The Three Dogs





Once upon a time there was a king who travelled to a strange country,

where he married a queen. When they had been married some time the queen

had a daughter, which gave rise to much joy through the whole land, for

all people liked the king, he was so kind and just. As the child was

born there came an old woman into the room. She was of a strange

appearance, and nobody could guess where she came from, or to what place

she was going. This old woman declared that the royal child must not be

taken out under the sky until it was fifteen years old. If she was she

would be in danger of being carried away by the giants of the mountains.



The king, when he was told what the woman had said, heeded her words,

and set a guard to see that the princess did not come out into the open

air.



In a short time the queen bore another daughter, and there was again

much joy in the land. The old woman once more made her appearance, and

she said that the king must not let the young princess go out under the

sky before she was fifteen.



The queen had a third daughter, and the third time the old woman came,

warning the king respecting this child as she had done regarding the two

former. The king was much distressed, for he loved his children more

than anything else in the world. So he gave strict orders that the three

princesses should be always kept indoors, and he commanded that every

one should respect his edict.



A considerable time passed by, and the princesses grew up to be the most

beautiful girls that could be seen far or near. Then a war began, and

the king had to leave his home.



One day, while he was away at the seat of war, the three princesses sat

at a window looking at how the sun shone on the flowers in the garden.

They felt that they would like very much to go and play among the

flowers, and they begged the guards to let them out for a little while

to walk in the garden. The guards refused, for they were afraid of the

king, but the girls begged of them so prettily and so earnestly that

they could not long refuse them, so they let them do as they wished. The

princesses were delighted, and ran out into the garden, but their

pleasure was short-lived. Scarcely had they got into the open air when a

cloud came down and carried them off, and no one could find them again,

though they searched the wide world over.



The whole of the people mourned, and the king, as you may imagine, was

very much grieved when, on his return home, he learned what had

happened. However, there is an old saying, "What's done cannot be

undone," so the king had to let matters remain as they were. As no one

could advise him how to recover his daughters, the king caused

proclamation to be made throughout the land that whoever should bring

them back to him from the power of the mountain-giants should have one

of them for his wife, and half the kingdom as a wedding present. As soon

as this proclamation was made in the neighbouring countries many young

warriors went out, with servants and horses, to look for the three

princesses. There were at the king's court at that time two foreign

princes and they started off too, to see how fortunate they might be.

They put on fine armour, and took costly weapons, and they boasted of

what they would do, and how they would never come back until they had

accomplished their purpose.



We will leave these two princes to wander here and there in their

search, and look at what was passing in another place. Deep down in the

heart of a wild wood there dwelt at that time an old woman who had an

only son, who used daily to attend to his mother's three hogs. As the

lad roamed through the forest, he one day cut a little pipe to play on.

He found much pleasure in the music, and he played so well that the

notes charmed all who heard him. The boy was well built, of an honest

heart, and feared nothing.



One day it chanced that, as he was sitting in the wood playing on his

pipe, while his three hogs grubbed among the roots of the pine-trees, a

very old man came along. He had a beard so long that it reached to his

waist, and a large dog accompanied him. When the lad saw the dog he said

to himself--



"I wish I had a dog like that as a companion here in the wood. Then

there would be no danger."



The old man knew what the boy thought, and he said--



"I have come to ask you to let me give you my dog for one of your hogs."



The lad was ready to close the bargain, and gave a gray hog in exchange

for the big dog. As he was going the old man said--



"I think you will be satisfied with your bargain. The dog is not like

other dogs. His name is Hold-fast, and if you tell him to hold, hold he

will whatever it may be, were it even the fiercest giant."



Then he departed, and the lad thought that for once, at all events,

fortune had been kind to him.



When evening had come, the lad called his dog, and drove the hogs to his

home in the forest. When the old woman learnt how her son had given away

the gray hog for a dog, she flew into a great rage, and gave him a good

beating. The lad begged her to be quiet, but it was of no use, for she

only seemed to get the more angry. When the boy saw that it was no good

pleading, he called to the dog--



"Hold fast."



