While working on a sermon the pastor heard a knock at his office door. "Come in," he invited. A sad-looking man in threadbare clothes came in, pulling a large pig on a rope. "Can I talk to you for a minute?" asked the... Read more of Sex On The Sabbath at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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Princess Miranda And Prince Hero

from Polish Fairy Tales





Far away, in the wide ocean there was once a green island where lived
the most beautiful princess in the world, named Miranda. She had lived
there ever since her birth, and was queen of the island. Nobody knew who
were her parents, or how she had come there. But she was not alone; for
there were twelve beautiful maidens, who had grown up with her on the
island, and were her ladies-in-waiting.

But a few strangers had visited the island, and spoken of the princess's
great beauty; and many more came in time, and became her subjects, and
built a magnificent city, in which she had a splendid palace of white
marble to live in.

And in course of time a great many young princes came to woo her. But
she did not care to marry any of them; and if anyone persisted, and
tried to compel her by force to be his wife, she could turn him and all
his soldiers into ice, by merely fixing her eyes upon them.

One day the wicked Kosciey,[2] the king of the Underground realm, came
out into the upper world, and began to gaze all round it with his
telescope. Various empires and kingdoms passed in review before him; and
at last he saw the green island, and the rich city upon it; and the
marble palace in this city, and in this palace the twelve beautiful
young ladies-of-honour, and among them he beheld, lying on a rich couch
of swansdown, the Princess Miranda asleep. She slept like an innocent
child, but she was dreaming of a young knight, wearing a golden helmet,
on a gallant steed, and carrying an invisible mace, that fought of
itself; ... and she loved him better than life.

[2] Kosciey pronounced Kosh-che-eh, literally "Boney."

Kosciey looked at her; he was delighted with her beauty; he struck the
earth three times, and stood upon the green island.

Princess Miranda called together her brave army, and led them into the
field, to fight the wicked Kosciey. But he, blowing on them with his
poisonous breath, sent them all fast asleep, and he was just going to
lay hands upon the princess, when she, throwing a glance of scorn at
him, changed him into a lump of ice, and fled to her capital.

Kosciey did not long remain ice. So soon as the princess was away, he
freed himself from the power of her glance, and regaining his usual
form, followed her to her city. Then he sent all the inhabitants of the
island to sleep, and among them the princess's twelve faithful damsels.

She was the only one whom he could not injure; but being afraid of her
glances, he surrounded the castle--which stood upon a high hill--with an
iron rampart, and placed a dragon with twelve heads on guard before the
gate, and waited for the princess to give herself up of her own accord.

The days passed by, then weeks, then months, while her kingdom became a
desert; all her people were asleep, and her faithful soldiers also lay
sleeping on the open fields, their steel armour all rusted, and wild
plants were growing over them undisturbed. Her twelve maidens were all
asleep in different rooms of the palace, just where they happened to be
at the time; and she herself, all alone, kept walking sadly to and fro
in a little room up in a tower, where she had taken refuge--wringing her
white hands, weeping, and her bosom heaving with sighs.

Around her all were silent, as though dead; only every now and then,
Kosciey, not daring to encounter her angry glance, knocked at the door
asking her to surrender, promising to make her queen of his Underground
realm. But it was all of no use; the princess was silent, and only
threatened him with her looks.

But grieving in her lonely prison Princess Miranda could not forget the
lover of whom she had been dreaming; she saw him just as he had appeared
to her in her dream.

And she looked up with her blue eyes to heaven, and seeing a cloud
floating by, she said:

"O cloud! through the bright sky flying!
Stay, and hearken my piteous sighing!
In my sorrow I call upon thee;
Oh! where is my loved one? say!
Oh! where do his footsteps stray?
And does he now think of me?"

"I know not," the cloud replied. "Ask the wind."

And she looked out into the wide plain, and seeing how the wind was
blowing freely, she said:

"O wind! o'er the wide world flying!
Do thou pity my grief and crying!
Have pity on me!
Oh! where is my loved one? say!
Oh! where do his footsteps stray?
And does he now think of me?"

"Ask the stars," the wind replied; "they know more than I do."

So she cried to the stars:

"O stars! with your bright beams glowing!
Look down on my tears fast flowing!
Have pity, have pity on me!
Oh! where is my loved one? say!
Oh! where do his footsteps stray?
And does he now think of me?"

"Ask the moon," said the stars; "who being nearer to the earth, knows
more of what happens there than we do."

So she said to the moon:

"Bright moon, as your watch you keep,
From the starry skies, o'er this land of sleep,
Look down now, and pity me!
Oh! where is my loved one? say!
Where? where do his footsteps stray?
And does he now think of me?"

"I know nothing about your loved one, princess," replied the moon; "but
here comes the sun, who will surely be able to tell you."

And the sun rose up in the dawn, and at noontide stood just over the
princess's tower, and she said:

"Thou soul of the world! bright sun!
Look on me, in this prison undone!
Have pity on me!
Oh! where is my loved one? say!
Through what lands do his footsteps stray?
And does he now think of me?"

