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Ein Mohr

from The Yellow Fairy Book





The old man went and did his errand. When he had brought the
precious robes, the Crab put on the golden garment and then crept
upon the golden cushion, and in this way the fisherman carried
him to the castle, where the Crab presented the other garment to
his bride. Now the ceremony took place, and when the married
pair were alone together the Crab made himself known to his young
wife, and told her how he was the son of the greatest king in the
world, and how he was enchanted, so that he became a crab by day
and was a man only at night; and he could also change himself
into an eagle as often as he wished. No sooner had he said this
than he shook himself, and immediately became a handsome youth,
but the next morning he was forced to creep back again into his
crab-shell. And the same thing happened every day. But the
Princess's affection for the Crab, and the polite attention with
which she behaved to him, surprised the royal family very much.
They suspected some secret, but though they spied and spied, they
could not discover it. Thus a year passed away, and the Princess
had a son, whom she called Benjamin. But her mother still
thought the whole matter very strange. At last she said to the
King that he ought to ask his daughter whether she would not like
to have another husband instead of the Crab? But when the
daughter was questioned she only answered:

'I am married to the Crab, and him only will I have.'

Then the King said to her, 'I will appoint a tournament in your
honour, and I will invite all the princes in the world to it, and
if any one of them pleases you, you shall marry him.'

In the evening the Princess told this to the Crab, who said to
her, 'Take this rod, go to the garden gate and knock with it,
then a black man will come out and say to you, ''Why have you
called me, and what do you require of me?'' Answer him thus:
'Your master the King has sent me hither to tell you to send him
his golden armour and his steed and the silver apple.'' And bring
them to me.'

The Princess did so, and brought him what he desired.

The following evening the Prince dressed himself for the
tournament. Before he went he said to his wife, 'Now mind you do
not say when you see me that I am the Crab. For if you do this
evil will come of it. Place yourself at the window with your
sisters; I will ride by and throw you the silver apple. Take it
in your hand, but if they ask you who I am, say that you do not
know.' So saying, he kissed her, repeated his warning once more,
and went away.

The Princess went with her sisters to the window and looked on at
the tournament. Presently her husband rode by and threw the
apple up to her. She caught it in her hand and went with it to
her room, and by-and-by her husband came back to her. But her
father was much surprised that she did not seem to care about any
of the Princes; he therefore appointed a second tournament.

The Crab then gave his wife the same directions as before, only
this time the apple which she received from the black man was of
gold. But before the Prince went to the tournament he said to
his wife, 'Now I know you will betray me to-day.'

But she swore to him that she would not tell who he was. He then
repeated his warning and went away.

In the evening, while the Princess, with her mother and sisters,
was standing at the window, the Prince suddenly galloped past on
his steed and threw her the golden apple.

Then her mother flew into a passion, gave her a box on the ear,
and cried out, 'Does not even that prince please you, you fool?'

The Princess in her fright exclaimed, 'That is the Crab himself!'

Her mother was still more angry because she had not been told
sooner, ran into her daughter's room where the crab-shell was
still lying, took it up and threw it into the fire. Then the
poor Princess cried bitterly, but it was of no use; her husband
did not come back.

Now we must leave the Princess and turn to the other persons in
the story. One day an old man went to a stream to dip in a crust
of bread which he was going to eat, when a dog came out of the
water, snatched the bread from his hand, and ran away. The old
man ran after him, but the dog reached a door, pushed it open,
and ran in, the old man following him. He did not overtake the
dog, but found himself above a staircase, which he descended.
Then he saw before him a stately palace, and, entering, he found
in a large hall a table set for twelve persons. He hid himself
in the hall behind a great picture, that he might see what would
happen. At noon he heard a great noise, so that he trembled with
fear. When he took courage to look out from behind the picture,
he saw twelve eagles flying in. At this sight his fear became
still greater. The eagles flew to the basin of a fountain that
was there and bathed themselves, when suddenly they were changed
into twelve handsome youths. Now they seated themselves at the
table, and one of them took up a goblet filled with wine, and
said, 'A health to my father!' And another said, 'A health to my
mother!' and so the healths went round. Then one of them said:

'A health to my dearest lady,
Long may she live and well!
But a curse on the cruel mother
That burnt my golden shell!'

And so saying he wept bitterly. Then the youths rose from the
table, went back to the great stone fountain, turned themselves
into eagles again, and flew away.

Then the old man went away too, returned to the light of day, and
went home. Soon after he heard that the Princess was ill, and
that the only thing that did her good was having stories told to
her. He therefore went to the royal castle, obtained an audience
of the Princess, and told her about the strange things he bad
seen in the underground palace. No sooner had he finished than
the Princess asked him whether he could find the way to that
palace.

'Yes,' he answered, 'certainly.'

And now she desired him to guide her thither at once. The old
man did so, and when they came to the palace he hid her behind
the great picture and advised her to keep quite still, and he
placed himself behind the picture also. Presently the eagles
came flying in, and changed themselves into young men, and in a
moment the Princess recognised her husband amongst them all, and
tried to come out of her hiding-place; but the old man held her
back. The youths seated themselves at the table; and now the
Prince said again, while he took up the cup of wine:

'A health to my dearest lady,
Long may she live and well!
But a curse on the cruel mother
That burnt my golden shell!'

Then the Princess could restrain herself no longer, but ran
forward and threw her arms round her husband. And immediately he
knew her again, and said:

'Do you remember how I told you that day that you would betray
me? Now you see that I spoke the truth. But all that bad time
is past. Now listen to me: I must still remain enchanted for
three months. Will you stay here with me till that time is
over?'

So the Princess stayed with him, and said to the old man, 'Go
back to the castle and tell my parents that I am staying here.'

Her parents were very much vexed when the old man came back and
told them this, but as soon as the three months of the Prince's
enchantment were over, he ceased to be an eagle and became once
more a man, and they returned home together. And then they lived
happily, and we who hear the story are happier still.





Next: The Iron Stove

Previous: The Golden Crab



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