The Flaming Horse: The Story of a Country Where the Sun Never Shines
“Why should it stain me with blood?” the daughter answered. “The dear innocent thing!”
“Dear innocent mischief!” shrieked the witch. “Here, give it to me and I’ll wring its neck!”
She reached out to catch the bird, but in less time than it takes to clap a hand, the bird had changed itself into a man who ran through the door and was gone before they knew where he was.
A moment later he again changed himself into a green bird and flew up to the window of the youngest queen. He flitted about and pecked until she opened the window and let him in. Then he alighted at once on her white hand and this pleased her so much that she laughed like a child and played with him.
“Oh, what a dear bird you are!” she cried. “How you would delight my husband if he were home. But he’s off visiting all three parts of his kingdom and he won’t be back until the day after tomorrow in the evening.”
At that moment the old witch rushed into the room. “Wring the neck of that cursed bird!” she shrieked, “or it will stain you with blood.”
“My dear mother,” the queen answered, “why should it stain me with blood—beautiful innocent creature that it is?”
“Beautiful innocent mischief!” shrieked the witch. “Here, give it to me and I’ll wring its neck!”
But at that moment the bird changed itself into a man, disappeared through the door, and they never saw him again.
The seer knew now where the kings were and when they would come home. So he made his plans accordingly. He ordered his servant to follow him and they set out from the city at a quick pace. They went on until they came to a bridge which the three kings as they came back would have to cross.
The seer and his man hid themselves under the bridge and lay there in wait until evening. As the sun sank behind the mountains, they heard the clatter of hoofs approaching the bridge. It was the eldest king returning home. At the bridge his horse stumbled on a log which the seer had rolled there.
“What scoundrel has thrown a log here?” cried the king angrily.