The dog at once rushed forward, and, seizing the old woman, held her so

firmly that she could not move; but he did her no harm. The old woman

now had to promise that she would agree to what her son had done; but

she could not help thinking that she had suffered a great misfortune in

losing her fat gray hog.



The next day the boy went once more to the forest with his dog and the

two hogs. When he arrived there he sat down and played upon his pipe as

usual, and the dog danced to the music in such a wonderful manner that

it was quite amazing. While he thus sat, the old man with the gray beard

came up to him out of the forest. He was accompanied by a dog as large

as the former one. When the boy saw the fine animal, he said to

himself--



"I wish I had that dog as a companion in this wood. Then there would be

no danger."



The old man knew what he thought, and said--



"I have come to ask you to let me give you my dog for one of your hogs."



The boy did not hesitate long, but agreed to the bargain. He got the big

dog, and the man took the hog in exchange. As he went, the old man

said--



"I think you will be satisfied with your bargain. The dog is not like

other dogs. He is called Tear, and if you tell him to tear, tear he will

in pieces whatever it be, even the fiercest mountain giant."



Then he departed, and the boy was glad at heart, thinking he had made a

good bargain, though he well knew his old mother would not be much

pleased at it.



Towards evening he went home, and his mother was not a bit less angry

than she had been on the previous day. She dared not beat her son,

however, for his big dogs made her afraid. It usually happens that when

women have scolded enough they at last give in. So it was now. The boy

and his mother became friends once more; but the old woman thought she

had sustained such a loss as could never again be made good.



The boy went to the forest again with the hog and the two dogs. He was

very happy, and, sitting down on the trunk of a tree he played, as

usual, on his pipe; and the dogs danced in such fine fashion that it was

a treat to look at them. While the boy thus sat amusing himself, the old

man with the gray beard again appeared out of the forest. He had with

him a third dog as large as either of the others. When the boy saw it,

he said to himself--



"I wish I had that dog as a companion in this wood. Then there would be

no danger."



The old man said--



"I came because I wished you to see my dog, for I well know you would

like to have him."



The lad was ready enough, and the bargain was made. So he got the big

dog, giving his last hog for it. The old man then departed, saying--



"I think you will be satisfied with your bargain. The dog is not like

other dogs. He is called Quick-ear, and so quick does he hear, that he

knows all that takes place, be it ever so many miles away. Why, he hears

even the trees and the grass growing in the fields!"



Then the old man went off, and the lad felt very happy, for he thought

he had nothing now to be afraid of.



As evening came on the boy went home, and his mother was sorely grieved

when she found her son had parted with her all; but he told her to bid

farewell to sorrow, saying that he would see she had no loss. The lad

spoke so well that the old woman was quite pleased. At daybreak the lad

went out a-hunting with his two dogs, and in the evening he came back

with as much game as he could carry. He hunted till his mother's larder

was well stocked, then he bade her farewell, telling her he was going to

travel to see what fortune had in store for him, and called his dogs to

him.



He travelled on over hills, and along gloomy roads, till he got deep in

a dark forest. There the old man with the gray beard met him. The lad

was very glad to fall in with him again, and said to him--



"Good-day, father. I thank you for our last meeting."



"Good-day," answered the old man. "Where are you going?"



"I am going into the world," said the boy, "to see what fortune I shall

have."



"Go on," said the old man, "and you will come to a royal palace; there

you will have a change of fortune."



With that they parted; but the lad paid good heed to the old man's

words, and kept on his way. When he came to a house, he played on his

pipe while his dogs danced, and so he got food and shelter, and whatever

he wanted.



Having travelled for some days, he at last entered a large city,

through the streets of which great crowds of people were passing. The

lad wondered what was the cause of all this. At last he came to where

proclamation was being made, that whoever should rescue the three

princesses from the hands of the mountain giants should have one of them

for his wife and half the kingdom with her. Then the lad remembered what

the old man had told him, and understood what he meant. He called his

dogs to him, and went on till he came to the palace. There, from the

time that the princesses disappeared, the place had been filled with

sorrow and mourning, and the king and the queen grieved more than all

the others. The boy entered the palace, and begged to be allowed to play

to the king and show him his dogs. The people of the palace were much

pleased at this, for they thought it might do something to make the king

forget his grief. So they let him go in and show what he could do. When

the king heard how he played, and saw how wonderfully his dogs danced,

he was so merry that no one had seen him so during the seven long years

that had passed since he lost his daughters. When the dancing was

finished, the king asked the boy what he should give him as a return for

the amusement he had given them.



