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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andrew Lang > Fairy tale "The Wonderful Birch"

The Wonderful Birch

There lay the witch's daughter then, like a bridge over the river, and could not stir, though her heart was consumed with grief. No help was near, so she cried at last in her anguish:

`May there grow a golden hemlock out of my body! perhaps my mother will know me by that token.'

Scarcely had she spoken when a golden hemlock sprang up from her, and stood upon the bridge.

Now, as soon as the Prince had got rid of the witch's daughter he greeted the cinder wench as his bride, and they wandered together to the birch tree which grew upon the mother's grave. There they received all sorts of treasures and riches, three sacks full of gold, and as much silver, and a splendid steed, which bore them home to the palace. There they lived a long time together, and the young wife bore a son to the Prince. Immediately word was brought to the witch that her daughter had borne a son--for they all believed the young King's wife to be the witch's daughter.

`So, so,' said the witch to herself; `I had better away with my gift for the infant, then.'

And so saying she set out. Thus it happened that she came to the bank of the river, and there she saw the beautiful golden hemlock growing in the middle of the bridge, and when she began to cut it down to take to her grandchild, she heard a voice moaning:

`Alas! dear mother, do not cut me so!'

`Are you here?' demanded the witch.

`Indeed I am, dear little mother,' answered the daughter `They threw me across the river to make a bridge of me.'

In a moment the witch had the bridge shivered to atoms, and then she hastened away to the palace. Stepping up to the young Queen's bed, she began to try her magic arts upon her, saying:

`Spit, you wretch, on the blade of my knife; bewitch my knife's blade for me, and I shall change you into a reindeer of the forest.'

`Are you there again to bring trouble upon me?' said the young woman.

She neither spat nor did anything else, but still the witch changed her into a reindeer, and smuggled her own daughter into her place as the Prince's wife.

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