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Swedish Fairy Tales - The Princess on the Glass Hill

Swedish Folk Tales for Children - A farmer's haymeadow was eaten every year on the Eve of the Feast of St. John the Baptist, also Midsummer. He set his sons, one by one, to guard it, but the older two were frightened off by an earthquake. The third, Boots [Cinderlad], was despised by his brothers, who jeered at him for always sitting in the ashes, but he went the third year and stayed through three earthquakes. At the end, he heard a horse and went outside to catch it eating the grass. Next to it was a saddle, bridle, and full suit of armor, all in brass. He threw the steel from his tinderbox over it, which tamed it. When he returned home, he denied that anything had happened. The next year, the equipment for the horse was in silver, and the year after that, in gold. Read the full story at listfairytales.info

Swedish Folk Tales and Legends

Swedish Folk Tales and Fairy Tales,Swedish Folk Tales and Legends,swedish folktales for children
The Princess on the Glass Hill
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Once on a time there was a man who had a meadow, which lay high upon the hill-side, and in the meadow was a barn, which he had built to maintain his hay in. Now, I must tell you there had not been much in the barn for the past year or two, for every St. John's night, once the grass stood greenest and deepest, the meadow was consumed to the very ground the following morning, just as if a whole drove of sheep had been there feeding on it over night. This occurred once, and it happened twice; therefore at last that the man grew tired of losing his crop of hay, and explained to his sons--because had three of these, and also the youngest was nicknamed Boots, of course--which now among them must just go and sleep in the barn at the outlying area when St. John's night came, for it was too good a joke which his bud ought to be eaten, root and blade, this year, as it was the previous two decades. So all these went must keep a sharp look-out; that was exactly what their father said.


Well, the eldest boy was prepared to go and watch the meadow; hope him for appearing after the bud! It should not be his fault if animal or man, or the fiend himself, got a blade of grass. But when day came, he set off to the barn, and lay down to sleep; but a little on in the nighttime came such a clatter, and such an earthquake, that walls and roof shook, and groaned, and creaked; afterward up jumped the lad, and took to his heels as fast as ever he could; nor dared he once look round till he reached home; and as for the hay, then why it was consumed this year just as it had been twice before.

The following St. John's night, the guy said again it wouldn't do to shed all of the grass in the outlying field year after year in this way, so among his sons should just reverted off to observe it, and observe it nicely too. The next oldest son was ready to try his luck, so he put off, and lay down to sleep in the barn because his brother had done before him; but as night wore on there came on a rumbling and quaking of the earth, worse even than on the last St. John's night, and when the lad discovered it he got scared, and took to his heels as though he had been conducting a race.

Next year the turn came to Boots; but when he left ready to go, another two began to laugh, and to make game of him, saying,''

However, Boots didn't care a pin for their chattering, and retreated, as evening drew on, up the hill-side to the outlying field. There he went inside the barn and lay down; but in about an hour's time the barn started to groan and creak, so that it was dreadful to hear.

Some time after came the following creak and an earthquake, so that the litter from the barn flew on the lad's ears.

But just then came a third rumbling, along with a third earthquake, so that the lad thought roof and walls were coming back on his head; however it passed off, and all was still as death about him.

"It'll come again, I'll be bound," thought Boots; but no, it didn't come again; still it was and still it stayed; however once he had lain some time he heard a noise like a horse had been standing just outside the barn-door, and scattering the grass. He stole to the door, and peeped through a chink, and there, stood a horse feeding off. So big, and fat, and expansive that a horse, Boots had never set eyes on; by his hands on the grass lay a saddle and bridle, and a complete set of armour for a knight, all of brass, so bright that the light gleamed from it.

"Ho, ho!" Thought the lad it is you, is it, that eats up our hay? I will soon put a spoke in your wheel; just see if I don't."

So he lost no time, but took the steel out of his tinder-box, and threw it over the horse; then it had no power to stir from the spot, and became so tame that the lad could do what he liked with it. So he got on its back, and rode off with it to a place which no one knew of, and there he put up the horse.

"You did not lie long in the barn, even if you had the heart to go so much as the field."

"Well," said Boots, "all I can say is, I put in the barn till the sun rose, and neither saw nor heard anything; I can not think what there was in the barn to make you both so fearful."

Said his brothers; "but we'll soon see how you've watched the meadow;" so they set off; but when they reached it, there stood the grass as deep and thick as it had been over night.

Well, the next St. John's eve it was the same story over again; neither of the elder brothers dared to go out to the outlying field to watch the crop; but Boots, he had the heart to go, and everything happened just as it had happened the year before. Then all at once everything was as still as death, and the lad heard how something was cropping the grass outside the barn-door, so he stole to the door, and peeped through a chink; and what do you think he saw?

