The Witch And Her Servants

: The Yellow Fairy Book

From the Russian. Kletke.

Long time ago there lived a King who had three sons; the eldest

was called Szabo, the second Warza, and the youngest Iwanich.

One beautiful spring morning the King was walking through his

gardens with these three sons, gazing with admiration at the

various fruit-trees, some of which were a mass of blossom, whilst

others were bowed to the ground laden with rich frui
. During

their wanderings they came unperceived on a piece of waste land

where three splendid trees grew. The King looked on them for a

moment, and then, shaking his head sadly, he passed on in


The sons, who could not understand why he did this, asked him the

reason of his dejection, and the King told them as follows:

'These three trees, which I cannot see without sorrow, were

planted by me on this spot when I was a youth of twenty. A

celebrated magician, who had given the seed to my father,

promised him that they would grow into the three finest trees the

world had ever seen. My father did not live to see his words

come true; but on his death-bed he bade me transplant them here,

and to look after them with the greatest care, which I

accordingly did. At last, after the lapse of five long years, I

noticed some blossoms on the branches, and a few days later the

most exquisite fruit my eyes had ever seen.

'I gave my head-gardener the strictest orders to watch the trees

carefully, for the magician had warned my father that if one

unripe fruit were plucked from the tree, all the rest would

become rotten at once. When it was quite ripe the fruit would

become a golden yellow.

'Every day I gazed on the lovely fruit, which became gradually

more and more tempting-looking, and it was all I could do not to

break the magician's commands.

'One night I dreamt that the fruit was perfectly ripe; I ate some

of it, and it was more delicious than anything I had ever tasted

in real life. As soon as I awoke I sent for the gardener and

asked him if the fruit on the three trees had not ripened in the

night to perfection.

'But instead of replying, the gardener threw himself at my feet

and swore that he was innocent. He said that he had watched by

the trees all night, but in spite of it, and as if by magic, the

beautiful trees had been robbed of all their fruit.

'Grieved as I was over the theft, I did not punish the gardener,

of whose fidelity I was well assured, but I determined to pluck

off all the fruit in the following year before it was ripe, as I

had not much belief in the magician's warning.

'I carried out my intention, and had all the fruit picked off the

tree, but when I tasted one of the apples it was bitter and

unpleasant, and the next morning the rest of the fruit had all

rotted away.

'After this I had the beautiful fruit of these trees carefully

guarded by my most faithful servants; but every year, on this

very night, the fruit was plucked and stolen by an invisible

hand, and next morning not a single apple remained on the trees.

For some time past I have given up even having the trees


When the King had finished his story, Szabo, his eldest son, said

to him: 'Forgive me, father, if I say I think you are mistaken.

I am sure there are many men in your kingdom who could protect

these trees from the cunning arts of a thieving magician; I

myself, who as your eldest son claim the first right to do so,

will mount guard over the fruit this very night.'

The King consented, and as soon as evening drew on Szabo climbed

up on to one of the trees, determined to protect the fruit even

if it cost him his life. So he kept watch half the night; but a

little after midnight he was overcome by an irresistible

drowsiness, and fell fast asleep. He did not awake till it was

bright daylight, and all the fruit on the trees had vanished.

The following year Warza, the second brother, tried his luck, but

with the same result. Then it came to the turn of the third and

youngest son.

Iwanich was not the least discouraged by the failure of his elder

brothers, though they were both much older and stronger than he

was, and when night came climbed up the tree as they had done,

The moon had risen, and with her soft light lit up the whole

neighbourhood, so that the observant Prince could distinguish the

smallest object distinctly.

At midnight a gentle west wind shook the tree, and at the same

moment a snow-white swan-like bird sank down gently on his

breast. The Prince hastily seized the bird's wings in his hands,

when, lo! to his astonishment he found he was holding in his

arms not a bird but the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

'You need not fear Militza,' said the beautiful girl, looking at

the Prince with friendly eyes. 'An evil magician has not robbed

you of your fruit, but he stole the seed from my mother, and

thereby caused her death. When she was dying she bade me take

the fruit, which you have no right to possess, from the trees

every year as soon as it was ripe. This I would have done

to-night too, if you had not seized me with such force, and so

broken the spell I was under.'

