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The story of Harap Alb A Romanian Fairytale by Ion Creanga

Read "The story of Harap Alb" Romanian fairy tale in english for all children. "The story of Harap Alb" Romanian story, is a short Romanian bedtime Story for kids and babies written by Ion Creanga about an emperor named Old King who had three sons and a brother named The Green Emperor who lived far away. The Green Emperor had three daughters but no son to inherit his throne. Feeling that he has little to live on, he sends word to his brother Old King to send his smartest son and he will give him all the kingdom and one of his daughters will be his wife. After his older brothers fail in their journey to reach their uncle, it is the youngest son's turn to find a good horse and go.

"The story of Harap Alb"
a Romanian fairy tale in english by Ion Creangă

The ember-eating, flying horse

    Once upon a time in a beautiful kingdom there lived The Old King who had three sons. He had an even older brother who was called The Green Emperor. This one was the emperor of another country, far away, and separated by desolated lands, lying at the margins of the earth. This remote brother didn’t have any sons, but only three beautiful daughters. Many years succeeded since the two brothers saw each other, or their children. And so, The Green Emperor didn’t know his grandsons, and his brother didn’t know his granddaughters. At that time, people didn’t travel too much from one place to another because the country roads were unknown and dangerous.
    Sensing himself at death’s door, The Green Emperor sent a message to The Old King. In this message he asked his brother to bring here the best and the smartest of his three sons. Moreover, The Old King promised to grant that one the entire country, and one of the three daughters as wife. When he received this letter, The Old King sent at once for his three sons and said to them:
    - Here is what my brother and your uncle wants from us: which one of you my sons thinks he can be a king in this big and rich country he will have my permission to go to my brother and become king of this land.
    Then, the eldest son had the courage to say:

    - Father, I think I have the right to pursue this honor because I am the eldest son. That is why I ask you to give me some travel money, clothes for the trip, and weapons to defend myself, and a horse for riding, because I want to go without delay.
    - Very good my son! If you think you can go there and be a king, then choose any horse you like from the stable, take money as much as you want, clothes and as many weapons as you need and you can handle and go my son. God bless you!
    The Old King’s eldest son agreed to follow his father’s directions and he took all he needed, kissed his father’s hand, waved far well to his brothers, mounted his horse and embarked on the journey. But his father wanted to be sure of his son’s bravery and, right after his son left, secretly put on a bear’s skin quickly, mounted his horse, and headed off the same path. He stopped in the first forest, hid under a bridge and waited for his son, disguised in the bear skin. When the prince arrived, the king jumped in the middle of the road. The prince saw a big and ferocious bear growling and coming towards him. His horse rose on his back feet and the prince, overcome with horror and with no courage to fight the beast and ran back home. His father arrived back at the castle before his son, hid the bear’s skin and waited for the prince. The prince appeared in front of him, sad and ashamed and the king asked him:
    - What happened? It seems to me that you have forgotten something from home. I know this isn’t a good sign.
    - I have forgotten nothing, father, said the prince. But in my way, I ran across a bridge, and I saw an awful bear growling in my face. I barely escaped from his paws, and I thought to return to you father, rather than to fall prey to the wild beast. From now on, added the elder son, I need nothing: neither kingdom, nor crown, neither lands, nor beautiful wife. I just want to live my life here with you.
    - You’ve made the right thing my son, said The Old King. It seems to me that you don’t want to be a king, and being a king is not for you. Instead of confusing people it is better to stay aside. However, your uncle will be angry.
    And now, the second born son raised and said:
    - Father, if you allow me, I want to try to go there myself.

    - You may go, my son, but mind you don’t run back if you see a rabbit or something equally helpless, because your shame will be greater than your elder brother’s. However, I think that you can try your fortune, so go my son.
    The prince began in a hurry to prepare all things he needed for the departure. He bade farewell to his father and brothers and left the house. He rode straight ahead until the night was falling. When he arrived at the bridge, all of a sudden a growling and awful bear came in front of him from underneath the bridge. The prince’s horse began to snort and jumped up three feet from the ground. The king’s son, seeing that the bear was no joke, put aside his desire to become a king, or to have a kingdom and he galloped run back to his father.
    When the king saw him he said:
    - Oh, dear son! You have done as an old and forgotten proverb says: Protect me against the hens for I’m not afraid of dogs!
    - What kind of a word is these, father, asked his son. You consider a bear as a hen? Such a big bear can destroy an army. Fortunately, I escaped with life. Thank
God, I have plenty of food and shelter in your castle, father!
    - I know, said the king, that you have enough food here. It is not this subject that I want to talk about. Tell me: what will you do about the shame? From the three sons that I have, all are useful for nothing. In vain you spoil my food. What kind of nephews are you? There is another old saying:

For a pie you go ahead,
But for fight you hide in bed!

    The Old King was disappointed by the trials and failures of his two elder sons. He retreated in his apartments and locked himself in silence. He simply stared at the old and empty bedroom walls.
    After some time, The Old King’s youngest son named Harap Alb, noticing his father’s disappointment, ran into the palace’s garden and burst into fury. He was deeply hurt and he didn’t know how to get rid his family’s deep shame. While he was sitting lost in his thoughts, a hunched old woman beggar appeared before his eyes and said:
    - Why are you so deeply lost in your thoughts, great prince? Why don’t you throw away the sorrow from your heart? I know for a fact that you are blessed with luck. Now, please give this old woman some alms.
    - Let me be, auntie, and don’t bother me. I have something else that troubles me, said the prince.
    - Young prince, please tell auntie, why you worry? Who knows, maybe I can help you somehow.
    - Let me be, old woman. I am so angry that I can barely see anything in front of my eyes.
    - Kind prince, insisted the hunched woman, you’re making a mistake. You can see, no doubt, but not so well. And this is because you cannot see who can help you. I have hidden powers and gifts of a fortune teller.

