The Red Fairy Book HTML version

The Norka
ONCE upon a time there lived a King and Queen. They had three sons, two of them with
their wits about them, but the third a simpleton. Now the King had a deer park in which
were quantities of wild animals of different kinds. Into that park there used to come a
huge beast--Norka was its name--and do fearful mischief, devouring some of the animals
every night. The King did all he could, but he was unable to destroy it. So at last he called
his sons together and said, `Whoever will destroy the Norka, to him will I give the half of
my kingdom.'
Well, the eldest son undertook the task. As soon as it was night, he took his weapons and
set out. But before he reached the park, he went into a traktir (or tavern), and there he
spent the whole night in revelry. When he came to his senses it was too late; the day had
already dawned. He felt himself disgraced in the eyes of his father, but there was no help
for it. The next day the second son went, and did just the same. Their father scolded them
both soundly, and there was an end of it.
Well, on the third day the youngest son undertook the task. They all laughed him to
scorn, because he was so stupid, feeling sure he wouldn't do anything. But he took his
arms, and went straight into the park, and sat down on the grass in such a position that the
moment he went asleep his weapons would prick him, and he would awake.
Presently the midnight hour sounded. The earth began to shake, and the Norka came
rushing up, and burst right through the fence into the park, so huge was it. The Prince
pulled himself together, leapt to his feet, crossed himself, and went straight at the beast. It
fled back, and the Prince ran after it. But he soon saw that he couldn't catch it on foot, so
he hastened to the stable, laid his hands on the best horse there, and set off in pursuit.
Presently he came up with the beast, and they began a fight. They fought and fought; the
Prince gave the beast three wounds. At last they were both utterly exhausted, so they lay
down to take a short rest. But the moment the Prince closed his eyes, up jumped the beast
and took to flight. The Prince's horse awoke him; up he jumped in a moment, and set off
again in pursuit, caught up the beast, and again began fighting with it. Again the Prince
gave the beast three wounds, and then he and the beast lay down again to rest. Thereupon
away fled the beast as before. The Prince caught it up, and again gave it three wounds.
But all of a sudden, just as the Prince began chasing it for the fourth time, the beast fled
to a great white stone, tilted it up, and escaped into the other world, crying out to the
Prince: `Then only will you overcome me, when you enter here.'
The Prince went home, told his father all that had happened, and asked him to have a
leather rope plaited, long enough to reach to the other world. His father ordered this to be
done. When the rope was made, the Prince called for his brothers, and he and they,
having taken servants with them, and everything that was needed for a whole year, set out
for the place where the beast had disappeared under the stone. When they got there, they
built a palace on the spot, and lived in it for some time. But when everything was ready,
the youngest brother said to the others: `Now, brothers, who is going to lift this stone?'
Neither of them could so much as stir it, but as soon as he touched it, away it flew to a
distance, though it was ever so big-- big as a hill. And when he had flung the stone aside,
he spoke a second time to his brothers, saying: