The Dancing Water The Singing Apple And The Speaking Bird
: Europa's Fairy Book
There was once an herb-gatherer who had three daughters who earned
their living by spinning. One day their father died and left them all
alone in the world. Now the king had a habit of going about the
streets at night, and listening at the doors to hear what the people
said of him. So one night he listened at the door of the house where
the three sisters lived, and heard them disputing. The oldest said:
"If I were the
ife of the royal butler, I could give the whole court
to drink out of one glass of water, and there would be some left."
The second said: "If I were the wife of the keeper of the royal
wardrobe, with one piece of cloth I could clothe all the attendants,
and have some left."
But the youngest daughter said: "Were I the king's wife, I would bear
him two children: a son with a sun on his forehead, and a daughter
with a moon on her brow."
The king went back to his palace, and the next morning sent for the
sisters, and said to them: "Do not be frightened, but tell me what you
said last night." The oldest told him what she had said, and the king
had a glass of water brought, and commanded her to prove her words.
She took the glass, and gave all the attendants some water to drink,
and still there was some water left.
"Bravo!" cried the king, and summoned the butler. "This is your
husband. Now it is your turn," said the king to the next sister, and
commanded a piece of cloth to be brought, and the young girl at once
cut out garments for all the attendants, and had some cloth left.
"Bravo!" cried the king again, and gave her the keeper of the wardrobe
for her husband. "Now it is your turn," said the king to the
"Please your Majesty, I said that if I were the king's wife, I would
bear him two children: a son with a sun on his forehead, and a
daughter with a moon on her brow."
"If that is true," replied the king, "you shall be my queen; if not,
you shall die," and straightway he married her.
Very soon the two older sisters began to be envious of the youngest.
"Look," said they; "she is going to be queen, and we must be
servants!" and they began to hate her. A few months before the queen's
children were to be born, the king declared war, and was obliged to go
with his army, but he left word that if the queen had two children: a
son with a sun on his forehead, and a girl with a moon on her brow,
the mother was to be respected as queen; if not, he was to be informed
of it, and would tell his servants what to do. Then he departed for
When the queen's children were born, a son with a sun on his forehead
and a daughter with a moon on her brow, as she had promised, the
envious sisters bribed the nurse to put little dogs in the place of
the queen's children, and sent word to the king that his wife had
given birth to two puppies. He wrote back that she should be taken
care of for two weeks, and then put into a tread-mill.
Meanwhile the nurse took the little babies, and carried them out of
doors, saying: "I will make the dogs eat them up," and she left them
alone. While they were thus exposed, three fairies passed by and
exclaimed: "Oh how beautiful these children are!" and one of the
fairies said: "What present shall we make these children?" One
answered: "I will give them a deer to nurse them." "And I a purse
always full of money." "And I," said the third fairy, "will give them
a ring which will change colour when any misfortune happens to one of
The deer nursed and took care of the children until they grew up. Then
the fairy who had given them the deer came and said: "Now that you
have grown up, how can you stay here any longer?" "Very well," said
the brother, "I will go to the city and hire a house." "Take care,"
said the deer, "that you hire one opposite the royal palace." So they
went to the city and hired a palace as directed, and furnished it as
if they had been princes. When the aunts saw the brother and sister,
imagine their terror! "They are alive!" they said. They could not be
mistaken for there was the sun on the forehead of the son, and the
moon on the girl's brow. They called the nurse and said to her:
"Nurse, what does this mean? are our nephew and niece alive?" The
nurse watched at the window until she saw the brother go out, and then
she went over as if to make a visit to the new house. She entered and
said: "What is the matter, my daughter; how do you do? Are you
perfectly happy? You lack nothing. But do you know what is necessary
to make you really happy? It is the Dancing Water. If your brother
loves you, he will get it for you!" She remained a moment longer and
When the brother returned, his sister said to him; "Ah! my brother, if
you love me go and get me the Dancing Water." He consented, and next
morning saddled a fine horse, and departed. On his way he met a
hermit, who asked him, "Where are you going, cavalier?"
