Thursday, May 7, 2009

Horse Prophesy

The Fairy Tale of Prince and Horse, Chapter 4
(See link at right Fairy Tale of Prince and Horse for prior chapters.)
The young prince soon asked for the hand of the beautiful princess and she was willing to take him as husband.

But the neighboring king would not hear of it. He wanted to have such a beautiful wife for his own. How could he win her? Finally he thought up the following trick: He would send to his rival news that he should return home for his father was on his deathbed. Naturally it was a lie, but who would know? When the prince heard of his father's misfortune, he saddled his trusted steed and rode as fast as he could in the direction of home. He was hardly gone when the neighboring king appeared and robbed the prince of his bride.

On his way home, the prince stopped in a peaceful grove of oak trees. He alighted from his horse to take water from a bubbling spring. With a heavy heart he gazed at his own reflection in the pool of water and thought back to the counsel the Head had given him. “Beseech the horse three times when you are in distress,” it had said. The prince then remembered the magic horse spell:

Huzza, huzza, hinny-whinny.
Fly like a hawk, shake like thunder.
Eyes like the sun,
Hooves swift-footed,
Your lightning-gait,
Your mane gold-plait.

Huzza, huzza, hinny-whinny,
Fly like a hawk, shake like thunder.
Legs are leaping.
Ears are keeping.
Your truth be told.
Your signs unfold.

Huzza, huzza, hinny-whinny.
Fly like a hawk, shake like thunder.
All-seeing – tell.
All telling – see.
Horse-laugh prophesy!
Horse-neigh prophesy!

The horse turned to the prince and spoke solemnly: “Do not ride any further but halt and listen! It is not true that your father is lying on his deathbed. Your rival lied to you and while you rode, he robbed you of your bride. Return quickly for tomorrow is the wedding feast. Here, beside this stream you shall find three potions. If you drink from the first, you will fall into the deepest sleep for nine days and nine nights. If you drink from the second, you will become so old and brittle, that no one will recognize you. But if you douse yourself with the third potion, you will become as young, strong and vigorous as before.”

The prince turned his horse immediately and hurried to free his bride. He reached the gate of the neighboring king’s realm. Everything glittered like the richest jewelry. Guests had arrived; the wedding had begun. The prince drank from the second potion and became an old, old beggar. The beggar entered the castle and once in the wedding hall he begged for alms. Everyone gave him something; only the bride gave him nothing. She sat dejected in the corner. At last the beggar spoke: “I shall honor the bride with a wedding gift and you will give me refreshments in return. I can teach the young lady how to acquire virtue that attracts good fortune.” When the bride heard this, she reached forward to give the beggar his portion. The beggar took the alms with both hands and said: “Let us step aside so that I can tell you what a young bride must know.” Both stepped to the side. The beggar only then revealed what had happened and why he had purposely taken the form of a beggar. And finally, he gave his bride the potions and said: “Try to give your kidnapper some of this first potion. While he sleeps nine days, we will be long gone over the mountain.”

The bride took the sleeping potion, but noticed that the second potion looked so sweet and glittered in its golden vessel. She secretly took it, too. She slipped the first potion into a golden goblet, went to her kidnapper and spoke: “Before the wedding we should drink from this cup to celebrate our engagement!” He was satisfied. But when he drank, he fell into a nine-day sleep.

The young bride hastened away, but as she turned, she noticed the bright color of the second potion and how the vessel glittered that held this wonderful refreshment. Surely, a small portion from this second vessel could do no harm. No sooner thought than done and instead of a beautiful princess, a wretched beggar woman stood before the eager prince. The prince had already doused himself with the third potion and had thus resumed his comely form. No time was left to lose. The prince escaped with the old hag on his wonderful horse and they galloped away into the night.

When they had ridden a distance, the prince took the vessel of the third potion to douse his bride and return her beauty. But alas, when he opened it, he realized that in his haste, he had used the entire potion on himself. Now his bride was as old and brittle as a broomstick and there was no potion to restore her youth.

Chapter 5

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