Select the desired text size
sister of the sun.
Start of Story
The word was given for him to mount the steps which led to the top of
the cask, when, suddenly, some men were seen running with all their
might, crying as they went that a large ship with its sails spread was
making straight for the city. No one knew what the ship was, or whence
it came; but the king declared that he would not have the boy burned
before its arrival, there would always be time enough for that.
At length the vessel was safe in port, and a whisper went through the
watching crowd that on board was the Sister of the Sun, who had come to
marry the young peasant as she had promised. In a few moments more she
had landed, and desired to be shown the way to the cottage which her
bridegroom had so often described to her; and whither he had been led
back by the king's order at the first sign of the ship.
'Don't you know me?' asked the Sister of the Sun, bending over him where
he lay, almost driven out of his senses with terror.
'No, no; I don't know you,' answered the youth, without raising his
'Kiss me,' said the Sister of the Sun; and the youth obeyed her, but
still without looking up.
'Don't you know me NOW?' asked she.
'No, I don't know you--I don't know you,' he replied, with the manner of
a man whom fear had driven mad.
At this the Sister of the Sun grew rather frightened, and beginning at
the beginning, she told him the story of his meeting with her, and
how she had come a long way in order to marry him. And just as she had
finished in walked the king, to see if what the boy had said was really
true. But hardly had he opened the door of the cottage when he was
almost blinded by the light that filled it; and he remembered what
he had been told about the star on the forehead of the princess. He
staggered back as if he had been struck, then a curious feeling took
hold of him, which he had never felt before, and falling on his knees
before the Sister of the Sun, he implored her to give up all thought of
the peasant boy, and to share his throne. But she laughed, and said she
had a finer throne of her own, if she wanted to sit on it, and that she
was free to please herself, and would have no husband but the boy whom
she would never have seen except for the king himself.
'I shall marry him to-morrow,' ended she; and ordered the preparations
to be set on foot at once.
When the next day came, however, the bridegroom's father informed the
princess that, by the law of the land, the marriage must take place in
the presence of the king; but he hoped his majesty would not long
delay his arrival. An hour or two passed, and everyone was waiting
and watching, when at last the sound of trumpets was heard and a grand
procession was seen marching up the street. A chair covered with velvet
had been made ready for the king, and he took his seat upon it, and,
looking round upon the assembled company, he said:
'I have no wish to forbid this marriage; but, before I can allow it to
be celebrated, the bridegroom must prove himself worthy of such a bride
by fulfilling three tasks. And the first is that in a single day he must
cut down every tree in an entire forest.
The youth stood aghast as the king's words. He had never cut down a tree
in his life, and had not the least idea how to begin. And as for a
whole forest--! But the princess saw what was passing in his mind, and
whispered to him:
'Don't be afraid. In my ship you will find an axe, which you must carry
off to the forest. When you have cut down one tree with it just say:
"So let the forest fall," and in an instant all the trees will be on the
ground. But pick up three chips of the tree you felled, and put them in
And the young man did exactly as he was bid, and soon returned with the
three chips safe in his coat.
The following morning the princess declared that she had been thinking
about the matter, and that, as she was not a subject of the king, she
saw no reason why she should be bound by his laws; and she meant to be
married that very day. But the bridegroom's father told her that it was
all very well for her to talk like that, but it was quite different for
his son, who would pay with his head for any disobedience to the king's
commands. However, in consideration of what the youth had done the day
before, he hoped his majesty's heart might be softened, especially as
he had sent a message that they might expect him at once. With this the
bridal pair had to be content, and be as patient as they could till the
He did not keep them long, but they saw by his face that nothing good
'The marriage cannot take place,' he said shortly, 'till the youth has
joined to their roots all the trees he cut down yesterday.'
This sounded much more difficult than what he had done before, and he
turned in despair to the Sister of the Sun.
'It is all right,' she whispered encouragingly. 'Take this water and
sprinkle it on one of the fallen trees, and say to it: "So let all the
trees of the forest stand upright," and in a moment they will be erect
And the young man did what he was told, and left the forest looking
exactly as it had done before.
Now, surely, thought the princess, there was no longer any need to put
off the wedding; and she gave orders that all should be ready for the
following day. But again the old man interfered, and declared that
without the king's permission no marriage could take place. For
the third time his majesty was sent for, and for the third time he
proclaimed that he could not give his consent until the bridegroom
should have slain a serpent which dwelt in a broad river that flowed at
the back of the castle. Everyone knew stories of this terrible serpent,
though no one had actually seen it; but from time to time a child
strayed from home and never came back, and then mothers would forbid the
other children to go near the river, which had juicy fruits and lovely
flowers growing along its banks.
So no wonder the youth trembled and turned pale when he heard what lay
'You will succeed in this also,' whispered the Sister of the Sun,
pressing his hand, 'for in my ship is a magic sword which will cut
through everything. Go down to the river and unfasten a boat which lies
moored there, and throw the chips into the water. When the serpent
rears up its body you will cut off its three heads with one blow of your
sword. Then take the tip of each tongue and go with it to-morrow morning
into the king's kitchen. If the king himself should enter, just say to
him: "Here are three gifts I offer you in return for the services you
demanded of me!" and throw the tips of the serpent's tongues at him, and
hasten to the ship as fast as your legs will carry you. But be sure you
take great care never to look behind you.'