The Enchanted Peafowl - The Story of the Golden Apples, the Wicked Dragon, and the Magic Horse
"Such horses as these are too fine for me. Give me rather that poor mangy creature that lies over yonder on the dung heap. That is the one I choose."
Then the Old Woman fell into an awful rage and shook and chattered and begged the Prince not to take that horse.
"It would shame me," she said, "to have you ride off on that poor beast which is half dead already! No, no, my son, you mustn't take him!"
"But that's the one I'm going to take," the Prince said firmly, "that and none other!" He drew his sword and lifted it threateningly. "I have won whatever horse I choose and now, Old Woman, if you do not keep your bargain I shall strike you dead with this sword and stick up your grinning skull on that empty picket!"
At that the empty picket began to shout:
"I want my skull! I want my skull!"
When the Old Woman of the Mountain saw that the Prince knew what he was about, she gave up trying to deceive him and let him lead off the horse he wanted. So the Prince walked away dragging the poor mangy creature after him. When he was out of sight of the Old Woman's house, he turned to the horse and began rubbing down his rough coat and patting his wobbly legs.
"Now, my beauty," he said, "we'll see what you're made of!"
Under his hand the mangy beast changed to a glorious animal—one of those wonder horses of the olden days that rise on the wind and gallop with the clouds. Soon his coat shone like burnished gold and his tail and mane streamed out like flames of fire.
"Ah, my master," the horse said, "I have been waiting for you this many a day! We shall have glorious adventures together!"
Then the Prince mounted him and he rose on the wind and went so swiftly that he covered in three minutes all the distance that it had taken the Prince three days to go on an ordinary horse. Whiff! and there they were at the dragon's castle and there was the Princess running out to welcome them.
"Now, my dear one," the Prince said, lifting the Princess up in front of him, "this time the dragon will not overtake us!