Iwanich, who had been prepared to meet a terrible magician and

not a lovely girl, fell desperately in love with her. They spent

the rest of the night in pleasant conversation, and when Militza

wished to go away he begged her not to leave him.

'I would gladly stay with you longer,' said Militza, 'but a

wicked witch once cut off a lock of my hair when I was asleep,

which has put me in her power, and if morning were still to find

me here she would do me some harm, and you, too, perhaps.'

Having said these words, she drew a sparkling diamond ring from

her finger, which she handed to the Prince, saying: 'Keep this

ring in memory of Militza, and think of her sometimes if you

never see her again. But if your love is really true, come and

find me in my own kingdom. I may not show you the way there, but

this ring will guide you.

'If you have love and courage enough to undertake this journey,

whenever you come to a cross-road always look at this diamond

before you settle which way you are going to take. If it

sparkles as brightly as ever go straight on, but if its lustre is

dimmed choose another path.'

Then Militza bent over the Prince and kissed him on his forehead,

and before he had time to say a word she vanished through the

branches of the tree in a little white cloud.

Morning broke, and the Prince, still full of the wonderful

apparition, left his perch and returned to the palace like one in

a dream, without even knowing if the fruit had been taken or not;

for his whole mind was absorbed by thoughts of Militza and how he

was to find her.

As soon as the head-gardener saw the Prince going towards the

palace he ran to the trees, and when he saw them laden with ripe

fruit he hastened to tell the King the joyful news. The King was

beside himself for joy, and hurried at once to the garden and

made the gardener pick him some of the fruit. He tasted it, and

found the apple quite as luscious as it had been in his dream.

He went at once to his son Iwanich, and after embracing him

tenderly and heaping praises on him, he asked him how he had

succeeded in protecting the costly fruit from the power of the


This question placed Iwanich in a dilemma. But as he did not

want the real story to be known, he said that about midnight a

huge wasp had flown through the branches, and buzzed incessantly

round him. He had warded it off with his sword, and at dawn,

when he was becoming quite worn out, the wasp had vanished as

suddenly as it had appeared.

The King, who never doubted the truth of this tale, bade his son

go to rest at once and recover from the fatigues of the night;

but he himself went and ordered many feasts to be held in honour

of the preservation of the wonderful fruit.

The whole capital was in a stir, and everyone shared in the

King's joy; the Prince alone took no part in the festivities.

While the King was at a banquet, Iwanich took some purses of

gold, and mounting the quickest horse in the royal stable, he

sped off like the wind without a single soul being any the wiser.

It was only on the next day that they missed him; the King was

very distressed at his disappearance, and sent search-parties all

over the kingdom to look for him, but in vain; and after six

months they gave him up as dead, and in another six months they

had forgotten all about him. But in the meantime the Prince,

with the help of his ring, had had a most successful journey, and

no evil had befallen him.

At the end of three months he came to the entrance of a huge

forest, which looked as if it had never been trodden by human

foot before, and which seemed to stretch out indefinitely. The

Prince was about to enter the wood by a little path he had

discovered, when he heard a voice shouting to him: 'Hold, youth!

Whither are you going?'

Iwanich turned round, and saw a tall, gaunt-looking man, clad in

miserable rags, leaning on a crooked staff and seated at the foot

of an oak tree, which was so much the same colour as himself that

it was little wonder the Prince had ridden past the tree without

noticing him.

'Where else should I be going,' he said, 'than through the wood?'

