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Age suitability 8 Plus
East of the sun and West of the moon.
Start of Story
There were such rejoicings when she went in to her parents that it
seemed as if they would never come to an end. Everyone thought that he
could never be sufficiently grateful to her for all she had done for
them all. Now they had everything that they wanted, and everything was
as good as it could be. They all asked her how she was getting on where
she was. All was well with her too, she said; and she had everything
that she could want. What other answers she gave I cannot say, but I am
pretty sure that they did not learn much from her. But in the afternoon,
after they had dined at midday, all happened just as the White Bear had
said. Her mother wanted to talk with her alone in her own chamber. But
she remembered what the White Bear had said, and would on no account go.
"What we have to say can be said at any time," she answered. But somehow
or other her mother at last persuaded her, and she was forced to tell
the whole story. So she told how every night a man came and lay down
beside her when the lights were all put out, and how she never saw him,
because he always went away before it grew light in the morning, and how
she continually went about in sadness, thinking how happy she would
be if she could but see him, and how all day long she had to go about
alone, and it was so dull and solitary
"Oh!" cried the mother, in
horror, "you are very likely sleeping with a troll! But I will teach you
a way to see him. You shall have a bit of one of my candles, which you
can take away with you hidden in your breast. Look at him with that when
he is asleep, but take care not to let any tallow drop upon him."
So she took the candle, and hid it in her breast, and when evening drew
near the White Bear came to fetch her away. When they had gone some
distance on their way, the White Bear asked her if everything had not
happened just as he had foretold, and she could not but own that it had.
"Then, if you have done what your mother wished," said he, "you have
brought great misery on both of us." "No," she said, "I have not done
anything at all." So when she had reached home and had gone to bed it
was just the same as it had been before, and a man came and lay down
beside her, and late at night, when she could hear that he was sleeping,
she got up and kindled a light, lit her candle, let her light shine on
him, and saw him, and he was the handsomest prince that eyes had ever
beheld, and she loved him so much that it seemed to her that she must
die if she did not kiss him that very moment.
So she did kiss him; but
while she was doing it she let three drops of hot tallow fall upon
his shirt, and he awoke. "What have you done now?" said he; "you have
brought misery on both of us. If you had but held out for the space of
one year I should have been free. I have a step-mother who has bewitched
me so that I am a white bear by day and a man by night; but now all is
at an end between you and me, and I must leave you, and go to her. She
lives in a castle which lies east of the sun and west of the moon, and
there too is a princess with a nose which is three ells long, and she
now is the one whom I must marry."
She wept and lamented, but all in vain, for go he must. Then she asked
him if she could not go with him. But no, that could not be. "Can you
tell me the way then, and I will seek you--that I may surely be allowed
"Yes, you may do that," said he; "but there is no way thither. It lies
east of the sun and west of the moon, and never would you find your way
When she awoke in the morning both the Prince and the castle were gone,
and she was lying on a small green patch in the midst of a dark, thick
By her side lay the self-same bundle of rags which she had brought
with her from her own home. So when she had rubbed the sleep out of her
eyes, and wept till she was weary, she set out on her way, and thus she
walked for many and many a long day, until at last she came to a great
mountain. Outside it an aged woman was sitting, playing with a golden
apple. The girl asked her if she knew the way to the Prince who lived
with his stepmother in the castle which lay east of the sun and west of
the moon, and who was to marry a princess with a nose which was three
ells long. "How do you happen to know about him?" inquired the old
woman; "maybe you are she who ought to have had him." "Yes, indeed, I
am," she said. "So it is you, then?" said the old woman; "I know nothing
about him but that he dwells in a castle which is east of the sun and
west of the moon. You will be a long time in getting to it, if ever you
get to it at all; but you shall have the loan of my horse, and then you
can ride on it to an old woman who is a neighbor of mine: perhaps she
can tell you about him. When you have got there you must just strike the
horse beneath the left ear and bid it go home again; but you may take
the golden apple with you."
So the girl seated herself on the horse, and rode for a long, long way,
and at last she came to the mountain, where an aged woman was sitting
outside with a gold carding-comb. The girl asked her if she knew the way
to the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon; but she
said what the first old woman had said: "I know nothing about it, but
that it is east of the sun and west of the moon, and that you will be a
long time in getting to it, if ever you get there at all; but you shall
have the loan of my horse to an old woman who lives the nearest to me:
perhaps she may know where the castle is, and when you have got to her
you may just strike the horse beneath the left ear and bid it go home
again." Then she gave her the gold carding-comb, for it might, perhaps,
be of use to her, she said.