    - It is so easy for you to make light of things, auntie. How on earth could someone like you help me?
    - It might seem strange to you, said the old woman, that I can help you. But our Lord also put his gifts in helpless hands, for the powers gifted to me are great.
But first, please give me some alms. Take pity of me, great prince!
    The prince was moved, and his curiosity was triggered the old woman’s words, he pulled out a golden coin and said:
    - Take this, auntie. It’s less from me, and more from the Lord.
    - Since you gave me charity, God will reward you back, said the hunched woman. You have great news awaiting for you. Not long from now you will become a powerful king, the most loved and glorified through all the kingdoms. Now, my dear prince, since you showed mercy and reward, please keep quiet, look into my eyes, and listen to what I’ll tell you.
    And the old woman instructed him to go back to his father and to ask the king for the horse, the weapons, and the clothes the king wore when he was a young prince himself and groom. And hopefully, by using these advices the prince too would succeed where his brothers couldn’t.
    - First, she continued, your father will not understand why, and he will deny this request. You must insist on asking for his permission, and he will finally give in. The King’s cloths I’ve told you about are worn and ragged, his weapons are rusty, and the stallion will appear to be oldest and sickest of all. You will have to patch his clothe, polish the sword, and repair the bow and change the arrows tips. But the real trick is in how you are going to choose the horse. You have to place tray full hot and smoldering embers in the middle of the royal stable. All horses will run away, except for one. The horse that will come forward and start to eat the embers will be the one that will take you to your future kingdom.
    The hunched woman finished talking. She remained silent for a while, and then she added:
    - My prince, you need to remember all that I have told you. Be sure that we will meet again in this world. An old saying says that if a mountain can meet another mountain, then it is even more possible that a person can meet another person again.
    After she finished instructing the prince, the old hunched woman covered herself in a white veil, slowly rose in the thin air, higher and higher, until she vanished under the surprised eyes of the prince.
    Following the old woman’s advice, the young prince decided again to confront his father’s ridicule, but this time to persuades him into giving his blessing and lending him his old war gear. Trusting in his luck, the prince went to his father and told him:
    - Father, allow me to follow in the footsteps of my brothers, and to try my luck. I do not know if I will win or not, but I promise you that once I have left your house, I will never come unless I have won.
    - How unexpected, dear boy, to hear such words from you, said the king. Your brothers proved they have no strength in their hearts and so I have lost all the hope in them. Honestly, I can hardly believe that you are braver than them. But if you want to try, I will not stop you. I am only afraid that you will meet another rabbit on your way, become frightened, and change your bravery into shame. If so, my boy, I am telling you: do not come back home!

    - Well, father, a man can try. Lord is great and I may have a chance. Please, give me your old horse, weapons which you wore as a brave warrior.
    - My dear boy, you remind me of an old proverb,

Young boy with an old horse
Staying on the hard way, of course.

    - Well, spoke The King, who on Earth may know where my old stallion is, or if it still lives? It couldn’t have lived as long as I. But who told you about my old horse?
    - Father, weather the horse is alive or not, is my problem. I wanted to know if you would give it to me or not.
    - From me to you, my dear boy, it is fine. I wonder if you can even find it, said the king.
    - I will not complain. I’m glad you give it to me, and where it will be, it will be mine.
    The prince jumped in the garret and brought from there a bridle, a whip, and a saddle, all covered in dust and all very old. Then, from an old chest, he took out some old clothes, a bow and arrows, a broad sword, and a club, almost all rotten, and he began to clean and polish them. Late in the day, he filled a tray with embers, went inside the stable to the herd and put it down between the horses. As all the horses were trampling away, all of a sudden he saw from the middle of the stable a crooked and old, skin and bones horse, on which you could count the ribs. It came straight ahead towards the tray and took a full mouth of embers. Amazed and confused by the miserable appearance of this horse he struck next to the horse with his whip and shouted:
    - Ugly mongrel, from all these fine horses only you came forward and eat the embers! Lousy beast, you will get into trouble if you show up again!
    Then prince again placed the hot tray of embers between the horses, and again the misshaped horse hurried to take a mouth full of embers. The prince cracked his whip again next to the horse and began walking among the horses hoping that another one will come forth and eat from the tray. But the third time, the same horse came and ate all of the embers. The enraged prince took the horse reins and thought: “Should I take this one, or not? I’m so afraid that people will laugh at me.” As he was hesitating, the ugly horse shook its head three times and suddenly it changed into the most beautiful horse in the herd. Looking in prince’s eyes, horse spoke:
    - Jump on me, master, and hold on tight.
    The prince held on to its reins and mounted on it. The magic horse shot up in the clouds, and dove to the ground like an arrow. Then again it flew up higher, this time reaching the moon and dove down as quick as lightning. And in the third flight it reached the sun and shot downwards as fast as light. The horse then asked then the prince:
    - Prince, was I fast enough? Did you ever think that you could reach the sun with your legs, the moon with your hands and fly through the clouds like a bird?
    - I liked it, and I was frightened to death, answered the prince.
    - My prince, without my embers I was also weak among those horses in the stable. But this is life. I think you know by now that I can be either ugly or handsome, either weak or strong. And from now on I am ready to take you everywhere you want. Please tell me, how do you for us to travel: fast like the wind, or swift like the dream?
    - If you will carry me like the dream, you could scary me. But if you take me like the wind, it will be the best for us, my little horse, said the prince.
    - Well, my lord, jump on me light hearted because I’ll take you back to home.

