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The Three Citrons


The poor Prince, seeing that there was no help for the mischief, drooped his head and swallowed this pill; and bidding the slave come down from the tree, he ordered her to be clothed from head to foot in new dresses. Then sad and sorrowful, cast-down and woe-begone, he took his way back with the slave to his own country, where the King and Queen, who had gone out six miles to meet them, received them with the same pleasure as a prisoner feels at the announcement of a sentence of hanging, seeing the fine choice their foolish son had made, who after travelling about so long to find a white dove had brought home at last a black crow. However, as they could do no less, they gave up the crown to their children, and placed the golden tripod upon that face of coal.

Now whilst they were preparing splendid feasts and banquets, and the cooks were busy plucking geese, killing little pigs, flaying kids, basting the roast meat, skimming pots, mincing meat for dumplings, larding capons, and preparing a thousand other delicacies, a beautiful dove came flying to the kitchen window, and said,

"O cook of the kitchen, tell me, I pray,

What the King and the slave are doing to-day."

The cook at first paid little heed to the dove; but when she returned a second and a third time, and repeated the same words, he ran to the dining-hall to tell the marvellous thing. But no sooner did the lady hear this music than she gave orders for the dove to be instantly caught and made into a hash. So the cook went, and he managed to catch the dove, and did all that the slave had commanded. And having scalded the bird in order to pluck it, he threw the water with the feathers out from a balcony on to a garden-bed, on which, before three days had passed, there sprang up a beautiful citron-tree, which quickly grew to its full size.

Now it happened that the King, going by chance to a window that looked upon the garden, saw the tree, which he had never observed before; and calling the cook, he asked him when and by whom it had been planted.

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Whippety Stourie
Category: Scotland folktales
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