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Main > Slavic Folktale > Fairy tale "The Enchanted Peafowl - The Story of the Golden Apples, the Wicked Dragon, and the Magic Horse"

The Enchanted Peafowl - The Story of the Golden Apples, the Wicked Dragon, and the Magic Horse

—some day I may help you!"

The Prince opened the trap and the fox, before it limped away, gave the Prince one of its hairs and said:

"If ever you need me, rub this hair."

The third day he met a raven that had fallen on a thorn and was pinned to the ground.

"Help me, brother, help me!" the raven begged, "and—who knows?—some day I may help you!"

The Prince lifted the raven off the thorn and the raven, before it flew away, gave the Prince one of its feathers saying:

"If ever you need me, rub this feather."

So the Prince reached the house of the Old Woman of the Mountain with the fish's scale, the fox's hair, and the raven's feather each safely tied in a corner of his handkerchief.

The Old Woman of the Mountain was an ugly old witch with a long nose that hooked down and a long chin that hooked up.

"Ha! Ha!" she cackled when she saw the Prince. "Another one that wants service with the Old Woman, eh?"

"Yes," said the Prince.

"You know the conditions?" the Old Woman said. "Guard my mare and her foal for three nights in succession and you may have any horse in my stable. But if she escapes you, then your head is mine and I'll stick it up there as a warning to other rash young men."

The Old Woman pointed to a high picket fence that surrounded the courtyard. On every picket but one there was a grinning human skull. The Prince looked and the only picket that had no skull called out:

"I want my skull, granny! I want my skull!"

The Old Woman gave a wicked laugh.

"You see," she said, "we were expecting you!"

When night fell the Prince led out the mare and her foal to a grassy meadow. To make sure that she would not escape him, he mounted her. Midnight came and he must have fallen asleep for suddenly he awoke to find himself astride a rail with an empty bridle in his hand. In despair he looked in all directions. At one end of the meadow was a pond.

"She may have gone there to drink," he said to himself.

At the pond he saw a hoofprint.

"Ah," he thought, "if my fish were here, it could tell me.

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