The Flaming Horse: The Story of a Country Where the Sun Never Shines
The king did exactly as the seer advised and went home at once.
The next day the seer and his man set forth. They journeyed far and long until they had crossed six different countries. Then they went on into the seventh country which was ruled over by three brothers who had married three sisters, the daughters of a witch.
They made their way to the front of the royal palace, where the seer said to his man: “Do you stay here while I go in and find out whether the kings are at home. It is they who stole the flaming horse and the youngest brother rides him.”
Then the seer transformed himself into a green bird and flew up to the window of the eldest queen and flitted about and pecked until she opened the window and let him into her chamber. When she let him in, he alighted on her white hand and the queen was as happy as a child.
“You pretty thing!” she said, playing with him. “If my husband were home how pleased he would be! But he’s off visiting a third of his kingdom and he won’t be home until evening.”
Suddenly the old witch came into the room and as soon as she saw the bird she shrieked to her daughter: “Wring the neck of that cursed bird, or it will stain you with blood!”
“Why should it stain me with blood, the dear innocent thing?”
“Dear innocent mischief!” shrieked the witch. “Here, give it to me and I’ll wring its neck!”
She tried to catch the bird, but the bird changed itself into a man and was already out of the door before they knew what had become of him.
After that he changed himself again into a green bird and flew up to the window of the second sister. He pecked at it until she opened it and let him in. Then he flitted about her, settling first on one of her white hands, then on the other.
“What a dear bird you are!” cried the queen. “How you would please my husband if he were at home. But he’s off visiting two-thirds of his kingdom and he won’t be back until tomorrow evening.”
At that moment the witch ran into the room and as soon as she saw the bird she shrieked out: “Wring the neck of that wretched bird, or it will stain you with blood!