The Golden Bird
The youngest of 3 king's sons is successful by the advice of a fox, gets princess and redeems her brother - the fox.
Once upon a time there was a king who had a beautiful pleasure garden behind his castle, and in it stood a tree that bore golden apples. When the apples ripened, they were counted, but the very next morning one was missing. This was reported to the king, and he ordered that every night a watch be kept under the tree. The king had three sons, of whom he sent the eldest into the garden at nightfall: but as it was midnight, he could not help sleeping, and the next morning another apple was missing. The following night, the second son had to keep watch, but he did not fare any better: when twelve o'clock struck, he fell asleep, and in the morning an apple was missing. Now it was the turn of the third son to keep watch, and he was also ready, but the king did not trust him very much and thought he would do even less than his brothers. So the young man lay down under the tree, kept watch and did not let sleep master him. When twelve o'clock struck, something rustled through the air, and he saw a bird flying in the moonlight, whose plumage was all shining with gold. The bird settled on the tree and had just picked an apple when the youth shot an arrow at it. The bird flew away, but the arrow hit its feathers and one of its golden feathers fell down. The youth picked it up, brought it to the king the next morning and told him what he had seen during the night. The king assembled his council, and everyone declared that a feather like this was worth more than the entire kingdom. If the feather is so precious,' the king declared, 'even one feather is of no use to me, but I want and must have the whole bird.
The eldest son set out, relying on his wisdom, and thought he would find the golden bird. When he had gone some distance, he saw a fox sitting at the edge of a forest, put on his shotgun and aimed at him. The fox called out 'don't shoot me, I will give you good advice in return. You are on the way to the golden bird, and tonight you will come to a village where two inns stand opposite each other. One is brightly lit, and it's a merry place: but don't stop there, but go to the other, even if it looks bad to you. How can such a silly animal give me sensible advice?" thought the king's son and pressed on, but he missed the fox, which stretched its tail and quickly ran into the forest. Then he continued on his way, and in the evening he came to the village, where there were two inns: one was full of singing and jumping, the other had a miserable, sad appearance. I would be a fool,' he thought, 'if I went to the lousy inn and left the nice one. So he went into the merry one, lived there in high spirits, and forgot the bird, his father, and all good teachings.
When some time had passed and the eldest son had not come home, the second son set out to look for the golden bird. Like the eldest, the fox met him and gave him good advice, which he did not heed. He came to the two inns, where his brother was standing at the window of one of them, from which the cheers resounded, calling him. He could not resist, went inside and lived only his desires.
Again a time passed, when the youngest son of the king wanted to go out and try his salvation, but his father would not allow it. It is in vain,' he said, 'he will find the golden bird even less than his brothers, and if a misfortune befalls him, he will not know how to help himself, he will lack the best. But at last, when there was no more peace, he let him go. In front of the forest the fox sat again, asked for his life and gave good advice. The young man was good-natured and said, "Be calm, little fox, I do you no harm. It shall not harm you,' answered the fox, 'and so that you can get away faster, get on the back of my tail. And no sooner did he sit up than the fox began to run, and there he went over hill and dale so that his hair whistled in the wind. When they came to the village, the young man dismounted, followed the good advice and, without looking back, entered the small inn, where he spent the night quietly. The next morning, as he came into the field, the fox was already sitting there and said, "I will tell you what you have to do. Go straight on, at last you will come to a castle, in front of which lies a whole crowd of soldiers, but don't worry about them, for they will all be asleep and snoring: go through the middle and straight into the castle, and go through all the rooms, at last you will come to a chamber where a golden bird hangs in a wooden cage. Next to it is an empty gold cage for splendor, but beware that you do not take the bird out of its bad cage and put it into the magnificent one, otherwise you may suffer a bad fate. After these words the fox stretched out its tail again, and the king's son sat up: there he went over hill and dale so that his hair whistled in the wind. When he arrived at the castle, he found everything just as the fox had said.