"My lord king," said the boy, "I am not come here for silver, goods, or

gold! I ask one thing of you, that you will give me leave to go and seek

the three princesses who are now in the hands of the mountain giants."

When the king heard this he knit his brow--"So you think," said he,

"that you can restore my daughters. The task is a dangerous one, and men

who were better than you have suffered in it. If, however, any one save

the princesses I will never break my word."



The lad thought these words kingly and honest. He bade farewell to the

king and set out, determined that he would not rest till he had found

what he wanted.



He travelled through many great countries without any extraordinary

adventure, and wherever he went his dogs went with him. Quick-ear ran

and heard what there was to hear in the place; Hold-fast carried the

bag; and on Tear, who was the strongest of the three, the lad rode when

he was tired. One day Quick-ear came running fast to his master to tell

him that he had been near a high mountain, and had heard one of the

princesses spinning within it. The giant, Quick-ear said, was not at

home. At this the boy felt very glad, and he made haste to the mountain

with his dogs. When they were come to it, Quick-ear said--



"We have no time to lose. The giant is only ten miles away, and I can

hear his horse's golden shoes beating on the stones."



The lad at once ordered his dogs to break in the door of the mountain,

which they did. He entered, and saw a beautiful maiden who sat spinning

gold thread on a spindle of gold. He stepped forward and spoke to her.

She was much astonished, and said--"Who are you, that dare to come into

the giant's hall? For seven long years have I lived here, and never

during that time have I looked on a human being. Run away, for Heaven's

sake, before the giant comes, or you will lose your life."



The boy told her his errand, and said he would await the troll's coming.

While they were talking, the giant came, riding on his gold-shod horse,

and stopped outside the mountain. When he saw that the door was open he

was very angry, and called out, in such a voice that the whole mountain

shook to its base, "Who has broken open my door?" The boy boldly

answered--



"I did it, and now I will break you too. Hold-fast, hold him fast; Tear

and Quick-ear, tear him into a thousand pieces!"



Hardly had he spoken the words when the three dogs rushed forward, threw

themselves on the giant, and tore him into numberless pieces. The

princess was very glad, and said--



"Heaven be thanked! Now I am free." She threw herself on the lad's neck

and kissed him. The lad would not stop in the place, so he saddled the

giant's horses, put on them all the goods and gold he found, and set off

with the beautiful young princess. They travelled together for a long

time, the lad waiting on the maiden with that respect and attention that

such a noble lady deserved.



It chanced one day that Quick-ear, who had gone before to obtain news,

came running fast to his master and informed him that he had been to a

high mountain, and had heard another of the king's daughters sitting

within it spinning gold thread. The giant, he said, was not at home. The

lad was well pleased to hear this, and hastened to the mountain with his

three dogs. When they arrived there, Quick-ear said--



"We have no time to waste. The giant is but eight miles off. I can hear

the sound of his horse's gold shoes on the stones!"



The lad ordered the dogs to break in the door, and when they had done so

he entered and found a beautiful maiden sitting in the hall, winding

gold thread. The lad stepped forward and spoke to her. She was much

surprised, and said--



"Who are you, who dare to come into the giant's dwelling? Seven long

years have I lived here, and never during that time have I looked on a

human being. Run away, for Heaven's sake, before the giant comes, or you

will lose your life."



The lad told her why he had come, and said he would wait for the giant's

return home.



In the midst of their talk the giant came, riding on his gold-shod

horse, and stopped outside the mountain. When he saw the door was open

he was in a great rage, and called out with such a voice that the

mountain shook to its base.



