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Princess on the glass.
From The The blue fairy book by Andrew lang
Start of Story
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The next St. John's eve it was the same thing, once again: neither of
the two brothers dared to go to the outlying field to watch the crop,
but Cinderlad went, and everything happened exactly the same as on the
previous St. John's eve: first there was a rumbling and an earthquake,
and then there was another, and then a third: but all three earthquakes
were much, very much more violent than they had been the year before.
Then everything became still as death again, and the boy heard something
chewing outside the barn door, so he stole as softly as he could to
the door, which was slightly ajar, and again there was a horse standing
close by the wall of the house, eating and chewing, and it was far
larger and fatter than the first horse, and it had a saddle on its back,
and a bridle was on it too, and a full suit of armor for a knight, all
of bright silver, and as beautiful as anyone could wish to see. "Ho,
ho!" thought the boy, "is it thou who eatest up our hay in the night?
but I will put a stop to that." So he took out his steel for striking
fire, and threw it over the horse's mane, and the beast stood there as
quiet as a lamb. Then the boy rode this horse, too, away to the place
where he kept the other, and then went home again.
"I suppose you will tell us that you have watched well again this time,"
said the brothers.
"Well, so I have," said Cinderlad. So they went there again, and there
the grass was, standing as high and as thick as it had been before, but
that did not make them any kinder to Cinderlad.
When the third St. John's night came neither of the two elder brothers
dared to lie in the outlying barn to watch the grass, for they had been
so heartily frightened the night that they had slept there that they
could not get over it, but Cinderlad dared to go, and everything
happened just the same as on the two former nights. There were three
earthquakes, each worse than the other, and the last flung the boy from
one wall of the barn to the other, but then everything suddenly
became still as death. When he had lain quietly a short time, he heard
something chewing outside the barn door; then he once more stole to the
door, which was slightly ajar, and behold, a horse was standing just
outside it, which was much larger and fatter than the two others he had
caught. "Ho, ho! it is thou, then, who art eating up our hay this time,"
thought the boy; "but I will put a stop to that." So he pulled out his
steel for striking fire, and threw it over the horse, and it stood as
still as if it had been nailed to the field, and the boy could do just
what he liked with it. Then he mounted it and rode away to the place
where he had the two others, and then he went home again. Then the two
brothers mocked him just as they had done before, and told him that they
could see that he must have watched the grass very carefully that night,
for he looked just as if he were walking in his sleep; but Cinderlad did
not trouble himself about that, but just bade them go to the field and
see. They did go, and this time too the grass was standing, looking as
fine and as thick as ever.
The King of the country in which Cinderlad's father dwelt had a daughter
whom he would give to no one who could not ride up to the top of the
glass hill, for there was a high, high hill of glass, slippery as ice,
and it was close to the King's palace. Upon the very top of this the
King's daughter was to sit with three gold apples in her lap, and the
man who could ride up and take the three golden apples should marry her,
and have half the kingdom. The King had this proclaimed in every church
in the whole kingdom, and in many other kingdoms too. The Princess was
very beautiful, and all who saw her fell violently in love with her,
even in spite of themselves. So it is needless to say that all the
princes and knights were eager to win her, and half the kingdom besides,
and that for this cause they came riding thither from the very end of
the world, dressed so splendidly that their raiments gleamed in the
sunshine, and riding on horses which seemed to dance as they went, and
there was not one of these princes who did not think that he was sure to
win the Princess.
When the day appointed by the King had come, there was such a host of
knights and princes under the glass hill that they seemed to swarm, and
everyone who could walk or even creep was there too, to see who won the
King's daughter. Cinderlad's two brothers were there too, but they would
not hear of letting him go with them, for he was so dirty and black
with sleeping and grubbing among the ashes that they said everyone would
laugh at them if they were seen in the company of such an oaf.
"Well, then, I will go all alone by myself," said Cinderlad.
When the two brothers got to the glass hill, all the princes and knights
were trying to ride up it, and their horses were in a foam; but it was
all in vain, for no sooner did the horses set foot upon the hill than
down they slipped, and there was not one which could get even so much as
a couple of yards up. Nor was that strange, for the hill was as smooth
as a glass window-pane, and as steep as the side of a house. But they
were all eager to win the King's daughter and half the kingdom, so they
rode and they slipped, and thus it went on. At length all the horses
were so tired that they could do no more, and so hot that the foam
dropped from them and the riders were forced to give up the attempt.