'Through the wood?' said the old man in amazement. 'It's easily

seen that you have heard nothing of this forest, that you rush so

blindly to meet your doom. Well, listen to me before you ride

any further; let me tell you that this wood hides in its depths a

countless number of the fiercest tigers, hyenas, wolves, bears,

and snakes, and all sorts of other monsters. If I were to cut

you and your horse up into tiny morsels and throw them to the

beasts, there wouldn't be one bit for each hundred of them. Take

my advice, therefore, and if you wish to save your life follow

some other path.'

The Prince was rather taken aback by the old man's words, and

considered for a minute what he should do; then looking at his

ring, and perceiving that it sparkled as brightly as ever, he

called out: 'If this wood held even more terrible things than it

does, I cannot help myself, for I must go through it.'

Here he spurred his horse and rode on; but the old beggar

screamed so loudly after him that the Prince turned round and

rode back to the oak tree.

'I am really sorry for you,' said the beggar, 'but if you are

quite determined to brave the dangers of the forest, let me at

least give you a piece of advice which will help you against

these monsters.

'Take this bagful of bread-crumbs and this live hare. I will

make you a present of them both, as I am anxious to save your

life; but you must leave your horse behind you, for it would

stumble over the fallen trees or get entangled in the briers and

thorns. When you have gone about a hundred yards into the wood

the wild beasts will surround you. Then you must instantly seize

your bag, and scatter the bread-crumbs among them. They will

rush to eat them up greedily, and when you have scattered the

last crumb you must lose no time in throwing the hare to them; as

soon as the hare feels itself on the ground it will run away as

quickly as possible, and the wild beasts will turn to pursue it.

In this way you will be able to get through the wood unhurt.'

Iwanich thanked the old man for his counsel, dismounted from his

horse, and, taking the bag and the hare in his arms, he entered

the forest. He had hardly lost sight of his gaunt grey friend

when he heard growls and snarls in the thicket close to him, and

before he had time to think he found himself surrounded by the

most dreadful-looking creatures. On one side he saw the

glittering eye of a cruel tiger, on the other the gleaming teeth

of a great she-wolf; here a huge bear growled fiercely, and

there a horrible snake coiled itself in the grass at his feet.

But Iwanich did not forget the old man's advice, and quickly put

his hand into the bag and took out as many bread-crumbs as he

could hold in his hand at a time. He threw them to the beasts,

but soon the bag grew lighter and lighter, and the Prince began

to feel a little frightened. And now the last crumb was gone,

and the hungry beasts thronged round him, greedy for fresh prey.

Then he seized the hare and threw it to them.

No sooner did the little creature feel itself on the ground than

it lay back its ears and flew through the wood like an arrow from

a bow, closely pursued by the wild beasts, and the Prince was

left alone. He looked at his ring, and when he saw that it

sparkled as brightly as ever he went straight on through the


He hadn't gone very far when he saw a most extraordinary looking

man coming towards him. He was not more than three feet high,

his legs were quite crooked, and all his body was covered with

prickles like a hedgehog. Two lions walked with him, fastened to

his side by the two ends of his long beard.

He stopped the Prince and asked him in a harsh voice: 'Are you

the man who has just fed my body-guard?'

Iwanich was so startled that he could hardly reply, but the

little man continued: 'I am most grateful to you for your

kindness; what can I give you as a reward?'

'All I ask,' replied Iwanich, 'is, that I should be allowed to go

through this wood in safety.'

'Most certainly,' answered the little man; 'and for greater

security I will give you one of my lions as a protector. But

when you leave this wood and come near a palace which does not

belong to my domain, let the lion go, in order that he may not

fall into the hands of an enemy and be killed.'

With these words he loosened the lion from his beard and bade the

beast guard the youth carefully.

With this new protector Iwanich wandered on through the forest,

and though he came upon a great many more wolves, hyenas,

leopards, and other wild beasts, they always kept at a respectful

distance when they saw what sort of an escort the Prince had with


Iwanich hurried through the wood as quickly as his legs would

carry him, but, nevertheless, hour after hour went by and not a

trace of a green field or a human habitation met his eyes. At

length, towards evening, the mass of trees grew more transparent,

and through the interlaced branches a wide plain was visible.