So the girl seated herself on the horse, and rode a wearisome long way
onward again, and after a very long time she came to a great mountain,
where an aged woman was sitting, spinning at a golden spinning-wheel.
Of this woman, too, she inquired if she knew the way to the Prince, and
where to find the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon.
But it was only the same thing once again. "Maybe it was you who should
have had the Prince," said the old woman.
"Yes, indeed, I should have
been the one," said the girl. But this old crone knew the way no better
than the others--it was east of the sun and west of the moon, she knew
that, "and you will be a long time in getting to it, if ever you get
to it at all," she said; "but you may have the loan of my horse, and I
think you had better ride to the East Wind, and ask him: perhaps he may
know where the castle is, and will blow you thither. But when you have
got to him you must just strike the horse beneath the left ear, and he
will come home again." And then she gave her the golden spinning-wheel,
saying: "Perhaps you may find that you have a use for it."
The girl had to ride for a great many days, and for a long and wearisome
time, before she got there; but at last she did arrive, and then she
asked the East Wind if he could tell her the way to the Prince who dwelt
east of the sun and west of the moon. "Well," said the East Wind, "I
have heard tell of the Prince, and of his castle, but I do not know the
way to it, for I have never blown so far; but, if you like, I will go
with you to my brother the West Wind: he may know that, for he is much
stronger than I am.
You may sit on my back, and then I can carry you
there." So she seated herself on his back, and they did go so swiftly!
When they got there, the East Wind went in and said that the girl whom
he had brought was the one who ought to have had the Prince up at the
castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon, and that now she
was traveling about to find him again, so he had come there with her,
and would like to hear if the West Wind knew whereabout the castle was.
"No," said the West Wind; "so far as that have I never blown; but if you
like I will go with you to the South Wind, for he is much stronger than
either of us, and he has roamed far and wide, and perhaps he can tell
you what you want to know. You may seat yourself on my back, and then I
will carry you to him.".
So she did this, and journeyed to the South Wind, neither was she very
long on the way. When they had got there, the West Wind asked him if he
could tell her the way to the castle that lay east of the sun and west
of the moon, for she was the girl who ought to marry the Prince who
lived there. "Oh, indeed!" said the South Wind, "is that she? Well,"
said he, "I have wandered about a great deal in my time, and in all
kinds of places, but I have never blown so far as that.
If you like,
however, I will go with you to my brother, the North Wind; he is the
oldest and strongest of all of us, and if he does not know where it is
no one in the whole world will be able to tell you. You may sit upon
my back, and then I will carry you there." So she seated herself on his
back, and off he went from his house in great haste, and they were not
long on the way. When they came near the North Wind's dwelling, he was
so wild and frantic that they felt cold gusts a long while before they
got there. "What do you want?" he roared out from afar, and they froze
as they heard. Said the South Wind: "It is I, and this is she who should
have had the Prince who lives in the castle which lies east of the sun
and west of the moon. And now she wishes to ask you if you have ever
been there, and can tell her the way, for she would gladly find him
"Yes," said the North Wind, "I know where it is. I once blew an aspen
leaf there, but I was so tired that for many days afterward I was not
able to blow at all. However, if you really are anxious to go there, and
are not afraid to go with me, I will take you on my back, and try if I
can blow you there."
"Get there I must," said she; "and if there is any way of going I will;
and I have no fear, no matter how fast you go."
"Very well then," said the North Wind; "but you must sleep here
to-night, for if we are ever to get there we must have the day before
The North Wind woke her betimes next morning, and puffed himself up, and
made himself so big and so strong that it was frightful to see him, and
away they went, high up through the air, as if they would not stop until
they had reached the very end of the world. Down below there was such a
storm! It blew down woods and houses, and when they were above the sea
the ships were wrecked by hundreds. And thus they tore on and on, and
a long time went by, and then yet more time passed, and still they were
above the sea, and the North Wind grew tired, and more tired, and at
last so utterly weary that he was scarcely able to blow any longer, and
he sank and sank, lower and lower, until at last he went so low that the
waves dashed against the heels of the poor girl he was carrying. "Art
thou afraid?" said the North Wind. "I have no fear," said she; and it
was true. But they were not very, very far from land, and there was just
enough strength left in the North Wind to enable him to throw her on to
the shore, immediately under the windows of a castle which lay east of
the sun and west of the moon; but then he was so weary and worn out that
he was forced to rest for several days before he could go to his own
Next morning she sat down beneath the walls of the castle to play with
the golden apple, and the first person she saw was the maiden with the
long nose, who was to have the Prince. "How much do you want for that
gold apple of yours, girl?" said she, opening the window. "It can't be
bought either for gold or money," answered the girl. "If it cannot be
bought either for gold or money, what will buy it? You may say what you
please," said the Princess.
