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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Prince and the Maiden"

The Prince and the Maiden

Breakfast, dinner, and supper were as delicious as before. The prince would have been quite content with his quarters had it not been for the difficulty of keeping silence in the presence of the maiden. That evening he went to receive his orders for the following morning.

After he received his orders, the prince was going to open his door to retire, when the maiden glided past and whispered in his ear, "What task has he set you for tomorrow?"

"It is really nothing at all," answered the prince. "Just to cut hay for the horse, and to clean out his stall!"

"Oh, luckless being!" sighed the girl, "how will you ever get through with it? The white horse, who is our master's grandmother, is always hungry. It takes twenty men always mowing to keep her in food for one day, and another twenty to clean out her stall. How, then, do you expect to do it all by yourself? But listen to me, and do what I tell you. It is your only chance. When you have filled the manger as full as it will hold, you must weave a strong braid of the rushes which grow among the meadow, and cut a thick peg of stout wood, and be sure that the horse sees what you are doing. The horse will ask you what it is for, and then you must say, 'With this braid I intend to bind up your mouth so that you cannot eat any more, and with this peg I am going to keep you still in one spot, so that you cannot scatter your corn and water all over the place!' Remember what I've said." After these words the maiden went away as softly as she had come.

Early the next morning he set to work. Soon he had enough hay to fill the manger. He put it in the crib, and returned with a second supply, when to his horror he found the crib empty. Then he knew that without the maiden's advice he certainly would have been lost, and began to put it into practice. By mid-day there was still fodder in the manger, and the place was as clean as a pin. He had barely finished when in walked the old man, who stood astonished at the door.

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