    The prince mounted on the horse, and caressing him, the prince said:
    - Let us go, my horse, my little friend!
    The horse flew as gentle as the wind. They arrived at home in no time. In the garden the horse neighed and transformed back into his ugly form. The prince returned to his father’s court holding his magic horse by its reins.
    - Welcome my hero, said The Old King. What kind of a horse have you chosen?
    - Father, I have chosen this one because I don’t like people to be envy on me, or putting spells on me.
    While saying these, he put the saddle on the horse, hung the weapons in the saddle, and grabbed some food and money, clean clothes in the scribes and a canteen full of water.
    Then he kissed his father’s hand, took the letter for his uncle, bid farewell to his brothers and left the house. He went and went till late in the night. When he arrived at the bridge, that ferocious bear appeared again from under the bridge, and furiously growling attacked him. The horse jumped on the bear with its front legs while the prince raised his broad sword to strike. The shining steel went down, but just before hitting bear’s neck the prince heard a human voice:
    - Don’t strike me, my boy! I am your father. What do you know? Surprised, the prince dismounted. His father dropped the bear’s skin and took him in his arms, kissed him, and said:
    - My son, what a brave fighter you are! You have a smart head on your shoulders and a brave heart in your chest. Go on, you won the privilege to pursue the throne. Remember, though, my words: You will encounter in your travel good people and bad people. No matter what keep away from the Red Man and from the Bald-Man. Especially keep away from the Bald-Man. Do not deal with them because they are very cunning. Now, to come to an end, I tell you that the horse, your fellow, will advise you what to do. In my youth years he got me out from lots of dangers. I’m giving you this bear skin, too. It could be handy sometime.
    Then the king caressed the horse, and kissing his son, he said:
    - Go in peace, my dear boy. Only God knows when we will see each other again.
    The prince mounted on his horse, and the horse turned again into its young and strong shape. With one powerful stroke they jumped at high altitude and thus started the trip.

Heading to the remote kingdom
God giving them wisdom
The story of Harap Alb and his friend
Is not yet at the end.

Chapter 2
Under The Pover of Bald-Man

    They went and went a day, two days, may be more, until they entered into a strange and deep wood. Silvery chandeliers of Spanish-Moss were covering each of the long tree branches, and sneaking eyes of unknown creatures blink, twinkle and wink from everywhere. Not too far away from the wood boundaries sprang at them a tall character with no hair on his head. He said loud and challenging:
    - Good day, young man! My name is Bald-Man. Do you need some help on your way? Can I be your shield-bearer? Or I could be your attendant, or your servant? It is so dangerous to ride alone through these places. In any moment a wild beast can jump in front of you suddenly ending your trip. You need a man like me because I know very well these places.
    - May be I need, maybe I do not need, said the prince looking in the Bald-Man’s face. For now, I’ll take my chances alone.
    And roweling the horse he continued his trip. While they were advancing through the deep forest, the Bald-Man appeared again in front of the prince and his horse, this time disguised in other clothes. He said:
    - Good way, traveler!
    - Have a good heart, said the prince, and thought: “How many bald men are in this country?”
    - Oh my heart… said Bald-Man, sighting. We all know a good man is not always the lucky one. I’m not against work, but I worked in vain and for no compensation all my life. I know a proverb that says: “If you serve a poor master, you will always be a poor servant”. Do you need a good servant? Do not think too much! Take me to serve you and be helpful in your trip. These places are dangerous and you are alone.
    - For the moment I do not need help, said the prince with a hand on the handle of his saber. I can help myself thank you! And the prince went away.
    The prince and the horse went and went through the dark forest for a long time. At some point they arrived at a bifurcation, where a long cut tree was lying across the road. The way was closed. The prince did not know which way to take.
    “What a mess, he thought. It is nothing around, no village, no man, and no signs. I can see only wilderness. I am so sorry now that I did not accept the offers of those Bald-Men’s offers for guidance. It is true, my father advised me against them and their insidious offers of service, but I do not think that it is so bad.”
    While he was awaiting there lost in the woods, guess who appeared before his eyes? It was the Bald-Man himself, this time disguised in another cloth, and riding a good looking horse. With a changed voice he spoke these:
    - My poor man you are on the wrong way! You are certainly a stranger, and you do not know these places. You are lucky that I am here for down in this valley there is an awful bull that killed a lot of people. Go back, or go ahead, but take someone to help you. Take me, if you want!
    The prince thought: “Why on earth there are so many bold men in these woods? However, it seems they are kind and generous for they keep offering their help, as opposed to what my father advised me.” And then, with loud voice, he said:
    - It seems I have to accept your offer, my good man. I will tell you the truth: When I left home, my father advised me to stay away from red beard men and especially from bald men. However, I think I may want to hire you.
    - Traveler, said Bald-Man, if this is what you think, be careful. You will not find the help you want because in this place there are only bald-men. Now tell me, what kind of a harm can happen to you if you hire me? Don’t you know the old saying:
    “When there aren’t black eyes, take the blue ones.” You can thank God for founding me. I would say: hire me! I want to serve you, my prince, do not doubt of that. The night is falling, and you do not appear to have a good horse. With this old one I am afraid you’ll fail to move to much ahead. I am so sorry for both of you!
    - I don’t know what to do, said the prince. Since I was a child, I used to listen to my father, and so, I am frightened to hire you. I saw in my way two more bald-men. I believe now that I am in bald-men’s land. I reckon I have to hire you.