"I am going for the Dancing Water." "You are going to your death, my
son; but keep on until you find a hermit older than I." He continued
his journey until he met another hermit, who asked him the same
question, and gave him the same direction. Finally he met a third
hermit, older than the other two, with a white beard that came down to
his feet, who gave him the following directions: "You must climb
yonder mountain. On top of it you will find a great plain and a house
with a beautiful gate. Before the gate you will see four giants with
swords in their hands. Take heed; do not make a mistake; for if you
do, that is the end of you! When the giants have their eyes closed, do
not enter; when they have their eyes open, enter. Then you will come
to a door. If you find it open, do not enter; if you find it shut,
push it open and enter. Then you will find four lions. When they have
their eyes shut, do not enter; when their eyes are open, enter, and
you will see the Dancing Water." The youth took leave of the hermit,
and hastened on his way.
Meanwhile the sister kept looking at the ring constantly, to see
whether the stone in it changed colour; but as it did not, she
A few days after leaving the hermit the youth arrived at the top of
the mountain, and saw the palace with the four giants before it. They
had their eyes shut, and the door was open. "No," said the youth,
"that won't do." And so he remained on the lookout a while. When the
giants opened their eyes, and the door closed, he entered, waited
until the lions opened their eyes, and passed in. There he found the
Dancing Water, and filled his bottles with it, and escaped when the
lions again opened their eyes.
The aunts, meanwhile, were delighted because their nephew did not
return; but in a few days he appeared and embraced his sister. Then
they had two golden basins made, and put into them the Dancing Water,
which leaped from one basin to the other. When the aunts saw it they
exclaimed: "Ah! how did he manage to get that water?" and called the
nurse, who again waited until the sister was alone, and then visited
her. "You see," said she, "how beautiful the Dancing Water is! But do
you know what you want now? The Singing Apple." Then she departed.
When the brother who had brought the Dancing Water returned, his
sister said to him: "If you love me you must get for me the Singing
Apple." "Yes, my sister, I will go and get it."
Next morning he mounted his horse, and set out. After a time he met
the first hermit, who sent him to an older one. He asked the youth
where he was going, and said: "It is a difficult task to get the
Singing Apple, but hear what you must do: Climb the mountain; beware
of the giants, the door, and the lions; then you will find a little
door and a pair of shears in it. If the shears are open, enter; if
closed, do not risk it." The youth continued his way, found the
palace, entered, and found everything favourable. When he saw the
shears open, he went in a room and saw a wonderful tree, on top of
which was an apple. He climbed up and tried to pick the apple, but the
top of the tree swayed now this way, now that. He waited until it was
still a moment, seized the branch, and picked the apple. He succeeded
in getting safely out of the palace, mounted his horse, and rode home,
and all the time he was carrying the apple it kept on singing.
The aunts were again delighted because their nephew was so long
absent; but when they saw him return, they felt as though the house
had fallen on them. Again they summoned the nurse, and again she
visited the young girl, and said: "See how beautiful they are, the
Dancing Water and the Singing Apple! But should you see the Speaking
Bird, there would be nothing left for you to see." "Very well," said
the young girl; "we will see whether my brother will get it for me."
When her brother came she asked him for the Speaking Bird, and he
promised to get it for her. He met, as usual on his journey, the first
hermit, who sent him to the second, who sent him on to a third one,
who said to him: "Climb the mountain and enter the palace. You will
find many statues. Then you will come to a garden, in the midst of
which is a fountain, and on the basin is the Speaking Bird. If it
should say anything to you, do not answer. Pick a feather from the
bird's wing, dip it into a jar you will find there, and anoint all the
statues. Keep your eyes open, and all will go well."
The youth already knew well the way, and soon was in the palace. He
found the garden and the bird, which, as soon as it saw him,
exclaimed: "What is the matter, noble sir; have you come for me? You
have missed it. Your aunts have sent you to your death, and you must
remain here. Your mother has been sent to the tread-mill." "My mother
in the tread-mill?" cried the youth, and scarcely were the words out
of his mouth when he became a statue like all the others.
Now when her brother did not come back the third time the sister
looked at her ring, and it had become black, and she knew that
something had befallen him. Poor child! not having anything else to
do, she dressed herself like a page and set out.