"Princess Miranda," said the sun; "dry your tears, comfort your heart;
your lover is hastening to you, from the bottom of the deep sea, from
under the coral reefs; he has won the enchanted ring; when he puts it on
his finger, his army will increase by thousands, regiment after
regiment, with horse and foot; the drums are beating, the sabres
gleaming, the colours flying, the cannon roaring, they are bearing down
on the empire of Kosciey. But he cannot conquer him by force of mortal
weapons. I will teach him a surer way; and there is good hope that he
will be able to deliver you from Kosciey, and save your country. I will
hasten to your prince. Farewell."

The sun stood over a wide country, beyond the deep seas, beyond high
mountains, where Prince Hero in a golden helmet, on a gallant horse, was
drawing up his army, and preparing to march against Kosciey, the
besieger of the fair princess. He had seen her three times in a dream,
and had heard much about her, for her beauty was famous throughout the
world.

"Dismiss your army," said the sun. "No army can conquer Kosciey, no
bullet can reach him; you can only free Princess Miranda by killing him,
and how you are to do it, you must learn from the old woman Jandza; I
can only tell you where you will find the horse, that must carry you to
her. Go hence towards the East; you will come to a green meadow, in
which there are three oak trees; and among them you will find hidden in
the ground an iron door, with a brazen padlock; behind this door you
will find a battle charger, and a mace; the rest you will learn
afterwards; ... farewell!"

Prince Hero was most surprised; but he took off his enchanted ring and
threw it into the sea; with it all his great army vanished directly into
mist, leaving no trace behind. He turned to the East and travelled
onwards.

After three days he came to the green meadow, where he found the three
oak trees, and the iron door, as he had been told. It opened upon a
narrow, crooked stairway, going downwards, leading into a deep dungeon,
where he found another iron door, closed by a heavy iron padlock. Behind
this he heard a horse neighing, so loudly that it made the door fall to
the ground, and at the same moment eleven other doors flew open and
there came out a war-horse, which had been shut up there for ages by a
wizard.

The prince whistled to the horse; the horse tugged at his fastenings,
and broke twelve chains by which he had been fettered. He had eyes like
stars, flaming nostrils, and a mane like a thunder-cloud; ... he was a
horse of horses, the wonder of the world.

"Prince Hero!" said the horse, "I have long waited for such a rider as
you, and I am ready to serve you for ever. Mount on my back, take that
mace in your hand, which you see hanging to the saddle; you need not
fight with it yourself, for it will strike wherever you command it, and
beat a whole army. I know the way everywhere; tell me where you want to
go, and you will presently be there."

The prince told him everything; took the self-fighting mace in his hand,
and sprang on his back.

The horse reared, snorted, spurned the ground, and they flew over
mountains and forests, higher than the flying clouds, over rapid rivers,
and deep seas; but when they flew along the ground the charger's light
feet never trampled down a blade of grass, nor raised an atom of dust on
the sandy soil.

Before sunset Prince Hero had reached the primeval forest in which the
old woman Jandza lived.

He was amazed at the size and age of the mighty oaks, pine trees and
firs, where there reigned a perpetual twilight. And there was absolute
silence--not a leaf or a blade of grass stirring; and no living thing,
not so much as a bird, or the hum of an insect; only amidst this
grave-like stillness the sound of his horse's hoofs.

The prince stopped before a little house, supported on crooked legs, and
said:

"Little house, move
On your crooked legs free:
Turn your back to the wood,
And your front to me."

The house turned round, with the door towards him; the prince went in,
and the old woman Jandza asked him:

"How did you get here, Prince Hero, where no living soul has penetrated
till now?"

"Don't ask me; but welcome your guest politely."

So the old woman gave the prince food and drink, made up a soft bed for
him, to rest on after his journey, and left him for the night.

Next morning he told her all, and what he had come for.

"You have undertaken a great and splendid task, prince; so I will tell
you how to kill Kosciey. In the Ocean-Sea, on the island of Everlasting
Life, there is an old oak tree; under this tree is buried a coffer bound
with iron; in this coffer is a hare; under the hare sits a grey duck;
this duck carries within her an egg; and in this egg is enclosed the
life of Kosciey. When you break the egg he will die at once. Now
good-bye, prince; and good luck go with you; your horse will show you
the way."

The prince got on horseback, and they soon left the forest behind them,
and came to the shore of the ocean.

On the beach was a fisherman's net, and in the net was a great fish, who
when he saw the prince, cried out piteously:

"Prince Hero! take me out of the net, and throw me back into the sea; I
will repay you!"

The prince took the fish out of the net, and threw it into the sea; it
splashed in the water, and vanished.

The prince looked over the sea, and saw the island in the grey distance,
far, far away; but how was he to get there? He leaned upon his mace,
deep in thought.

"What are you thinking of, prince?" asked the horse.