At the exit of the wood the lion stood still, and the Prince took

leave of him, having first thanked him warmly for his kind

protection. It had become quite dark, and Iwanich was forced to

wait for daylight before continuing his journey.

He made himself a bed of grass and leaves, lit a fire of dry

branches, and slept soundly till the next morning.

Then he got up and walked towards a beautiful white palace which

he saw gleaming in the distance. In about an hour he reached the

building, and opening the door he walked in.

After wandering through many marble halls, he came to a huge

staircase made of porphyry, leading down to a lovely garden.

The Prince burst into a shout of joy when he suddenly perceived

Militza in the centre of a group of girls who were weaving

wreaths of flowers with which to deck their mistress.

As soon as Militza saw the Prince she ran up to him and embraced

him tenderly; and after he had told her all his adventures, they

went into the palace, where a sumptuous meal awaited them. Then

the Princess called her court together, and introduced Iwanich to

them as her future husband.

Preparations were at once made for the wedding, which was held

soon after with great pomp and magnificence.

Three months of great happiness followed, when Militza received

one day an invitation to visit her mother's sister.

Although the Princess was very unhappy at leaving her husband,

she did not like to refuse the invitation, and, promising to

return in seven days at the latest, she took a tender farewell of

the Prince, and said: 'Before I go I will hand you over all the

keys of the castle. Go everywhere and do anything you like; only

one thing I beg and beseech you, do not open the little iron door

in the north tower, which is closed with seven locks and seven

bolts; for if you do, we shall both suffer for it.'

Iwanich promised what she asked, and Militza departed, repeating

her promise to return in seven days.

When the Prince found himself alone he began to be tormented by

pangs of curiosity as to what the room in the tower contained.

For two days he resisted the temptation to go and look, but on

the third he could stand it no longer, and taking a torch in his

hand he hurried to the tower, and unfastened one lock after the

other of the little iron door until it burst open.

What an unexpected sight met his gaze! The Prince perceived a

small room black with smoke, lit up feebly by a fire from which

issued long blue flames. Over the fire hung a huge cauldron full

of boiling pitch, and fastened into the cauldron by iron chains

stood a wretched man screaming with agony.

Iwanich was much horrified at the sight before him, and asked the

man what terrible crime he had committed to be punished in this

dreadful fashion.

'I will tell you everything,' said the man in the cauldron; 'but

first relieve my torments a little, I implore you.'

'And how can I do that?' asked the Prince.

'With a little water,' replied the man; 'only sprinkle a few

drops over me and I shall feel better.'

The Prince, moved by pity, without thinking what he was doing,

ran to the courtyard of the castle, and filled a jug with water,

which he poured over the man in the cauldron.

In a moment a most fearful crash was heard, as if all the pillars

of the palace were giving way, and the palace itself, with towers

and doors, windows and the cauldron, whirled round the bewildered

Prince's head. This continued for a few minutes, and then

everything vanished into thin air, and Iwanich found himself

suddenly alone upon a desolate heath covered with rocks and


The Prince, who now realised what his heedlessness had done,

cursed too late his spirit of curiosity. In his despair he

wandered on over the heath, never looking where he put his feet,

and full of sorrowful thoughts. At last he saw a light in the

distance, which came from a miserable-looking little hut.

The owner of it was none other than the kind-hearted gaunt grey

beggar who had given the Prince the bag of bread-crumbs and the

hare. Without recognising Iwanich, he opened the door when he

knocked and gave him shelter for the night.

On the following morning the Prince asked his host if he could

get him any work to do, as he was quite unknown in the

neighbourhood, and had not enough money to take him home.

'My son,' replied the old man, 'all this country round here is

uninhabited; I myself have to wander to distant villages for my

living, and even then I do not very often find enough to satisfy

my hunger. But if you would like to take service with the old

witch Corva, go straight up the little stream which flows below

my hut for about three hours, and you will come to a sand-hill on

the left-hand side; that is where she lives.'

