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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

"Ah," he said, "you mean the nine princesses. Eight of them have broken the enchantment that held them and are now happily married. The ninth awaits you. She is living in the royal palace of a beautiful city that lies three days' journey to the north of this mountain. When you find her, if you do just as she says she, too, will soon be free of all enchantment. Then she will be made queen."

The Prince thanked the hermit and rode on. After three days he came to the city of which the hermit had told him. He made his way to the palace and into the Princess's presence. Sure enough the Princess was his own dear love. She received him with joy, promised soon to marry him, and gave over to him the keys of the palace.

"You shall now be master here," she told him, "to go where you like and do as you like. There is only one thing that you must not do, only one place where you must not go. Under the palace are twelve cellars. Here are the keys to them all. Go into eleven of them whenever you will but you must never open the door of the twelfth one. If you do a heavy misfortune may fall upon both of us."

One day while the Princess was walking in the garden, the young Prince thought he would go through the cellars. So, taking the keys, he unlocked the cellars one after another until he had seen eleven of them. Then he stood before the door of the twelfth wondering why the Princess had warned him not to open it.

"I'll open it just a little," he thought to himself. "If there's something inside that tries to get out, I'll close it quickly."

So he took the twelfth key, unlocked the twelfth door, and peeped inside the twelfth cellar. It was empty except for one huge cask with an open bunghole.

"I don't see anything in here to be afraid of," he said.

Just then he heard a groan from inside the cask and a voice called out in a begging, whining tone:

"A cup of water, brother! A cup of water! I am dying of thirst!"

Now the Prince thought to himself that it was a terrible thing for any living creature to be dying of thirst.

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