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The Princess On The Glass Hill

from The Blue Fairy Book





Once upon a time there was a man who had a meadow
which lay on the side of a mountain, and in the meadow
there was a barn in which he stored hay. But there had
not been much hay in the barn for the last two years, for
every St. John's eve, when the grass was in the height
of its vigor, it was all eaten clean up, just as if a whole
flock of sheep had gnawed it down to the ground during
the night. This happened once, and it happened twice,
but then the man got tired of losing his crop, and said
to his sons--he had three of them, and the third was
called Cinderlad--that one of them must go and sleep in
the barn on St. John's night, for it was absurd to let the
grass be eaten up again, blade and stalk, as it had been
the last two years, and the one who went to watch must
keep a sharp look-out, the man said.

The eldest was quite willing to go to the meadow; he
would watch the grass, he said, and he would do it so
well that neither man, nor beast, nor even the devil
himself should have any of it. So when evening came he went
to the barn, and lay down to sleep, but when night was
drawing near there was such a rumbling and such an
earthquake that the walls and roof shook again, and the
lad jumped up and took to his heels as fast as he could,
and never even looked back, and the barn remained empty
that year just as it had been for the last two.

Next St. John's eve the man again said that he could
not go on in this way, losing all the grass in the outlying
field year after year, and that one of his sons must just
go there and watch it, and watch well too. So the next
oldest son was willing to show what he could do. He went
to the barn and lay down to sleep, as his brother had
done; but when night was drawing near there was a great
rumbling, and then an earthquake, which was even worse
than that on the former St. John's night, and when the
youth heard it he was terrified, and went off, running as if
for a wager.

The year after, it was Cinderlad's turn, but when he
made ready to go the others laughed at him, and mocked
him. "Well, you are just the right one to watch the hay,
you who have never learned anything but how to sit
among the ashes and bake yourself!" said they. Cinderlad,
however, did not trouble himself about what they
said, but when evening drew near rambled away to the
outlying field. When he got there he went into the barn
and lay down, but in about an hour's time the rumbling
and creaking began, and it was frightful to hear it. "Well,
if it gets no worse than that, I can manage to stand it,"
thought Cinderlad. In a little time the creaking began
again, and the earth quaked so that all the hay flew
about the boy. "Oh! if it gets no worse than that I can
manage to stand it," thought Cinderlad. But then came
a third rumbling, and a third earthquake, so violent that
the boy thought the walls and roof had fallen down, but
when that was over everything suddenly grew as still as
death around him. "I am pretty sure that it will come
again," thought Cinderlad; but no, it did not. Everything
was quiet, and everything stayed quiet, and when
he had lain still a short time he heard something that
sounded as if a horse were standing chewing just outside
the barn door. He stole away to the door, which was ajar,
to see what was there, and a horse was standing eating.
It was so big, and fat, and fine a horse that Cinderlad had
never seen one like it before, and a saddle and bridle lay
upon it, and a complete suit of armor for a knight, and
everything was of copper, and so bright that it shone
again. "Ha, ha! it is thou who eatest up our hay then,"
thought the boy; "but I will stop that." So he made
haste, and took out his steel for striking fire, and threw
it over the horse, and then it had no power to stir from
the spot, and became so tame that the boy could do what
he liked with it. So he mounted it and rode away to a
place which no one knew of but himself, and there he tied
it up. When he went home again his brothers laughed and
asked how he had got on.

"You didn't lie long in the barn, if even you have been
so far as the field!" said they.

"I lay in the barn till the sun rose, but I saw nothing
and heard nothing, not I," said the boy. "God knows
what there was to make you two so frightened."

"Well, we shall soon see whether you have watched the
meadow or not," answered the brothers, but when they
got there the grass was all standing just as long and as
thick as it had been the night before.

The next St. John's eve it was the same thing, once
again: neither of the two brothers dared to go to the outlying
field to watch the crop, but Cinderlad went, and
everything happened exactly the same as on the previous
St. John's eve: first there was a rumbling and an earthquake,
and then there was another, and then a third: but
all three earthquakes were much, very much more violent
than they had been the year before. Then everything
became still as death again, and the boy heard something
chewing outside the barn door, so he stole as softly as he
could to the door, which was slightly ajar, and again there
was a horse standing close by the wall of the house, eating
and chewing, and it was far larger and fatter than the
first horse, and it had a saddle on its back, and a bridle
was on it too, and a full suit of armor for a knight, all of
bright silver, and as beautiful as anyone could wish to
see. "Ho, ho!" thought the boy, "is it thou who eatest
up our hay in the night? but I will put a stop to that."
So he took out his steel for striking fire, and threw it over
the horse's mane, and the beast stood there as quiet as a
lamb. Then the boy rode this horse, too, away to the
place where he kept the other, and then went home again.

"I suppose you will tell us that you have watched well
again this time," said the brothers.

"Well, so I have," said Cinderlad. So they went there
again, and there the grass was, standing as high and as
thick as it had been before, but that did not make them
any kinder to Cinderlad.