Iwanich thanked the gaunt grey beggar for his information, and

went on his way.

After walking for about three hours the Prince came upon a

dreary-looking grey stone wall; this was the back of the building

and did not attract him; but when he came upon the front of the

house he found it even less inviting, for the old witch had

surrounded her dwelling with a fence of spikes, on every one of

which a man's skull was stuck. In this horrible enclosure stood

a small black house, which had only two grated windows, all

covered with cobwebs, and a battered iron door.

The Prince knocked, and a rasping woman's voice told him to


Iwanich opened the door, and found himself in a smoke-begrimed

kitchen, in the presence of a hideous old woman who was warming

her skinny hands at a fire. The Prince offered to become her

servant, and the old hag told him she was badly in want of one,

and he seemed to be just the person to suit her.

When Iwanich asked what his work, and how much his wages would

be, the witch bade him follow her, and led the way through a

narrow damp passage into a vault, which served as a stable. Here

he perceived two pitch-black horses in a stall.

'You see before you,' said the old woman, 'a mare and her foal;

you have nothing to do but to lead them out to the fields every

day, and to see that neither of them runs away from you. If you

look after them both for a whole year I will give you anything

you like to ask; but if, on the other hand, you let either of the

animals escape you, your last hour is come, and your head shall

be stuck on the last spike of my fence. The other spikes, as you

see, are already adorned, and the skulls are all those of

different servants I have had who have failed to do what I


Iwanich, who thought he could not be much worse off than he was

already, agreed to the witch's proposal.

At daybreak nest morning he drove his horses to the field, and

brought them back in the evening without their ever having

attempted to break away from him. The witch stood at her door

and received him kindly, and set a good meal before him.

So it continued for some time, and all went well with the Prince.

Early every morning he led the horses out to the fields, and

brought them home safe and sound in the evening.

One day, while he was watching the horses, he came to the banks

of a river, and saw a big fish, which through some mischance had

been cast on the land, struggling hard to get back into the


Iwanich, who felt sorry for the poor creature, seized it in his

arms and flung it into the stream. But no sooner did the fish

find itself in the water again, than, to the Prince's amazement,

it swam up to the bank and said:

'My kind benefactor, how can I reward you for your goodness?'

'I desire nothing,' answered the Prince. 'I am quite content to

have been able to be of some service to you.'

'You must do me the favour,' replied the fish, 'to take a scale

from my body, and keep it carefully. If you should ever need my

help, throw it into the river, and I will come to your aid at


Iwanich bowed, loosened a scale from the body of the grateful

beast, put it carefully away, and returned home.

A short time after this, when he was going early one morning to

the usual grazing place with his horses, he noticed a flock of

birds assembled together making a great noise and flying wildly

backwards and forwards.

Full of curiosity, Iwanich hurried up to the spot, and saw that a

large number of ravens had attacked an eagle, and although the

eagle was big and powerful and was making a brave fight, it was

overpowered at last by numbers, and had to give in.

But the Prince, who was sorry for the poor bird, seized the

branch of a tree and hit out at the ravens with it; terrified at

this unexpected onslaught they flew away, leaving many of their

number dead or wounded on the battlefield.

As soon as the eagle saw itself free from its tormentors it

plucked a feather from its wing, and, handing it to the Prince,

said: 'Here, my kind benefactor, take this feather as a proof of

my gratitude; should you ever be in need of my help blow this

feather into the air, and I will help you as much as is in my


Iwanich thanked the bird, and placing the feather beside the

scale he drove the horses home.

Another day he had wandered farther than usual, and came close to

a farmyard; the place pleased the Prince, and as there was plenty

of good grass for the horses he determined to spend the day

there. Just as he was sitting down under a tree he heard a cry

close to him, and saw a fox which had been caught in a trap

placed there by the farmer.

In vain did the poor beast try to free itself; then the

good-natured Prince came once more to the rescue, and let the fox

out of the trap.

