The Enchanted Peafowl - The Story of the Golden Apples, the Wicked Dragon, and the Magic Horse
As before she grinned and pretended to be pleased but when she had the mare alone in the stable the Prince heard her giving the poor creature another beating and saying:
"Why didn't you do as I told you and hide among the foxes?"
"I did," whinnied the mare, "but the foxes are his friends, too, and he found me!"
"To-night," the Old Woman ordered, "hide among the ravens and this time don't let him find you!"
The third night the Prince tried hard to stay awake but sleep again overcame him and when he woke he found himself for the third time sitting astride a rail and holding the empty bridle in his hand. But he remembered the Old Woman's words and at once opened the third corner of his handkerchief and taking out the raven's feather rubbed it gently.
There was a flutter of wings and a raven's hoarse voice said:
"Caw! Caw! What is it, brother? Can I help you?"
"Can you tell me what has become of the Old Woman's mare and foal?"
"Aye, brother, that I can! She and the foal are turned into ravens and are perched in yonder tall fir tree hiding among my folk. Strike the trunk of the tree three times with your bridle and say: 'Mare of the Old Woman, come down!' That will bring her!"
The Prince went over to the fir tree, struck it three times with the bridle and said:
"Mare of the Old Woman, come down!"
Instantly two ravens, a big one and a fledgling, fluttered to earth and changed to mare and foal. So when morning came the Prince was able to drive them back to the Old Woman and claim his reward.
The Old Woman was angry enough to kill him but she pretended to be pleased and she smiled and grinned and she patted the Prince on the arm and said:
"Aye, my son, but you are a hero! You have won the reward and you are worthy of it. Choose now the finest horse in my stable. It is yours."
She drove the twelve handsome stallions out into the courtyard and urged them on the Prince one after the other. But at each the Prince shook his head.
"I am only a poor adventurer," he said.