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

The Prince and the Maiden

" cried she, "and how do you think you are to do it? If you had all the men in the world to help you, you could not clear off this meadow in a week. The instant you have thrown up the haystacks, the grass will take root again from below. But listen to what I say. You must steal out at daybreak tomorrow and bring out the white horse to the ropes. When you are ready, climb up a hay-stack and begin to count one, two, three. The horse will ask you what you are counting, and you must be sure to answer what I am going to whisper to you."

So the maiden whispered something in his ear, and left the room. When it was still almost dark, the prince got up and proceeded to carry out the instructions given him by the girl. When he was seated on a haystack and had counted to twenty, the horse asked in amazement, "What are you counting up there, my son?"

"Oh, nothing," said he. "I was just amusing myself with counting the packs of wolves in the forest, but there are really so many of them that I don't think I should ever be done."

The world "wolf" was hardly out of his mouth than the white horse was off like the wind, so that in the twinkling of an eye all haystacks were gathered to the barn. The master was dumb with surprise as he came in after breakfast and found his man's day's work quite done, and he stomped away.

In the evening the prince went back to the old man's room. To his surprise his master said, "I am very well satisfied with you. Come to me at dawn and bring the maiden with you. I know you two have long admired each other, and I wish to make you man and wife."

The young man nearly jumped into the air for joy, but, remembering the rules of the house, he managed to keep still. When he told the maiden, he saw to his astonishment that she had become as white as a sheet.

"Oh, no!" she cried. "The old man has found out who was your counselor and he means to destroy us both. We must escape somehow, or else we shall be lost.

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