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The Three Dogs

Now he understood what the old man had meant. He called his dogs, and went to the king's castle. But there all had been grief and mourning since the day the king's daughters had disappeared. And of them all the king and queen were the most sorrowful. Then the youth went to the keeper of the door, and asked him whether he might play and show his dogs before the king. The courtiers were willing, for they hoped it might make him feel more cheerful. So he was admitted and allowed to show his tricks. And when the king had heard him play, and had seen the skillful dancing of his dogs, he grew quite merry, and none had seen him as happy during all the seven long years that had passed since he had lost his daughters.

When the dance was over, the king asked the youth what he asked as a reward for having given him such a pleasure. The youth answered: "My lord king, I did not come to you to win gold and gear. But I have another request to make: that you allow me to set out and search for your three daughters, carried away by a mountain troll." When the king heard this his thoughts once more grew gloomy, and he replied: "You need not even think of delivering my daughters. It is no child's play, and your betters have already attempted it in vain. Yet should it really come to pass that you deliver one of the princesses, you may be sure that I will not break my word." So he took leave of the king and set forth. And he decided to take no rest until he had found what he sought.

Now he passed through many broad kingdoms without meeting with any special adventures. And wherever he went his dogs followed him. "Hark!" ran along and listened for anything worth hearing to be heard around them; "Take Hold!" carried his master's knapsack and "Tear!" who was the strongest, carried his master when the latter was weary. One day "Hark!" came running up hastily, and told his master that he had gone to a high mountain, and had heard the king's daughter, who sat within it and span, and that the troll was not at home.

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