    Thus, the prince hired Bald-Man to be his shield-bearer and helper on the travel, and they continued together. After a good distance the Bald-Man pretended he was thirsty and asked for the canteen with water. The prince gave it to him, and the Bald-Man put it at his mouth, then suddenly overthrew it. The prince, very surprised, shouted:
    - Wow, Bald-Man, what did you do? Don’t you see there is no water around? It is hot, and we could die without water.
    - I am so sorry, my prince, that water was bad. Don’t worry, we’ll find soon a deep well with fresh ice-cold water, the one I know of. There we will make a little halt, I’ll wash the canteen and I’ll fill it with fresh water to have on our way. Further on, all other wells are all dry.
    So they began riding on a path out, and soon enough they came upon a clear place where they saw a well with its wooden lid open. The well was wide, but it had neither wheel nor handle, or chain. It was only a rope ladder to get down to the water.
    - Now, Bald-Man, it is the time to show me how brave are you, said the prince.
    - Nothing easier, smiled Bald-Man.
    He went down into the well, and he filled the canteen with fresh water. Then he shouted loud from the deeps:
    - Oh what a refreshing place is here! I do not even think to get out from this well. God blessed the one who dag this well! On hot days like this it, is so good to relax down here in this cool place.
    After a while he got out from the well and said:
    - My prince, I’m feeling light as a feather, and I feel like flying. Don’t you like to go down there yourself to refresh?
    The prince, being not-trained at all in such quackery, went down careless in the well, without thinking at what could happen to him. As he stood inside and felt fine in the refreshing air, the Bald-Man dropped the heavy lid on the well with a big noise, and jumping on it said with a triumphant voice:
    - Ha! Son of a wise man: were you looking for a trap? You just felt in it. How easy it was to catch you. Now, you must tell me who are you for real, where do you come from, and where do you go? If you don’t tell me, your bones will rust in this well.
    The prince was like paralyzed. He could not anything but tell Bald-Man the whole story. He told him everything in detail, and the Bald-Man was very pleased. Laughing, he said, with a poisonous voice:
    - Well, sun of a viper, this is all I wanted to know from you. If you would told me lies I would kill you, but I take pity of your youth. If you want to see again the sun with your eyes, and step again on the green grass, swore now by your sabre that you will give me obedience and submission in all, even if I ask you to jump into the fire. From now on, I will be the emperor’s grandson, and you will be my servant, my helper and my shield-bearer. You will be serving me to your death. Everywhere you will go with me you will not mention our secret because, for otherwise I will wipe you out of the ground. Can you do this? If you cannot, I know what to do with you.
    The prince, seeing himself caught in this trap, swore full obedience and good faith to Bald-Man, hoping for help only in God and His mercy. Next thing, Bald-Man laid his hands on emperor’s letters to his brother, on the money, and on prince’s weapons. Pull the poor prince out of the well, and said:
    - From now on your name will be “Harap Alb.” You are not anymore a prince, you are my attendant in everything.
    What a turn! They mounted on their horses and started to ride towards the remote palace of the Green Emperor. The Bald-Man as the master, the prince as his servant:

“And the story of king’s land
Is still away from its end”

Chapter 3
The bear’s lettuce and the stag’s precious stones

    They went a long way, and crossed over nine countries and nine seas. The trip was hard and tedious. No matter how long it took them, the time for other people everywhere else elapsed even longer. The faster they moved, the shorter the time ran for them. The faster and longer they traveled, people how saw them said how they became thinner and thinner, like paper. Finally, they arrived at the Green Emperor’s palace. With the letters at hand, Bald-Man introduced himself as the royal nephew. The good emperor read the letters and he was happy that his nephew made it there. He introduced him to the court and to his daughters. The court accepted him with all consideration for a pure-blood prince and a king’s successor. Bald-Man was very sure that his lies were taken for granted. Then, proud-heartedand full of vanity, he sent for Harap Alb, and told him harshly:
    - You will stay at the stable and you will take care of my horse, like the apple of your eye. If I go there, and I do not find your tasks well done, you will shake for your skin. Did you hear my words?
    - Yes, master, said Harap Alb and humiliated went to the stable.
    The princesses noticed how the so-called prince made a point in mistreating and hurting his servant. They took Harap Alb’s part, and said to the Bald-Man:
    - Cousin, you are wrong if you do so. If God gave us a greater position we must be rather humble and wise, and have pity on other people; especially help the men under our orders.
    - My dearest cousins, in this world there are good men, and bad men. We must keep a tight hand over the last ones. This servant of mine did bad things and he is dangerous and wild. I have to keep a sharp look at him at all times.
    The princesses didn’t like his words. They didn’t like Bald-Man’s disrespectful behavior. His all in all personality did not efface from their hearts. They started to talk between them about this strange cousin: “He is so ugly that he does not resemble our family!” Neither the look, nor the manners. While that young and fragile servant of him has way more pleasant appearance, as well as a kinder soul. May be, their hearts told them the “prince” is not really their cousin. The emperor’s daughters became more reserved and secretly wonder about his actual identity.
    One day, Bald-Man was joining his uncle at dinner. The servants brought them some very special lettuce. The king said to his nephew:
    - Dear nephew, have you ever eat such good lettuces ever in your life? Indeed the lettuces were huge and simply melt in one’s mouth. They have such a special taste that left everyone at the table without words after eating them. These lettuce leaves appear like having life and talking to you. Their green color was deeper than emeralds, yet more fresh than cool air. These lettuces were soft, yet brittle, and one didn’t need anything else to add, no salt, no spices. They were not from this world!
    - No, my uncle, said Bald-Man, I never eat such marvelous vegetables. I just want to ask you where have you got these lettuces from? I could eat a whole sack without having enough.
    - I believe you, my nephew, but you don’t know how hard is to bring them here. These lettuces are growing up only in Bear’s garden, at the other end of the world. No one can harvest these lettuces without losing one’s life. I have a cave man who brings me some, but now and then, because he is so afraid of the killer Bear.
    Hearing that, Bald-Man, who wanted at any price to get read of Harap Alb, said to the king:

    - Good Lord my uncle: my servant will bring us these salads!
    - I think you are joking, my boy. He could never do this. Only if you want to see him dead.
    - My uncle, don’t worry about that. I bet he will bring us a lot of these lettuces be- cause I know his powers. Just wait and see.
    Then he called Harap Alb and said:
    - Right now you will go and bring me these kind of lettuces from the Bear’s garden. Go now, in a hurry, and mind my orders, for I am your master.
    Harap Alb exited the room and went to the stable. He caressed this horse and told him saddened:
    - My little horse, if you could know how afraid I am. I didn’t listen to my father and now I am the servant of a crook. I have to obey him, otherwise my life is in danger.
    - Prince, said the horse, don’t worry. Let’s go, and God will take care of us. Jump on me and hold tight because I’ll take you as fast as the wind.
    The magic horse flew with Harap Alb high to the clouds, then back on the Earth:

