Fairies & Smoothies
'With the eldest,' she answered. Then the brothers separated from each other,
and each of them set out down a different road, followed by their beasts. And the
step-sister went with the eldest prince.
After they had gone a little way along the road they came into a forest, and in one
of the deepest glades they suddenly found themselves opposite a castle in which
there lived a band of robbers. The prince walked up to the door and knocked.
The moment it was opened the beasts rushed in, and each seized on a robber,
killed him, and dragged the body down to the cellar. Now, one of the robbers was
not really killed, only badly wounded, but he lay quite still and pretended to be
dead like the others. Then the prince and his step-sister entered the castle and
took up their abode in it.
The next morning the prince went out hunting. Before leaving he told his step-
sister that she might go into every room in the house except into the cave where
the dead robbers lay. But as soon as his back was turned she forgot what he had
said, and having wandered through all the other rooms she went down to the
cellar and opened the door. As soon as she looked in the robber who had only
pretended to be dead sat up and said to her:
'Don't be afraid. Do what I tell you, and I will be your friend.
If you marry me you will be much happier with me than with your brother. But you
must first go into the sitting-room and look in the cupboard. There you will find
three bottles. In one of them there is a healing ointment which you must put on
my chin to heal the wound; then if I drink the contents of the second bottle it will
make me well, and the third bottle will make me stronger than I ever was before.
Then, when your brother comes back from the wood with his beasts you must go
to him and say, "Brother, you are very strong. If I were to fasten your thumbs
behind your back with a stout silk cord, could you wrench yourself free?" And
when you see that he cannot do it, call me.'
When the brother came home, the step-sister did as the robber had told her, and
fastened her brother's thumbs behind his back. But with one wrench he set
himself free, and said to her, 'Sister, that cord is not strong enough for me.'
The next day he went back to the wood with his beasts, and the robber told her
that she must take a much stouter cord to bind his thumbs with. But again he
freed himself, though not so easily as the first time, and he said to his sister:
'Even that cord is not strong enough.'
The third day, on his return from the wood he consented to have his strength
tested for the last time. So she took a very strong cord of silk, which she had
prepared by the robber's advice, and this time, though the prince pulled and
tugged with all his might, he could not break the cord. So he called to her and
said: 'Sister, this time the cord is so strong I cannot break it. Come and unfasten
it for me.'
But instead of coming she called to the robber, who rushed into the room
brandishing a knife, with which he prepared to attack the prince.
But the prince spoke and said:
'Have patience for one minute. I would like before I die to blow three blasts on my
hunting horn--one in this room, one on the stairs, and one in the courtyard.'