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The Raven

There was once a queen who had a little daughter, still too young torun alone. One day the child was very troublesome, a...

The Raven

There was once a queen who had a little daughter, still too young torun alone. One day the child was very troublesome, and the mothercould not quiet it, do what she would. She grew impatient, andseeing the ravens flying round the castle, she opened the window, andsaid: «I wish you were a raven and would fly away, then I should have alittle peace.» Scarcely were the words out of her mouth, when thechild in her arms was turned into a raven, and flew away from herthrough the open window. The bird took its flight to a dark wood andremained there for a long time, and meanwhile the parents could hearnothing of their child.

Long after this, a man was making his way through the wood when he hearda raven calling, and he followed the sound of the voice. As he drewnear, the raven said, «I am by birth a king’s daughter, but am nowunder the spell of some enchantment; you can, however, set me free.’«What am I to do?» he asked. She replied, «Go farther into the wooduntil you come to a house, wherein lives an old woman; she will offeryou food and drink, but you must not take of either; if you do, youwill fall into a deep sleep, and will not be able to help me. In thegarden behind the house is a large tan-heap, and on that you must standand watch for me. I shall drive there in my carriage at two o’clock inthe afternoon for three successive days; the first day it will be drawnby four white, the second by four chestnut, and the last by four blackhorses; but if you fail to keep awake and I find you sleeping, Ishall not be set free.»

The man promised to do all that she wished, but the raven said, «Alas!I know even now that you will take something from the woman and beunable to save me.» The man assured her again that he would on noaccount touch a thing to eat or drink.

When he came to the house and went inside, the old woman met him,and said, «Poor man! how tired you are! Come in and rest and let megive you something to eat and drink.»

«No,» answered the man, «I will neither eat not drink.»

But she would not leave him alone, and urged him saying, «If you willnot eat anything, at least you might take a draught of wine; one drinkcounts for nothing,» and at last he allowed himself to be persuaded, anddrank.

As it drew towards the appointed hour, he went outside into the gardenand mounted the tan-heap to await the raven. Suddenly a feeling offatigue came over him, and unable to resist it, he lay down for alittle while, fully determined, however, to keep awake; but in anotherminute his eyes closed of their own accord, and he fell into such adeep sleep, that all the noises in the world would not have awakenedhim. At two o’clock the raven came driving along, drawn by her fourwhite horses; but even before she reached the spot, she said toherself, sighing, «I know he has fallen asleep.» When she entered thegarden, there she found him as she had feared, lying on thetan-heap, fast asleep. She got out of her carriage and went to him;she called him and shook him, but it was all in vain, he stillcontinued sleeping.

The next day at noon, the old woman came to him again with food anddrink which he at first refused. At last, overcome by her persistententreaties that he would take something, he lifted the glass and drankagain.

Towards two o’clock he went into the garden and on to the tan-heapto watch for the raven. He had not been there long before he began tofeel so tired that his limbs seemed hardly able to support him, and hecould not stand upright any longer; so again he lay down and fellfast asleep. As the raven drove along her four chestnut horses, shesaid sorrowfully to herself, «I know he has fallen asleep.» She wentas before to look for him, but he slept, and it was impossible toawaken him.

The following day the old woman said to him, «What is this? You arenot eating or drinking anything, do you want to kill yourself?»

He answered, «I may not and will not either eat or drink.»

But she put down the dish of food and the glass of wine in front ofhim, and when he smelt the wine, he was unable to resist thetemptation, and took a deep draught.

When the hour came round again he went as usual on to the tan-heap inthe garden to await the king’s daughter, but he felt even more overcomewith weariness than on the two previous days, and throwing himselfdown, he slept like a log. At two o’clock the raven could be seenapproaching, and this time her coachman and everything about her, aswell as her horses, were black.

She was sadder than ever as she drove along, and said mournfully, «Iknow he has fallen asleep, and will not be able to set me free.» Shefound him sleeping heavily, and all her efforts to awaken him were ofno avail. Then she placed beside him a loaf, and some meat, and a flaskof wine, of such a kind, that however much he took of them, theywould never grow less. After that she drew a gold ring, on which hername was engraved, off her finger, and put it upon one of his.Finally, she laid a letter near him, in which, after giving himparticulars of the food and drink she had left for him, she finishedwith the following words: «I see that as long as you remain here youwill never be able to set me free; if, however, you still wish to doso, come to the golden castle of Stromberg; this is well within yourpower to accomplish.» She then returned to her carriage and drove tothe golden castle of Stromberg.

When the man awoke and found that he had been sleeping, he was grievedat heart, and said, «She has no doubt been here and driven away again,and it is now too late for me to save her.» Then his eyes fell onthe things which were lying beside him; he read the letter, and knewfrom it all that had happened. He rose up without delay, eager to starton his way and to reach the castle of Stromberg, but he had no ideain which direction he ought to go. He travelled about a long time insearch of it and came at last to a dark forest, through which he wenton walking for fourteen days and still could not find a way out. Oncemore the night came on, and worn out he lay down under a bush andfell asleep. Again the next day he pursued his way through theforest, and that evening, thinking to rest again, he lay down asbefore, but he heard such a howling and wailing that he found itimpossible to sleep. He waited till it was darker and people had begunto light up their houses, and then seeing a little glimmer ahead of him,he went towards it.

