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The Traveling Companion

I feel like crying, but I won't spoil your happiness this evening, which is perhaps the last one we shall ever spend together. We shall be as merry as merry can be, and tomorrow, when you are gone, I'll have time enough for my tears."

Everyone in the town had heard at once that the Princess had a new suitor, and therefore everyone grieved. The theatre was closed; the women who sold cakes tied crape around their sugar pigs; the King and the preachers knelt in the churches; and there was widespread lamentation. For they were all sure that John's fate would be no better than that of all those others.

Late that evening, the traveling companion made a large bowl of punch, and said to John, "Now we must be merry and drink to the health of the Princess." But when John had drunk two glasses of the punch he felt so sleepy that he couldn't hold his eyes open, and he fell sound asleep. His comrade quietly lifted him from the chair and put him to bed. As soon as it was entirely dark he took the two large wings he had cut off the swan, and fastened them to his own shoulders. Then he put into his pocket the biggest bunch of switches that had been given him by the old woman who had: fallen and broken her leg. He opened the window and flew straight over the house tops to the palace, where he sat down in a corner under the window which looked into the Princess's bedroom.

All was quiet in the town until the clock struck a quarter to twelve. Then the window opened and the Princess flew out of it, cloaked in white and wearing long black wings. She soared over the town to a high mountain, but the traveling companion had made himself invisible, so that she could not see him as he flew after her and lashed her so hard with his switch that he drew blood wherever he struck. Ah, how she fled through the air! The wind caught her cloak, which billowed out from her like a sail, and the moonlight shone through it.

"How it hails! how it hails!" the Princess cried at each blow, but it was no more than she deserved.

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Michael Scott
Category: Scotland folktales
Read times: 20
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