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The Three Dogs

Yet the king's daughters pleaded so very sweetly that they could not deny their pleas and they let them have their way. But the princesses did not have long to walk about, for no sooner were they beneath the open sky, than a cloud came suddenly down, and bore them off, and all attempts to regain possession of them were fruitless; though search was made in every direction.

Then the whole kingdom mourned and grieved, and one may imagine that the king was anything but happy when he returned home and learned all that had happened. Yet what is done cannot be undone, and in the end they had to resign themselves to it. And since the king knew of no other way to help himself, he had proclaimed throughout the kingdom that whoever would deliver his three daughters out of the power of the mountain troll should have one of them for his bride, and with her half of the kingdom. When this became known in foreign lands, many youths set forth with horses and followers to seek the princesses. At the king's court were two princes who also went forth to see whether fortune would be kind to them. They armed themselves in the best possible way with coats of mail and costly weapons, and bragged and boasted that they would not return without having done what they set out to do.

And now we will let the king's sons ride out over the world on their quest, while we turn to other people. Far, far out in the wild wood there lived a poor widow, who had an only son who drove his mother's pigs to pasture every day. And as he crossed the fields, he whittled himself a flute, and amused himself playing it. And he played so sweetly that he warmed the cockles of the hearts of all those who heard him.

Now it chanced that the young swine-herd once sat in the wood blowing his flute, while his three pigs were digging under the pine-roots. And an old, old man came along, with a beard so long and so broad that it hung far below his girdle. The old man had a large, powerful dog with him. When the youth saw the great dog, he thought to himself: "If a fellow had a dog like that to keep him company here in the wilderness, he might consider himself lucky.

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