He found that the light came from a house which looked smaller thanit really was, from the contrast of its height with that of an immensegiant who stood in front of it. He thought to himself, «If the giantsees me going in, my life will not be worth much.» However, aftera while he summoned up courage and went forward. When the giant sawhim, he called out, «It is lucky for that you have come, for I havenot had anything to eat for a long time. I can have you now for mysupper.» «I would rather you let that alone,» said the man, «for I donot willingly give myself up to be eaten; if you are wanting food Ihave enough to satisfy your hunger.» «If that is so,» replied thegiant, «I will leave you in peace; I only thought of eating you becauseI had nothing else.»

So they went indoors together and sat down, and the man brought outthe bread, meat, and wine, which although he had eaten and drunk ofthem, were still unconsumed. The giant was pleased with the good cheer,and ate and drank to his heart’s content. When he had finished hissupper the man asked him if he could direct him to the castle ofStromberg. The giant said, «I will look on my map; on it are markedall the towns, villages, and houses.» So he fetched his map, andlooked for the castle, but could not find it. «Never mind,» he said,«I have larger maps upstairs in the cupboard, we will look onthose,» but they searched in vain, for the castle was not markedeven on these. The man now thought he should like to continue hisjourney, but the giant begged him to remain for a day or two longeruntil the return of his brother, who was away in search ofprovisions. When the brother came home, they asked him about the castleof Stromberg, and he told them he would look on his own maps as soonas he had eaten and appeased his hunger. Accordingly, when he hadfinished his supper, they all went up together to his room and lookedthrough his maps, but the castle was not to be found. Then he fetchedother older maps, and they went on looking for the castle until atlast they found it, but it was many thousand miles away. «How shall Ibe able to get there?» asked the man. «I have two hours to spare,’said the giant, «and I will carry you into the neighbourhood of thecastle; I must then return to look after the child who is in our care.»

The giant, thereupon, carried the man to within about a hundred leaguesof the castle, where he left him, saying, «You will be able to walkthe remainder of the way yourself.» The man journeyed on day and nighttill he reached the golden castle of Stromberg. He found it situated,however, on a glass mountain, and looking up from the foot he saw theenchanted maiden drive round her castle and then go inside. He wasoverjoyed to see her, and longed to get to the top of the mountain,but the sides were so slippery that every time he attempted to climbhe fell back again. When he saw that it was impossible to reach her, hewas greatly grieved, and said to himself, «I will remain here and waitfor her,» so he built himself a little hut, and there he sat andwatched for a whole year, and every day he saw the king’s daughterdriving round her castle, but still was unable to get nearer to her.

Looking out from his hut one day he saw three robbers fighting andhe called out to them, «God be with you.» They stopped when they heardthe call, but looking round and seeing nobody, they went on again withtheir fighting, which now became more furious. «God be with you,’he cried again, and again they paused and looked about, but seeing noone went back to their fighting. A third time he called out, «God bewith you,» and then thinking he should like to know the cause ofdispute between the three men, he went out and asked them why they werefighting so angrily with one another. One of them said that he hadfound a stick, and that he had but to strike it against any doorthrough which he wished to pass, and it immediately flew open.Another told him that he had found a cloak which rendered its wearerinvisible; and the third had caught a horse which would carry itsrider over any obstacle, and even up the glass mountain. They had beenunable to decide whether they would keep together and have the thingsin common, or whether they would separate. On hearing this, the mansaid, «I will give you something in exchange for those three things;not money, for that I have not got, but something that is of farmore value. I must first, however, prove whether all you have told meabout your three things is true.» The robbers, therefore, made him geton the horse, and handed him the stick and the cloak, and when he hadput this round him he was no longer visible. Then he fell upon themwith the stick and beat them one after another, crying, «There, youidle vagabonds, you have got what you deserve; are you satisfied now!»

After this he rode up the glass mountain. When he reached the gate ofthe castle, he found it closed, but he gave it a blow with his stick,and it flew wide open at once and he passed through. He mounted thesteps and entered the room where the maiden was sitting, with a goldengoblet full of wine in front of her. She could not see him for hestill wore his cloak. He took the ring which she had given him off hisfinger, and threw it into the goblet, so that it rang as it touched thebottom. «That is my own ring,» she exclaimed, «and if that is so theman must also be here who is coming to set me free.»

She sought for him about the castle, but could find him nowhere.Meanwhile he had gone outside again and mounted his horse and thrown offthe cloak. When therefore she came to the castle gate she saw him,and cried aloud for joy. Then he dismounted and took her in his arms;and she kissed him, and said, «Now you have indeed set me free, andtomorrow we will celebrate our marriage.»

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