The fox thanked him heartily, tore two hairs out of his bushy

tail, and said: 'Should you ever stand in need of my help throw

these two hairs into the fire, and in a moment I shall be at your

side ready to obey you.'

Iwanich put the fox's hairs with the scale and the feather, and

as it was getting dark he hastened home with his horses.

In the meantime his service was drawing near to an end, and in

three more days the year was up, and he would be able to get his

reward and leave the witch.

On the first evening of these last three days, when he came home

and was eating his supper, he noticed the old woman stealing into

the stables.

The Prince followed her secretly to see what she was going to do.

He crouched down in the doorway and heard the wicked witch

telling the horses to wait next morning till Iwanich was asleep,

and then to go and hide themselves in the river, and to stay

there till she told them to return; and if they didn't do as she

told them the old woman threatened to beat them till they bled.

When Iwanich heard all this he went back to his room, determined

that nothing should induce him to fall asleep next day. On the

following morning he led the mare and foal to the fields as

usual, but bound a cord round them both which he kept in his


But after a few hours, by the magic arts of the old witch, he was

overpowered by sleep, and the mare and foal escaped and did as

they had been told to do. The Prince did not awake till late in

the evening; and when he did, he found, to his horror, that the

horses had disappeared. Filled with despair, he cursed the

moment when he had entered the service of the cruel witch, and

already he saw his head sticking up on the sharp spike beside the


Then he suddenly remembered the fish's scale, which, with the

eagle's feather and the fox's hairs, he always carried about with

him. He drew the scale from his pocket, and hurrying to the

river he threw it in. In a minute the grateful fish swam towards

the bank on which Iwanich was standing, and said: 'What do you

command, my friend and benefactor?'

The Prince replied: 'I had to look after a mare and foal, and

they have run away from me and have hidden themselves in the

river; if you wish to save my life drive them back to the land.'

'Wait a moment,' answered the fish, 'and I and my friends will

soon drive them out of the water.' With these words the creature

disappeared into the depths of the stream.

Almost immediately a rushing hissing sound was heard in the

waters, the waves dashed against the banks, the foam was tossed

into the air, and the two horses leapt suddenly on to the dry

land, trembling and shaking with fear.

Iwanich sprang at once on to the mare's back, seized the foal by

its bridle, and hastened home in the highest spirits.

When the witch saw the Prince bringing the horses home she could

hardly conceal her wrath, and as soon as she had placed Iwanich's

supper before him she stole away again to the stables. The

Prince followed her, and heard her scolding the beasts harshly

for not having hidden themselves better. She bade them wait next

morning till Iwanich was asleep and then to hide themselves in

the clouds, and to remain there till she called. If they did not

do as she told them she would beat them till they bled.

The next morning, after Iwanich had led his horses to the fields,

he fell once more into a magic sleep. The horses at once ran

away and hid themselves in the clouds, which hung down from the

mountains in soft billowy masses.

When the Prince awoke and found that both the mare and the foal

had disappeared, he bethought him at once of the eagle, and

taking the feather out of his pocket he blew it into the air.

In a moment the bird swooped down beside him and asked: 'What do

you wish me to do?'

'My mare and foal,' replied the Prince, 'have run away from me,

and have hidden themselves in the clouds; if you wish to save my

life, restore both animals to me.'

'Wait a minute,' answered the eagle; 'with the help of my friends

I will soon drive them back to you.'

With these words the bird flew up into the air and disappeared

among the clouds.

Almost directly Iwanich saw his two horses being driven towards

him by a host of eagles of all sizes. He caught the mare and

foal, and having thanked the eagle he drove them cheerfully home


The old witch was more disgusted than ever when she saw him

appearing, and having set his supper before him she stole into

the stables, and Iwanich heard her abusing the horses for not

having hidden themselves better in the clouds. Then she bade

them hide themselves next morning, as soon as Iwanich was asleep,

in the King's hen-house, which stood on a lonely part of the

heath, and to remain there till she called. If they failed to do

as she told them she would certainly beat them this time till

they bled.

