The Salad

The Salad

As a merry  young huntsman was  once going briskly  along through awood, there came up a little  old woman, and said to  him, «Good day,good  day; you seem  merry enough,  but I  am hungry  and thirsty;  dopray  give  me something to eat.» The huntsman took pity on her, and puthis hand in  his pocket and gave her  what he had. Then  he wanted to gohis way; but  she took hold of him, and said, «Listen, my friend, towhat I am going to tell you; I will reward you for your kindness; goyour way, and after a  little time you will come to  a tree where youwill  see nine birds sitting on  a cloak. Shoot into  the midst ofthem, and  one will fall  down dead:  the cloak will fall too; take it,it is a wishing-cloak, and when you wear  it you will find yourself atany place where you may wish to be. Cut open the dead bird, take out itsheart and keep it, and  you will find a piece  of gold under your pillowevery morning when you rise. It is the bird’s heart that will bring youthis good luck.»

The huntsman  thanked her,  and  thought to  himself,  «If all  thisdoes happen, it will be a fine thing for me.» When he had gone a hundredsteps or so, he heard  a screaming and  chirping in the  branches overhim,  and looked up and saw a  flock of birds pulling a  cloak withtheir bills  and feet; screaming, fighting, and tugging at each other asif each wished  to have it  himself. «Well,»  said  the huntsman,  «thisis  wonderful;  this happens just as the old woman said’;  then he shotinto the midst of  them so that their feathers flew all about. Off wentthe flock chattering away; but one fell down dead,  and the cloak withit.  Then the huntsman did  as the old woman told him, cut open thebird, took out the heart, and carried the cloak home with him.

The next morning when he awoke he lifted up his pillow, and there laythe piece of  gold glittering  underneath;  the same  happened nextday,  and indeed every day when he arose. He heaped up a great deal ofgold, and  at last thought to himself, «Of  what use is this gold  to mewhilst I am  at home? I will go out into the world and look about me.»

Then he took  leave of his  friends, and hung  his bag and  bow abouthis neck, and went his way. It so happened that his road one day ledthrough a thick wood, at the end of which was a large castle in a greenmeadow,  and at one of the windows stood an old woman with a verybeautiful young  lady by her side looking about them. Now the old womanwas a witch, and said to the young lady, «There is a young man comingout of the wood who carries a wonderful prize; we must get  it away fromhim, my  dear child, for it  is more fit for us than for him. He has abird’s heart that brings a piece of gold under his pillow  everymorning.» Meantime  the huntsman came  nearer and looked at the lady,and said to himself,  «I have been travelling  so long that I shouldlike to go into this castle and rest myself, for I have money enough topay for anything I want’; but the real reason was, that he wanted to seemore of the beautiful lady. Then he went into the house, and waswelcomed kindly; and  it was not  long before he was  so much in  lovethat he thought of nothing else but looking at the lady’s eyes, anddoing everything that she wished. Then the old woman said, «Now is thetime  for getting the bird’s heart.» So the lady  stole it away, and henever  found any more gold under his pillow, for it lay now under theyoung lady’s, and the old woman took it away every morning; but he wasso much in love  that he never missed his prize.

«Well,» said the old  witch, «we have  got the bird’s  heart, but notthe wishing-cloak yet, and that  we must also get.»  «Let us leave himthat,» said the young lady; «he has already lost his wealth.» Then thewitch  was very angry, and said, «Such  a cloak is a  very rare andwonderful  thing, and I must and will have  it.» So she did as  the oldwoman told her,  and set herself at the  window, and looked about  thecountry and seemed  very sorrowful; then the huntsman  said, «What makesyou  so sad?» «Alas!  dear sir,» said  she,  «yonder lies  the  graniterock where  all  the  costly diamonds grow, and I want so much to gothere, that whenever I think of it I cannot help being sorrowful,  forwho can reach  it? only the birds  and the flies—man  cannot.» «Ifthat’s all  your grief,»  said the  huntsman, «I’ll take there with allmy heart’;  so he drew her under his cloak,  and the moment he wished tobe on  the granite mountain they were both  there. The diamondsglittered so on all  sides that they were delighted with  the sight andpicked up the finest. But  the old witch made a deep sleep  come uponhim,  and he  said to  the  young lady,  «Let us  sit down  and  restourselves a little, I am so tired that I cannot stand any longer.» Sothey sat down, and he laid his head in  her lap and fell asleep; andwhilst  he was sleeping on she took the cloak from his shoulders, hungit on her own, picked up the diamonds, and wished herself home again.

