GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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7HE IRON CHEST.                        475
In olden times, when people had no power against the wicked wishes of others, a king's son was placed under enchantment by an old witch, and shut up in an iron chest in the forest.
Years rolled by, but no one was able to set him free. At length one day a king's daughter, who had been wandering through the wood for some days and lost her way, came near the iron chest; and while she stood wondering what it could be, a voice proceeded from it, and said : " Where do you come from ? and what are you doing here ?"
I'll have missed my way to my father's kingdom, and know not how to find my way home."
Then the voice from the iron chest replied : " I will help you to reach your home by a very short road, if you will give me your word of honour to do as J wish. I am the son of a great king, and in the same rank as yourself, and if I am set free from this enchant­ment, you shall be my wife."
She was quite frightened at this, and said to herself: "What can I do with this iron chest ?" However, as she wanted to be shown the way to her home, she promised to do all he asked.
" Very well," he replied; " come back here again to-morrow, and bring with you a knife to scrape a hole in this iron chest that I may escape." He then gave her directions how to find a road which was very little known, and it led her to her home in a few minutes.
When the king's daughter arrived at the castle, there was great joy, and the old king clasped her in his arms, and kissed her with happiness and love at finding her at home in safety. But the princess looked very mournful, and said : " Dear father, such a strange thing has happened to me. I should never have returned home or found my way out of the wood if I had not stopped to look at a large iron chest; and while I stood there a voice came from the chest and said I should be directed in the shortest way if I would give my word of honour to return and set the owner of the voice free and marry him."
This account so alarmed the old king that he nearly fell into a