Stories To Read Or Tell From Fairy Tales And Folklore Part 12

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Then the giant vanished, leaving the poor prince alone, very sick at heart.

He did not go home but wandered about, not caring whither he went.

Finally he found that he was in a strange land far beyond the border line of Erin. On each side were green pasture lands, and in the distance were high green hills; but not a house could be seen.

He wandered on and on, weak from hunger till he came to an old hut that stood at the foot of a hill. It was lighted by a candle. He entered and came face to face with an old woman who had been bending over a fire. Her teeth were as long as the staff he carried and her scant hair hung loosely about her face.

Before the prince could speak, the old woman said:

"You are welcome in my house, son of the King of Erin."

Then she took him by the hand, led him into a corner of the room, and told him to wash his face and hands. In the meantime she made him some hot porridge and bade him eat a hearty meal.

The prince was much surprised because she knew his name, and he wondered why she remained so quiet. He thought she must be a witch; but hungry boys, no matter how high their station, are apt to forget danger when a good supper is set before them. After he had eaten and drunk all he wanted, he sat by the fire until she took him to a bedroom and told him to go to bed.

On the next morning he was awakened by the witch, who bade him rise and eat his breakfast of bread and milk.

He did as he was told, without so much as bidding her good morning.

"I know what is bothering you, son of the King of Erin," she said. "If you do as I bid you, you will have no cause for regret. Here is a ball of thread. Hold to one end of the thread and throw the ball before you. When you start on your journey the ball will roll; but you must keep following it and winding the thread all the time or you will be lost again. You were with me last night; you will be with my sister to-night."

The prince took the ball of thread; threw it before him, and began walking slowly and winding the thread into another ball. With each step that he took, the ball moved further and further away from him. All day long he trudged up hill and down dell, faster and faster, until his feet and hands were so tired he could scarcely move them. At last the ball of thread stopped at the door of a hut that stood at the foot of a high hill. A candle flickered in the window. He picked up the ball and ran to the door where he met another old witch whose teeth were as long as crutches.

"Welcome, son of the King of Erin!" she cried. "You were with my youngest sister last night; you will be with me to-night; and to-morrow you will be with my eldest sister."

She took him into the hut, bade him wash his hands and face, gave him a hearty supper of porridge and cakes, and sent him to bed.

The next morning she called him to breakfast. When he had finished eating, she gave him a ball of thread and told him to follow it as before.

The prince followed it through field and over common, hurrying faster and faster every minute, until late on the following evening, when it stopped at the door of a hut that stood at the foot of a hill. A candle sputtered in the window as if to welcome him. A witch, more homely than the others, stood by the fire making porridge.

She greeted the prince as her sisters had done, bade him wash his face and hands, gave him his supper, and sent him to bed. On the following morning after breakfast she gave him a ball of thread and said:

"Son of the Prince of Erin, you have lost your head to the Giant of Loch Lein, who lives near by in a great castle surrounded by spikes. Some day you will lose your head to his daughter. Follow this ball of thread to the lake behind the castle. When you reach the lake at midday, the ball will be unwound. In a few minutes more the daughters of the cruel Giant of Loch Lein will come to the lake to bathe. Their names are Blue Lily, White Lily, and Yellow Lily. The latter is the wisest and most beautiful of the three.

Steal her clothing and do not give it up until she promises to help you, for she is the only person in the world that can outwit the Giant of Loch Lein."

The prince thanked the witch for her advice, and followed the ball of thread to the Castle of Spikes, which was a dark, gloomy building hidden from view by great trees. When he reached the lake behind the castle, the ball of thread vanished.

He stood for a time looking at the lake, which looked like a brilliant turquoise in the sunshine. Presently he heard girlish shouts of laughter.

He concealed himself behind a clump of bushes where he could see without being seen. Three beautiful girls came tripping down to the edge of the water, where they stopped to look all about them.

It was very easy for the prince to make out their names. The tallest one, who wore a gown of pale blue, had eyes as blue as the skies above; he knew that she must be Blue Lily.

