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The Blue Mountains

from The Yellow Fairy Book





There were once a Scotsman and an Englishman and an Irishman
serving in the army together, who took it into their heads to run
away on the first opportunity they could get. The chance came
and they took it. They went on travelling for two days through a
great forest, without food or drink, and without coming across a
single house, and every night they had to climb up into the trees
through fear of the wild beasts that were in the wood. On the
second morning the Scotsman saw from the top of his tree a great
castle far away. He said to himself that he would certainly die
if he stayed in the forest without anything to eat but the roots
of grass, which would not keep him alive very long. As soon,
then, as he got down out of the tree he set off towards the
castle, without so much as telling his companions that he had
seen it at all; perhaps the hunger and want they had suffered had
changed their nature so much that the one did not care what
became of the other if he could save himself. He travelled on
most of the day, so that it was quite late when he reached the
castle, and to his great disappointment found nothing but closed
doors and no smoke rising from the chimneys. He thought there
was nothing for it but to die after all, and had lain down beside
the wall, when he heard a window being opened high above him. At
this he looked up, and saw the most beautiful woman he had ever
set eyes on.

'Oh, it is Fortune that has sent you to me,' he said.

'It is indeed,' said she. 'What are you in need of, or what has
sent you here?'

'Necessity,' said he. 'I am dying for want of food and drink.'

'Come inside, then,' she said; 'there is plenty of both here.'

Accordingly he went in to where she was, and she opened a large
room for him, where he saw a number of men lying asleep. She
then set food before him, and after that showed him to the room
where the others were. He lay down on one of the beds and fell
sound asleep. And now we must go back to the two that he left
behind him in the wood.

When nightfall and the time of the wild beasts came upon these,
the Englishman happened to climb up into the very same tree on
which the Scotsman was when he got a sight of the castle; and as
soon as the day began to dawn and the Englishman looked to the
four quarters of heaven, what did he see but the castle too! Off
he went without saying a word to the Irishman, and everything
happened to him just as it had done to the Scotsman.

The poor Irishman was now left all alone, and did not know where
the others had gone to, so he just stayed where he was, very sad
and miserable. When night came he climbed up into the same tree
as the Englishman had been on the night before. As soon as day
came he also saw the castle, and set out towards it; but when he
reached it he could see no signs of fire or living being about
it. Before long, however, he heard the window opened above his
head, looked up, and beheld the most beautiful woman he had ever
seen. He asked if she would give him food and drink, and she
answered kindly and heartily that she would, if he would only
come inside. This he did very willingly, and she set before him
food and drink that he had never seen the like of before. In the
room there was a bed, with diamond rings hanging at every loop of
the curtains, and everything that was in the room besides
astonished him so much that he actually forgot that he was
hungry. When she saw that he was not eating at all, she asked
him what he wanted yet, to which he replied that he would neither
eat nor drink until he knew who she was, or where she came from,
or who had put her there.

'I shall tell you that,' said she. 'I am an enchanted Princess,
and my father has promised that the man who releases me from the
spell shall have the third of his kingdom while he is alive, and
the whole of it after he is dead, and marry me as well. If ever
I saw a man who looked likely to do this, you are the one. I
have been here for sixteen years now, and no one who ever came to
the castle has asked me who I was, except yourself. Every other
man that has come, so long as I have been here, lies asleep in
the big room down there.'

'Tell me, then,' said the Irishman, 'what is the spell that has
been laid on you, and how you can be freed from it.'

'There is a little room there,' said the Princess, 'and if I
could get a man to stay in it from ten o'clock till midnight for
three nights on end I should be freed from the spell.'

'I am the man for you, then,' said he; 'I will take on hand to do
it.'

Thereupon she brought him a pipe and tobacco, and he went into
the room; but before long he heard a hammering and knocking on
the outside of the door, and was told to open it

'I won't,' he said.