Over the trees
Over the seas,
Over the mountains
Over the houses

    In few moments they landed in an island right in the middle of the large sea. It was impossible for anybody to cross this sea starting from its shores, since it was boundless. However, the embers-eating horse approached it from the skies. He flew low and wet his hoof into the sea water. At the touch the horse transformed in a sea-horse, so the sea was not hostile for them. The horse and the sea were one now.
    When they arrived on that little island they found on the sand a little house covered in green silk-like velvety moss. The prince dismounted, and to his surprise saw in the threshold of the door the old woman which gave him many good advices at home.
    - Good day to you my prince, do you remember me? I must confess now: I am the Holy Sunday Lady, and I know already your troubles. The Bald-Man wants to kill you, and he sent you to the killer Bear’s garden. You must stay here for the night. I will think what you ruse, and I can plan to get those lettuces.
    The gratified prince thanked Holy Sunday for her hospitality and help. She answered:
    - Be sure that I help you because you have such a good heart.
    And she went into her house. Later in the night, she ran to the garden through the dew and got sleeping plants. She boiled them together with honey and sweet milk.
    Then she went to the Bear’s garden and poured this mixture in the Bear’s fountain.
    Waiting there by the water, she saw the Bear coming early morning with rage and awful growling. As soon as he reached the fountain it began to drink. He drank and growled contently. Then suddenly became dizzy and felt down, like dead. This ferocious bear’s senses were dull, he was asleep like a boulder. Holy Sunday went back to her house, woke up the prince, and said:
    - Cover yourself into the bear’s skin from your father and go ahead to the Bear’s garden. Jump the fence, walk in, and freely take how many lettuces you want, for I took care of the Bear. Be careful, though! If the Bear wakes up, and comes to you, throw your bear skin towards him, and run as quickly as you can towards my house.
    The prince got to the garden and began to pool up the best lettuce leaves, stuffing them in a big bag. When he was about to get out of the garden, the Bear woke up and he was coming growling, towards him. The prince throw the bear skin at the beast, and ran to Holy Sunday’s house.

    He arrived safe. He thanked the old woman, kissed her, took the bag full of lettuces and left. They arrived to The Green Emperor’s palace, and to the great surprise of the emperor and princesses, he gave them the beautiful lettuces. The Bald-Man turned pale and barely could hide his fury.
    Short time after that, the emperor shown Bald-Man some special jewelry, telling him:
    - My dear nephew, did you ever see such precious and beautiful gems in your life?
    - I did see some, my uncle, but never like these. Where are these precious gems from?
    The gems were mixed: diamonds, rubies, sapphire, lapis-lazuli, but the most intriguing of all where the emeralds (of course, it was The Green Emperor’s land).
    They have the most beautiful, most intense and most radiant green that can possibly be imagined. The curious green of these emeralds was soft yet dense; it was the symbol for the joy of life itself. Moreover, the colors kept changing between the bright light of day and the pale light of the torches. No human eye had ever admired such gems.
    - There is a strange story for this gems, continued the Emperor. In a wild wood lives a big stag. As I was told, that stag’s skull is covered with these gems. I heard that it has one at its forehead, which sparkles like the sun. Nobody could get closer to it, and no weapon could kill this stag. This is because the stag is magic, and if it sees somebody, that one dies at once. Many men and animals lie dead in the hips in this wood. In spite of all these facts, sometimes, someone tries to see these famous stag, and getting in the woods finds one or two precious stones lost on the ground. Then he comes to me and I will buy them. These stones are my kingdom’s glory. Many princes and kings come here to see them.
    - Oh, uncle, said the Bald-Man, what kind of men are these? Are they all so faint-hearted? I bet my servant will bring us the stag’s skin, with its skull all decorated in precious unique gems. He did not wait, and immediately called for the servant:
    - Go right now to the stag’s wood and bring me his skin, with the skull full of precious stones. But mind my words: do not steal any of them because you will be a dead man.
    The prince went again to the stable, and caressing his horse, said full of sorrow:
    - My dear horse, the Bald-Man got me again into trouble. If I’ll escape from this story, I will be very lucky.
    - What other kind of wired order did you receive today? asked the horse.
    - My friend, one more frightened than ever.
    - Don’t worry, master, said the horse. We’ll start again from the beginning, but we both will get to the end of the story this time. God will have mercy on us again.
    So the prince mounted the horse. The magic stallion started to fly. At first very slow, slower than a whisper. Then he tensioned his muscles strong and said:
    - Hold it tight my prince! We are flying again fast.

High in the sky
We started to fly.
From the clouds to the sun
We run and run
Between the stars and to the moon
We’ll be over the island quite soon

    They arrived at Holy Sunday’s house again. When she saw the prince at her door she kindly said:
    - My prince, do you need me again?
    - Yes, mother, he answered very pale. The Bald-Man got me again into trouble. He certainly wants to kill me. I rather want to die, than living such a life.
    - My son, please do not say that. I did not know you are so fearful. This night you will stay here, and I will tell you in the morning what to do. You must have patience because you will not escape so easy for this time.
    - May be you are right, mother. It is too much trouble for me, though.

    - Well, let us just think what you are going to do with the stag. You have a master and you have to follow.
    The old woman went to her attic and pulled out of a box the helmet and the sword of the former Palm Tall Foot Long Beard dwarf. She had these since the old dwarf was the master of the dark insides of the earth. Holy Sunday gave these tools to Harap Alb and told him:
    - Take this things because you will need them where we are going to go. And we have to be successful this time, too.
    When the new day broke, Holy Sunday went to the prince and took him to the stag’s forest where they dug a deep pit, close to a spring where the stag uses to come to drink water and sleep till the sun set. When they finished the pit, Holy Sunday said:
    - Now, my boy, jump into this pit, and stay there all the day. Put on the helmet and hold the sword in your hand. When the stag will come to the spring to drink water, and to sleep with the eyes open as usually, you just get slowly out from the pit. Cut its neck in a single blow, and jump quickly back into the pit and stay there till the sunset. All this time the stag’s head will call you with human voice, because it wants to see you. Its head has a poisonous eye which can kill everybody. Youdo not get out from the pit until the sun set.
    And so did the prince what Holy Sunday told him. After he chopped out the stag’s head, he did hide in the pit. The stag’s head cried and called the name of the prince:
    - Good prince, get up only a bit so I can see you, because you are so brave and I want to give you my treasures. I want to see you, to see you…
    But the prince didn’t answer and stayed quiet there. After the sunset, the stag cried no more and the prince got out from the pit. He pealed out the stag’s skin, took the skull with all those precious gems, and run to Holy Sunday. He told her:
    - With God’s help and yours we finished this terrible task, mother. I hate Bald-Man, and I want to see him again only when pigs will fly.
    - Leave him to his fate, my prince. You’ve done your duty. Now go home and take care.
    So the prince thanked Holy Sunday, hugged her, and went on his horse back to the Green Emperor’s palace.

