There was once a poor tenant who had many children, but very little food or clothes to give them. They were all pretty children, but the prettiest was the youngestdaughter. She was so lovely that it was almost too much to handle.
Then one Thursday evening, late in the autumn, there was terribleweather. It was dreadfully dark out of doors, it rained and blew till the wall creaked. They were all sitting by the hearth and kept busy with something or other. All at once someone knocked three times on the window-pane. The man went to see what was the matter outside.There he found a looming white bear. "Good evening!" said the white bear. "Good evening!" said the man. "Will you give me your youngest daughter? If so, I'll make you as rich as you are poor now,"said the bear. He could do that.
The man thought it would be nice to get that rich, but he had tospeak with his daughter first. So he went in and told her that a looming white bear was outside and promised that he would make them rich if he could only have her.
She said "No," and wouldn't agree to any such arrangement. Then the man went out and arranged with the white bear that the bear should come back next Thursday evening for an answer.
In the next few days the others talked her round. They told her of all the riches they would get if she said yes to wedding a bear, and how delightful her new homewould be. At last she gave in to their entreaties and began washing and mending her few rags and made herself look as well as she could. Then she was at last ready for the journey, for her baggage was not much to speak of.
Next Thursday evening the white bear came to fetch her. She got up on his back with her bundle, and off they went. When they had gone some distance the white bear said: "Are you afraid?" Well, no, she wasn't afraid. "Just hold tight to my coat and there will be no danger," said the bear.
And so she rode far, far away. They came at last to a big mountain. The white bear knocked at it. A gate was opened, and they came into a castle where there were a great many rooms all lit up and gleaming with silver and gold. There was also a great hall, where a table stood ready laid. In fact, all was so grand and splendid that you wouldn't believe it unless you saw it.
The white bear gave her a silver bell. She was to ring the bell whenever she wanted anything, and her wishes would be attended to at once.
When she had eaten, it was getting late in the evening and she was very sleepy after the journey. So she thought she would like to go to bed. She rang the bell and scarcely had she touched it before she was in a room where she found the most beautiful bed anyone could wish for. She saw silken pillows and curtains and gold fringes on it too. Everything else in the room was made of goldand silver, silver and gold.
But when she had gone to bed and put out the light, she heard someone coming into the room and sitting down in the big armchair beside the bed. It was the whitebear, who at night could throw off his bear shape. She could hear by his snoring as he sat in the chair that he was now in the shape of a man. But she never saw him, for he always came after she had putout the light, and in the morning before the day dawned he was gone.
For a while everything went on happily. But then she began to be silent and sorrowful, for she went about all day alone, and longed to be at home with her parents and sisters and brothers again.
When the white bear asked what ailed her, she said she was so lonely there, she walked about all alone, and longed for her home and her parents and brothers and sisters: that was the reason she was sad.
"But you may visit them, if you like," said the white bear, "if you'll only promise me one thing: Never talk alone with your mother, but only when there are others in theroom. She'll take you by the hand and try to lead you into a room to speak with you all by yourself; but you must not do this by any means, or you'll make us both unhappy, and bring misfortune on us."
One Sunday the white bear came and told her that they were now going to see her parents. Away they went. She was sitting on his back. They travelled far and long, and at last they came to a grand white farmhouse, where her sisters and brothers were running about. Everything was so pretty that it was a pleasure to see it.
"Your Parents are living here," said the bear; "but mind you don't forget what I've said, or you'll make us both unhappy." No, she wouldn't forget it.
When he had delivered her at the door, the bear turned round and went away. There was such a joy when she came into the home of her parents that there was no end to it. They said they didn't know how to thank her fully for what she had done for them. They had everything they wanted, and everybody asked after her and wanted to know how she was getting on, and where she was living.
She said that she was very comfortable and had everything she wished for; but otherwise they didn't get much out of her. But one day after dinner it happened exactly as the white bear had said; her mother wanted to speak with her alone in her chamber. But the daughter recalled what the bear had told her, and wouldn't go with her. "What we've got to talk about, we can do at some other time," she said.