The king's son came into the chamber, where the golden bird was sitting in a wooden cage, and a golden one was standing next to it: but the three golden apples were lying around in the room. Then he thought it would be ridiculous to leave the beautiful bird in the mean and ugly cage, so he opened the door, grabbed it and put it in the golden one. At that moment, however, the bird made a piercing scream. The soldiers woke up, rushed in and took him to the prison. The next morning he was brought before a court and, confessing everything, was sentenced to death. But the king said that he would give him life on one condition, that is, if he brought him the golden horse, which ran faster than the wind, and then he would receive the golden bird as a reward.
The king's son set out, but sighed and was sad, for where was he to find the golden horse? Suddenly he saw his old friend, the Fox, sitting by the road. You see,' said the Fox, 'this is how it came about, because you did not listen to me. But be of good cheer, I will take care of you and tell you how to get to the golden horse. You must go straight on, and you will come to a castle where the horse stands in the stable. In front of the stable the grooms will be lying, but they will be asleep and snoring, and you can calmly lead the golden horse out. But there is one thing you must be careful of: put the bad saddle of wood and leather on him, and not the golden one that hangs with it, otherwise you will have a bad time. Then the fox stretched out his tail, the king's son sat up, and off he went over hill and dale so that his hair whistled in the wind. Everything happened as the fox had said, he came to the stable where the golden horse was standing: but when he wanted to put the bad saddle on him, he thought 'such a beautiful animal will be ruined if I do not put the good saddle on him, which is his due. But no sooner did the golden saddle touch the horse than it began to neigh loudly. The grooms awoke, seized the youth and threw him into prison. The next morning the court sentenced him to death, but the king promised to give him life and the golden horse if he could bring the beautiful king's daughter from the golden castle.
With a heavy heart, the young man set out, but fortunately he soon found the faithful fox. I should only leave you to your misfortune,' said the fox, 'but I pity you and want to help you out of your trouble once again. Your way leads you straight to the golden castle: in the evening you will arrive, and at night, when all is quiet, the beautiful king's daughter goes into the bathhouse to bathe. And when she goes in, jump up to her and give her a kiss, then she will follow you, and you can take her away with you: only don't suffer her to say goodbye to her parents beforehand, or you may be in for a bad fate.' Then the fox stretched his tail, the king's son sat up, and so he went over hill and dale so that his hair whistled in the wind. When he arrived at the golden castle, it was just as the fox had said. He waited until midnight, when everything lay in a deep sleep, and the beautiful maiden went into the bathhouse, then he jumped out and gave her a kiss. She said she would like to go with him, but begged him imploringly and with tears to allow her to say goodbye to her parents first. He initially resisted her pleas, but when she cried more and more and fell at his feet, he finally gave in. But no sooner had the maiden gone to her father's bedside than he and all the others who were in the castle awoke, and the youth was held fast and put in prison.
The next morning the king said to him, 'Your life is forfeited, and you can only find mercy if you remove the mountain that lies before my windows and beyond which I cannot see, and you must accomplish this within eight days. If you succeed, you shall have my daughter as a reward. The king's son began digging and shoveling without ceasing, but when he saw after seven days how little he had accomplished, and all his work was as good as nothing, he fell into great sadness and gave up all hope. On the evening of the seventh day, the fox appeared and said, "You do not deserve to be taken care of, but go to sleep and I will do the work for you. The next morning when he awoke and looked out of the window, the mountain had disappeared. The young man hurried to the king full of joy and told him that the condition had been fulfilled, and the king had to keep his word and give him his daughter.
Now the two went away together, and it was not long before the faithful Fox came to them. You have the best," he said, "but the golden horse also belongs to the maiden of the golden castle. 'How shall I get that?" asked the youth. I will tell you,' answered the Fox, 'first bring the beautiful maiden to the king who sent you to the golden castle. There will be unheard-of joy, they will gladly give you the golden horse and will show it to you. Sit up straight away and shake hands with everyone as a farewell, last of all with the beautiful maiden, and when you have caught her, pull her up with a flourish and chase away: and no one will be able to catch up with you, for the horse runs faster than the wind'.
