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The three princesses of Whiteland

So the lad told him all.

“Aye, aye!” said the man; “now when you have walked a little farther along the strand here, you’ll come to three Princesses, whom you will see standing in the earth up to their necks, with only their heads out. Then the first—she is the eldest—will call out and beg you so prettily to come and help her; and the second will do the same; to neither of these shall you go; make haste past them, as if you neither saw nor heard anything. But the third you shall go to, and do what she asks. If you do this, you’ll have good luck—that’s all.”

When the lad came to the first Princess, she called out to him, and begged him so prettily to come to her, but he passed on as though he saw her not. In the same way he passed by the second; but to the third he went straight up.

“If you’ll do what I bid you,” she said, “you may have which of us you please.”

“Yes;” he was willing enough; so she told him how three Trolls had set them down in the earth there; but before they had lived in the castle up among the trees.

“Now,” she said, “you must go into that castle, and let the Trolls whip you each one night for each of us. If you can bear that, you’ll set us free.”

Well, the lad said he was ready to try.

“When you go in,” the Princess went on to say, “you’ll see two lions standing at the gate; but if you’ll only go right in the middle between them they’ll do you no harm. Then go straight on into a little dark room, and make your bed. Then the Troll will come to whip you; but if you take the flask which hangs on the wall, and rub yourself with the ointment that’s in it, wherever his lash falls, you’ll be as sound as ever. Then grasp the sword that hangs by the side of the flask and strike the Troll dead.”

Yes, he did as the Princess told him; he passed in the midst between the lions, as if he hadn’t seen them, and went straight into the little room, and there he lay down to sleep. The first night there came a Troll with three heads and three rods, and whipped the lad soundly; but he stood it till the Troll was done; then he took the flask and rubbed himself, and grasped the sword and slew the Troll.

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