The next moment the door came flying in, and those outside along
with it. They knocked him down, and kicked him, and knelt on his
body till it came to midnight; but as soon as the cock crew they
all disappeared. The Irishman was little more than alive by this
time. As soon as daylight appeared the Princess came, and found
him lying full length on the floor, unable to speak a word. She
took a bottle, rubbed him from head to foot with something from
it, and thereupon he was as sound as ever; but after what he had
got that night he was very unwilling to try it a second time.
The Princess, however, entreated him to stay, saying that the
next night would not be so bad, and in the end he gave in and
stayed.

When it was getting near midnight he heard them ordering him to
open the door, and there were three of them for every one that
there had been the previous evening. He did not make the
slightest movement to go out to them or to open the door, but
before long they broke it up, and were in on top of him. They
laid hold of him, and kept throwing him between them up to the
ceiling, or jumping above him, until the cock crew, when they all
disappeared. When day came the Princess went to the room to see
if he was still alive, and taking the bottle put it to his
nostrils, which soon brought him to himself. The first thing he
said then was that he was a fool to go on getting himself killed
for anyone he ever saw, and was determined to be off and stay
there no longer, When the Princess learned his intention she
entreated him to stay, reminding him that another night would
free her from the spell. 'Besides,' she said, 'if there is a
single spark of life in you when the day comes, the stuff that is
in this bottle will make you as sound as ever you were.'

With all this the Irishman decided to stay; but that night there
were three at him for every one that was there the two nights
before, and it looked very unlikely that he would be alive in the
morning after all that he got. When morning dawned, and the
Princess came to see if he was still alive, she found him lying
on the floor as if dead. She tried to see if there was breath in
him, but could not quite make it out. Then she put her hand on
his pulse, and found a faint movement in it. Accordingly she
poured what was in the bottle on him, and before long he rose up
on his feet, and was as well as ever he was. So that business
was finished, and the Princess was freed from the spell.

The Princess then told the Irishman that she must go away for the
present, but would return for him in a few days in a carriage
drawn by four grey horses. He told her to 'be aisy,' and not
speak like that to him. 'I have paid dear for you for the last
three nights,' he said, 'if I have to part with you now;' but in
the twinkling of an eye she had disappeared. He did not know
what to do with himself when he saw that she was gone, but before
she went she had given him a little rod, with which he could,
when he pleased, waken the men who had been sleeping there, some
of them for sixteen years.

After being thus left alone, he went in and stretched himself on
three chairs that were in the room, when what does he see coming
in at the door but a little fair-haired lad.

'Where did you come from, my lad?' said the Irishman.

'I came to make ready your food for you,' said he.

'Who told you to do that?' said the Irishman.

'My mistress,' answered the lad--'the Princess that was under the
spell and is now free.'

By this the Irishman knew that she had sent the lad to wait on
him. The lad also told him that his mistress wished him to be
ready next morning at nine o'clock, when she would come for him
with the carriage, as she had promised. He was greatly pleased
at this, and next morning, when the time was drawing near, went
out into the garden; but the little fair-haired lad took a big
pin out of his pocket, and stuck it into the back of the
Irishman's coat without his noticing it, whereupon he fell sound
asleep.

Before long the Princess came with the carriage and four horses,
and asked the lad whether his master was awake. He said that he
wasn't. 'It is bad for him,' said she, 'when the night is not
long enough for him to sleep. Tell him that if he doesn't meet
me at this time to-morrow it is not likely that he will ever see
me again all his life.'

As soon as she was gone the lad took the pin out of his master's
coat, who instantly awoke. The first word he said to the lad
was, 'Have you seen her?'

'Yes,' said he, 'and she bade me tell you that if you don't meet
her at nine o'clock to-morrow you will never see her again.'

