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The witch in the stone boat.
Start of Story
Before long others began to notice this as well as the king. In
the court there were two young fellows, one of eighteen years old, the
other of nineteen, who were very fond of playing chess and often sat
long inside playing at it. Their room was next the queen's, and often
during the day they heard the queen talking.
One day they paid more attention than usual when they heard her talk,
and put their ears close to a crack in the wall between the rooms, and
heard the queen say quite plainly: 'When I yawn a little, then I am a
nice little maiden: when I yawn halfway, then I am half a troll; and
when I yawn fully then I am a troll altogether."
As she said this she yawned tremendously, and in a moment had put on
the appearance of a fearfully ugly troll.
Then there came up through
the floor of the room a three-headed giant with a trough full of meat,
who saluted her as his sister and set down the trough before her. She
began to eat out of it and never stopped till she had finished it. The
young fellows saw all this going on, but did not hear the two of them
say anything to each other. They were astonished, though, at how
greedily the queen devoured the meat and how much she ate of it, and
were no longer surprised that she took so little when she sat at table
with the king. As soon as she had finished it the giant disappeared
with the trough by the same way as he had come, and the queen returned
to her human shape.
Now we must go back to the king's son after he had been put in charge
of the nurse.
One evening. after she had lit a candle and was holding
the child, several planks sprang up in the floor of the room, and out
at the opening came a beautiful woman dressed in white, with an iron
belt round her waist, to which was fastened an iron chain that went
down into the ground. The woman came up to the nurse, took the child
from her, and pressed it to her breast; then she gave it back to the
nurse and returned by the same way as she had come, and the floor
closed over her again. Although the woman had not spoken a single word
to her, the nurse was very much frightened, but told no one about it.
Next evening the same thing happened again, just as before, but as the
woman was going away she said in a sad tone, "Two are gone and one only
is left," and then disappeared as before.