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sister of the sun.

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The young man did exactly what the princess had told him. The three chips which he flung into the river became a boat, and, as he steered across the stream, the serpent put up its head and hissed loudly. The youth had his sword ready, and in another second the three heads were bobbing on the water. Guiding his boat till he was beside them, he stooped down and snipped off the ends of the tongues, and then rowed back to the other bank. Next morning he carried them into the royal kitchen, and when the king entered, as was his custom, to see what he was going to have for dinner, the bridegroom flung them in his face, saying: 'Here is a gift for you in return for the services you asked of me.' And, opening the kitchen door, he fled to the ship. Unluckily he missed the way, and in his excitement ran backwards and forwards, without knowing whither he was going. At last, in despair, he looked round, and saw to his amazement that both the city and palace had vanished completely. Then he turned his eyes in the other direction, and, far, far away, he caught sight of the ship with her sails spread, and a fair wind behind her. This dreadful spectacle seemed to take away his senses, and all day long he wandered about, without knowing where he was going, till, in the evening, he noticed some smoke from a little hut of turf near by. He went straight up to it and cried: 'O mother, let me come in for pity's sake!' The old woman who lived in the hut beckoned to him to enter, and hardly was he inside when he cried again: 'O mother, can you tell me anything of the Sister of the Sun?' But the woman only shook her head. 'No, I know nothing of her,' said she.



The young man turned to leave the hut, but the old woman stopped him, and, giving him a letter, begged him to carry it to her next eldest sister, saying: 'If you should get tired on the way, take out the letter and rustle the paper.' This advice surprised the young man a good deal, as he did not see how it could help him; but he did not answer, and went down the road without knowing where he was going. At length he grew so tired he could walk no more; then he remembered what the old woman had said. After he had rustled the leaves only once all fatigue disappeared, and he strode over the grass till he came to another little turf hut. 'Let me in, I pray you, dear mother,' cried he. And the door opened in front of him. 'Your sister has sent you this letter,' he said, and added quickly: 'O mother! can you tell me anything of the Sister of the Sun?' 'No, I know nothing of her,' answered she. But as he turned hopelessly away, she stopped him. 'If you happen to pass my eldest sister's house, will you give her this letter?' said she. 'And if you should get tired on the road, just take it out of your pocket and rustle the paper.' So the young man put the letter in his pocket, and walked all day over the hills till he reached a little turf hut, exactly like the other two. 'Let me in, I pray you, dear mother,' cried he. And as he entered he added: 'Here is a letter from your sister and--can you tell me anything of the Sister of the Sun?'



'Yes, I can,' answered the old woman. 'She lives in the castle on the Banka. Her father lost a battle only a few days ago because you had stolen his sword from him, and the Sister of the Sun herself is almost dead of grief. But, when you see her, stick a pin into the palm of her hand, and suck the drops of blood that flow. Then she will grow calmer, and will know you again. Only, beware; for before you reach the castle on the Banka fearful things will happen.' He thanked the old woman with tears of gladness for the good news she had given him, and continued his journey. But he had not gone very far when, at a turn of the road, he met with two brothers, who were quarrelling over a piece of cloth. 'My good men, what are you fighting about?' said he. 'That cloth does not look worth much!' 'Oh, it is ragged enough,' answered they, 'but it was left us by our father, and if any man wraps it round him no one can see him; and we each want it for our own.' 'Let me put it round me for a moment,' said the youth, 'and then I will tell you whose it ought to be!' The brothers were pleased with this idea, and gave him the stuff; but the moment he had thrown it over his shoulder he disappeared as completely as if he had never been there at all. Meanwhile the young man walked briskly along, till he came up with two other men, who were disputing over a table-cloth. 'What is the matter?' asked he, stopping in front of them. 'If this cloth is spread on a table,' answered they, 'the table is instantly covered with the most delicious food; and we each want to have it.' 'Let me try the table-cloth,' said the youth, 'and I will tell you whose it ought to be.' The two men were quite pleased with this idea, and handed him the cloth. He then hastily threw the first piece of stuff round his shoulders and vanished from sight, leaving the two men grieving over their own folly.



The young man had not walked far before he saw two more men standing by the road-side, both grasping the same stout staff, and sometimes one seemed on the point of getting it, and sometimes the other. 'What are you quarrelling about? You could cut a dozen sticks from the wood each just as good as that!' said the young man. And as he spoke the fighters both stopped and looked at him. 'Ah! you may think so,' said one, 'but a blow from one end of this stick will kill a man, while a touch from the other end will bring him back to life. You won't easily find another stick like that!' 'No; that is true,' answered the young man. 'Let me just look at it, and I will tell you whose it ought to be.' The men were pleased with the idea, and handed him the staff. 'It is very curious, certainly,' said he; 'but which end is it that restores people to life? After all, anyone can be killed by a blow from a stick if it is only hard enough!' But when he was shown the end he threw the stuff over his shoulders and vanished. At last he saw another set of men, who were struggling for the possession of a pair of shoes. 'Why can't you leave that pair of old shoes alone?' said he. 'Why, you could not walk a yard in them!'



'Yes, they are old enough,' answered they; 'but whoever puts them on and wishes himself at a particular place, gets there without going.' 'That sounds very clever,' said the youth. 'Let me try them, and then I shall be able to tell you whose they ought to be.' The idea pleased the men, and they handed him the shoes; but the moment they were on his feet he cried: 'I wish to be in the castle on the Banka!' And before he knew it, he was there, and found the Sister of the Sun dying of grief. He knelt down by her side, and pulling a pin he stuck it into the palm of her hand, so that a drop of blood gushed out. This he sucked, as he had been told to do by the old woman, and immediately the princess came to herself, and flung her arms round his neck. Then she told him all her story, and what had happened since the ship had sailed away without him. 'But the worst misfortune of all,' she added, 'was a battle which my father lost because you had vanished with his magic sword; and out of his whole army hardly one man was left.' 'Show me the battle-field,' said he. And she took him to a wild heath, where the dead were lying as they fell, waiting for burial. One by one he touched them with the end of his staff, till at length they all stood before him. Throughout the kingdom there was nothing but joy; and THIS time the wedding was REALLY celebrated. And the bridal pair lived happily in the castle on the Banka till they died.

       



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