When the third St. John's night came neither of the
two elder brothers dared to lie in the outlying barn to
watch the grass, for they had been so heartily frightened
the night that they had slept there that they could not
get over it, but Cinderlad dared to go, and everything
happened just the same as on the two former nights.
There were three earthquakes, each worse than the other,
and the last flung the boy from one wall of the barn to the
other, but then everything suddenly became still as
death. When he had lain quietly a short time, he heard
something chewing outside the barn door; then he once
more stole to the door, which was slightly ajar, and
behold, a horse was standing just outside it, which was much
larger and fatter than the two others he had caught. "Ho,
ho! it is thou, then, who art eating up our hay this time,"
thought the boy; "but I will put a stop to that." So he
pulled out his steel for striking fire, and threw it over the
horse, and it stood as still as if it had been nailed to the
field, and the boy could do just what he liked with it.
Then he mounted it and rode away to the place where he
had the two others, and then he went home again. Then
the two brothers mocked him just as they had done before,
and told him that they could see that he must have
watched the grass very carefully that night, for he looked
just as if he were walking in his sleep; but Cinderlad did
not trouble himself about that, but just bade them go to
the field and see. They did go, and this time too the
grass was standing, looking as fine and as thick as ever.

The King of the country in which Cinderlad's father
dwelt had a daughter whom he would give to no one who
could not ride up to the top of the glass hill, for there was
a high, high hill of glass, slippery as ice, and it was close
to the King's palace. Upon the very top of this the King's
daughter was to sit with three gold apples in her lap, and
the man who could ride up and take the three golden
apples should marry her, and have half the kingdom. The
King had this proclaimed in every church in the whole
kingdom, and in many other kingdoms too. The Princess
was very beautiful, and all who saw her fell violently in
love with her, even in spite of themselves. So it is
needless to say that all the princes and knights were eager
to win her, and half the kingdom besides, and that for
this cause they came riding thither from the very end
of the world, dressed so splendidly that their raiments
gleamed in the sunshine, and riding on horses which
seemed to dance as they went, and there was not one of
these princes who did not think that he was sure to win
the Princess.

When the day appointed by the King had come, there
was such a host of knights and princes under the glass
hill that they seemed to swarm, and everyone who could
walk or even creep was there too, to see who won the
King's daughter. Cinderlad's two brothers were there
too, but they would not hear of letting him go with
them, for he was so dirty and black with sleeping and
grubbing among the ashes that they said everyone would
laugh at them if they were seen in the company of such
an oaf.

"Well, then, I will go all alone by myself," said
Cinderlad.

When the two brothers got to the glass hill, all the
princes and knights were trying to ride up it, and their
horses were in a foam; but it was all in vain, for no sooner
did the horses set foot upon the hill than down they
slipped, and there was not one which could get even so
much as a couple of yards up. Nor was that strange,
for the hill was as smooth as a glass window-pane, and as
steep as the side of a house. But they were all eager
to win the King's daughter and half the kingdom, so
they rode and they slipped, and thus it went on. At
length all the horses were so tired that they could do no
more, and so hot that the foam dropped from them and
the riders were forced to give up the attempt. The King
was just thinking that he would cause it to be proclaimed
that the riding should begin afresh on the following day,
when perhaps it might go better, when suddenly a knight
came riding up on so fine a horse that no one had ever
seen the like of it before, and the knight had armor of
copper, and his bridle was of copper too, and all his
accoutrements were so bright that they shone again. The
other knights all called out to him that he might just
as well spare himself the trouble of trying to ride up the
glass hill, for it was of no use to try; but he did not heed
them, and rode straight off to it, and went up as if it
were nothing at all. Thus he rode for a long way--it
may have been a third part of the way up--but when he
had got so far he turned his horse round and rode down
again. But the Princess thought that she had never
yet seen so handsome a knight, and while he was riding
up she was sitting thinking, "Oh! how I hope he may be
able to come up to the top!" And when she saw that
he was turning his horse back she threw one of the golden
apples down after him, and it rolled into his shoe. But
when he had come down from off the hill he rode away,
and that so fast that no one knew what had become
of him.

So all the princes and knights were bidden to present
themselves before the King that night, so that he who
had ridden so far up the glass hill might show the golden
apple which the King's daughter had thrown down. But
no one had anything to show. One knight presented
himself after the other, and none could show the apple.

At night, too, Cinderlad's brothers came home again
and had a long story to tell about riding up the glass
hill. At first, they said, there was not one who was able
to get even 50 much as one step up, but then came a
knight who had armor of copper, and a bridle of copper,
and his armor and trappings were so bright that they
shone to a great distance, and it was something like a
sight to see him riding. He rode one-third of the way
up the glass hill, and he could easily have ridden the
whole of it if he had liked; but he had turned back, for
he had made up his mind that that was enough for
once. "Oh! I should have liked to see him too, that I
should," said Cinderlad, who was as usual sitting by the
chimney among the cinders. "You, indeed!" said the
brothers, "you look as if you were fit to be among such
great lords, nasty beast that you are to sit there!"

