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The Lady and the Lion

A MERCHANT, who had three daughters, was once setting out upon a journey; but before he went he asked each daughter what gift he should bring back for her. The eldest wished ‘for pearls; the second for jewels; but the third said, ‘Dear father, bring me a rose.’ Now it was no easy task to find a rose, for it was the middle of winter; yet, as she was the fairest daughter, and. was very fond of flowers, her father said he would try what he could do. So be kissed all three, and bid them god-bye. And when the time came for his return, he had bought pearls and jewels for the two eldest, but he had sought every where in vain for the rose; and when be went into any garden and inquired for such a thing, the people laughed at him, and asked him whether he thought roses grew in snow. This grieved him very much, for his third daughter was his dearest child; and as he was journeying home, thinking what he should bring her, he came to a fine castle; and around the castle was a garden, in half of which it appeared to be summertime, and in the other half winter. On one side the finest flowers were in full bloom, and on the other every thing looked desolate and buried in snow. ‘A lucky hit!’ said he as he called to his servant, and told him to go to a beautiful bed of roses that was there, and bring him away one of the flowers. This done, they were riding away well pleased, when a fierce lion sprang up, and roared out, ‘Whoever dares to steal my roses shall be eaten up alive.’ Then the man said, ‘I knew not that the garden belonged to you; can nothing save my life?’ ‘No!’ said the lion, ‘nothing, unless you promise to give me whatever meets you first on your return home; if you agree to this, I will give you your life, and the rose too for your daughter.’ But the man was unwilling to do so, and said, ‘It may be my youngest daughter, who loves me most, and always runs to meet me when I go home.’ Then the servant was greatly frightened, and said, ‘It may perhaps be only a cat or a dog.’ And at last the man yielded with a heavy heart, and took the rose; and promised the lion whatever should meet him first on his return. And as he came near home, it was his youngest and dearest daughter that met him; she came running and kissed him, and welcomed him home; and when she saw that he bad brought her the rose, she rejoiced still more. But her father began to be very melancholy, and to weep, saying, ‘Alas! my dearest child! I have bought this flower dear, for I have promised to give you to a wild lion, and when he has you, he will tear you in pieces, and eat you.’ And he told her all that had happened; and said she should not go, let what would happen; But she comforted him, and said, ‘Dear father, what you rave promised must be fulfilled; I will go to the lion, and soothe him, that he may let me return again safe home.’ The next morning she asked the way she was to go, and took leave of her father, and went forth with a bold heart into the wood. But the lion was an enchanted prince, and by day he and all his court were lions, but in the evening they took their proper forms again. And when the lady came to the castle, he welcomed her so courteously that she consented to marry him. The wedding feast was held, and they lived happily together a long time. The prince was only to be seen as soon as evening came, and then he held his court; but every morning he left his bride, and went away by himself; she knew not whither, till night came again. After some time he said to her, ‘To-morrow there will be a great feast in your father’s house, for your eldest sister is to be married; and, if you wish to go to visit her, my lions shall lead you thither.’ Then she rejoiced much at the thoughts of seeing her father once more, and set out with the lions; and every one was overjoyed to see her, for they had thought her dead long since. But she told them how happy she was; and stayed till the feast was over, and then went back to the wood. Her second sister was soon after married; and when she was invited to the wedding, she said to the prince, ‘I will not go alone this time; you must go with me’ But he would not, and said that would be a very hazardous thing, for if the least ray of the torch light should fall upon him, his enchantment would become still worse, for he should be changed into a dove, and be obliged to wander about the world for seven long years. However, she gave him no rest, and said she would take care no light should fall upon him. So at last they set out together, and took with them their little child too; and she chose a large hall with thick walls, for him to sit in while the wedding torches were lighted; but unluckily no one observed that there was a crack in the door. Then the wedding was held with great pomp; but as the train came from the church, and passed with the torches before the hall, a very small ray of light tell upon the prince. In a moment he disappeared; and when his wife came in, and sought him, she found only a white dove. Then he said to her, ‘Seven years must I fly up and down over the face of the earth; but every now and then I will let fall a white feather, that shall show you the way I am going; follow it, and at last you may overtake and set me free.’ This said, he flew out at the door, and she followed; and every now and then a white feather fell, and showed her the way she was to journey. Thus she went roving on through the wide world, and looked neither to the right hand nor to the left, nor took any rest for seven years. Then she began to rejoice, and thought to herself that the time was fast coming when all her troubles should cease; yet repose was still far off: for one day as she was travelling on, she missed the white feather, and when she lifted up her eyes she could no where see the dove. ‘Now,’ thought she to herself, ‘no human aid can be of use to me;’ so she went to the sun, and said, ‘Thou shinest every where, on the mountain’s top, and the valley’s depth: hast thou any where seen a white dove?’ ‘No,’ said the sun, ‘I have not seen it; but I will give thee a casket — open it when thy hour of need comes.’ So she thanked the sun, and went on her way till eventide; and when the moon arose, she cried unto it, and said, ‘Thou shinest through all the night, over field and grove: hast thou no where seen a white dove?’ ‘No,’ said the moon, ‘I cannot help thee; but I will give thee an egg — break it when need comes.’ Then she thanked the moon, and went on till the night-wind blew; and she raised up her voice to it, and said, ‘Thou blowest through every tree and under every leaf: best thou not seen the white dove?’ ‘No,’ said the night-wind; ‘but I will ask three other winds; perhaps they have seen it.’ Then the east wind and the west wind came, and said they too had not seen it; but the south wind said, ‘I have seen the white dove; he has fled to the Red Sea, and is changed once more into a lion, for the seven years are passed away; and there he is fighting with a dragon, and the dragon is an enchanted princess, who seeks to separate him from you.’ Then the night-Wind said, ‘I will give thee counsel: go to the Red Sea; on the right shore stand many rods; number them, and when thou comest to the eleventh, break it off and smite the dragon with it; so the lion will have the victory, and both of them will appear to you in their human forms, Then instantly set out with thy ...