"Well, if I may go to the Prince who is here, and be with him to-night,
you shall have it," said the girl who had come with the North Wind. "You
may do that," said the Princess, for she had made up her mind what she
would do. So the Princess got the golden apple, but when the girl went
up to the Prince's apartment that night he was asleep, for the Princess
had so contrived it. The poor girl called to him, and shook him, and
between whiles she wept; but she could not wake him. In the morning, as
soon as day dawned, in came the Princess with the long nose, and drove
her out again. In the daytime she sat down once more beneath the windows
of the castle, and began to card with her golden carding-comb; and then
all happened as it had happened before.
The Princess asked her what she
wanted for it, and she replied that it was not for sale, either for gold
or money, but that if she could get leave to go to the Prince, and be
with him during the night, she should have it. But when she went up to
the Prince's room he was again asleep, and, let her call him, or shake
him, or weep as she would, he still slept on, and she could not put any
life in him. When daylight came in the morning, the Princess with the
long nose came too, and once more drove her away. When day had quite
come, the girl seated herself under the castle windows, to spin with
her golden spinning-wheel, and the Princess with the long nose wanted to
have that also. So she opened the window, and asked what she would
take for it. The girl said what she had said on each of the former
occasions--that it was not for sale either for gold or for money, but if
she could get leave to go to the Prince who lived there, and be with him
during the night, she should have it.
"Yes," said the Princess, "I will gladly consent to that."
But in that place there were some Christian folk who had been carried
off, and they had been sitting in the chamber which was next to that of
the Prince, and had heard how a woman had been in there who had wept and
called on him two nights running, and they told the Prince of this.
So that evening, when the Princess came once more with her sleeping-drink,
he pretended to drink, but threw it away behind him, for he suspected
that it was a sleeping-drink. So, when the girl went into the Prince's
room this time he was awake, and she had to tell him how she had come
there. "You have come just in time," said the Prince, "for I should have
been married to-morrow; but I will not have the long-nosed Princess, and
you alone can save me. I will say that I want to see what my bride can
do, and bid her wash the shirt which has the three drops of tallow on
it. This she will consent to do, for she does not know that it is you
who let them fall on it; but no one can wash them out but one born of
Christian folk: it cannot be done by one of a pack of trolls; and then
I will say that no one shall ever be my bride but the woman who can do
this, and I know that you can." There was great joy and gladness between
them all that night, but the next day, when the wedding was to take
place, the Prince said, "I must see what my bride can do." "That you may
do," said the stepmother.
"I have a fine shirt which I want to wear as my wedding shirt, but three
drops of tallow have got upon it which I want to have washed off, and
I have vowed to marry no one but the woman who is able to do it. If she
cannot do that, she is not worth having."
Well, that was a very small matter, they thought, and agreed to do it.
The Princess with the long nose began to wash as well as she could,
but, the more she washed and rubbed, the larger the spots grew. "Ah! you
can't wash at all," said the old troll-hag, who was her mother. "Give it
to me." But she too had not had the shirt very long in her hands before
it looked worse still, and, the more she washed it and rubbed it, the
larger and blacker grew the spots.
So the other trolls had to come and wash, but, the more they did, the
blacker and uglier grew the shirt, until at length it was as black as if
it had been up the chimney. "Oh," cried the Prince, "not one of you is
good for anything at all! There is a beggar-girl sitting outside the
window, and I'll be bound that she can wash better than any of you! Come
in, you girl there!" he cried. So she came in. "Can you wash this shirt
clean?" he cried. "Oh! I don't know," she said; "but I will try." And
no sooner had she taken the shirt and dipped it in the water than it
was white as driven snow, and even whiter than that. "I will marry you,"
said the Prince.
Then the old troll-hag flew into such a rage that she burst, and the
Princess with the long nose and all the little trolls must have burst
too, for they have never been heard of since. The Prince and his bride
set free all the Christian folk who were imprisoned there, and took away
with them all the gold and silver that they could carry, and moved far
away from the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon.