HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! Listen to the laughing Wizard with the pointed eyes!
In old times there lived a King. He had only one daughter. He would not give her in marriage except to the man who could perform three great tasks even if he were most miserable of beggars. Many tried, but none succeeded.
Now not far away dwelt a poor man who had three sons. The eldest and wisest said:
"I am going to win the Princess."
On the way thither he met an old Beggar, and he never even said good morning to him.
The Beggar said, "Whither do you speed, my Son?"
"What business is that of yours?" he growled in passing.
The old one answered, "Your going will be in vain."
And so it was. The eldest and wisest returned home without having accomplished anything.
The second and wise son, now said he was going, and surely he would win the Princess. But it happened to him, as it had happened to the first.
Then the third and stupid son spoke:
"Since the two elder have been, I am going. Perhaps I shall succeed."
"What can you do, when the wisest could not succeed?"
But he did not ask for anything, and set out for the King. He met the old Beggar, bowed to him, took off his cap, and wished him a good morning.
The old man thanked him, and asked where he was going. The lad showed him his whole heart, he hid nothing. The Beggar then gave him a whistle, and said:
"Today you will have to tend a hundred hares. Just whistle to them, and they will obey you."
It happened as he said.
When the lad came to the King, the lad's first word was:
"Where is your daughter? I want to see her, whether she pleases me.
When he had looked at her he said, "She pleases me. For her sake I will perform the three tasks."
The King set him the task for that day, of tending a hundred hares. When they carried them to the field and turned them loose, the hares ran away in every direction.
At first the stupid son let them do as they wished; but when they were all out of sight, he wanted to see if they would obey him. He blew on his whistle, and the hares were there like lightning. He counted them, and missed none.
"Good! Run away again and feed. When I need you, I will whistle," said he to the hundred.
I do not know who saw all this and reported it to the King. But he was in a great rage. He sent his wife to the lad that she might ask and beg for a hare. She dressed herself like an old woman, came slyly to the lad, and asked if he would give her just one hare, she needed it so much!
He answered, "I can neither sell it nor give it. The hares are not mine."
She kept on begging and begging, "You could easily give me just one."
He marked who she was, and finally said he would give her a hare, if she would give him a hearty kiss. She said no! and no! but when she saw it was the only way out she gave him a kiss.
She stuffed the hare into a covered basket, and went away happy, thinking she had deceived the stupid lad. He waited till she was near home, drew out his whistle, and whistled hard. Bang! the hare sprang against the cover and, heigh ho! leaped back to his master. The Queen stood still with her mouth open. The hare was gone!
That evening the stupid lad chased his hundred hares home, and handed them over to the King.
The next morning the old Beggar came again. He gave the lad a horn to call together horses. That day the King set him the task of herding a hundred horses, and of driving them all home at evening.
When they let the horses loose in the field, they ran away in every direction. But in a little while the lad sounded his horn, and they all came galloping up and stood around him.
Then the King told his wife to go and beg for a horse. But she would not go. She said she was afraid of horses, that he should go. The King disguised himself so that no one should know him, and rode to the field where the lad was, and asked him if he had a horse to sell.
"I have none, for sale," said he.
Well, could it be borrowed?
Well, could it be given away?
"O if need be, I could give one, but only if you will kiss your donkey."
The King twisted his mouth this way and that. But it was of no use! He had to kiss the donkey, or he would get no horse.
When he had done this, he placed himself joyfully on the horse, rode home, and shut the animal in the stable, thinking:
"I have certainly deceived that lad! There will be one of his horses missing tonight!"
The youngest son, not knowing that the King had already reached home, sounded his horn soon after the horse was in the stable. When the horse heard the horn, he sprang against the door. The door opened crick, crack! and the King hearing the noise ran to the window. All he could see was the whisk of a tail.
In the evening the lad chased the horses home, and drove them together into the stable.
On the third day, the King ordered him to tell lies into an empty sack till he, the king, called out:
The lad stuck his mouth into the sack, lied and fibbed as hard as he could, but the sack stayed empty. Then it came into his head to fill the sack with truth!
He began to relate how he had tended hares, and how the Queen had come to buy, but that he had given her nothing till she kissed him!
Ha! ha! ha! The King roared with laughter, and enjoyed the shame of his wife.
Now the lad began to tell further, that while he was herding the horses the King himself had come to get a horse, but that he, the lad, had given him nothing till he--the donkey--
"Bind the sack, quick!" cried out the King before the lad could finish. "It is full!"
And so the lad won the Princess, as easily as rolling off a log.