The Violet Fairy Book
The Three Princes And Their Beasts
Once on a time there were three princes, who had a step-sister. One day they all set out
hunting together. When they had gone some way through a thick wood they came on a
great grey wolf with three cubs. Just as they were going to shoot, the wolf spoke and said,
'Do not shoot me, and I will give each of you one of my young ones. It will be a faithful
friend to you.'
So the princes went on their way, and a little wolf followed each of them.
Soon after they came on a lioness with three cubs. And she too begged them not to shoot
her, and she would give each of them a cub. And so it happened with a fox, a hare, a
boar, and a bear, till each prince had quite a following of young beasts padding along
Towards evening they came to a clearing in the wood, where three birches grew at the
crossing of three roads. The eldest prince took an arrow, and shot it into the trunk of one
of the birch trees. Turning to his brothers he said:
'Let each of us mark one of these trees before we part on different ways. When any one of
us comes back to this place, he must walk round the trees of the other two, and if he sees
blood flowing from the mark in the tree he will know that that brother is dead, but if milk
flows he will know that his brother is alive.'
So each of the princes did as the eldest brother had said, and when the three birches were
marked by their arrows they turned to their step-sister and asked her with which of them
she meant to live.
'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