GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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So he laid himself down and slept till the clock struck three-quarters past eleven. He sprang up in terror at the sound, ran out to the well, and as quickly as he could dipped in the bucket which stood by, drew out the water, and hastened away.
When he reached the iron door, the clock struck twelve, and it swung to so violently that it grazed a piece of skin off his heel. He was, however, full of joy to think that he had obtained the water of life for his father, and hastily turned his footsteps towards home.
On his way, he met the dwarf; and when the little man saw the sword and the bread, he said : " You have indeed gained a valuable possession: with that sword you will be able to slay great hosts."
But the prince could not bear to continue his journey and return home to his father without his brothers, so he said : " Dear dwarf, will you not tell me where I can find my two brothers ? They set out on a journey to discover the water of life long before I did, but they have not returned."
" They were proud and haughty in their behaviour to me," said the dwarf, " so I threw a spell over them, and they are now shut up between two mountains, and cannot get out." On this the young prince begged so hard for them that the dwarf at last pro­mised to set them free, but he said : " Take care of yourself when they are at liberty, for they will be jealous of your success, and their hearts are wicked."
When his brothers arrived, the youngest was delighted to see them, and related all that had happened to him, and how he had obtained a bucketful of the wonderful water from a well, and of the beautiful princess whom he had set free in the enchanted castle. He said also that she had promised to be his wife, and that he was to fetch her at the end of a year, when she succeeded to her king­dom. After this, they travelled towards home, and on the road came to a kingdom in which the people were suffering from the effects of war and famine, and the king himself was on the point of starvation—indeed, there was great trouble.
The young prince, on hearing this, went to the king, gave him the bread which never failed, and with it the whole kingdom was fed and satisfied; he also lent him the sword with which he soon slew the enemy's hosts, and the land was restored to peace and joy.