They went to the kingdom
God gave them wisdom
And the story of king’s land
Is still away from its end.

    On his trip back, everywhere they stopped people came to see him because the big gem from stag’s skull was sparkling brighter than the sun. During this time, one evening Bald-Man, Green Emperor, and one of his daughters were talking in the palace garden. They saw at a distance some bright rays of light coming to them. A lot of people run to see this miracle. It was the prince riding his horse and carrying stag’s skin and skull covered by gems.
    The cunning Bald-Man said:
    - Do you see uncle? Did I tell you lies?
    - I see, my nephew, if I would had such a servant I would call him to dinner to- gether with us, and I would put him to sit at the top of the table.
    - Oh, uncle, a servant is a servant, not a relative. You have strange ideas. I think you are too old, so better put me soon in your place, and you will see what a good life will be for everyone. I am the right man.
    The king was amazed of these words, and the princesses had their doubts. They looked at him like a cat looks to a dog. They felt what a bad man he was.
    After some time, the emperor invited a lot of princes and noble men from around to a feast. The princesses asked Bald-Man to let his servant also to come to the feast for help. Bald-Man consented, on the condition that he must stay only at the back of his master.

    In the middle of the feast, when the wine was sweeter, and the food most tasty, a wonderful bird knocked at the palace window and said with human voice:
    - You drink and eat, and are joyful, but nobody thinks at the Red Emperor’s daughter and her grief.
    All the guests stood stone. Nobody knew who is this princess and Red Emperor, her father, or where they live. The guests began a vivid debate on who is this tyrannical emperor and his daughter. Some thought he is a malevolent sorcerer, while some thought he himself is the bird on a mission to create fear and doubt.
    Bald-man, looking to his servant, caught a smile on his face, and angry said to him:
    - You, miserable servant, you know something about that princess. You go right now to find her and capture her for me. No matter where she is! Reveal the mystery, you are such a good adventurer.
    - Yes, master, I will go, said the prince, and went to the stable, to his horse.
    - My friend, Bald-Man gave me a new order today. I know nothing about a Red Emperor’s daughter. Where is she, where and who is this emperor? How can I find them?
    - Master, said the horse neighing, what’s the matter with you? Don’t you worry because we both have been successful in everything. Soon we’ll see the end of this story. Leave this task to me because I know where is Red Emperor. Mount on me, you will see my real powers now.
    The prince mounted him and the horse neighing, flew:

High in the sky
We started to fly.
From the clouds to the sun
We run and run
Between the stars and to the moon
We’ll be over the island quite soon

Chapter 4
The ant wedding, hungrila and other friendly creatures

    The prince and his horse went straight ahead through deserted and desolated places, hardly to pass for anyone. When they were about to cross a bridge over the Icekoff lake, they noticed on the bridge an ant wedding passing by, with the bride-ant, and the groom-ant and all the guest-ants. The prince taught what to do: “If I pass on the bridge, I’ll kill the ants. I feel pity for them. It is better to jump in the water and try to reach the ground.”
    And so he did. When they went further away a flying-ant appeared in front of them and said:
    - Because you were so good and had pity of us, I want to do something good for you. Take this flying-ant wing and when you are in trouble set it to fire. My people and I will help you.
    The prince thanked to the ant and put the wing in his pocket. They went further away. Suddenly the prince heard something like a buzz. He looked to the right, then to the left and when he looked upward he saw a swarm of bees which flew up and down looking for a place to settle. Having such a merciful heart he pulled of the helmet from his head, put it on the grass to the ground and waited by. The bees flew down and all of them gathered into the helmet. The prince wanted to do even more for the bees. He found a log and hollowed it out. He gathered in it sweet smelling weeds, took the helmet with the bees and over turned it inside the hole. Then he and his horse went on their way.
    While traveling on, pleased of what they did, the prince saw before his eyes no more no less than the queen of the bees herself, who said to him:
    - Prince, because you were so good and made a shelter for us, I want to do something for you, too. Take this bee-wing and when you get in trouble set it to fire, and I’ll be in a hurry to help you.
    The prince thanked the bee-queen, took the wing, and went on his way. They traveled a long time. When they were just of the big forest, he saw an ugly creature. With his ears flagging, this creature was sitting next to a big fire, and screamed out his lungs saying that he is… frozen. He had an iced breath which froze all things around. The prince, frozen himself, said:
    - How many lives a man lives, still many miracles he will see. Tell me the truth: are you Jack Frost? asked the prince.
    - You laugh at me, answered the creature, but you don’t know how much I’ll help you. You will be not able to do a thing without me in your way. My name is Gerila.
    - If you say so, I trust you. Please join me, said the prince.
    So they both went together. After a good distance on their way through the forest the prince saw another freak: a big man who just had eaten two cows, a calf, one ship, and still was screaming that he is very hungry.
    - Well, said the prince, you must be the Hungry man, who has never enough food for his appetite.