Everything was happily accomplished, and the king's son led the beautiful maiden away on the golden horse. The fox did not stay behind and said to the young man, "Now I will also help you to the golden bird. When you are near the castle where the bird is, let the maiden dismount, and I will take her into my care. Then ride into the castle courtyard with the golden horse: there will be great joy at the sight, and they will bring out the golden bird for you. As thou hast the cage in thy hand, so chase back to us, and get the maiden again.' When the plot had succeeded and the king's son was about to ride home with his treasures, the fox said 'now you shall reward me for my assistance.' 'What do you want in return?' asked the youth. When we get into the forest, shoot me dead and cut off my head and paws. 'That would be a fine gratitude,' said the king's son, 'I can't possibly grant you that.' Said the Fox, 'If you will not do it, I must leave you; but before I go, I will give you some good advice. Beware of two things, don't buy gallows meat and don't sit by the well. With that he ran into the forest.
The young man thought 'this is a strange animal, which has strange crickets. Who will buy gallows meat! and the desire to sit down at the edge of a well has never come to me before'. He rode on with the beautiful maiden, and his way led him again through the village where his two brothers had remained. There was a great commotion and noise, and when he asked what was going on, he was told that two people were to be hanged. When he came closer, he saw that they were his brothers, who had committed all kinds of terrible pranks and had lost all their possessions. He asked if they could not be set free. If you want to pay for them," the people answered, "but why do you want to hang your money on bad people and buy them out? But he did not change his mind, paid for them, and when they were set free, they continued the journey together.
They came to the forest where the fox had first met them, and since it was cool and lovely there, and the sun was burning hot, the two brothers said 'let's rest a little here by the well, eat and drink.' He agreed, and during the conversation he forgot himself, sat down at the edge of the well, and did no harm. But the two brothers threw him backwards into the well, took the maiden, the horse and the bird, and went home to their father. We have not only brought the golden bird,' they said, 'we have also captured the golden horse and the maiden from the golden castle. There was great joy, but the horse did not eat, the bird did not whistle, and the maiden sat and wept.
But the youngest brother had not perished. Fortunately, the well was dry, and he fell on soft moss without being harmed, but could not get out again. Even in this distress the faithful fox did not leave him, came jumping down to him and scolded him for forgetting his advice. But I can't help it,' he said, 'I want to help you back into the daylight. He told him to grab his tail and hold on tightly, and then pulled him up. 'You are not out of danger yet,' said the fox, 'your brothers were not aware of your death and have surrounded the forest with guards, who shall kill you if you let yourself be seen.' There was a poor man sitting by the road, with whom the young man exchanged clothes, and in this way he reached the king's court. No one recognized him, but the bird began to whistle, the horse began to eat, and the beautiful maiden stopped weeping. The king asked in astonishment, "What does this mean? Then the maiden said, "I don't know, but I was so sad and now I am so happy. It is as if my real bridegroom has come.' She told him everything that had happened, although the other brothers had threatened her with death if she revealed anything. The king summoned all the people who were in his castle, and the young man came as a poor man in his ragged clothes, but the virgin recognized him immediately and fell around his neck. The wicked brothers were seized and executed, but he was married to the beautiful maiden and made the king's heir.
But what happened to the poor fox? A long time later, the king's son went into the forest again, and the fox met him and said, "You now have everything you could wish for, but there is no end to my misfortune, and it is in your power to redeem me," and again he begged him to shoot him dead and cut off his head and paws. So he did, and no sooner was it done than the fox was transformed into a human being, and was none other than the brother of the beautiful king's daughter, who was finally released from the spell that lay upon him. And now nothing was lacking for their happiness as long as they lived.