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The witch in the stone boat.

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The nurse was still more frightened when she heard the woman say this, and thought that perhaps some danger was hanging over the child, though she had no ill opinion of the unknown woman, who, indeed, had behaved toward the child as if it were her own. The most mysterious thing was the woman saying "and only one is left"; but the nurse guessed that this must mean that only one day was left, since she had come for two days already. At last the nurse made up her mind to go to the king. She told him the whole story and asked him to be present in person the next day about the time when the woman usually came. The king promised to do so, and came to the nurse's room a little before the time and sat down on a chair with his drawn sword in his hand.



Soon after the planks in the floor sprang up as before, and the woman came up, dressed in white, with the iron belt and chain. The king saw at once that it was his own queen, and immediately hewed asunder the iron chain that was fastened to the belt. This was followed by such noises and crashings down in the earth that all the king's palace shook, so that no one expected anything else than to see every bit of it shaken to pieces. At last the noises and shaking stopped, and they began to come to themselves again. The king and queen embraced each other, and she told him the whole story-how the witch came to the ship when they were all asleep and sent her off in the boat. After she had gone so far that she could not see the ship, she sailed on through darkness until she landed beside a three-headed giant.



The giant wished her to marry him, but she refused; whereupon he shut her up by herself and told her she would never get free until she consented. After a time she began to plan how to get her freedom, and at last told him that she would consent if he would allow her to visit her son on earth three days on end. This he agreed to, but put on her this iron belt and chain, the other end of which he fastened around his, own waist, and the great noises that were heard when the king cut the chain must have been caused by the giant's falling down the underground passage when the chain gave way so suddenly. The giant's dwelling, indeed, was right under the palace, and the terrible shakings must have been caused by him in his death throes.



The king now understood how the queen he had had for some time past had been so ill-tempered. He at once had a sack drawn over her head and made her be stoned to death, and after that torn in pieces by untamed horses. The two young fellows also told now what they had heard and seen in the queen's room, for before this they had been afraid to say anything about it, on account of the Queen's power. The real queen was now restored to all her dignity and was beloved by all. The nurse was married to a nobleman and the king and queen gave her splendid presents.

       


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