On the following morning the Prince drove his horses as usual to

the fields. After he had been overpowered by sleep, as on the

former days, the mare and foal ran away and hid themselves in the

royal hen house.

When the Prince awoke and found the horses gone he determined to

appeal to the fox; so, lighting a fire, he threw the two hairs

into it, and in a few moments the fox stood beside him and asked:

'In what way can I serve you?'

'I wish to know,' replied Iwanich, 'where the King's hen-house


'Hardly an hour's walk from here,' answered the fox, and offered

to show the Prince the way to it.

While they were walking along the fox asked him what he wanted to

do at the royal hen-house. The Prince told him of the misfortune

that had befallen him, and of the necessity of recovering the

mare and foal.

'That is no easy matter,' replied the fox. 'But wait a moment.

I have an idea. Stand at the door of the hen-house, and wait

there for your horses. In the meantime I will slip in among the

hens through a hole in the wall and give them a good chase, so

that the noise they make will arouse the royal henwives, and they

will come to see what is the matter. When they see the horses

they will at once imagine them to be the cause of the

disturbance, and will drive them out. Then you must lay hands on

the mare and foal and catch them.

All turned out exactly as the sly fox had foreseen. The Prince

swung himself on the mare, seized the foal by its bridle, and

hurried home.

While he was riding over the heath in the highest of spirits the

mare suddenly said to her rider: 'You are the first person who

has ever succeeded in outwitting the old witch Corva, and now you

may ask what reward you like for your service. If you promise

never to betray me I will give you a piece of advice which you

will do well to follow.'

The Prince promised never to betray her confidence, and the mare

continued: 'Ask nothing else as a reward than my foal, for it has

not its like in the world, and is not to be bought for love or

money; for it can go from one end of the earth to another in a

few minutes. Of course the cunning Corva will do her best to

dissuade you from taking the foal, and will tell you that it is

both idle and sickly; but do not believe her, and stick to your


Iwanich longed to possess such an animal, and promised the mare

to follow her advice.

This time Corva received him in the most friendly manner, and set

a sumptuous repast before him. As soon as he had finished she

asked him what reward he demanded for his year's service.

'Nothing more nor less,' replied the Prince, 'than the foal of

your mare.'

The witch pretended to be much astonished at his request, and

said that he deserved something much better than the foal, for

the beast was lazy and nervous, blind in one eye, and, in short,

was quite worthless.

But the Prince knew what he wanted, and when the old witch saw

that he had made up his mind to have the foal, she said, 'I am

obliged to keep my promise and to hand you over the foal; and as

I know who you are and what you want, I will tell you in what way

the animal will be useful to you. The man in the cauldron of

boiling pitch, whom you set free, is a mighty magician; through

your curiosity and thoughtlessness Militza came into his power,

and he has transported her and her castle and belongings into a

distant country.

'You are the only person who can kill him; and in consequence he

fears you to such an extent that he has set spies to watch you,

and they report your movements to him daily.

'When you have reached him, beware of speaking a single word to

him, or you will fall into the power of his friends. Seize him

at once by the beard and dash him to the ground.'

Iwanich thanked the old witch, mounted his foal, put spurs to its

sides, and they flew like lightning through the air.

Already it was growing dark, when Iwanich perceived some figures

in the distance; they soon came up to them, and then the Prince

saw that it was the magician and his friends who were driving

through the air in a carriage drawn by owls.

When the magician found himself face to face with Iwanich,

without hope of escape, he turned to him with false friendliness

and said: 'Thrice my kind benefactor!'

But the Prince, without saying a word, seized him at once by his

beard and dashed him to the ground. At the same moment the foal

sprang on the top of the magician and kicked and stamped on him

with his hoofs till he died.

Then Iwanich found himself once more in the palace of his bride,

and Militza herself flew into his arms.

From this time forward they lived in undisturbed peace and

happiness till the end of their lives.