    - You laugh at me, young prince, but you don’t know how much help can I give you on your way. My name is Hungrila.
    - Come with me, my friend, if you say so, I’ll help you now, you’ll help me sometime may be.
    - And so, all three went further away. Not long after these two encounters the prince saw another strange creature. This one kept saying that he drank twenty lakes and a river of water and he cried that he is still very thirsty.
    - Who are you? Said the prince, are you the draught which can never say enough to the water?
    - Don’t laugh at me, young prince, I am waiting for you since long time. Holy Sunday told me you are coming. I am here to help you on your way. My name is Thirsty.
    - It seems that you also will be helpful for me. Then come with me, join us, otherwise you will become a frog drinking so much water.
    So they went ahead to find the Red-Emperor’s place. After a while, going through the wood, the prince stopped and, amazed, noticed before his eyes on the grass a man with a single eye, big as a plate, but with which he could see all the way to the middle of the earth.
    - Poor man, says the prince, I thing you are the big blind’s brother.
    - Yes, I am. I am also going to help you to find out Red-Emperor’s daughter. My name is Eye.
    - Well, whatever you say, come with us, said the prince. God will reward you for this kind help.
    And so, the five mates traveled together along the country road. Around a turn they had to stop: in the middle of the road it was sitting another strange creature with a little pointed ear, having a bow in his hand.
    - Who are you? asked the prince
    - My name is Birdie, because when I see a bird flying up I can extend one hand to rich it out, and I can do that in all directions. I could rich the moon, or the stars. And even if I could not reach out the bird with my hand, I can take aim at it with the bow. I was waiting for you, my prince. Take me in your team, so I can help you. You don’t know yet in what trouble you are. The Red-Emperor’s daughter is
very dangerous. When she wants to be a bird, she turns into a miraculous bird, flying to the moon and… catch her if you can. Only I could catch her.
    - If things are like that, of course I will take you with me. We need all the help we can get.
    They set again on the way. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster, now easy, now quickly, and finally they arrived at Red-Emperor’s palace:

They went to the kingdom
God gave them wisdom
And the story of king’s land
Is still away from its end

At the red emperor and his cooper house of fire.

    The tale says that the prince and his mates entered the city. The prince introduced himself to the Red-Emperor, and told him why he came for. The emperor was amazed when he heard these words, and how daring was this young man to ask for his daughter. He gave him no answer for the moment, but he kindly asked him to stay there for the night. Then secretly called a devoted man and ordered to settle the guests in the famous copper house, where a lot of young men asking his daughter in marriage died.
    Our friends were tired, so they accepted immediately this strange bedroom. They were so ready to go to bed. The servant set a huge fire under the copper house until it became as red as embers. When night was falling the servant invited the guests in that house to sleep. But Gerila said:
    - Mind you here, and don’t enter the house before me, for you will die. I know this Red Emperor and his bad fame across this country. He is a cruel man. However, I found a needle for this devil’s skin on this night.
    They went to the house and stopped in front of the door. Gerila blew three times at the door and the house become neither hot, nor cool, just as good as possible to sleep in it. They entered, and everybody slept soon, except Gerila, of course. He kept crying all night long that he is cold, and his tongue is frozen in his mouth.
    When the day was breaking, they began to shout that in the house is too cold. The servant, hearing these, ran to the emperor and told him the miracle. The emperor went there, and he saw with his own eyes how the former hot copper house is all frozen. The prince said:
    - Your highness, Green Emperor’s nephew is awaiting here for your daughter. I think you will give me the princess now, because I have to go home.
    - Very well, said the Red Emperor, we’ll see about this a little later. Now it is better to eat some food to your liking.
    - What good words coming from your mouth, your highness. We die of hunger, said Hungrila.

    - . . . and of thirst, your highness, added Thirsty. To my opinion food is only a waste of time. Drinking is the bottom line for a man.
    The king listened to them and thought: “I will fix something to get read of you very soon”
    The servant brought them twelve big baskets of bread, twelve caws, twelve pigs all roasted, twelve turkeys, twelve ships, twelve pigeons and twelve barrels and a bottle of red wine. They started to eat, but Hungrila and Thirsty got drunk and yelled that the food was next to nothing because they are still hungry and thirsty. The emperor was listening to these strange people, frightened. How on earth could he send them back without his daughter?
    When this fabulous feast was finally through, the prince said:
    - Your highness, thank you for such a good meal. I think that now you can give me the princess’ hand, because the emperor’s nephew is waiting impatient for us.
    - Hey, young man, there is time for everything. You eat and drank to your heart’s content. Now you have to work a little. Give me a hand of help, will you? Here is a bag of poppy seeds mixed with a bag of fine sand. I want you to select apart the poppy seed, bit by bit, and the sand on the other side, by tomorrow morning. If you do well, your reward is granted. But if you do not, I’ll take your heads tomorrow.
    The emperor entered his palace. The prince and his friends were petrified. The prince said:
    - Till now all the work was easy and with your help my friends we weren’t’ caught in any trap. But now I think this is the mission impossible to accomplish.
    - I could do this if I would have the mouth of an ant, said Eye.
    - Did you say the mouth of an ant? asked the prince. Wow, I remember that ant and her wing.
    Quickly he took the wing out of his pocket and set it to fire. What a miracle! As far as the eyes can reach a lot of ants were coming. Some from the grass, some from the underground, some flying, and in no time they choose the seeds and the sand aside in the bags. The prince thanked the ants for their help, and they all went to sleep till the morning came.
    At the break of the day the emperor came full of joy, thinking that the young man couldn’t accomplish out his order. To his great surprise he saw the seeds set in order and their work well done. He felt despair.
    The prince said again:
    - You highness, I think that now you will give me the princess because we want to let you in peace and to go home.
    The emperor thought rapidly at another trick for them, and he said:
    - Well, young man, we have enough time to think at this. For the moment you have another work to do. Guard my daughter’s door during this night. She uses to go to bed in her bedroom, but this night you have to guard her till tomorrow morn-
ing. If in the morning she is still there, it is possible that I will give her to you. But if she isn’t there I’ll take your heads. And the king has gone.

