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Kate Crackernuts

Now if Kate would agree to stay up with him and nurse him all night long, then she and her sister could stay the night. What was more, the king would give her a peck of silver. Kate quickly agreed.

So Kate and her sister were led to the prince's sickroom, where they were both sumptuously fed and made comfortable for the evening. Soon Anne's sheep's head was nodding and had fallen asleep by the fire.

Till midnight all went well. As the midnight bells rang, however, the sick prince got up out of bed as if in a daze, dressed himself, and slipped downstairs. Kate was surprised to see him rise and move about. She followed him outside the castle and he didn't seem to notice her. The prince went into the stable where he saddled his horse, called his hound, and jumped into the saddle. Kate lightly leapt behind him on the horse. Away they rode and as they passed through the woods, Kate plucked nuts from the trees to have in the morning, and she filled her apron with them.

When they came to a green hill, the prince drew bridle and spoke: "Open, open, green hill, and let the young prince in". Kate whispered, "and his lady behind him."

Immediately, a passage in the green hill opened. At the end of the passage, the prince entered a magnificent hall, brightly lit up. Many beautiful fairies surrounded the prince and led him off to dance. Meanwhile, Kate, without being noticed, watched the prince dance and dance and dance until he fell, exhausted, upon a couch. The fairies fanned him until he could rise, and dance again some more.

At the first ray of dawn, the cock crowed, and the prince hastened to get back on his horse. Kate jumped up behind him and home they rode. By the time the morning sun rose, the servants entered the prince's room. Surprised indeed they were to discover Kate was still there! There sat the girl, sitting by the fire, cracking nuts. Kate said the prince had had a good night, and that she would gladly sit up with him again a second night, but for that she must have a peck of gold.

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