He was very sorry when he heard this, and could not understand
why the sleep should have fallen upon him just when she was
coming. He decided, however, to go early to bed that night, in
order to rise in time nest morning, and so he did. When it was
getting near nine o'clock he went out to the garden to wait till
she came, and the fair-haired lad along with him; but as soon as

the lad got the chance he stuck the pin into his master's coat
again and he fell asleep as before. Precisely at nine o'clock
came the Princess in the carriage with four horses, and asked the
lad if his master had got up yet; but he said 'No, he was asleep,
just as he was the day before.' 'Dear! dear!' said the
Princess, 'I am sorry for him. Was the sleep he had last night
not enough for him? Tell him that he will never see me here
again; and here is a sword that you will give him in my name, and
my blessing along with it.'

With this she went off, and as soon as she had gone the lad took
the pin out of his master's coat. He awoke instantly, and the
first word he said was, 'Have you seen her?' The lad said that he
had, and there was the sword she had left for him. The Irishman
was ready to kill the lad out of sheer vexation, but when he gave
a glance over his shoulder not a trace of the fair-haired lad was
left.

Being thus left all alone, he thought of going into the room
where all the men were lying asleep, and there among the rest he
found his two comrades who had deserted along with him. Then he
remembered what the Princess had told him--that he had only to
touch them with the rod she had given him and they would all
awake; and the first he touched were his own comrades. They
started to their feet at once, and he gave them as much silver
and gold as they could carry when they went away. There was
plenty to do before he got all the others wakened, for the two
doors of the castle were crowded with them all the day long.

The loss of the Princess, however, kept rankling in his mind day
and night, till finally he thought he would go about the world to
see if he could find anyone to give him news of her. So he took
the best horse in the stable and set out. Three years he spent
travelling through forests and wildernesses, but could find no
one able to tell him anything of the Princess. At last he fell
into so great despair that he thought he would put an end to his
own life, and for this purpose laid hold of the sword that she
had given him by the hands of the fair-haired lad; but on drawing
it from its sheath he noticed that there was some writing on one
side of the blade. He looked at this, and read there, 'You will
find me in the Blue Mountains.' This made him take heart again,
and he gave up the idea of killing himself, thinking that he
would go on in hope of meeting some one who could tell him where
the Blue Mountains were. After he had gone a long way without
thinking where he was going, he saw at last a light far away, and
made straight for it. On reaching it he found it came from a
little house, and as soon as the man inside heard the noise of
the horse's feet he came out to see who was there. Seeing a
stranger on horseback, he asked what brought him there and where
he was going.

'I have lived here,' said he, 'for three hundred years, and all
that time I have not seen a single human being but yourself.'

'I have been going about for the last three years,' said the
Irishman, 'to see if I could find anyone who can tell me where
the Blue Mountains are.'

'Come in,' said the old man, 'and stay with me all night. I have
a book which contains the history of the world, which I shall go
through to-night, and if there is such a place as the Blue
Mountains in it we shall find it out.'

The Irishman stayed there all night, and as soon as morning came
rose to go. The old man said he had not gone to sleep all night
for going through the book, but there was not a word about the
Blue Mountains in it. 'But I'll tell you what,' he said, 'if
there is such a place on earth at all, I have a brother who lives
nine hundred miles from here, and he is sure to know where they
are, if anyone in this world does.' The Irishman answered that
he could never go these nine hundred miles, for his horse was
giving in already. 'That doesn't matter,' said the old man; 'I
can do better than that. I have only to blow my whistle and you
will be at my brother's house before nightfall.'

So he blew the whistle, and the Irishman did not know where on
earth he was until he found himself at the other old man's door,
who also told him that it was three hundred years since he had
seen anyone, and asked him where he was going.

'I am going to see if I can find anyone that can tell me where
the Blue Mountains are,' he said.

'If you will stay with me to-night,' said the old man, 'I have a
book of the history of the world, and I shall know where they are
before daylight, if there is such a place in it at all.'