One of them was so fair that she looked as though she were carved from marble; he was sure that she was White Lily. But Yellow Lily was small and slender, with hair that shone like gold in the sunlight. She was wonderfully graceful and beautiful.

Yellow Lily threw off her robe of spun gold and stood dressed in a bathing suit of the same material. With a joyous shout she leapt into the water, followed by her sisters.

The Prince of Erin darted forth from his hiding-place, and seized the robe of spun gold. Yellow Lily saw him and cried at the top of her voice:

"Give me back my golden robe. My father will kill me if I lose it. Please do not run away."

"What will you give me for it?" asked the prince, moving slowly backward from the pool.

"Anything that you wish, for I am guarded by a fairy G.o.dmother who makes all things possible," replied Yellow Lily.

"I have come to give myself up to your father, the Giant of Loch Lein, according to my promise," said the prince. "I would ask you to have him set me free. Here is your gown."

He laid the robe upon the gra.s.s and walked away up the hill towards the castle. In a few moments he was joined by Yellow Lily dressed in her golden robe.

"You are the son of the King of Erin," she said smiling sweetly, and catching step with him. "If you do as I say, you will not lose your head; but in the future I hope that you will never become so foolish as to wager your head or any other trifle you may have."

"I promise you that I will not," said the prince, looking at her admiringly. "If your father had wagered your pretty golden head, I believe I could have beaten him at the game."

Yellow Lily tossed her curls and laughed merrily, saying: "Father has a soft bed for you in a deep tank; but do not worry, for I will help you."

They pa.s.sed in silence through the stone gates of the Castle of Spikes. The great stone courts, balconies, and battlements were quite deserted. Yellow Lily took the prince into the kitchen, which was the largest one he had ever seen. The floor was made of white cobblestones, and a bra.s.s caldron boiled over the flames in the great fireplace. Yellow Lily hid the prince behind a curtain in one corner of the room.

Presently the Giant of Loch Lein appeared and sank down into a chair before the fireplace. He began to sniff the air and finally roared:

"The son of the King of Erin is here! Fetch him hither, Yellow Lily."

The girl did as she was bidden. The prince could not keep from trembling as he stood before the fierce giant, although he felt that Yellow Lily would keep her promise.

"You must be very tired," roared the giant, so loudly that the dishes on the shelves rattled. "I have a nice soft bed for you."

He seized the prince, carried him across the kitchen, opened a tank, and threw him in. Splash! The prince fell head-first into three feet of water.

What was still more terrible, the giant fastened down the lid of the tank.

The prince feared the dark far more than he did the water, but he did not cry out. He stood shivering for more than an hour, wondering if Yellow Lily had forgotten him, and wishing that he was safe at home in his bed of silk and gold.

At last the lid was raised, and Yellow Lily peeped down at him, smiling roguishly.

"Shall I steal your clothes and run away, as you tried to do to-day?" she said softly.

"No, do not let me stay in this place. I will do anything you may want me to do," pleaded the prince, with chattering teeth.

"Then climb out; put on these dry, warm clothes I have for you; and have some supper," she said.

It did not take the prince long to get out of his soft bed. He found the giant sound asleep before the fireplace, snoring loud enough to drown the most terrible crash of thunder.

Yellow Lily spoke not a word, but gave the prince some dry clothing and told him to stay in the corner until she returned. Before long she came back with a tempting supper smoking upon a tray, and told him to eat. He was very hungry and ate very heartily. Then she took him to another corner of the room and raised a curtain that hung there.

He saw a soft, white bed and a table that held fresh water and towels.

Yellow Lily wished him happy dreams and hastened away.

At break of day she returned and said excitedly:

"Awaken, Prince of Erin! Do not lose a moment or we are lost. Put on the clothes you wore yesterday and follow me."

The prince rose and dressed himself as quickly as possible. Then he drew back the curtain that hid his bed, and followed the girl.

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Stories To Read Or Tell From Fairy Tales And Folklore Part 12 summary

You're reading Stories To Read Or Tell From Fairy Tales And Folklore. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Laure Claire Foucher. Already has 498 views.

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