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

The Prince and the Maiden

The old man grumbled, "You are truly a clever lad." The prince shrugged and said nothing.

In the evening the maiden came to him and asked: "What is your task tomorrow?"

"I am to have nothing to do all day," he said, "except to milk the black cow dry."

"Oh, you are unlucky," cried she. "Why, if you were to try from morning to night you couldn't do it. There is only one way. When you go to milk her, take with you a pan of burning coals and a pair of tongs. Place the pan on the floor of the stall, and the tongs on the fire, and blow with all your might, till the coals burn bright. The black cow will ask you what is the meaning of all this, and you must answer what I am going to whisper to you now." And she stood on tip-toe and whispered something in his ear, and then went away.

The next day at sunup the prince went straight to the cow's stall, and began to blow on the coals exactly as the maiden had told him to, till they burned brightly.

The black cow watched him with surprise for some time, and then said, "What are you doing, sonny?"

"Oh, nothing," answered he. "I am only heating a pair of tongs in case you may not feel inclined to give as much milk as I want."

The cow sighed deeply, and looked at the milkman with fear, but he took no notice, and milked briskly into the pail, till the cow ran dry. Just at that moment the old man entered the stable, and sat down to milk the cow himself, but not a drop of milk could he get.

"Well, well, your abilities amaze me," he said, frowning. Again, the prince said nothing.

That night, the maiden stole up to ask what task he had for the next day. The young man laughed and said, "It appears that I have got to learn all kinds of farmer's work. Tomorrow I have to gather the stacks of hay in the meadow, and leave not a stalk behind, and that is my whole day's work!"

"Oh, you unlucky creature!

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