But somehow or other her mother talked her round at last, and so she had to tell her everything. She told her how a man came into her room every night as soon as she had put out the light, and how she never saw him, for he was always gone before the day dawned. She was sorrowful at this, for she thought she would like to see him, and in the daytime she walked about there alone and felt lonely and sad.
"Dear me!" said her mother, "it may be a troll for all we know! But I'll tell you how you can get a sight of him. Here's a piece of a candle. Take with you home in your bosom. When he is asleep, light that candle, but never drop any of the tallow on him."
Well, she took the candle and hid it in her bosom, and in the evening the white bear came and fetched her.When they had gone some distance of the way the bear asked her if everything hadn't happened as he had said. Yes, she couldn't deny that. "Well, if you've listened to your mother's advice you'll make us both unhappy, and all will be over between us," said the bear. No, she hadn't! she faked.
When they got home and she had gone to bed, the same thing occurred as before. Someone came into the room and sat in the armchair by her bedside. But deep in the night when she heard that he was asleep, she got up and struck a light, lit the candle and let the light rest on him. She then saw that he was the loveliest prince anyone could wish to see. At once she fell deeply in love with him and thought that if she couldn't kiss him there and then she wouldn't be able to live.
So she did, but
at the same time she accidentally dropped three hot drops of tallow on
him and hewoke up. .
She wept and cried, but there was no help for it; he had to go and leave her. So she asked him if she might not go with him. No, that couldn't be done! "But if you'll tell me the way, I'll try and find you," she said. "Isuppose I may have leave to do that!"
Yes, she could do that, he said, but there was no road to that place; it lay east of the sun and west of the moon, and she could never find her way there.
Next morning when she woke up, both the prince and the castle were gone. She lay in a little green clearing deep in a dark thick forest. By her side lay the same bundle of old rags that she had brought with her from home. When she had rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and wept till she was tired, she set out on her way and walked for many, many days. Then she came to a big mountain at last.
Close to it an old woman sat and played with a golden apple.She asked the woman if she knew the way to the prince who lived with his stepmother in a castle that lay east of the sun and west of the moon, and who was going to marry a gold-hungry princess with a nose two yards long.
"How do you know him?"asked the old woman, "maybe itwas you who should have had him?"Yes, it was she. "Ah indeed! So it was you?"said the woman. "Well, all I know is that he lives in the castle which lies east of the sun and west of the moon and you shouldn't come late or never to that place all by yourself. However, let me lend you my own horse. On him you can ride to my neighbour. She's an old friend of mine, and maybe she can tell you more. When you've got there, give my horse a blow with your whip under the left ear andask him to go home again. And now, you'd better take this goldenapple with you."
The girl got up on the horse and rode a long, long time. A last she came to a mountain. An old woman was sitting there with a golden carding-comb.
She asked the old woman if she knew the way to the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon. She answered like the first old woman, that she didn't knowanything about it, but it was sure to be east of the sun and west of the moon, "and you shouldn't comeearly or late to that place all by yourself, but let me lend you my horse as far as my neighbour. Maybe she can tell you. When you've got there, give my horse a blow under the left ear and ask him to go home again." And the old woman gave her the golden carding-comb, which might come in useful, she said.
The young girl got up on the horse and rode for a long, long weary time. Then at last she came to another large mountain. An old woman was sitting there and spinning on a golden spinning-wheel. She asked the old woman if she knew the way to the prince, and where the castle was that lay east of the sun and west of the moon. And so came the same question: "Maybe it's you who should have had the prince?" Yes, it was. But the old woman knew the way no better than the other two. It was east of the sun and west of the moon - she knew that - "and you shouldn't come early or late to that place all by yourself," she said,"but I'll lend you my horse, and then I think you'd better ride to the East Wind and ask him. Maybe heknows those parts and can blow you there. When you've got to the East Wind, just touch the horse under the ear and he'll go home again." And so she gave her the golden spinning-wheel. "You could find a use for it,"said the old woman.
