The three princesses in the blue mountain
There were once upon a time a King and Queen who had no children, and they took it so much to heart that they hardly ever had a happy moment. One day the King stood in the portico and looked out over the big meadows and all that was his. But he felt he could have no enjoyment out of it all, since he did not know what would become of it after his time. As he stood there pondering, an old beggar woman came up to him and asked him for a trifle in heaven’s name. She greeted him and curtsied, and asked what ailed the King, since he looked so sad.
“You can’t do anything to help me, my good woman,” said the King; “it’s no use telling you.”
“I am not so sure about that,” said the beggar woman. “Very little is wanted when luck is in the way. The King is thinking that he has no heir to his crown and kingdom, but he need not mourn on that account,” she said. “The Queen shall have three daughters, but great care must be taken that they do not come out under the open heavens before they are all fifteen years old; otherwise a snowdrift will come and carry them away.”
When the time came the Queen had a beautiful baby girl; the year after she had another, and the third year she also had a girl.
The King and Queen were glad beyond all measure; but although the King was very happy, he did not forget to set a watch at the Palace door, so that the Princesses should not get out.
As they grew up they became both fair and beautiful, and all went well with them in every way. Their only sorrow was that they were not allowed to go out and play like other children. For all they begged and prayed their parents, and for all they besought the sentinel, it was of no avail; go out they must not before they were fifteen years old, all of them.
So one day, not long before the fifteenth birthday of the youngest Princess, the King and the Queen were out driving, and the Princesses were standing at the window and looking out. The sun was shining, and everything looked so green and beautiful that they felt that they must go out, happen what might.