The ducks swam about all over the place, dived down into the depths and rose again and glided through the waves. At last, tired of disporting themselves, they swam to the shore, and twenty-nine of them put on their little white garments and instantly turned into so many beautiful maidens. Then they finished dressing and disappeared. Only the thirtieth little duck couldn't come to the land; it swam about close to the shore, and, giving out a piercing cry, it stretched its neck up timidly, gazed wildly around, and then dived under again. Prince Milan's heart was so moved with pity for the poor little creature that he came out from behind the bulrushes, to see if he could be of any help. As soon as the duck perceived him, it cried in a human voice, 'Oh, dear Prince Milan, for the love of Heaven give me back my garment, and I will be so grateful to you.' The Prince lay the little garment on the bank beside her, and stepped back into the bushes. In a few seconds a beautiful girl in a white robe stood before him, so fair and sweet and young that no pen could describe her. She gave the Prince her hand and spoke.
'Many thanks, Prince Milan, for your courtesy. I am the daughter of a wicked magician, and my name is Hyacinthia. My father has thirty young daughters, and is a mighty ruler in the underworld, with many castles and great riches. He has been expecting you for ages, but you need have no fear if you will only follow my advice. As soon as you come into the presence of my father, throw yourself at once on the ground and approach him on your knees. Don't mind if he stamps furiously with his feet and curses and swears. I'll attend to the rest, and in the meantime we had better be off.'
With these words the beautiful Hyacinthia stamped on the ground with her little foot, and the earth opened and they both sank down into the lower world.
The palace of the Magician was all hewn out of a single carbuncle, lighting up the whole surrounding region, and Prince Milan walked into it gaily.
The Tale of a Youth Who Set Out to Learn what Fear Was
Category: Andrew Lang
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