"Who," said he, "has broken open my door?" The lad answered boldly--



"I did it, and now I will break you. Hold-fast, hold him fast; Tear and

Quick-ear, tear him into a thousand pieces!" The dogs straightway sprang

forward and threw themselves on the giant, and tore him into pieces as

numberless as are the leaves which fall in the autumn. Then the princess

was very glad, and said--



"Heaven be thanked! Now I am free!" She threw herself on the lad's neck

and kissed him. He led her to her sister, and one can well imagine how

glad they were to meet. The lad took all the treasures that the giant's

dwelling contained, put them on the gold-shod horses, and set out with

the two princesses.



They again travelled a great distance, and the youth waited on the

princesses with the respect and care they deserved.



It chanced one day that Quick-ear, who went before to get news, came

running fast to his master, and told him he had been near a high

mountain, and had heard the third princess sitting within, spinning

cloth of gold. The giant himself was not in. The youth was well pleased

to hear this, and he hurried to the mountain accompanied by his dogs.

When they came there, Quick-ear said--



"There is no time to be lost. The giant is not more than five miles off.

I well know it. I hear the sound of his horse's gold shoes on the

stones."



The lad told his dogs to break in the door, and they did so. When he

entered the mountain he saw there a maiden, sitting and weaving cloth of

gold. She was so beautiful that the lad thought another such could not

be found in the world. He advanced and spoke to her. The young princess

was much astonished, and said--



"Who are you, who dare to come into the giant's hall? For seven long

years have I lived here, and never during that time have I looked on a

human being. For Heaven's sake," added she, "run away before the giant

comes, or he will kill you!"



The lad, however, was brave, and said that he would lay down his life

for the beautiful princess.



In the middle of their talk home came the giant, riding on his horse

with the golden shoes, and stopped at the mountain. When he came in and

saw what unwelcome visitors were there he was very much afraid, for he

knew what had happened to his brethren. He thought it best to be careful

and cunning, for he dared not act openly. He began therefore with fine

words, and was very smooth and amiable. He told the princess to dress

meat, so that he might entertain the guest, and behaved in such a

friendly manner that the lad was perfectly deceived, and forgot to be on

his guard. He sat down at the table with the giant. The princess wept in

secret, and the dogs were very uneasy, but no one noticed it.



When the giant and his guest had finished the meal, the youth said--



"I am no longer hungry. Give me something to drink."



"There is," said the giant, "a spring up in the mountain which runs with

sparkling wine, but I have no one to fetch of it."



"If that is all," said the lad, "one of my dogs can go up there."



The giant laughed in his false heart when he heard that, for what he

wanted was that the lad should send away his dogs. The lad told

Hold-fast to go for the wine, and the giant gave him a large jug. The

dog went, but one might see that he did so very unwillingly.



Time went on and on, but the dog did not come back. After some time the

giant said--



"I wonder why the dog is so long away. It might, perhaps, be as well to

let another dog go to help him. He has to go a long distance, and the

jug is a heavy one to carry."



The lad, suspecting no trickery, fell in with the giant's suggestion,

and told Tear to go and see why Hold-fast did not come. The dog wagged

his tail and did not want to leave his master, but he noticed it, and

drove him off to the spring. The giant laughed to himself, and the

princess wept, but the lad did not mark it, being very merry, jested

with his entertainer, and did not dream of any danger.



A long time passed, but neither the wine nor the dogs appeared.



"I can well see," said the giant, "that your dogs do not do what you

tell them, or we should not sit here thirsty. It seems to me it would be

best to send Quick-ear to ascertain why they don't come back."



The lad was nettled at that, and ordered his third dog to go in haste to

the spring. Quick-ear did not want to go, but whined and crept to his

master's feet. Then the lad became angry, and drove him away. The dog

had to obey, so away he set in great haste to the top of the mountain.

When he reached it, it happened to him as it had to the others. There

arose a high wall around him, and he was made a prisoner by the giant's

sorcery.



When all the three dogs were gone, the giant stood up, put on a

different look, and gripped his bright sword which hung upon the wall.



"Now will I avenge my brethren," said he, "and you shall die this

instant, for you are in my hands."



The lad was frightened, and repented that he had parted with his dogs.



"I will not ask my life," said he, "for I must die some day. I only ask

one thing, that I may say my Paternoster and play a psalm on my

pipe. That is the custom in my country."