The runaway princess and the fantastic race

    After the mean monarch told our heroes that, Gerila exclaimed:
    - Oh, Lord, we are deep into hot water!
    - What can we do now? said Hungrila.
    - God helps us said Birdie, and don’t forget that Eye and I can find here everywhere she is flying.
    At the night’s fall the princes turned into a little bird and flew between all the guardians. But Eye saw her and said to Birdie man:
    - Oops, the princess played us a trick. Now she is a bird, an nobody knows but you where she flew. However, we could catch her and bring her home. I’ll show you where she is, and you catch her. Let’s go.
    They did not go a too long way when Eye said:
    - Look there, on the top of the mountain, behind a rock!
    Birdie man lengthened the hand to her but she flew behind the moon. Then Birdie took the moon in his arms, shook it, and caught the bird. The bird, who was the princess, said to him:
    - Please release me, and let me go free, for I’ll give you imperial gifts.
    - No way, he said. Please do not make me angry. I want to go home with my head on my shoulders, said Birdie. And he took her back in her bedroom. When the prince saw this he started to sing of happiness:

What a trouble is for you
If you don’t know what to do
Thanking you from our heart
For Eye and Birdie were so smart

    The whole group congratulated Eye and Birdie for their great team work. When he was told what happened, Red Emperor came in a hurry to see with his eyes if his
daughter is there or not. When he saw his daughter safe in the bedroom, guarded by the prince and his friends, he became aggravated and angry.
    Then the prince said:
    - Now your highness, you have no choice but to give me the princess.
    - Well, young man, said the king very sad, the time for this had come. I just want to say something. I have a granddaughter nephew who is the same age and the same looks as this daughter of mine. A perfect twin. You have to choose who is the princess. If you guess, take her and go. But if you don’t, back up and run away from my country.
    Then the king ordered to wash, dress and prepare the two identical girls in the same way. He then called the prince and his men to guess who is the princess.
    The poor prince didn’t know what to do, and went out of the room. He asked for a little time for thinking. There he thought if there is anyone to help him out, and he remembered the bees queen and her wing. He took it out from his pocket and set it to fire. All of a sudden the bees queen was on his shoulder and asked:
    - You are in need of me? I am ready to help you.
    The prince explained his trouble. The queen said:
    - Go into the house and look very well to the girls. If you will see the one who defends herself with her handkerchief, that one is the princess.
    The prince returned to the room with the bee on his shoulder. There the Red-Emperor, all the court, and the two girls were waiting for him. The prince looked at the girls and the bee landed on one of the girl’s cheek. The girl moved a little, and the prince went to her, took her hand, and said to the emperor:
    - Now your highness the princess is mine. I fulfilled all your orders.
    Red-Emperor answered him:
    - You can take her, I give her to you from all my heart because you are a brave man.
    The prince thanked him kindly, and said to the girl:
    -     Come with me to The Green Emperor for our mission here is through.
    But the princess said:
    - Not so impatient young man! Before this I want you to do something for me, too. I have a turtle-dove. Your horse and my turtle must go and bring home three branches from the sweet apple tree, and the life giving water and death giving water from the mountains whose heads duel each other. If my turtle-dove comes back first, before your horse, I will not go with you.
    These being said, the horse and the bird began the race. Certainly the turtle-dove, being smaller and lighter, arrived before the horse and took in a trice the three branches of sweet apple tree and life giving and death giving water, and flew back to home as a lightning. When the bird was very close to the palace, the horse stopped her, speaking mild and sweet:
    - Little bird, dear turtle-dove, give me all these things and go back and take other ones for you. You are quicker and lighter than me, you will reach me from behind. Do this, please, for my master and your princess, otherwise they are in big danger. Please, dear turtle-dove!
    Amazingly, the little bird gave up those things. The magic stallion took all the magic things and ran as the wind to the prince. Harap Alb felt his heart full of happiness, and he kissed the horse. When the turtle-dove arrived at home the princess said to her:
    - Go now to the The Green Emperor and let him know that we are now on our way.

    And saying these, the princess kneeling in front of her father, said:
    - Bless me father and farewell. I must go with the prince. This is my fate.
    They mounted the horse and started a long trip back together with Gerila, Hungrila, Thirsty, Birdie, and Eye. After some time the five friends stopped the convoy and said these:
    - Now we bid you farewell and we wish you to find the happiness. We go back in our woods, we had enough adventures together.
    The young prince thanked warmly his friends and started ahead with the princess. In his way to his uncle he thought that he did enough for that bald-man and he would rather do not give him the princess. She was beautiful as a rose and he felt that she must be his wife. The girl, as all the girls, shared the same feelings for him. Like the song:

Go away, and come again,
Let me free, then have me chain

    In no time the turtle-dove arrived at The Green Emperor palace and announced that the prince and the Red-Emperor’s daughter will be there soon.
    The Green Emperor made all the preparations for receiving them. After some time they arrived at the palace. The Green Emperor, the princess, Bald-Man, and all the imperial court were waiting. Bald-Man, looking at the beautiful princess, approach in a hurry to take her in his arms, but the girl pushes him away and said:
    - Go away from me Bald-Man; do you think I came here for you? I am here for the true prince, because he is The Green Emperor’s nephew.
    The Bald-Man in a rage and in a single stroke cut the prince’s head. Seeing this disaster the horse took Bald-Man in his teeth and flew to the sky and throw him down.
    The bad one broke in many little pieces. In a miraculously way, the princess set the prince’s head back at its place, quickly then put around his neck the three branches of sweet apple tree, poured on the neck death giving water first, and then life giving water.
    Almost instantly the prince rises on his feet and said:
    - I think I have slept a little…
    - You were ready to sleep for good, but the princess saved you, said the emperor.
    Hearing all the adventures and happenings, the prince said to his uncle:
    - Now, that you know I am your true nephew I want you to bless us for I want to marry this princess.
    They both kneeled before the emperor and they swore faith to each other for ever.
    What it followed was a fantastic wedding to which they have in invited the ants, the Green Emperor named the prince his successor and chief of state and they all lived happily together.

And the story of king’s land
Is now at the end.

The End

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