The Magic Tree Trunks
L ong, long ago, a king and queen reigned over a large and powerful country. Their two beloved children, Prince Sigurd and Princess Sophie, were famous throughout the kingdom for their wisdom, beauty, and many accomplishments.
There was only a year between them, and they loved each other so much that they could do nothing by themselves.
For many years they all lived happily together. Then one day, their mother, the queen, fell ill and died.
For quite a long time, the king was so bowed down with sorrow that he would not even take care of running the kingdom. At last his Prime Minister had to tell him that the people were complaining and wanted him to return to ruling over the land as he should.
"Taking care of the kingdom again will not be easy without my dear wife beside me," said the king. "And yes, I know what men are also saying. They are saying I should remarry for the good of my kingdom." He sighed. "It is time now to instruct you, my Prime Minister, to find a lady fit to share my throne."
A group of court attendants were quickly gathered, with the Prime Minister as the leader, to visit the greatest courts in the world, and to choose a new queen. But the ship which carried them had not been gone many days when a thick fog came on. The persons on board could not see at all to the right or to the left. For a whole month the ship drifted about in darkness, till at last the fog lifted and they saw a cliff jutting out just in front of them. The crew did not know where they were, but at any rate they were grateful to see land, and hoped to find fresh fruit and water there.
Taking a small rowboat, the Prime Minister rowed to land, in order to explore and find out if the island was safe.
He had not gone far when he heard music. Turning toward the sound, he saw a woman of marvelous beauty playing on a harp, while a girl beside her sang along. The minister stopped and greeted the lady politely, and she replied in a friendly way, asking him why he had come to such an out-of-the-way place.