The Flaming Horse: The Story of a Country Where the Sun Never Shines
The seer and his man had already covered a good part of their journey and were hurrying on over rough mountains and across desert plains, when the servant was taken with a terrible hunger. There wasn’t anything in sight that he could eat, not even a wild berry. Then suddenly they came upon an apple tree that was bending beneath a load of ripe fruit. The apples were red and pleasant to the sight and sent out a fragrance that was most inviting.
The servant was delighted. “Glory to God!” he cried. “Now I can feast to my heart’s content on these apples!”
He was already running to the tree when the seer called him back.
“Wait! Don’t touch them! I will pick them for you myself!”
But instead of picking an apple, the seer drew his sword and struck a mighty blow into the apple tree. Red blood gushed forth.
“Just see, my man! You would have perished if you had eaten one apple. This apple tree is the eldest queen, whom her mother, the witch, placed here for our destruction.”
Presently they came to a spring. Its water bubbled up clear as crystal and most tempting to the tired traveler.
“Ah,” said the servant, “since we can get nothing better, at least we can take a drink of this good water.”
“Wait!” cried the seer. “I will draw some for you.”
But instead of drawing water he plunged his naked sword into the middle of the spring. Instantly it was covered with blood and blood began to spurt from the spring in thick streams.
“This is the second queen, whom her mother, the witch, placed here to work our doom.”
Presently they came to a rosebush covered with beautiful red roses that scented all the air with their fragrance.
“What beautiful roses!” said the servant. “I have never seen any such in all my life. I’ll go pluck a few. As I can’t eat or drink, I’ll comfort myself with roses.”
“Don’t dare to pluck them!” cried the seer. “I’ll pluck them for you.”
With that he cut into the bush with his sword and red blood spurted out as though he had cut a human vein.
“This is the youngest queen,” said the seer, “whom her mother, the witch, placed here in the hope of revenging herself on us for the death of her sons-in-law.