The girl rode on many days for a long weary time before she got to the East Wind. But after a long time she caught up with him and asked him if he could tell her the way to the prince who lived east of the sun and west of the moon.
Yes, he had heard tell of that prince, said the East Wind, and of the castle too, but he didn't know the way there, for he had never blown so far. "But if you like I'll go with you to my brother, the West Wind. Maybe he knows it, for he's much stronger. If you get up on my back I'll carry you to him."
She did so. Away they went at a great speed. When they got to the West Wind, they went into him, and the East Wind told him that she was the one who should have had the prince who lived in the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon. She was now on her way to find him again. Therefore he had gone with her to hear if the West Wind knew where that castle was.
"No, I've never blown so far," said the West Wind, "but if you like I'll go with you to the South Wind, for he's much stronger than any of us, and he has been far and wide; maybe he can tell you. You'd better sit up on my back and I'll carry you to him."
She got on his back, and off they started for the South Wind. They weren't long on the way. When they got there, the West Wind asked his brother if he could tell him the way to the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon. His companion was the one who should have had the prince who lived there.
"I say," said the South Wind, "is she the one? Well, I've been to many a nook and corner in my time, but as far as that I've never blown. But I can go with you to my brother, the North Wind: he's the oldest and strongest of us four. If he doesn't know where it is, you wont' be able to find anyone who can tell you. Just get up on my back and I'll carry you to him."
She sat up on his back. Away they went at such a rate that the way didn't seem to be very long. When they got to where the North Wind lived, cold gusts were felt a long way off. "What do you want?" he asked, and didn't seem cosy and friendly in any way at all. It made them shiver all over. "Oh, don't be harsh with your own brother," said the South Wind, "I have with me the one who should have had the prince who lives in that castle which lies east of the sun and west of the moon. She wants to ask you if you've ever been there and if you can tell her the way. She cares about him and is desperate to find him again."
"Well, I know where it is," said the North Wind; "I once blew an aspen leaf there, but I got so tired that I wasn't able to blow for many days after." He paused before adding, "All right then, if you really want to get there and are not afraid to come with me, I'll take you on my back and try if I can blow you that far."
She was willing; she had to get there if it were possible, one way or another, and she wasn't a bit afraid, she was aching to get her bear-man back. "Very well!" said the North Wind, "Stop here tonight then, for we need a whole day before us and maybe more if we are to reach it."
Early next morning the North Wind called her, and then he puffed himself out and made himself so big and strong that he was terrible to look at. Away they went, high up through the air at a fearful speed. It seemed there were going to the end of the world. There was such a hurricane on land that trees and houses were blown down. When they came out on the big sea, ships were wrecked by the hundred.
Ever onwards they swept, so far, far, that no one would believe how far they went, and still farther and farther out to sea, till in the end the North Wind got so exhausted that he was scarcely able to give another blow. He was sinking and going down more and more. At last they were so low that the tops of the billows touched their heels. "Are you far too afraid?" said the North Wind. "Not altogether," she said.
By now they were not very far from the shore on the other side of the sea either. The North Wind had just enough strength left to reach that shore. He put her off just under the windows of the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon. But he was then so tired and worn out that he had to rest for many days before he could start on his way home again.
Next morning she sat down under the castle windows, and began playing with the golden apple. The first person she saw was the gold-eating princess with the long nose, the one the prince was going to marry. "What do you want for that golden apple?" the gold-hungry princess asked, and opened the casement. "It's not for sale, not at all for money," said the girl. "If it isn't for sale for money, what do you want for it then?" said the gold-hungry princess; "I'll give you what you ask!" "Well, if tonight I may sit in the armchair by the bedside of the prince who lives here, you can have it," said the girl who came with the North Wind. Yes, she might do that, there would be no difficulty about that.
