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GLEAM GOLD! GLITTER GOLD! GLEAM! Listen to the Wizard of the gleaming cavern:

Once on a time two King's children, a brother and a sister, lived with a hateful woman. She ill-treated the two children, though she loved her own daughter who was both dirty and ugly.

One day the two children said to each other, "Let us go away."

So they went and went, till they reached a crossroad, and there they parted with many tears. The brother took with him a portrait of his sister to remember her by, and started on his way.

The girl went and went and came to a great Castle, the windows of which were as dull as rusty iron. She entered the Castle; there was not a single soul in it! She carried water in and washed the windows, and cleaned the rooms for they also were quite black.

She had scrubbed eleven rooms, and was about to scrub the twelfth but its door was fastened with a piece of linden-bark. She loosed the fastening and opened the door. And when she opened it, she saw three Black Women sitting on chairs, and three black torches burning before them.

The first Woman said, "Maiden, your Good Fate has led you hither."

The Second said, "You are indeed beautiful, but you will be more beautiful."

The Third said, "You have beautiful hair, but in future you will have golden hair."

And, when the girl stept back again into the eleventh room, she saw in the mirror that she had grown more beautiful and that she had golden hair.

After which she left the Castle and returned home. When she reached the house, the hateful woman was standing at the door. She saw how beautiful the girl had become, so she received her kindly, and sent her own daughter to try her fortune.

That one went and went and came to the very same Castle with the dim windows. She did not wash the windows at all, instead she sauntered through the rooms looking at everything. At last she found the twelfth door fastened with a piece of linden-bark, went in, and saw the three Black Women, before each of whom burned a torch.

The First said, "Maiden, your Bad Fate has led you hither."

The Second said, "You are certainly hideous, but you will be more hideous."

The Third said, "You have ugly, short hair, but in future pig's bristles will grow all over our head."

And so it was! When she looked in the mirror in the other room, she saw that her head was like a pig's head. And when she reached home, her mother did not want to let such a disgusting creature in. When at last she did let her in, she put her in a room under the floor, so that no one might see her. She gave her things to eat secretly. But the beautiful girl henceforth she treated kindly.

Meanwhile the brother had voyaged over the sea and reached a Castle. There he had taken service with a King. The King held him in high honor.

Now the brother was caring so carefully for his sister's portrait, that he had it on a table always before his eyes. Whenever he had free time, he sat before it. This the other servants noticed, and carried the news to the King. Then the King bade the servants get hold of the portrait secretly, and bring it to him. But the young servant always kept his room locked.

Then one evening, the King had him called quickly, and the brother in his haste forgot to lock his room. The other servants had been waiting for that. They took the portrait and gave it to the King. Then he had the young servant called again, and asked him whose picture it was, whether it was that of his bride.

The young servant answered, "No! It is the picture of my sister."

Then the King commanded him to take a ship and fetch his sister, as he wished to marry her.

Good! The brother sailed away, took his sister some golden clothes, and told her that she must sail back with him, for she was to become a Queen. The sister prepared for the journey, but just as she was going aboard, the hateful woman pushed her own daughter on the ship, saying:

"What do I want you for? Cross the sea with these, so that I may never, during life, see you again!"

So they set sail. But when the ship was in midocean, the ugly daughter of the hateful woman pushed the King's bride overboard into the water, and put on the golden clothes. But the real bride was not drowned. She was changed into a Golden Duckling, and swam along behind the ship.

The King came down to the shore to receive his bride. But when he saw the girl with the pig's head, in his rage he cast the brother into prison. In three days, the head of the traitor must be cut off!

Now in the King's Castle was a kitchen-girl called Anna Panninja, but everybody called her Antscha. On the first evening came a Golden Duckling flying into the kitchen, and said:

"Antscha Panninja, how fares it with my brother, the young servant?"

Antscha answered, "He sits in the prison, and in three days his head will be cut off.

When the Duckling heard that, she flew away sorrowful.

On the next night, the kitchen-girl was all alone in the kitchen. Then the Duckling came flying in, and asked again:

"Antscha Panninja, how fares it with my brother, the young servant?"

Antscha answered as before, "He sits in the prison, and in three days his head will be cut off."

Then said the Duckling, "Someone could save him, if I might be a human being! In this you must help. Tomorrow evening I will come just once more. Then take a distaff and break it in two. Throw the pieces over your shoulder, catch me, and I shall win a human form."

On the third evening came the Duckling flying into the kitchen, and asked again:

"Antscha Panninia, how fares it with my brother, the young servant?"

Then the kitchen-girl broke the distaff in two, and threw the pieces over her shoulder, then caught the Golden Duckling. It changed at once into a beautiful Maiden with golden hair, who begged the kitchen-girl to go to the King, and get the key of the prison, so that she might visit her dear brother.

The kitchen-girl related everything to the King, and he hurried down to see the beautiful Maiden. As soon as he cast eyes on her, he recognized her by the portrait, and knew she was the right bride, only much more beautiful than her portrait.

Then the King went with her to the prison, and with tears begged the young servant to forgive him. In the future he would hold him as a brother, and he would hand over to him half the Kingdom! The brother forgave him, of course, but said he had a Kingdom of his own, for his father had just died.

After that the King married his beautiful bride, and lived happily. But the ugly daughter he ordered torn to pieces by horses.

Next: The Wizard with Bushy Golden Head and Apple-Red Cheeks