"I am thinking how I am to get to the island, when I cannot swim over
that breadth of sea."

"Sit on my back, prince, and hold fast."

So the prince sat firm on the horse's back, and held fast by the thick
mane; a wind arose, and the sea was somewhat rough; but rider and horse
pushed on, through the billows, and at last came to shore on the island
of Everlasting Life.

The prince took off his horse's bridle, and let him loose to feed in a
meadow of luxuriant grass, and walked on quickly to a high hill, where
grew the old oak tree. Taking it in both hands he tugged at it; the oak
resisted all his efforts; he tugged again, the oak began to creak, and
moved a little; he mustered all his strength, and tugged again. The oak
fell with a crash to the ground, with its roots uppermost, and there,
where they had stood firmly fixed so many hundred years, was a deep
hole.

Looking down he saw the iron-bound coffer; he fetched it up, broke open
the lock with a stone, raised the lid, picked up the hare lying in it by
its ears; but at that moment the duck, which had been sitting under the
hare, took the alarm, and flew off straight to sea.

The prince fired a shot after her; the bullet hit the duck; she gave one
loud quack, and fell; but in that same instant the egg fell from
her--down to the bottom of the sea. The prince gave a cry of despair;
but just then a great fish came swimming, dived down to the depths of
the sea, and coming to the shore, with the egg in its jaws, left it on
the sand.



The fish swam away; but the prince, taking up the egg, mounted his horse
once more; and they swam till they reached Princess Miranda's island,
where they saw a great iron wall stretching all round her white marble
palace.

There was only one entrance through this iron wall to the palace, and
before this lay the monstrous dragon with the twelve heads, six of which
kept guard alternately; when the one half slept the other six remained
awake. If anyone were to approach the gate he could not escape the
horrid jaws. Nobody could hurt the dragon; for he could only suffer
death by his own act.

The prince stood on the hill before that gate, and commanded his
self-fighting mace, which also had the faculty of becoming invisible, to
go and clear his entrance to the palace.

The invisible, self-fighting mace fell upon the dragon and began to
thunder on all his heads with such force, that all his eyes became
bloodshot, and he began to hiss fiercely; he shook his twelve heads, and
stretched wide his twelve horrid jaws; he spread out his forest of
claws; but this helped him not at all, the mace kept on smiting him,
moving about so fast, that not a single head escaped, but could only
hiss, groan, and shriek wildly! Now it had given a thousand blows, the
blood gushed from a thousand wounds, and there was no help for the
dragon; he raged, writhed about, and shrieked in despair; finally, as
blow followed blow, and he could not see who gave them, he gnashed his
teeth, belched forth flame, and at length turned his claws upon himself,
plunging them deep into his own flesh, struggled, writhed, twisted
himself round, and in and out; his blood flowed freely from his wounds
... and now it was all over with the dragon.

The prince, seeing this, went into the courtyard of the palace, put his
horse into the stable, and went up by a winding stair, towards the
tower, whence the Princess Miranda, having seen him, addressed him:

"Welcome, Prince Hero! I saw how you disposed of the dragon; but do be
careful, for my enemy, Kosciey, is in this palace; he is most powerful,
both through his own strength, and through his sorceries; and if he
kills you I can live no longer.

"Princess Miranda, do not trouble about me. I have the life of Kosciey
in this egg." Then he called out:

"Invisible self-fighting mace, go into the palace and beat Kosciey."

The mace bestirred itself quickly, battered in the iron doors, and set
upon Kosciey; it smote him on the neck, till he crouched all together,
the sparks flew from his eyes, and there was a noise of so many mills in
his ears.

If he had been an ordinary mortal it would have been all over with him
at once; as it was, he was horribly tormented, and puzzled--feeling all
these blows, and never seeing whence they came. He sprang about, raved,
and raged, till the whole island resounded with his roaring.

At last he looked through the window, and behold there he saw Prince
Hero. "Ah! that is all your doing!" he exclaimed; and sprang out into
the courtyard, to rush straight at him, and beat him to a jelly! But the
prince held the egg in one hand ready; and he squeezed it so hard, that
the shell cracked and the yolk and the white were all spilled together
... and Kosciey fell lifeless!

And with the death of the enchanter all his charms were dissolved at
once; all the people in the island who were asleep woke up, and began to
stir. The soldiers woke from sleep, and the drums began to beat; they
formed their ranks, massed themselves in order, and began to march
towards the palace.

And in the palace there was great joy; for Princess Miranda came towards
the prince, gave him her white hand, and thanked him warmly. They went
to the throne-room, and following the princess's example, her twelve
waiting-maids paired off with twelve young officers of the army, and
the couples grouped themselves round the throne, on which the prince and
princess were sitting.

And then a priest, arrayed in all his vestments, came in at the open
door, and the prince and princess exchanged rings, and were married.

And all the other couples were married at the same time, and after the
wedding there was a feast, dancing, and music, which it is a pleasure to
think of. Everywhere there was rejoicing.





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