There was once upon a time a queen to whom God had given no
children. Every morning she went into the garden and prayed to God in heaven to bestow on
her a son or a daughter. Then an angel from heaven came to her and said, be at rest, you
shall have a son with the power of wishing, so that whatsoever in the world he wishes for,
that shall he have. Then she went to the king, and told him the joyful tidings, and when
the time was come she gave birth to a son, and the king was filled with gladness.
Every morning she went with the child to the garden where the wild
beasts were kept, and washed herself there in a clear stream. It happened once when the
child was a little older, that it was lying in her arms and she fell asleep. Then came the
old cook, who knew that the child had the power of wishing, and stole it away, and he took
a hen, and cut it in pieces, and dropped some of its blood on the queen's apron and on her
dress. Then he carried the child away to a secret place, where a nurse was obliged to
suckle it, and he ran to the king and accused the queen of having allowed her child to be
taken from her by the wild beasts. When the king saw the blood on her apron, he believed
this, fell into such a passion that he ordered a high tower to be built, in which neither
sun nor moon could be seen, and had his wife put into it, and walled up. Here she was to
stay for seven years without meat or drink, and die of hunger. But God sent two angels
from heaven in the shape of white doves, which flew to her twice a day, and carried her
food until the seven years were over.
The cook, however, thought to himself, if the child has the power of
wishing, and I am here, he might very easily get me into trouble. So he left the palace
and went to the boy, who was already big enough to speak, and said to him, wish for a
beautiful palace for yourself with a garden, and all else that pertains to it. Scarcely
were the words out of the boy's mouth, when everything was there that he had wished for.
After a while the cook said to him, it is not well for you to be so alone, wish for a
pretty girl as a companion. Then the king's son wished for one, and she immediately stood
before him, and was more beautiful than any painter could have painted her.
The two played together, and loved each other with all their hearts,
and the old cook went out hunting like a nobleman. The thought occurred to him, however,
that the king's son might some day wish to be with his father, and thus bring him into
great peril. So he went out and took the maiden aside, and said, to-night when the boy is
asleep, go to his bed and plunge this knife into his heart, and bring me his heart and
tongue, and if you do not do it, you shall lose your life.
Thereupon he went away, and when he returned next day she had not
done it, and said, why should I shed the blood of an innocent boy who has never harmed
anyone. The cook once more said, if you do not do it, it shall cost you your own life.
When he had gone away, she had a little hind brought to her, and
ordered her to be killed, and took her heart and tongue, and laid them on a plate, and
when she saw the old man coming, she said to the boy, lie down in your bed, and draw the
clothes over you. Then the wicked wretch came in and said, where are the boy's heart and
tongue. The girl reached the plate to him, but the king's son threw off the quilt, and
said, you old sinner, why did you want to kill me. Now will I pronounce thy sentence. You
shall become a black poodle and have a gold collar round your neck, and shall eat burning
coals, till the flames burst forth from your throat. And when he had spoken these words,
the old man was changed into a poodle dog, and had a gold collar round his neck, and the
cooks were ordered to bring up some live coals, and these he ate, until the flames broke
forth from his throat.
The king's son remained there a short while longer, and he thought
of his mother, and wondered if she were still alive. At length he said to the maiden, I
will go home to my own country, if you will go with me, I will provide for you.
Ah, she replied, the way is so long, and what shall I do in a
strange land where I am unknown. As she did not seem quite willing, and as they could not
be parted from each other, he wished that she might be changed into a beautiful pink, and
took her with him. Then he went away to his own country, and the poodle had to run after
He went to the tower in which his mother was confined, and as it was
so high, he wished for a ladder which would reach up to the very top. Then he mounted up
and looked inside, and cried, beloved mother, lady queen, are you still alive, or are you
dead. She answered, I have just eaten, and am still satisfied, for she thought the angels
were there. Said he, I am your dear son, whom the wild beasts were said to have torn from
your arms, but I am alive still, and will soon set you free.
Then he descended again, and went to his father, and caused himself
to be ammounced as a strange huntsman, and asked if he could offer him service. The king
said yes, if he was skilful and could get game for him, he should come to him, but that
deer had never taken up their quarters in any part of the district or country. Then the
huntsman promised to procure as much game for him as he could possibly use at the royal
table. So he summoned all the huntsmen together, and bade them go out into the forest with
him. And he went with them and made them form a great circle, open at one end where he
stationed himself, and began to wish.
Two hundred deer and more came running inside the circle at once,
and the huntsmen shot them. Then they were all placed on sixty country carts, and driven
home to the king, and for once he was able to deck his table with game, after having had
none at all for years.
Now the king felt great joy at this, and commanded that his entire
household should eat with him next day, and made a great feast. When they were all
assembled together, he said to the huntsmen, as you are so clever, you shall sit by me. He
replied, lord king, your majesty must excuse me, I am a poor huntsman. But the king
insisted on it, and said, you shall sit by me, until he did it. Whilst he was sitting
there, he thought of his dearest mother, and wished that one of the king's principal
servants would begin to speak of her, and would ask how it was faring with the queen in
the tower, and if she were alive still, or had perished.
Hardly had he formed the wish than the marshal began, and said, your
majesty, we live joyously here, but how is the queen living in the tower. Is she still
alive, or has she died? But the king replied, she let my dear son be torn to pieces by
wild beasts, I will not have her named. Then the huntsman arose and said, gracious lord
father, she is alive still, and I am her son, and I was not carried away by wild beasts,
but by that wretch the old cook, who tore me from her arms when she was asleep, and
sprinkled her apron with the blood of a chicken.
Thereupon he took the dog with the golden collar, and said, that is
the wretch, and caused live coals to be brought, and these the dog was compelled to devour
before the sight of all, until flames burst forth from its throat. On this the huntsman
asked the king if he would like to see the dog in his true shape, and wished him back into
the form of the cook, in the which he stood immediately, with his white apron, and his
knife by his side. When the king saw him he fell into a passion, and ordered him to be
cast into the deepest dungeon.
Then the huntsman spoke further and said, father, will you see the
maiden who brought me up so tenderly and who was afterwards to murder me, but did not do
it, though her own life depended on it. The king replied, yes, I would like to see her.
The son said, most gracious father, I will show her to you in the form of a beautiful
flower, and he thrust his hand into his pocket and brought forth the pink, and placed it
on the royal table, and it was so beautiful that the king had never seen one to equal it.
Then the son said, now will I show her to you in her own form, and wished that she might
become a maiden, and she stood there looking so beautiful that no painter could have made
her look more so.
And the king sent two waiting-maids and two attendants into the
tower, to fetch the queen and bring her to the royal table. But when whe was led in she
ate nothing, and said, the gracious and merciful God who has supported me in the tower,
will soon set me free. She lived three days more, and then died happily, and when she was
buried, the two white doves which had brought her food to the tower, and were angels of
heaven, followed her body and seated themselves on her grave. The aged king ordered the
cook to be torn in four pieces, but grief consumed the king's own heart, and he soon died.
His son married the beautiful maiden whom he had brought with him as a flower in his
pocket, and whether they are still alive or not, is known to God.