Like her brother, she met the three hermits, and received their
instructions. The third concluded thus: "Beware, for if you answer
when the bird speaks you will lose your life, but if you speak not, it
will come to you; take one of its feathers and dip it in the jar you
will see there and anoint your brother's nostril with it." She
continued her way, followed exactly the hermit's directions, and
reached the garden in safety. When the bird saw her it exclaimed: "Ah!
you here, too? Now you will meet the same fate as your brother. Do you
see him lying there? Your father is at the war. Your mother is in the
tread-mill. Your aunts are rejoicing."
But the sister made no reply, but let the bird sing on. When it had
nothing more to say it flew down, and the young girl caught it, pulled
a feather from its wing, dipped it into the jar, and anointed her
brother's nostrils, and he at once came to life again. Then she did
the same with all the other statues, with the lions and the giants,
until all became alive again. Then she departed with her brother, and
all the noblemen, princes, barons, and kings' sons rejoiced greatly.
Now when they had all come to life again the palace disappeared, and
the hermits disappeared, for they were the three fairies.
The day after the brother and sister reached the city where they
lived, they summoned a goldsmith, and had him make a gold chain, and
fasten the bird with it. The next time the aunts looked out they saw
in the window of the palace opposite the Dancing Water, the Singing
Apple, and the Speaking Bird. "Well," said they, "the real trouble is
The bird directed the brother and sister to procure a carriage finer
than the king's, with twenty-four attendants, and to have the service
of their palace, cooks, and servants, more numerous and better than
the king's. All of which the brother and sister did at once. And when
the aunts saw these things they were ready to die of rage.
At last the king returned from the war, and his subjects told him all
the news of the kingdom, and the thing they talked about the least was
his wife and children. One day the king looked out of the window and
saw the palace opposite furnished in a magnificent manner. "Who lives
there?" he asked, but no one could answer him. He looked again and saw
the brother and sister, the former with the sun on his forehead, and
the latter with the moon on her brow. "Gracious! if I did not know
that my wife had given birth to puppies, I should say that those were
my children," exclaimed the king. Another day he stood by the window
and enjoyed the Dancing Water and the Singing Apple, but the bird was
After the king had heard all the music, the bird said: "What does
your Majesty think of it?" The king was astonished at hearing the
Speaking Bird, and answered: "What should I think? It is marvellous."
"There is something more marvellous," said the bird; "just wait."
Then the bird told his mistress to call her brother, and said: "There
is the king; let us invite him to dinner on Sunday. Shall we not?"
"Yes, yes," they said. So the king was invited and accepted, and on
Sunday the bird had a grand dinner prepared and the king came. When he
saw the young people near, he clapped his hands and said: "They must
be my children."
He went over the palace and was astonished at its richness. Then they
went to dinner, and while they were eating the king said: "Bird, every
one is talking; you alone are silent."
"Ah! your Majesty, I am ill; but next Sunday I shall be well and able
to talk, and will come and dine at your palace with this lady and this
The next Sunday the bird directed his mistress and her brother to put
on their finest clothes; so they dressed in royal style and took the
bird with them. The king showed them through his palace and treated
them with the greatest ceremony; the aunts were nearly dead with fear.
When they had seated themselves at the table, the king said: "Come,
bird, you promised me you would speak; have you nothing to say?" Then
the bird began and related all that had happened from the time the
king had listened at the door until his poor wife had been sent to the
tread-mill; then the bird added: "These are your children, and your
wife was sent to the tread-mill, and is dying."
When the king heard all this, he hastened to embrace his children, and
then went to find his poor wife, who was reduced to skin and bones and
was at the point of death. He knelt before her and begged her pardon,
and then summoned her sisters and the nurse, and when they were in his
presence he said to the bird: "Bird, you who have told me everything,
now pronounce their sentence." Then the bird sentenced the nurse to be
thrown out of the window, and the sisters to be cast into a cauldron
of boiling oil. This was at once done. The king was never tired of
embracing his wife. Then the bird departed and the king and his wife
and children lived together in peace.