Next day the brothers were for setting out again, and
this time too Cinderlad begged them to let him go with
them and see who rode; but no, they said he was not fit
to do that, for he was much too ugly and dirty. "Well,
well, then I will go all alone by myself," said Cinderlad.
So the brothers went to the glass hill, and all the princes
and knights began to ride again, and this time they had
taken care to roughen the shoes of their horses; but that
did not help them: they rode and they slipped as they
had done the day before, and not one of them could get
even so far as a yard up the hill. When they had tired
out their horses, so that they could do no more, they
again had to stop altogether. But just as the King
was thinking that it would be well to proclaim that the
riding should take place next day for the last time, so
that they might have one more chance, he suddenly
bethought himself that it would be well to wait a little
longer to see if the knight in copper armor would come
on this day too. But nothing was to be seen of him.
Just as they were still looking for him, however, came a
knight riding on a steed that was much, much finer than
that which the knight in copper armor had ridden, and
this knight had silver armor and a silver saddle and
bridle, and all were so bright that they shone and
glistened when he was a long way off. Again the other knights
called to him, and said that he might just as well give
up the attempt to ride up the glass hill, for it was useless
to try; but the knight paid no heed to that, but rode
straight away to the glass hill, and went still farther up
than the knight in copper armor had gone; but when he
had ridden two-thirds of the way up he turned his horse
around, and rode down again. The Princess liked this
knight still better than she had liked the other, and sat
longing that he might be able to get up above, and when
she saw him turning back she threw the second apple
after him, and it rolled into his shoe, and as soon as he
had got down the glass hill he rode away so fast that no
one could see what had become of him.

In the evening, when everyone was to appear before
the King and Princess, in order that he who had the
golden apple might show it, one knight went in after the
other, but none of them had a golden apple to show.

At night the two brothers went home as they had
done the night before, and told how things had gone,
and how everyone had ridden, but no one had been able
to get up the hill. "But last of all," they said, "came
one in silver armor, and he had a silver bridle on his
horse, and a silver saddle, and oh, but he could ride!
He took his horse two-thirds of the way up the hill, but
then he turned back. He was a fine fellow," said the
brothers, "and the Princess threw the second golden
apple to him!"

"Oh, how I should have liked to see him too!" said
Cinderlad.

"Oh, indeed! He was a little brighter than the ashes
that you sit grubbing among, you dirty black creature!"
said the brothers.

On the third day everything went just as on the former
days. Cinderlad wanted to go with them to look at the
riding, but the two brothers would not have him in their
company, and when they got to the glass hill there was
no one who could ride even so far as a yard up it, and
everyone waited for the knight in silver armor, but he
was neither to be seen nor heard of. At last, after a
long time, came a knight riding upon a horse that was
such a fine one, its equal had never yet been seen. The
knight had golden armor, and the horse a golden saddle
and bridle, and these were all so bright that they shone
and dazzled everyone, even while the knight was still
at a great distance. The other princes and knights were
not able even to call to tell him how useless it was to try
to ascend the hill, so amazed were they at sight of his
magnificence. He rode straight away to the glass hill,
and galloped up it as if it were no hill at all, so that the
Princess had not even time to wish that he might get
up the whole way. As soon as he had ridden to the top,
he took the third golden apple from the lap of the Princess
and then turned his horse about and rode down
again, and vanished from their sight before anyone was
able to say a word to him.

When the two brothers came home again at night they
had much to tell of how the riding had gone off that day,
and at last they told about the knight in the golden
armor too. "He was a fine fellow, that was! Such
another splendid knight is not to be found on earth!"
said the brothers.

"Oh, how I should have liked to see him too!" said
Cinderlad.

"Well, he shone nearly as brightly as the coal-heaps
that thou art always lying raking among, dirty black
creature that thou art!" said the brothers.

Next day all the knights and princes were to appear
before the King and Princess--it had been too late for
them to do it the night before--in order that he who had
the golden apple might produce it. They all went in
turn, first princes, and then knights, but none of them
had a golden apple.

"But somebody must have it," said the King, "for
with our own eyes we all saw a man ride up and take it."
So he commanded that everyone in the kingdom should
come to the palace, and see if he could show the apple.
And one after the other they all came, but no one had
the golden apple, and after a long, long time Cinderlad's
two brothers came likewise. They were the last of all,
so the King inquired of them if there was no one else in
the kingdom left to come.

"Oh! yes, we have a brother," said the two, "but he
never got the golden apple! He never left the
cinder-heap on any of the three days."

"Never mind that," said the King; "as everyone else
has come to the palace, let him come too."

So Cinderlad was forced to go to the King's palace.

"Hast thou the golden apple?" asked the King.

"Yes, here is the first, and here is the second, and here
is the third, too," said Cinderlad, and he took all three
apples out of his pocket, and with that drew off his sooty
rags, and appeared there before them in his bright golden
armor, which gleamed as he stood.

"Thou shalt have my daughter, and the half of my
kingdom, and thou hast well earned both!" said the
King. So there was a wedding, and Cinderlad got the
King's daughter, and everyone made merry at the wedding,
for all of them could make merry, though they
could not ride up the glass hill, and if they have not left
off their merry-making they must be at it still.





Next: The Story Of Prince Ahmed And The Fairy Paribanou

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