest wine, and all who bought a penny cake at the bakers' got six large buns into the bargain, and they were buns with raisins in them.
In the evening the whole town was illuminated, and the soldiers fired salutes with guns and the boys with percussion caps, and there was eating and drinking, and clinking of glasses, and a running about at the palace, and a long way off one could hear them singing:
So many pretty girls I see.
All ready for a swing about,
The drummer's march they wait with glee;
Come, fair one, trip it in or out.
Trip it and dance — ankle and knee —
Till shoe and sole part company.
But the princess was still a witch, and did not at all care for Johannes. This the traveling companion was aware of, and he therefore gave Johannes three feathers from the swan's wings and a little bottle with a few drops of some liquid in it, and told him that he should let a large tub, filled with water, he placed near the bridal bed, and when the princess was about to get into bed he should give her a gentle push so that she should fall into the water, and he should then duck her three times, after having first thrown in the feathers and the drops from the little bottle, and she would be freed from the spell of witchcraft she was under and come to love him very much.
Johannes did all that his companion had advised him to do. The princess screamed loudly when he ducked her under the water, sprawled about in his grip, and was turned into a large coal-black swan with flashing eyes; the second time, when she came up above the water, the swan had become white, with the exception of a single black ring round the neck. Johannes muttered a pious prayer and ducked the bird for the third time under the water, and the next moment it was changed into the most beautiful princess. She was more lovely than ever, and she thanked him with tears in her beautiful eyes for having freed her from the spell of the troll.
Next morning the old king and the whole court came to offer their congratulations, which lasted till far into the day. Last of all came the traveling companion; he had his stick in his hand and his knapsack on his back. Johannes kissed him many times and asked him not to go away; he must remain with him, for he was the cause of all his good fortune. But the traveling companion shook his head and said in a kind and friendly tone: "No, my time is now up. I have only paid my debt to you. Do you remember the dead man whom the wicked men wanted to disturb? You gave everything you possessed that he might have peace in his grave. The dead man was I!"
And the next moment he was gone. The wedding lasted a whole month. Johannes and the princess loved one another very much, and the old king lived to see many happy days, and he let his wee little grandchildren ride on his knee and play with his scepter; but Johannes was king over the whole country.