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The Queen Bee

The Queen Bee

Two kings»  sons once  upon  a time  went into  the  world to  seektheir fortunes; but they  soon fell into  a wasteful foolish  way ofliving,  so that they  could not  return home  again. Then  theirbrother,  who was  a little insignificant dwarf, went out to seek forhis brothers: but when he had found them  they only laughed  at him, tothink that he,  who was  so young and simple, should try to  travelthrough the world, when they,  who were so much wiser, had been unableto get on. However, they all set  out on their journey together, andcame at last to an ant-hill. The two  elder brothers would have pulledit down, in  order to see how the poor ants  in their fright would  runabout  and carry off  their eggs.  But the  little dwarf said, «Let thepoor things  enjoy themselves, I will not suffer  you to trouble them.»

So on they went, and  came to a lake where  many many ducks wereswimming about. The two brothers wanted to catch two, and roast them.But the dwarf said, «Let the  poor things enjoy  themselves, you shallnot kill  them.» Next they came to  a bees’-nest in  a hollow tree, andthere was so  much honey that it ran down the trunk;  and the twobrothers wanted to light  a fire under the tree and kill the bees,  soas to get their honey. But  the dwarf held them back, and said, «Let thepretty insects enjoy  themselves, I cannot let you burn them.»

At length the three brothers came to  a castle: and as they passed bythe stables they saw fine horses standing  there, but all were ofmarble,  and no man was to  be seen. Then  they went through all  therooms, till  they came to a door on  which were three locks: but  in themiddle of the  door was a wicket, so that they could look into the nextroom. There they saw a little grey old man  sitting at a  table; andthey called  to him once  or twice, but he did not hear: however, theycalled a third time, and then he rose and came out to them.

He said nothing, but took hold of  them and led them to a beautifultable covered with all sorts of good things: and when they had eaten anddrunk, he showed each of them to a bed-chamber.

The next morning he  came to the  eldest and took him  to a marbletable, where there were  three tablets,  containing an  account of  themeans  by which the castle  might be disenchanted.  The first tabletsaid: «In  the wood, under the  moss, lie  the thousand  pearlsbelonging  to the  king’s daughter; they must all be found: and if onebe missing by set of sun,  he who seeks them will be turned intomarble.»

The eldest brother set out, and sought  for the pearls the whole day:but the evening came, and he had not found the first hundred: so he wasturned into stone as the tablet had foretold.

The next day the  second brother undertook the  task; but he succeededno better than the first; for  he could only find  the second hundred ofthe pearls; and therefore he too was turned into stone.

At last came the little  dwarf’s turn; and he looked  in the moss; butit was so hard to  find the pearls,  and the job was  so tiresome!—so hesat down upon a stone  and cried. And as  he sat there, the  king of theants (whose life he had saved) came to  help him, with five thousandants;  and it was not long before  they had found all the  pearls andlaid them in  a heap.

The second tablet  said: «The key  of the princess’s  bed-chamber mustbe fished up out of the lake.» And as  the dwarf came to the brink ofit,  he saw the two ducks whose lives he had saved swimming about; andthey  dived down and soon brought in the key from the bottom.

The third task was the hardest. It was to choose out the youngest andthe best of the king’s three daughters.  Now they were all beautiful,and  all exactly alike: but he was told that the eldest had eaten apiece of sugar, the next some sweet syrup, and the youngest a spoonfulof honey; so he was to guess which it was that had eaten the honey.

Then came the queen of  the bees, who had been  saved by the littledwarf from the fire, and she  tried the lips of all  three; but at lastshe  sat upon the lips of the one that had  eaten the honey: and so thedwarf  knew which was the youngest. Thus  the spell was broken,  and allwho had  been turned into  stones awoke,  and took  their proper  forms.And  the  dwarf married the youngest and  the best of the  princesses,and was king  after her father’s death; but his two brothers married theother two sisters.

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