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Nursery Rhymes . . . for children.

Once upon a time . . . . .  from our fabulous collection of Fairy Tales for children . . .  they lived happily ever after . . .

The Travelling Companion - Part 3

'Listen to what I say,' said the magician, 'you must
choose something very easy, he is less likely to guess it
then. Think of one of your shoes, he will never imagine it is
that. Then cut his head off; and mind you do not forget to
bring his eyes with you to-morrow night, that I may eat them.'

The princess curtsied low, and said she would not forget
the eyes.

The magician then opened the mountain and she flew home
again, but the traveller followed and flogged her so much with
the rod, that she sighed quite deeply about the heavy
hail-storm, and made as much haste as she could to get back to
her bedroom through the window. The traveller then returned to
the inn where John still slept, took off his wings and laid
down on the bed, for he was very tired. Early in the morning
John awoke, and when his fellow-traveller got up, he said that
he had a very wonderful dream about the princess and her shoe,
he therefore advised John to ask her if she had not thought of
her shoe. Of course the traveller knew this from what the
magician in the mountain had said.

'I may as well say that as anything,' said John. 'Perhaps
your dream may come true; still I will say farewell, for if I
guess wrong I shall never see you again.'

Then they embraced each other, and John went into the town
and walked to the palace. The great hall was full of people,
and the judges sat in arm-chairs, with eider-down cushions to
rest their heads upon, because they had so much to think of.
The old king stood near, wiping his eyes with his white
pocket-handkerchief. When the princess entered, she looked
even more beautiful than she had appeared the day before, and
greeted every one present most gracefully; but to John she
gave her hand, and said, 'Good morning to you.'

Now came the time for John to guess what she was thinking
of; and oh, how kindly she looked at him as she spoke. But
when he uttered the single word shoe, she turned as pale as a
ghost; all her wisdom could not help her, for he had guessed
rightly. Oh, how pleased the old king was! It was quite
amusing to see how he capered about. All the people clapped
their hands, both on his account and John's, who had guessed
rightly the first time. His fellow-traveller was glad also,
when he heard how successful John had been. But John folded
his hands, and thanked God, who, he felt quite sure, would
help him again; and he knew he had to guess twice more. The
evening passed pleasantly like the one preceding. While John
slept, his companion flew behind the princess to the mountain,
and flogged her even harder than before; this time he had
taken two rods with him. No one saw him go in with her, and he
heard all that was said. The princess this time was to think
of a glove, and he told John as if he had again heard it in a
dream. The next day, therefore, he was able to guess correctly
the second time, and it caused great rejoicing at the palace.
The whole court jumped about as they had seen the king do the
day before, but the princess lay on the sofa, and would not
say a single word. All now depended upon John. If he only
guessed rightly the third time, he would marry the princess,
and reign over the kingdom after the death of the old king:
but if he failed, he would lose his life, and the magician
would have his beautiful blue eyes. That evening John said his
prayers and went to bed very early, and soon fell asleep
calmly. But his companion tied on his wings to his shoulders,
took three rods, and, with his sword at his side, flew to the
palace. It was a very dark night, and so stormy that the tiles
flew from the roofs of the houses, and the trees in the garden
upon which the skeletons hung bent themselves like reeds
before the wind. The lightning flashed, and the thunder rolled
in one long-continued peal all night. The window of the castle
opened, and the princess flew out. She was pale as death, but
she laughed at the storm as if it were not bad enough. Her
white mantle fluttered in the wind like a large sail, and the
traveller flogged her with the three rods till the blood
trickled down, and at last she could scarcely fly; she
contrived, however, to reach the mountain. 'What a
hail-storm!' she said, as she entered; 'I have never been out
in such weather as this.'

'Yes, there may be too much of a good thing sometimes,'
said the magician.

Then the princess told him that John had guessed rightly
the second time, and if he succeeded the next morning, he
would win, and she could never come to the mountain again, or
practice magic as she had done, and therefore she was quite
unhappy. 'I will find out something for you to think of which
he will never guess, unless he is a greater conjuror than
myself. But now let us be merry.'

