once upon a time
a witch, who in the shape of a hawk used every night to break the
of a certain village church. In the same village there lived three
who were all determined to kill the mischievous hawk. But in vain did
two eldest mount guard in the church with their guns; as soon as the
appeared high above their heads, sleep overpowered them, and they only
awoke to hear the windows crashing in.
took his turn of guarding the windows, and to prevent his being
by sleep he placed a lot of thorns under his chin, so that if he felt
and nodded his head, they would prick him and keep him awake.
was already risen,
and it was as light as day, when suddenly he heard a fearful noise, and
at the same time a terrible desire to sleep overpowered him.
closed, and his
head sank on his shoulders, but the thorns ran into him and were so
that he awoke at once. He saw the hawk swooping down upon the church,
in a moment he had seized his gun and shot at the bird. The hawk fell
under a big stone, severely wounded in its right wing. The youth
ran to look at
it, and saw
that a huge abyss had opened below the stone. He went at once to fetch
his brothers, and with their help dragged a lot of pine-wood and ropes
to the spot. They fastened some of the burning pine-wood to the end of
the rope, and let it slowly down to the bottom of the abyss. At first
was quite dark, and the flaming torch only lit up dirty gray stone
But the youngest brother determined to explore the abyss, and letting
down by the rope he soon reached the bottom. Here he found a lovely
full of green trees and exquisite flowers.
middle of the meadow
stood a huge stone castle, with an iron gate leading to it, which was
open. Everything in the castle seemed to be made of copper, and the
inhabitant he could discover was a lovely girl, who was combing her
hair; and he noticed that whenever one of her hairs fell on the ground
it rang out like pure metal. The youth looked at her more closely, and
saw that her skin was smooth and fair, her blue eyes bright and
and her hair as golden as the sun. He fell in love with her on the
and kneeling at her feet, he implored her to become his wife.
his proposal gladly; but at the same time she warned him that she could
never come up to the world above till her mother, the old witch, was
And she went on to tell him that the only way in which the old creature
could be killed was with the sword that hung up in the castle; but the
sword was so heavy that no one could lift it.
youth went into
a room in the castle where everything was made of silver, and here he
another beautiful girl, the sister of his bride. She was combing her
hair, and every hair that fell on the ground rang out like pure metal.
The second girl handed him the sword, but though he tried with all his
strength he could not lift it. At last a third sister came to him and
him a drop of something to drink, which she said would give him the
strength. He drank one drop, but
still he could
the sword; then he drank a second, and the sword began to move; but
after he had drunk a third drop was he able to swing the sword over his
Then he hid
himself in the
castle and awaited the old witch's arrival. At last as it was beginning
to grow dark she appeared. She swooped down upon a big apple tree, and
after shaking some golden apples from it, she pounced down upon the
As soon as her feet touched the ground she became transformed from a
into a woman. This was the moment the youth was waiting for, and he
his mighty sword in the air with all his strength and the witch's head
fell off, and her blood spurted up on the walls.
fear of any further
danger, he packed up all the treasures of the castle into great chests,
and gave his brothers a signal to pull them up out of the abyss. First
the treasures were attached to the rope and then the three lovely
And now everything was up above and only he himself remained below. But
as he was a little suspicious of his brothers, he fastened a heavy
on to the rope and let them pull it up. At first they heaved with a
but when the stone was half way up they
let it drop
it fell to the bottom broken into a hundred pieces.
what would have
happened to my bones had I trusted myself to them,' said the youth
and he began to cry bitterly, not because of the treasures, but because
of the lovely girl with her swanlike neck and golden hair.
For a long
time he wandered
sadly all through the beautiful underworld, and one day he met a
who asked him the cause of his tears. The youth told him all that had
him, and the magician said:
grieve, young man!
If you will guard the children who are hidden in the golden apple tree,
I will bring you at once up to the earth. Another magician who lives in
this land always eats my children up. It is in vain that I have hidden
them under the earth and locked them into the castle. Now I have hidden
them in the apple tree; hide yourself there too, and at midnight you
see my enemy.'
climbed up the
tree, and picked some of the beautiful golden apples, which he ate for
the wind began
to rise, and a rustling sound was heard at the foot of the tree. The
looked down and beheld a long thick serpent beginning to crawl up the
It wound itself round the stem and gradually got higher and higher. It
stretched its huge head, in which the eyes glittered fiercely, among
branches, searching for the nest in which the little children lay. They
trembled with terror when they saw the hideous creature, and hid
beneath the leaves.
youth swung his
mighty sword in the air, and with one blow cut off the serpent's head.
He cut up the rest of the body into little bits and strewed them to the
of the rescued
children was so delighted over the death of his enemy that he told the
youth to get on his back, and in this way he carried him up to the
joy did he hurry
now to his brothers' house! He burst into a room where they were
all assembled, but no one knew who he was. Only his bride, who was
as cook to her sisters, recognized her lover at once.
brothers, who had quite
believed he was dead, yielded him up his treasures at once, and flew
the woods in terror. But the good youth forgave them all they had done,
and divided his treasures with them. Then he built himself a big castle
with golden windows, and there he lived happily with his golden haired
wife till the end of their lives.