The Flower Queen's Daughter





From the Bukowinaer. Von Wliolocki.



A young Prince was riding one day through a meadow that stretched

for miles in front of him, when he came to a deep open ditch. He

was turning aside to avoid it, when he heard the sound of someone

crying in the ditch. He dismounted from his horse, and stepped

along in the direction the sound came from. To his astonishment

he found an old woman, who begged him to help her out of the

ditch. The Prince bent down and lifted her out of her living

grave, asking her at the same time how she had managed to get

there.



'My son,' answered the old woman, 'I am a very poor woman, and

soon after midnight I set out for the neighbouring town in order

to sell my eggs in the market on the following morning; but I

lost my way in the dark, and fell into this deep ditch, where I

might have remained for ever but for your kindness.'



Then the Prince said to her, 'You can hardly walk; I will put you

on my horse and lead you home. Where do you live?'



'Over there, at the edge of the forest in the little hut you see

in the distance,' replied the old woman.



The Prince lifted her on to his horse, and soon they reached the

hut, where the old woman got down, and turning to the Prince

said, 'Just wait a moment, and I will give you something.' And

she disappeared into her hut, but returned very soon and said,

'You are a mighty Prince, but at the same time you have a kind

heart, which deserves to be rewarded. Would you like to have the

most beautiful woman in the world for your wife?'



'Most certainly I would,' replied the Prince.



So the old woman continued, 'The most beautiful woman in the

whole world is the daughter of the Queen of the Flowers, who has

been captured by a dragon. If you wish to marry her, you must

first set her free, and this I will help you to do. I will give

you this little bell: if you ring it once, the King of the Eagles

will appear; if you ring it twice, the King of the Foxes will

come to you; and if you ring it three times, you will see the

King of the Fishes by your side. These will help you if you are

in any difficulty. Now farewell, and heaven prosper your

undertaking.' She handed him the little bell, and there

disappeared hut and all, as though the earth had swallowed her

up.



Then it dawned on the Prince that he had been speaking to a good

fairy, and putting the little bell carefully in his pocket, he

rode home and told his father that he meant to set the daughter

of the Flower Queen free, and intended setting out on the

following day into the wide world in search of the maid.



So the next morning the Prince mounted his fine horse and left

his home. He had roamed round the world for a whole year, and

his horse had died of exhaustion, while he himself had suffered

much from want and misery, but still he had come on no trace of

her he was in search of. At last one day he came to a hut, in

front of which sat a very old man. The Prince asked him, 'Do you

not know where the Dragon lives who keeps the daughter of the

Flower Queen prisoner?'



'No, I do not,' answered the old man. 'But if you go straight

along this road for a year, you will reach a hut where my father

lives, and possibly he may be able to tell you.'



The Prince thanked him for his information, and continued his

journey for a whole year along the same road, and at the end of

it came to the little hut, where he found a very old man. He

asked him the same question, and the old man answered, 'No, I do

not know where the Dragon lives. But go straight along this road

for another year, and you will come to a hut in which my father

lives. I know he can tell you.'



And so the Prince wandered on for another year, always on the

same road, and at last reached the hut where he found the third

old man. He put the same question to him as he had put to his

son and grandson; but this time the old man answered, 'The Dragon

lives up there on the mountain, and he has just begun his year of

sleep. For one whole year he is always awake, and the next he

sleeps. But if you wish to see the Flower Queen's daughter go up

the second mountain: the Dragon's old mother lives there, and she

has a ball every night, to which the Flower Queen's daughter goes

regularly.'



So the Prince went up the second mountain, where he found a

castle all made of gold with diamond windows. He opened the big

gate leading into the courtyard, and was just going to walk in,

when seven dragons rushed on him and asked him what he wanted?



The Prince replied, 'I have heard so much of the beauty and

kindness of the Dragon's Mother, and would like to enter her

service.'



This flattering speech pleased the dragons, and the eldest of

them said, 'Well, you may come with me, and I will take you to

the Mother Dragon.'



They entered the castle and walked through twelve splendid halls,

all made of gold and diamonds. In the twelfth room they found

the Mother Dragon seated on a diamond throne. She was the

ugliest woman under the sun, and, added to it all, she had three

heads. Her appearance was a great shock to the Prince, and so

was her voice, which was like the croaking of many ravens. She

asked him, 'Why have you come here?'



The Prince answered at once, 'I have heard so much of your beauty

and kindness, that I would very much like to enter your service.'