He stayed there all night, but there was not a word in the book
about the Blue Mountains. Seeing that he was rather cast down,
the old man told him that he had a brother nine hundred miles
away, and that if information could be got about them from anyone
it would be from him; 'and I will enable you,' he said, 'to reach
the place where he lives before night.' So he blew his whistle,
and the Irishman landed at the brother's house before nightfall.
When the old man saw him he said he had not seen a single man for
three hundred years, and was very much surprised to see anyone
come to him now.

'Where are you going to?' he said.

'I am going about asking for the Blue Mountains,' said the
Irishman.

'The Blue Mountains?' said the old man.

'Yes,' said the Irishman.

'I never heard the name before; but if they do exist I shall find
them out. I am master of all the birds in the world, and have
only to blow my whistle and every one will come to me. I shall
then ask each of them to tell where it came from, and if there is
any way of finding out the Blue Mountains that is it.'

So he blew his whistle, and when he blew it then all the birds of
the world began to gather. The old man questioned each of them
as to where they had come from, but there was not one of them
that had come from the Blue Mountains. After he had run over
them all, however, he missed a big Eagle that was wanting, and
wondered that it had not come. Soon afterwards he saw something
big coming towards him, darkening the sky. It kept coming nearer
and growing bigger, and what was this after all but the Eagle?
When she arrived the old man scolded her, and asked what had kept
her so long behind.

'I couldn't help it,' she said; 'I had more than twenty times
further to come than any bird that has come here to-day.'

'Where have you come from, then?' said the old man.

'From the Blue Mountains,' said she.

'Indeed!' said the old man; and what are they doing there?'

'They are making ready this very day,' said the Eagle, 'for the
marriage of the daughter of the King of the Blue Mountains. For
three years now she has refused to marry anyone whatsoever, until
she should give up all hope of the coming of the man who released
her from the spell. Now she can wait no longer, for three years
is the time that she agreed with her father to remain without
marrying.'

The Irishman knew that it was for himself she had been waiting so
long, but he was unable to make any better of it, for he had no
hope of reaching the Blue Mountains all his life. The old man
noticed how sad he grew, and asked the Eagle what she would take
for carrying this man on her back to the Blue Mountains.

'I must have threescore cattle killed,' said she, 'and cut up
into quarters, and every time I look over my shoulder he must
throw one of them into my mouth.'

As soon as the Irishman and the old man heard her demand they
went out hunting, and before evening they had killed three-score
cattle. They made quarters of them, as the Eagle told them, and
then the old man asked her to lie down, till they would get it
all heaped up on her back. First of all, though, they had to get
a ladder of fourteen steps, to enable them to get on to the
Eagle's back, and there they piled up the meat as well as they
could. Then the old man told the Irishman to mount, and to
remember to throw a quarter of beef to her every time she looked
round. He went up, and the old man gave the Eagle the word to be
off, which she instantly obeyed; and every time she turned her
head the Irishman threw a quarter of beef into her mouth.

As they came near the borders of the kingdom of the Blue
Mountains, however, the beef was done, and, when the Eagle looked
over her shoulder, what was the Irishman at but throwing the
stone between her tail and her neck! At this she turned a
complete somersault, and threw the Irishman off into the sea,
where he fell into the bay that was right in front of the King's
Palace. Fortunately the points of his toes just touched the
bottom, and he managed to get ashore.

When he went up into the town all the streets were gleaming with
light, and the wedding of the Princess was just about to begin.
He went into the first house he came to, and this happened to be
the house of the King's hen-wife. He asked the old woman what
was causing all the noise and light in the town.

'The Princess,' said she, 'is going to be married to-night
against her will, for she has been expecting every day that the
man who freed her from the spell would come.'

'There is a guinea for you,' said he; 'go and bring her here.'

The old woman went, and soon returned along with the Princess.
She and the Irishman recognised each other, and were married, and
had a great wedding that lasted for a year and a day.





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Previous: How To Tell A True Princess



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