The Brown Fairy Book
Asmund and Signy
Long, long ago, in the days when fairies, witches, giants and ogres still visited the earth,
there lived a king who reigned over a great and beautiful country. He was married to a
wife whom he dearly loved, and had two most promising children--a son called Asmund,
and a daughter who was named Signy.
The king and queen were very anxious to bring their children up well, and the young
prince and princess were taught everything likely to make them clever and accomplished.
They lived at home in their father's palace, and he spared no pains to make their lives
Prince Asmund dearly loved all outdoor sports and an open-air life, and from his earliest
childhood he had longed to live entirely in the forest close by. After many arguments and
entreaties he succeeded in persuading the king to give him two great oak trees for his
'Now,' said he to his sister, 'I will have the trees hollowed out, and then I will make rooms
in them and furnish them so that I shall be able to live out in the forest.'
'Oh, Asmund!' exclaimed Signy, 'what a delightful idea! Do let me come too, and live in
one of your trees. I will bring all my pretty things and ornaments, and the trees are so
near home we shall be quite safe in them.'
Asmund, who was extremely fond of his sister, readily consented, and they had a very
happy time together, carrying over all their pet treasures, and Signy's jewels and other
ornaments, and arranging them in the pretty little rooms inside the trees.
Unfortunately sadder days were to come. A war with another country broke out, and the
king had to lead his army against their enemy. During his absence the queen fell ill, and
after lingering for some time she died, to the great grief of her children. They made up
their minds to live altogether for a time in their trees, and for this purpose they had
provisions enough stored up inside to last them a year.
Now, I must tell you, in another country a long way off, there reigned a king who had an
only son named Ring. Prince Ring had heard so much about the beauty and goodness of
Princess Signy that he determined to marry her if possible. So he begged his father to let
him have a ship for the voyage, set sail with a favourable wind, and after a time landed in
the country where Signy lived.
The prince lost no time in setting out for the royal palace, and on his way there he met
such a wonderfully lovely woman that he felt he had never seen such beauty in all his
life. He stopped her and at once asked who she was.