'Very well,' said the Mother Dragon; 'but if you wish to enter my

service, you must first lead my mare out to the meadow and look

after her for three days; but if you don't bring her home safely

every evening, we will eat you up.'



The Prince undertook the task and led the mare out to the meadow.



But no sooner had they reached the grass than she vanished. The

Prince sought for her in vain, and at last in despair sat down on

a big stone and contemplated his sad fate. As he sat thus lost

in thought, he noticed an eagle flying over his head. Then he

suddenly bethought him of his little bell, and taking it out of

his pocket he rang it once. In a moment he heard a rustling

sound in the air beside him, and the King of the Eagles sank at

his feet.



'I know what you want of me,' the bird said. 'You are looking

for the Mother Dragon's mare who is galloping about among the

clouds. I will summon all the eagles of the air together, and

order them to catch the mare and bring her to you.' And with

these words the King of the Eagles flew away. Towards evening

the Prince heard a mighty rushing sound in the air, and when he

looked up he saw thousands of eagles driving the mare before

them. They sank at his feet on to the ground and gave the mare

over to him. Then the Prince rode home to the old Mother Dragon,

who was full of wonder when she saw him, and said, 'You have

succeeded to-day in looking after my mare, and as a reward you

shall come to my ball to-night.' She gave him at the same time a

cloak made of copper, and led him to a big room where several

young he-dragons and she-dragons were dancing together. Here,

too, was the Flower Queen's beautiful daughter. Her dress was

woven out of the most lovely flowers in the world, and her

complexion was like lilies and roses. As the Prince was dancing

with her he managed to whisper in her ear, 'I have come to set

you free!'



Then the beautiful girl said to him, 'If you succeed in bringing

the mare back safely the third day, ask the Mother Dragon to give

you a foal of the mare as a reward.'



The ball came to an end at midnight, and early next morning the

Prince again led the Mother Dragon's mare out into the meadow.

But again she vanished before his eyes. Then he took out his

little bell and rang it twice.



In a moment the King of the Foxes stood before him and said: 'I

know already what you want, and will summon all the foxes of the

world together to find the mare who has hidden herself in a

hill.'



With these words the King of the Foxes disappeared, and in the

evening many thousand foxes brought the mare to the Prince.



Then he rode home to the Mother-Dragon, from whom he received

this time a cloak made of silver, and again she led him to the

ball-room.



The Flower Queen's daughter was delighted to see him safe and

sound, and when they were dancing together she whispered in his

ear: 'If you succeed again to-morrow, wait for me with the foal

in the meadow. After the ball we will fly away together.'



On the third day the Prince led the mare to the meadow again; but

once more she vanished before his eyes. Then the Prince took out

his little bell and rang it three times.



In a moment the King of the Fishes appeared, and said to him: 'I

know quite well what you want me to do, and I will summon all the

fishes of the sea together, and tell them to bring you back the

mare, who is hiding herself in a river.'



Towards evening the mare was returned to him, and when he led her

home to the Mother Dragon she said to him:



'You are a brave youth, and I will make you my body-servant. But

what shall I give you as a reward to begin with?'



The Prince begged for a foal of the mare, which the Mother Dragon

at once gave him, and over and above, a cloak made of gold, for

she had fallen in love with him because he had praised her

beauty.



So in the evening he appeared at the ball in his golden cloak;

but before the entertainment was over he slipped away, and went

straight to the stables, where he mounted his foal and rode out

into the meadow to wait for the Flower Queen's daughter. Towards

midnight the beautiful girl appeared, and placing her in front of

him on his horse, the Prince and she flew like the wind till they

reached the Flower Queen's dwelling. But the dragons had noticed

their flight, and woke their brother out of his year's sleep. He

flew into a terrible rage when he heard what had happened, and

determined to lay siege to the Flower Queen's palace; but the

Queen caused a forest of flowers as high as the sky to grow up

round her dwelling, through which no one could force a way.



When the Flower Queen heard that her daughter wanted to marry the

Prince, she said to him: 'I will give my consent to your marriage

gladly, but my daughter can only stay with you in summer. In

winter, when everything is dead and the ground covered with snow,

she must come and live with me in my palace underground.' The

Prince consented to this, and led his beautiful bride home, where

the wedding was held with great pomp and magnificence. The young

couple lived happily together till winter came, when the Flower

Queen's daughter departed and went home to her mother. In summer

she returned to her husband, and their life of joy and happiness

began again, and lasted till the approach of winter, when the

Flower Queen's daughter went back again to her mother. This

coming and going continued all her life long, and in spite of it

they always lived happily together.





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