The Crystal Ball: Grimm Fairy Tale 197

Once upon a time there was a sorceress who had three sons, and they loved each other dearly. But the old woman did not trust them and thought they wanted to steal her power. So she changed the oldest son into a eagle. He had to make his home in the mountain cliffs, and sometimes he could be seen gliding up and down in the sky and making circles. The second son was changed into a whale that lived deep in the ocean, and one could see him only when he sometimes sent mighty jets of water high into the air. Both sons reverted to their human shape for just two hours every day. Since the third son feared that his mother might change him also, this time into a wild animal, perhaps a bear or a wolf, he sneaked away in secret. Indeed, he had heard that at the castle of the of the golden sun there was an enchanted princess who was waiting to be rescued. However, one would have to risk one's life. Twenty-tree young men had already suffered a miserable death, and only one more would be allowed to try to rescue her. After that nobody would be permitted to come. Since he had a courageous heart, he decided to search for the castle of the golden sun.

He had already traveled a long time and had not been able to find it, when he got lost in a large forest and could not find his way out. Suddenly he noticed two giants in the distance, who waved to him with their hands, and as he approached them they said, "We're quarreling over this hat and who should get it. Since we're each just as strong as the other, neither one can defeat the other. Now, small people are smarter than we are, so we want you to make the decision."

"How can you quarrel over an old hat?" the young man asked.

"You don't know the powers it has. It's a wishing hat. Whoever puts it on can wish himself to be anywhere he wants, and within seconds he'll be there."

"Give me the hat," the young man said. "I'll go off some distance from here, and when I call you, run to me, and whoever wins the race will get the hat." He put the hat on his head and went off. However, he thought about the king's daughter, forgot the giants, and kept going. Once he sighed with all his heart and cried out, "Oh, if only I were at the castle of the golden sun!" And no sooner had he uttered these words than he was standing on top of a high mountain in front of the castle gate.

He entered the castle and strode through all the rooms until he reached the last one, where he found the king's daughter. However, he was horrified when he saw her: here face was ash gray and full of wrinkles, and she had dreary eyes and red hair. "Are you the king's daughter whose beauty is praised by the entire world?" he exclaimed.

"Ah," she replied, "this is not my real condition. Human eyes can see me only in this ugly form. But look into this mirror so you'll know what I look like. The mirror can't be fooled, and it will show you my image as it truly is."

She handed him the mirror, and he saw the reflection of the most beautiful maiden in the world, and he saw tears rolling down her cheeks out of sadness. Then he said, "How can you be saved? I'm afraid of nothing."

She replied, "Whoever get the crystal ball and holds it in front of the magician will break his power, and I'll return to my true form. But," she added, "many a man has gone to his death because of this, and you, my young thing, I'd feel sorry if you placed yourself in such great danger."

"Nothing can stop me," he said, "but tell me what I must do."

"I want you to know everything," the king's daughter answered.

"When you descend the mountain on which the castle stands, there'll be a wild bison at the bottom next to the spring. You will have to fight it. And, if you should be so fortunate as to slay this beast, a firebird will rise from it. This bird carries a glimmering egg in its body, and the egg has a crystal ball as a yolk. However, the bird will not let go of the egg unless it is forced to. And, if the egg falls onto the ground, it will set everything on fire and destroy everything near it. The egg itself will melt along with the crystal ball, and all your efforts will have been in vain."

The young man descended the mountain and reached the spring, where the bison snorted and roared at him. After a long battle the young man pierced the bison's body with his sword, and the beast sank to the ground. The firebird immediately rose from the bison and tried to fly away, the eagle, the brother of the young man, who flew through the clouds, dived after the bird and chased it toward the ocean. There the eagle hit the bird so hard with its beak that the bird was forced to let the egg fall. However, it did not fall into the ocean but on top of a fisherman's hut standing on the shore, and the hut began to smoke right away and was about to burst into flames. Then waves as large as houses rose up in the ocean, swept over the hut, and vanquished the flames. The other brother, the whale, had swum toward the shore and driven the water onto the land. When the fire was out, the young man searched for the egg and was fortunate enough to find it. It had not melted yet, but the shell had cracked open due to the sudden cooling from the water, and he could take out the crystal ball, which was undamaged.

When the young man went to the magician and held the ball in front of him, the latter said, "My power is destroyed. From now on you are king of the castle of the golden sun. You can also restore your brothers to their human form."

So the young man hurried back to the king's daughter, and as he entered her room she stood there in all her magnificent beauty, and they exchanged rings with each other in a joyful celebration.

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