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Prince Lindworm

The shepherd’s daughter answered him, “Prince Lindworm, slough a skin.”

“No one has ever dared tell me to do that before,” said he.—“But I command you to do it now,” said she. Then with groans and moans he cast off the second skin: and she covered it with her second shift. The Lindworm said for the third time, “Fair maiden, shed a shift.” The shepherd’s daughter answered him again, “Prince Lindworm, slough a skin.”—“No one has ever dared tell me to do that before,” said he, and his little eyes rolled furiously. But the girl was not afraid, and once more she commanded him to do as she bade.

And so this went on until nine Lindworm skins were lying on the floor, each of them covered with a snow-white shift. And there was nothing left of the Lindworm but a huge thick mass, most horrible to see. Then the girl seized the whips, dipped them in the lye, and whipped him as hard as ever she could. Next, she bathed him all over in the fresh milk. Lastly, she dragged him on to the bed and put her arms round him. And she fell fast asleep that very moment.

Next morning very early, the King and the courtiers came and peeped in through the keyhole. They wanted to know what had become of the girl, but none of them dared enter the room. However, in the end, growing bolder, they opened the door a tiny bit. And there they saw the girl, all fresh and rosy, and beside her lay—no Lindworm, but the handsomest prince that any one could wish to see.

The King ran out and fetched the Queen: and after that, there were such rejoicings in the castle as never were known before or since. The wedding took place all over again, much finer than the first, with festivals and banquets and merrymakings for days and weeks. No bride was ever so beloved by a King and Queen as this peasant maid from the shepherd’s cottage. There was no end to their love and their kindness towards her: because, by her sense and her calmness and her courage, she had saved their son, Prince Lindworm.

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