"Ho, ho!" Said Boots to himself; "it's you that gobbles up our hay, is it? I will soon put a spoke in your wheel;" and with that he took the steel out of his tinder-box, and threw it over the horse's crest, which stood as still as a lamb.

"I suppose you'll tell us," said one of his brothers, "there's a nice harvest this season also, up in the hayfield."

"Well, so there's," said Boots; and off ran the others to see, and there stood the grass thick and deep, as it was the year before; but they didn't give Boots softer words for all that.

Said the lad to himself, "it's you, is it, which comes here consuming our hay? I'll soon stop that--I'll soon put a spoke in your wheel." So he caught up his steel and threw it over the horse's neck, and in a trice it stood as if it were nailed to the ground, and Boots could do as he pleased with it. Then he rode off with it to the hiding-place where he kept the other two, and then went home. When he got home his two brothers made game of him as they had done before, saying they could see, he had watched the grass well, for he looked for all the world as if he were walking in his sleep, and many other spiteful things they said, but Boots gave no heed to them, only asking them to go and see for themselves; and when they went, there stood the grass as fine and deep this time as it had been twice before.

Now, you must know that the king of the country where Boots lived had a daughter, whom he would only give to the man who could ride up over the hill of glass, for there was a high, high hill all of glass, as smooth and slippery as ice, close by the king's palace. Now, this Princess was so lovely that all who set eyes on her fell over head and ears in love with her whether they would or no. So I needn't tell you how all the princes and knights who heard of her were eager to win her to wife, and half the kingdom beside; and how they came riding from all parts of the world on high prancing horses, and clad in the grandest clothes, for there wasn't one of them who hadn't made up his mind that he, and he alone, was to win the Princess.

So when the day of trial came, which the king had fixed, there was such a crowd of princes and knights under the glass hill, that it made one's head whirl to look at them; and every one in the country who could even crawl along was off to the hill, for they all were eager to see the man who was to win the Princess. So the two elder brothers set off with the rest; but as for Boots, they said outright he shouldn't go with them, for if they were seen with such a dirty changeling, all begrimed with smut from cleaning their shoes and sifting cinders in the dusthole, they said folk would make game of them.

"Very well," said Boots, "it's all one to me. I am able to go alone, and stand or fall by myself."

Now when the two brothers came to the hill of glass the knights and princes were all hard at it, riding their horses till they were all in a foam; but it was no good, by my troth; for as soon as ever the horses set foot on the hill, down they slipped, and there wasn't one who could get a yard or two up; and no wonder, for the hill was as smooth as a sheet of glass, and as steep as a house-wall. But all were eager to have the Princess and half the kingdom. So they rode and slipped, and slipped and rode, and still it was the same story over again. At last all their horses were so weary that they could scarce lift a leg, and in such a sweat that the lather dripped from them, and so the knights had to give up trying any more. So the king was just thinking that he would proclaim a new trial for the next day, to see if they would have better luck, when all at once a knight came riding up on so brave a steed that no one had ever seen the like of it in his born days, and the knight had mail of brass, and the horse a brass bit in his mouth, so bright that the sunbeams shone from it. Then all the others called out to him he might just as well spare himself the trouble of riding at the hill, for it would lead to no good; but he gave no heed to them, and put his horse at the hill, and went up it like nothing for a good way, about a third of the height; and when he had got so far, he turned his horse round and rode down again. So lovely a knight the Princess thought she had never yet seen; and while he was riding, she sat and thought to herself--

"Would to heaven he would only develop, and down the opposite side."

And when she saw him turning back, she threw down one of the golden apples after him, and it rolled down into his shoe. But when he got to the bottom of the hill he rode off so fast that no one could tell what had become of him. That evening all the knights and princes were to go before the king, that he who had ridden so far up the hill might show the apple which the princess had thrown, but there was no one who had anything to show. One after the other they all came, but not a man of them could show the apple.

At even the brothers of Boots came home too, and had such a long story to tell about the riding up the hill.

"First of all," they said, "there wasn't one of the whole lot who might get so much as a stride upward; but at last came one that had a suit of brass mail, and a brass bridle and saddle, all so bright that the sun shone from them a mile off. He was a chap to ride, just! He awakened a third of the way up the mountain of glass, and he could easily have ridden the entire way up, if he chose; but he turned around and rode down, thinking, perhaps, which was enough for once."

"Oh! I should so like to have seen him, that I need to," said Boots, who sat by the fireside, and stuck his feet into the cinders as was his wont.

"Oh!" Said his brothers, "you would, do you? You seem fit to keep company with such high lords, nasty beast which you're, sitting there amongst the ashes."

Next day the brothers were all for setting off again, and Boots begged them this time, too, to let him go with them and see the riding; but no, they wouldn't have him at any price, he was too ugly and nasty, they said.

"Well, well!" Said Boots; "if I go at all, I must go by myself. I'm not afraid."