So the gold-hungry princess got the apple of gold, but when the girl came up into the prince's bedroom in the evening, he was fast asleep. No matter how hard she called him and shook him and now and then cried and wept, she couldn't wake him up so that she could talk with him. Next morning, as soon as the day dawned, the gold-hungry princess with the long nose came and turned her out of the room.
Later in the day the girl sat down under the castle windows and began carding with her golden carding-comb, and then the same thing happened again. The gold-hungry princess asked her what she wanted for the carding-comb, and was told that it wasn't for sale for gold or money. But if the girl could be allowed to sit in the armchair by the prince's bedside that night, the gold-hungry princess should have the carding-comb.
But when the girl came up into the bedroom she found her prince fast asleep again. For all she cried and shook him, for all she wept, he slept so soundly that she couldn't get life into him. When the day dawned, in came the gold-hungry princess with the long nose and turned her out of the room again.
As the day wore on, the girl sat down under the castle windows and began spinning on the spinning-wheel. The gold-hungry princess with the long nose came around and wanted to have it. She opened the casement and asked the girl what she wanted for it. The girl told her as she had done twice before that it wasn't for sale either for gold or money. However, if she might sit in the armchair by prince's bedside that night the gold-hungry princessshould have it. Yes, she was allowed that.
Now, there also were some rare people in that castle. They had been carried off and put under arrest in the room next to the prince's. They had heard that some woman had been in his room and wept and cried and called his name two nights on row, and thought the prince should know. So they told him about his strangely deep sleep and the other things that happened in the night.
In the evening, when the gold-hungry princess came and brought him his drink, he looked as if he drank it, but he threw it over his shoulder, for he felt sure she had put a sleeping draught in it. That was the case.
So when the girl came into his room that night she found the prince wide awake, and then she told him how she had come there. "You've come just in time," said the prince, "for tomorrow I was to be married to the gold-hungry princess. But I won't have that long nose, and you're the one who can save me.
" I'll say I want to see what my bride can do, to check if she's fit to be my wife. Then I'll ask her to wash the shirt with the three tallow stains on it. She'll try, for she doesn't know that it was you who dropped the tallow on the shirt and that it may only be washed clean by the one that did it, not by clever trolls in this place. Next I'll say that I won't have anybody else for a bride except the one who can wash the shirt clean, and I know you can do that."
The two of them felt glad and happy about this arrangement, and went on talking all night about the joyful time in store for them.
Next day, when the wedding was to take place, the prince said: "I think I must see first what my bride can do!" "Yes, quite so," said the stepmother.
"I've got a very fine shirt that I want to use for my wedding shirt. But there are three tallow stains on it. I want the stains washed out; and I've made a vow that I won't take any other woman for a wife than the one who can do that. If she fails, she isn't worth having, at least today," said the prince.
"Well, that's easy enough," said the stepmother and agreed to this trial. So the gold-hungry princess with the long nose set to washing the best she could, but the more she washed the bigger grew the stains.
"Why, you can't wash," said her mother; "let me try!" But no sooner did she take the shirt than it got still worse, and the more she washed and rubbed, the bigger and blacker the stains grew.
All the other trolls tried their hands at washing, but the longer they worked at it the dirtier the shirt grew. Finally it looked as if it had been up the chimney. "So, you're not worth having, anyone you!" said the prince; "but there's a poor girl under the window just outside here.I think she can wash much better than any of you. Come in, my girl!" he shouted out to her. The girl came in. "Can you wash this shirt clean?" asked the prince."Well, I'll try," she said.
No sooner had she taken the shirt and dipped it in the water, than it was as white as the driven snow, if not whiter. "Look at that! This one must be my bride," said the prince.
At this exposure the old mother in the castle flew into such a rage that she fell down the stairs and got lame. And the gold-hungry princess hated him so much that she took to eating herself fat. The gold-eaters there didn't know what they should do.
The prince and
his bride then set free the people who had been carried off and wrongly
imprisoned in that place. Then the couple moved away from the castle which
lay east of the sun and west of the moon, for they saw they had the better
life in waiting in quite another place.
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