The three princesses in the blue mountain
The lieutenant was the next to try, but it fared no better with him. No sooner had he got through the flood of water than he saw a blazing fire yawning beneath him, which so frightened him that he also turned back.
The soldier then got into the bucket, and down he went through fire and water, right on till he came to the bottom, where it was so pitch dark that he could not see his hand before him. He dared not let go the basket, but went round in a circle, feeling and fumbling about him. At last he discovered a gleam of light far, far away like the dawn of day, and he went on in that direction.
When he had gone a bit it began to grow light around him, and before long he saw a golden sun rising in the sky and everything around him became as bright and beautiful as if in a fairy world.
First he came to some cattle, which were so fat that their hides glistened a long way off, and when he had got past them he came to a fine, big palace. He walked through many rooms without meeting anybody. At last he heard the hum of a spinning wheel, and when he entered the room he found the eldest Princess sitting there spinning copper yarn; the room and everything in it was of brightly polished copper.
“Oh, dear; oh, dear! what are Christian people doing here?” said the Princess. “Heaven preserve you! what do you want?”
“I want to set you free and get you out of the mountain,” said the soldier.
“Pray do not stay. If the troll comes home he will put an end to you at once; he has three heads,” said she.
“I do not care if he has four,” said the soldier. “I am here, and here I shall remain.”
“Well, if you will be so headstrong, I must see if I can help you,” said the Princess.
She then told him to creep behind the big brewing vat which stood in the front hall; meanwhile she would receive the troll and scratch his heads till he went to sleep.
“And when I go out and call the hens you must make haste and come in,” she said. “But you must first try if you can swing the sword which is lying on the table.