The Three Citrons: The Story of a Prince Who Climbed the Glass Hill
Once upon a time there was an aged king who had an only son. One day he called the prince to him and said: “My son, you see that my head is white. Soon I shall be closing my eyes and you are not yet settled in life. Marry, my son, marry at once so that I can bless you before I die.”
The prince made no answer but he took the king’s words to heart and pondered them. He would gladly have done as his father wished but there was no young girl upon whom his affections were set.
One day when he was sitting in the garden, wondering what to do, an old woman suddenly appeared before him.
“Go,” she said, “to the top of the Glass Hill, pluck the Three Citrons, and you will get a wife in whom your heart will delight.” With that she disappeared as mysteriously as she had come.
Her words went through the prince’s soul like a bright dart. Instantly he determined, come what might, to find the Glass Hill and to pluck the Three Citrons. He told his father his intention and the old king fitted him out for the journey and gave him his blessing.
For a long time the prince wandered over wooded mountains and desert plains without seeing or even hearing anything of the Glass Hill and the Three Citrons. One day, worn out with his long journey, he threw himself down in the shade of a wide-spreading linden tree. As his father’s sword, which he wore at his side, clanked on the ground, twelve ravens began cawing from the top of the tree. Frightened by the clanking of the sword, they raised their wings and flew off.
The prince jumped to his feet. “Those are the first living creatures I have seen for many a day. I’ll go in the direction they have taken,” he said to himself, “and perhaps I’ll have better luck.”
So he traveled on and after three days and three nights a high castle came in view.
“Thank God!” he exclaimed, pushing joyfully ahead. “I shall soon have human companionship once more.”
The castle was built entirely of lead. The twelve ravens circled above it and in front of it stood an old woman leaning on a long leaden staff.