Then he took the princess by both hands, and they danced
with all the little goblins and Jack-o'-lanterns in the room.
The red spiders sprang here and there on the walls quite as
merrily, and the flowers of fire appeared as if they were
throwing out sparks. The owl beat the drum, the crickets
whistled and the grasshoppers played the mouth-organ. It was a
very ridiculous ball. After they had danced enough, the
princess was obliged to go home, for fear she should be missed
at the palace. The magician offered to go with her, that they
might be company to each other on the way. Then they flew away
through the bad weather, and the traveller followed them, and
broke his three rods across their shoulders. The magician had
never been out in such a hail-storm as this. Just by the
palace the magician stopped to wish the princess farewell, and
to whisper in her ear, 'To-morrow think of my head.'

But the traveller heard it, and just as the princess
slipped through the window into her bedroom, and the magician
turned round to fly back to the mountain, he seized him by the
long black beard, and with his sabre cut off the wicked
conjuror's head just behind the shoulders, so that he could
not even see who it was. He threw the body into the sea to the
fishes, and after dipping the head into the water, he tied it
up in a silk handkerchief, took it with him to the inn, and
then went to bed. The next morning he gave John the
handkerchief, and told him not to untie it till the princess
asked him what she was thinking of. There were so many people
in the great hall of the palace that they stood as thick as
radishes tied together in a bundle. The council sat in their
arm-chairs with the white cushions. The old king wore new
robes, and the golden crown and sceptre had been polished up
so that he looked quite smart. But the princess was very pale,
and wore a black dress as if she were going to a funeral.

'What have I thought of?' asked the princess, of John. He
immediately untied the handkerchief, and was himself quite
frightened when he saw the head of the ugly magician. Every
one shuddered, for it was terrible to look at; but the
princess sat like a statue, and could not utter a single word.
At length she rose and gave John her hand, for he had guessed

She looked at no one, but sighed deeply, and said, 'You
are my master now; this evening our marriage must take place.'

'I am very pleased to hear it,' said the old king. 'It is
just what I wish.'

Then all the people shouted 'Hurrah.' The band played
music in the streets, the bells rang, and the cake-women took
the black crape off the sugar-sticks. There was universal joy.
Three oxen, stuffed with ducks and chickens, were roasted
whole in the market-place, where every one might help himself
to a slice. The fountains spouted forth the most delicious
wine, and whoever bought a penny loaf at the baker's received
six large buns, full of raisins, as a present. In the evening
the whole town was illuminated. The soldiers fired off
cannons, and the boys let off crackers. There was eating and
drinking, dancing and jumping everywhere. In the palace, the
high-born gentlemen and beautiful ladies danced with each
other, and they could be heard at a great distance singing the
following song:-

'Here are maidens, young and fair,
Dancing in the summer air;
Like two spinning-wheels at play,
Pretty maidens dance away-
Dance the spring and summer through
Till the sole falls from your shoe.'

But the princess was still a witch, and she could not love
John. His fellow-traveller had thought of that, so he gave
John three feathers out of the swan's wings, and a little
bottle with a few drops in it. He told him to place a large
bath full of water by the princess's bed, and put the feathers
and the drops into it. Then, at the moment she was about to
get into bed, he must give her a little push, so that she
might fall into the water, and then dip her three times. This
would destroy the power of the magician, and she would love
him very much. John did all that his companion told him to do.
The princess shrieked aloud when he dipped her under the water
the first time, and struggled under his hands in the form of a
great black swan with fiery eyes. As she rose the second time
from the water, the swan had become white, with a black ring
round its neck. John allowed the water to close once more over
the bird, and at the same time it changed into a most
beautiful princess. She was more lovely even than before, and
thanked him, while her eyes sparkled with tears, for having
broken the spell of the magician. The next day, the king came
with the whole court to offer their congratulations, and
stayed till quite late. Last of all came the travelling
companion; he had his staff in his hand and his knapsack on
his back. John kissed him many times and told him he must not
go, he must remain with him, for he was the cause of all his
good fortune. But the traveller shook his head, and said
gently and kindly, 'No: my time is up now; I have only paid my
debt to you. Do you remember the dead man whom the bad people
wished to throw out of his coffin? You gave all you possessed
that he might rest in his grave; I am that man.' As he said
this, he vanished.

The wedding festivities lasted a whole month. John and his
princess loved each other dearly, and the old king lived to
see many a happy day, when he took their little children on
his knees and let them play with his sceptre. And John became
king over the whole

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