When he awoke and found that his lady had tricked him, and left himalone on the wild rock, he said, «Alas! what roguery there is in theworld!» and there he sat in  great grief and  fear, not knowing what  todo. Now  this rock belonged to fierce giants who lived  upon it; and ashe saw three  of them striding about,  he thought to  himself, «I canonly save myself  by feigning to be asleep’; so he laid himself  down asif he were in a  sound sleep. When the giants came up to him, the firstpushed him with his foot, and said, «What worm is  this that lies herecurled up?» «Tread upon  him and kill him,»  said the second.  «It’s notworth  the trouble,» said  the third; «let him live, he’ll go  climbinghigher up the mountain, and  some cloud will come rolling and carry himaway.» And they passed on. But  the huntsman had  heard all  they said;and as  soon as  they were  gone,  he climbed to the top of themountain, and when he had sat there a short time a cloud came rollingaround  him, and caught him  in a whirlwind and  bore him along for sometime,  till it settled in a  garden, and he fell  quite gently to theground amongst the greens and cabbages.

Then he looked around him,  and said, «I wish I  had something to eat,if not I shall be worse  off than before; for here  I see neither applesnor pears, nor any kind of fruits, nothing but vegetables.» At last hethought to himself, «I can eat  salad, it will refresh  and strengthenme.» So  he picked out a fine head  and ate of it; but  scarcely had heswallowed  two bites when he felt himself quite changed, and saw withhorror that he  was turned into an  ass. However,  he still felt  veryhungry,  and the  salad tasted very nice; so he ate on till he came toanother kind of salad,  and scarcely had he tasted it when he  feltanother change come over him,  and soon saw that he was lucky enough tohave found his old shape again.

Then he laid himself  down and slept  off a little  of his weariness;and when he awoke the next  morning he broke off a  head both of thegood  and the bad salad, and thought  to himself, «This will  help me tomy  fortune again, and enable me  to pay off  some folks for  theirtreachery.» So  he went away to try and find the  castle of his friends;and after  wandering about a few days he  luckily found it. Then hestained his face all  over brown, so that even his mother would not haveknown him, and went into the castle and asked for a lodging; «I am  sotired,» said he, «that I can  go no farther.» «Countryman,» said thewitch, «who are you? and what is  your business?» «I am,»  said he, «amessenger sent  by the king  to find  the finest salad that grows underthe sun. I have  been lucky enough to  find it, and have brought it withme; but the heat of the sun scorches so  that it begins to wither, and Idon’t know that I can carry it farther.»

When the  witch and  the young  lady heard  of his  beautiful salad,they longed to taste it, and said, «Dear countryman, let us just tasteit.» «To be sure,» answered he; «I have two heads of it with me, andwill give  you one’; so he opened his bag and  gave them the bad. Thenthe witch  herself took it into the kitchen  to be dressed; and when  itwas ready she  could not wait till it was carried up, but took a fewleaves immediately and put them in her mouth, and scarcely were theyswallowed when she lost her  own form and ran braying down  into thecourt in the  form of an ass. Now  the servant-maid came into thekitchen, and seeing the salad ready, was  going to carry it up; but onthe way she too felt a wish to taste it as the  old woman had done, andate  some leaves; so she also  was turned into an  ass and ran afterthe other,  letting the  dish with  the salad  fall on  the ground. Themessenger sat all this time with the beautiful young lady, and as nobodycame with  the salad and  she longed to taste  it, she said,  «I don’tknow where the  salad can be.» Then  he thought something must  havehappened, and said, «I will go into  the kitchen and see.» And as hewent he saw two asses in  the court running about, and  the salad lyingon  the ground. «All right!» said  he; «those two have  had theirshare.» Then  he took up the rest of the leaves, laid them on the dishand brought them  to the young lady, saying, «I bring you the dishmyself that you may not wait any longer.» So she ate of it, and like theothers ran off into the  court braying away.

Then the huntsman washed his face and went into the court that theymight know him. «Now you shall be paid for your roguery,» said he; andtied them all three to a rope and  took them along with him  till hecame to a  mill and knocked at the window. «What’s  the matter?» saidthe miller. «I  have three tiresome beasts here,» said the other; «ifyou will take them,  give them food and room, and treat them as I tellyou, I will pay you  whatever you ask.» «With all  my heart,» said  themiller; «but  how shall I  treat them?» Then the huntsman said, «Givethe old one stripes three times a day and hay once; give the next (whowas the servant-maid) stripes once a  day and hay three times;  and givethe youngest  (who was the beautiful  lady) hay three times a  day andno stripes’:  for he could not  find it in  his heart to have herbeaten. After this he went back to the castle, where  he foundeverything he wanted.

Some days after, the miller came to him and told him that the old asswas dead; «The other two,» said he, «are  alive and eat, but are sosorrowful that they cannot last long.» Then  the huntsman pitied them,and told  the miller to drive them back to him, and when they came, hegave them some of the good salad to eat.  And the beautiful young  ladyfell upon her  knees before him, and said, «O dearest huntsman!  forgiveme all the ill I  have done you; my mother forced me to it, it wasagainst my will, for I  always loved you very much. Your wishing-cloakhangs up in the closet, and as for the bird’s heart, I will give it youtoo.» But he said, «Keep it, it  will be just the  same thing, for  Imean to  make you my  wife.» So they  were married, and lived togethervery happily till they died.