The giant granted him his wish, but said he would not wait long. The lad

knelt down, and devoutly said his Paternoster, and began to play

upon his pipe so that it was heard over hill and dale. That instant the

magic lost its power, and the dogs were once more set free. They came

down like a blast of wind, and rushed into the mountain. Then the lad

sprang up and cried--



"Hold-fast, hold him; Tear and Quick-ear, tear him into a thousand

pieces."



The dogs flew on the giant, and tore him into countless shreds. Then the

lad took all the treasures in the mountain, harnessed the giant's

horses to a golden chariot, and made haste to be gone.



As may well be imagined, the young princesses were very glad at being

thus saved, and they thanked the lad for having delivered them from the

power of mountain giants. He himself fell deep in love with the youngest

princess, and they vowed to be true and faithful. So they travelled,

with mirth and jest and great gladness, and the lad waited on the

princesses with the respect and care they deserved. As they went on, the

princesses played with the lad's hair, and each one hung her finger-ring

in his long locks as a keepsake.



One day as they were journeying, they came up with two wanderers who

were going the same way. They had on tattered clothes, their feet were

sore, and altogether one would have thought they had come a long

distance. The lad stopped his chariot and asked them who they were and

where they came from. The strangers said they were two princes who had

gone out to look for the three maidens who had been carried off to the

mountains. They had, however, searched in vain, so they had now to go

home more like beggars than princes.



When the lad heard that, he had pity on the two wanderers, and he asked

them to go with him in the beautiful chariot. The princes gave him many

thanks for the favour. So they travelled on together till they came to

the land over which the father of the princesses ruled.



Now when the princes heard how the poor lad had rescued the princesses,

they were filled with envy, thinking how they themselves had wandered to

no purpose. They considered how they could get rid of him, and obtain

the honour and rewards for themselves. So one day they suddenly set on

him, seized him by the throat, and nearly strangled him. Then they

threatened to kill the princesses unless they took an oath not to reveal

what they had done, and they, being in the princes' power, did not dare

to refuse. However, they were very sorry for the youth who had risked

his life for them, and the youngest princess mourned him with all her

heart, and would not be comforted.



After having done this, the princes went on to the king's demesnes, and

one can well imagine how glad the king was to once more see his three

daughters.



Meanwhile the poor lad lay in the forest as if he were dead. He was not,

however, forsaken, for the three dogs lay down by him, kept him warm,

and licked his wounds. They attended to him till he got his breath

again, and came once more to life. When he had regained life and

strength, he began his journey, and came, after having endured many

hardships, to the king's demesnes, where the princesses lived.



When he went into the palace, he marked that the whole place was filled

with mirth and joy, and in the royal hall he heard dancing and the sound

of harps. The lad was much astonished, and asked what it all meant.



"You have surely come from a distance," said the servant, "not to know

that the king has got back his daughters from the mountain giants. The

two elder princesses are married to-day."



The lad asked about the youngest princess, whether she was to be

married. The servant said she would have no one, but wept continually,

and no one could find out the reason for her sorrow. Then the lad was

glad, for he well knew that his love was faithful and true to him.



He went up into the guard-room, and sent a message to the king that a

guest had come who prayed that he might add to the wedding mirth by

exhibiting his dogs. The king was pleased, and ordered that the stranger

should be well received. When the lad came into the hall, the wedding

guests much admired his smartness and his manly form, and they all

thought they had never before seen so brave a young man. When the three

princesses saw him they knew him at once, rose from the table, and ran

into his arms. Then the princes thought they had better not stay there,

for the princesses told how the lad had saved them, and how all had

befallen. As a proof of the truth of what they said, they showed their

rings in the lad's hair.



When the king knew how the two foreign princes had acted so

treacherously and basely he was much enraged, and ordered that they

should be driven off his demesnes with disgrace.



The brave youth was welcomed with great honour, as, indeed, he deserved,

and he was, the same day, married to the youngest princess. When the

king died, the youth was chosen ruler over the land, and made a brave

king. There he yet lives with his beautiful queen, and there he governs

prosperously to this day.



I know no more about him.





The Three Brothers The Three Dogs facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback