The Enchanted Peafowl - The Story of the Golden Apples, the Wicked Dragon, and the Magic Horse
Why, I got my horse from the Old Woman of the Mountain and the only other horse in the world that can outstrip him is another horse that the Old Woman still has. The Prince would have a hard time getting him!"
The Princess still scratching the dragon behind his ears, just where he loved it most, asked softly:
"Urrh! Urrh! Urrh! Because the Old Woman will never give that horse away until a man comes along who is able to guard for three nights in succession the Old Woman's mare and foal. Any one who attempts this and fails she kills. But even if a man were to succeed he would never get the right horse for the old witch would palm off another on him. Urrh! Urrh! Urrh! Oh, that feels good, my dear!"
"How would she do that?" the Princess asked.
"Urrh! Urrh! Urrh! You see she says to every man who undertakes to guard the mare: 'If you succeed you may have any horse in my stable.' Then she shows him twelve beautiful stallions with shiny coats, but she doesn't show him a scrawny miserable looking beast that lies neglected on the dung heap. Yet this is the magic horse and brother to mine."
Now the Princess knew all she needed to know and the next day when the Prince came she told him what the dragon had said. So the Prince at once set out to find the Old Woman of the Mountain.
He traveled three days over waste places and through strange lands. On the first day as he was riding along the shores of a lake he heard a little voice crying out:
"Help me, brother, help me and—who knows?—some day I may help you!"
The Prince looked down and saw a fish that was floundering on the sand. He dismounted to get the fish and throw it back into the water.
"Take one of my scales," the fish said. "Then if ever you need my help just rub the scale."
So the Prince, before he threw the fish into the lake, scraped off a scale and tied it in a corner of his handkerchief. Then he rode on.
The second day a fox that had been caught in a trap called out to him:
"Help me, brother, help me and—who knows?