The three princesses of Whiteland
Once on a time there was a fisherman who lived close by a palace, and fished for the King’s table. One day when he was out fishing he just caught nothing. Do what he would—however he tried with bait and angle—there was never a sprat on his hook. But when the day was far spent a head bobbed up out of the water, and said:
“If I may have what your wife bears under her girdle, you shall catch fish enough.”
So the man answered boldly, “Yes;” for he did not know that his wife was going to have a child. After that, as was like enough, he caught plenty of fish of all kinds. But when he got home at night and told his story, how he had got all that fish, his wife fell a-weeping and moaning, and was beside herself for the promise which her husband had made, for she said, “I bear a babe under my girdle.”
Well, the story soon spread, and came up to the castle; and when the King heard the woman’s grief and its cause, he sent down to say he would take care of the child, and see if he couldn’t save it.
So the months went on and on, and when her time came the fisher’s wife had a boy; so the king took it at once, and brought it up as his own son, until the lad grew up. Then he begged leave one day to go out fishing with his father; he had such a mind to go, he said. At first the King wouldn’t hear of it, but at last the lad had his way, and went. So he and his father were out the whole day, and all went right and well till they landed at night. Then the lad remembered he had left his handkerchief, and went to look for it; but as soon as ever he got into the boat, it began to move off with him at such speed that the water roared under the bow, and all the lad could do in rowing against it with the oars was no use; so he went and went the whole night, and at last he came to a white strand, far far away.
There he went ashore, and when he had walked about a bit, an old, old man met him, with a long white beard.
“What’s the name of this land?” asked the lad.
“Whiteland,” said the man, who went on to ask the lad whence he came, and what he was going to do.