So when the brothers got to the hill of glass, all the princes and knights began to ride again, and you may fancy they had taken care to shoe their horses sharp; but it was no good,--they rode and slipped, and slipped and rode, just as they had done the day before, and there was not one who could get so far as a yard up the hill. And when they had worn out their horses, so that they could not stir a leg, they were all forced to give it up as a bad job. So the king thought he might as well proclaim that the riding should take place the day after for the last time, just to give them one chance more; but all at once it came across his mind that he might as well wait a little longer, to see if the knight in brass mail would come this day too. Well, they saw nothing of him; but all at once came one riding on a steed, far, far, braver and finer than that on which the knight in brass had ridden, and he had silver mail, and a silver saddle and bridle, all so bright that the sunbeams gleamed and glanced from them far away. Then the others shouted out to him again, saying he might as well hold hard, and not try to ride up the hill, for all his trouble would be thrown away; but the knight paid no heed to them, and rode straight at the hill, and right up it, till he had gone two-thirds of the way, and then he wheeled his horse round and rode down again. To tell the truth, the Princess liked him still better than the knight in brass, and she sat and wished he might only be able to come right up to the top, and down the other side; but when she saw him turning back, she threw the second apple after him, and it rolled down and fell into his shoe. But as soon as ever he had come down from the hill of glass, he rode off so fast that no one could see what became of him.

At even, when all were to go in before the king and the Princess, that he who had the golden apple might show it; in they went, one after the other, but there was no one who had any apple to show, and the two brothers, as they had done on the former day, went home and told how things had gone, and how all had ridden at the hill and none got up.

"But, last of all," they said, "came one in a silver suit, and his horse had a silver saddle and a silver bridle. He had been only a chap to ride; and he got two-thirds up the mountain, and then turned back. He was a handsome fellow and no mistake; and the Princess threw the second gold apple to him."

"Oh!" Said Boots, "I should so like to have seen him too, that I need to."

"A pretty story!" they said. "Perhaps you believe his coat of mail was as glowing as the ashes you are constantly poking around, and sifting, you horrible dirty beast."

The third day everything happened as it had happened the two days before. Boots begged to go and see the sight, but the two wouldn't hear of his going with them. When they got to the hill there was no one who could get so much as a yard up it; and now all waited for the knight in silver mail, but they neither saw nor heard of him. At last came one riding on a steed, so brave that no one had ever seen his match; and the knight had a suit of golden mail, and a golden saddle and bridle, so wondrous bright that the sunbeams gleamed from them a mile off. The other knights and princes could not find time to call out to him not to try his luck, for they were amazed to see how grand he was. So he rode right at the hill, and tore up it like nothing, so that the Princess hadn't even time to wish that he might get up the whole way. As soon as ever he reached the top, he took the third golden apple from the Princess' lap, and then turned his horse and rode down again. The moment he got down, he rode off at full speed, and was out of sight in no time.

Now, when the brothers got home at even, you may fancy what long stories that they told, how the riding had gone off the day; and among other things, they had a deal to say about the knight in golden mail.

"He just was a chap to ride!" They explained; "so grand a knight isn't to be found in the wide world."

"Oh!" said Boots, "I should so like to have seen him; that I should."

"Ah!" said his brothers, "his mail shone a deal brighter than the glowing coals which you are always poking and digging at; nasty dirty beast that you are."

Next day all the knights and princes were to pass before the king and the Princess--it was too late to do so the night before, I suppose--that he who had the golden apple might bring forth it; but one arrived after a second, first the princes, after which the knights, and still nobody could demonstrate the gold apple.

"Well," said the king, "some one must have it, for it was something that we all saw with our own eyes, how a man came and rode up and bore it off."

So he commanded that every person who was in the kingdom should come up to the palace and see if they could show the apple. They all came, one after another, but nobody had the golden apple, and after a long time the two brothers of Boots came. They had been the last of all, or so the king asked them if there was no one else in the kingdom who hadn't come.

"Oh, yes," said they; "we have a brother, but he never carried off the golden apple. He hasn't stirred out of the dust-hole on any of the three days."

"Never mind that," said the king; "he may as well come up to the palace like the rest."

So Boots had to move up to the palace.

"How, now," said the king; "have you got the golden apple? Speak out!"

"Yes, I have," said Boots; "here is the first, and here is the second, and here is the third too;" and with that he pulled all three golden apples from his pocket, and at precisely the same time threw off his sooty rags, and stood before them in his glistening golden email.

Read to : Tom Thumb

"Yes!" Said the king; "you shall have my daughter, and half my kingdom, for you well deserve both her and it."

So they got ready for the wedding, and Boots obtained the Princess to wife, and there was good merry-making in the bridal-feast, you might fancy, for they might all be merry though they couldn't ride up the mountain of glass; and all I can say is, even if they haven't left off their merry-making yet, why they are still at it.

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