The Blue Mountains





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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