Cor Hendriks – The Macaws (21): The Magic Horse | ATU 531 (3)
A quite different version of the story of the golden feather has been collected from Jews in the USSR, although it starts in a similar way. A well-to-do householder has 12 sons, 11 clever and one a fool; he also has a mare that had 12 colts, 11 handsome and one ugly. So it is clear that the fool gets the ugly colt and cries. But the horse says to him to stop crying and it will tell him how to turn it into a handsome horse. The fool promises to do everything it asks. He must wash and comb it. The horse becomes very handsome. They drive off and then see something glistening in the roadway. The fool orders the horse to stop, sees that it is a golden feather and wants to pick it up; but the horse is against it: ‘You’re only asking for trouble.’ But the fool wants the feather and doesn’t listen to the horse. They get lost in a great forest. The darker it gets, the brighter the feather glows. They come to a hut, and the fool wants to spend the night there, despite the fact that the horse is against it. Inside sit three young peasant women. They can’t give permission for him to stay; he must ask their mother, Bobe Ha, a witch [cf. Baba Yaga, see https://kingedwardsmusic.com/baba-yaga/], who will soon be home. The fool shows the feather, which lights up the entire hut, but still he has to wait for Bobe Ha, who shows up with a great noise – rat-a-tat-tat – for one of her feet is made of iron. When she sees the feather, she gives permission but they have to sleep on the floor with their heads on the threshold. Near the middle of the night the horse tells the fool to switch places with the three daughters. So he carries the three sleeping daughters to the threshold and sleeps with the horse on their place. Shortly thereafter Bobe Ha comes back and gives such a terrible stamp on the threshold with her iron foot that the heads of her daughters fly off in all directions. Then she leaves, and the horse tells the fool that they must leave quickly. In the morning Bobe Ha comes back to the hut and sees what she has done to her daughters and that the feather is gone. So she pursues them, and they hear the rat-a-tat-tat of her iron foot. First the horse whines about the golden feather, but then tells him to fill a pitcher with water and throw it over its head, and it turns into a river that she isn’t able to cross. She goes back home to get a pot and ladle and quickly empties the river. When the fugitives hear her coming, the horse (after his complaint about the feather) tells him to pluck a handful of twigs and throw them over his head, and they turn into a dense forest, where the witch can’t push through. So she goes home to grab a hatchet and chops quickly a path through the forest and continues the pursuit. This time the fool has to take a heap of sand and throw it over his head, and it turns into a high mountain she is not able to climb. The witch runs home to fetch a spade and shovels the mountain away. Now the horse advises to chop some firewood, start a fire, and let the wood burn down to coals, take them, pour them into a hole outside the forest, and put a thin wire across the hole. When Bobe Ha comes, she tries to walk over the wire, but it bends and she falls onto the coals and burns to death. Now that they are rid of Bobe Ha, they can go back home. The brothers see the handsome horse and the golden feather shining so bright, and the horse sees the look of envy in their eyes and says to the fool that he has to leave home. Here the story should turn to ATU 531, but instead the teller makes a quick ending, heaping praise on the horse (a horse in a million!) [Silverman Weinreich 1988, 142-147 nº47: ‘The Golden Feather’, told by 64-years-old Peshe-Rive Sher from Kozlovitsh, USSR, heard from her mother; collected by Y.-L. Cahan in 1928; = Cahan 1931, 42-47 nº10 = Cahan 1940, 78-83 nº21].
The combination of ATU 1119 and 531 is also known in Latvia. A childless woman sends her old man into the wood to collect eggs; he finds 20, sets his woman upon them and she broods them out to 20 sons, who after 20 years are big and go out into the world. Again childless the woman sends her husband (‘little father’) into the forest for eggs and this time he finds only one egg and from it comes a son that they call Baltûnas (‘empty egg’; also something that is white). When he is big and hears that he has 20 brothers, he wants to go find them. On his way he meets a horse that asks him where he is going and tells him to give it a box on the ear, and an armor and soldier’s uniform jump out that he has to put on. Driving further he meets 20 soldiers, the brothers, who make Baltûnas the leader and let him ride in front. The horse takes them to the palace of a witch with 21 daughters and gives Baltûnas the advise in the night, when they sleep with the girls to put on their caps, so that the witch will cut off the heads of her daughters, and then to flee with the little cloth, the ball of wool, and the brush that are lying in the window. Baltûnas obeys and flees with his brothers, soon pursued by the witch. On command of the horse Baltûnas first throws the ball of wool that changes into high mountains, so that the witch has to go home to get a shovel to dig a tunnel, then the brush that becomes an enormous wood, so that the witch has to go get an axe, and finally the little cloth that becomes a burning sea that the witch neither can drink nor cross.
Then Baltûnas finds a diamond feather and a little later a golden horseshoe and picks them both up against the wish of the horse. They come to a landowner [= king], who needs 21 laborers, and receive each a lamp, but Baltûnas lights himself with the feather and horseshoe. The others complain to the landowner, who then wants from Baltûnas the bird and the horse. He comes weeping to his horse which tells him it has warned him and brings him to the bird and the horse that Baltûnas brings to the lord, who then immediately wants a mermaid. The horse tells him to buy all kinds of shiny knick-knacks, combs and little mirrors, take a little table, set it up on the beach and to go lie down in the grass with a bag, and when she is distracted to throw the bag over her. This works, but the girl makes a hole in the bag and throws her ring away. At the lord she first wants Baltûnas to go find her ring and this time the horse too has no clue and takes the weeping Baltûnas to the beach, where he has to strip the skin from the horse’s legs up to the knees and throw himself on the fattest lobster that will come to the stripped horse-legs. He only wants to let go when he has the ring and the lobster calls three times, where upon all the fish come swimming, without the ring. Finally comes a stickleback (who has just given birth) and brings it and Baltûnas takes it to the girl (after putting back the skin on the horse’s legs). She wants him to go get Water of Life and Healing Water and the horse takes the weeping boy with him and tells him to slaughter him and crawl inside and catch the allured raven-children and compel the raven-parent to bring the waters [cf. The snake in the carcass in Etana, see infra]. The bird flies away with tied to each wing a little bottle and returns after a while, whereupon Baltûnas kills a raven-child and heals it with the waters. Close to home the horse takes leave and disappears. Baltûnas demonstrates the waters on the ugly dog of the landowner and it also becomes more beautiful (= young). The lord wants that too (beautification = rejuvenation), but when the waters are poured over him, he becomes to yeast and the bones fly out [?]. The girl then marries Baltûnas and they live in the house of the landowner. [Range 1996, 20-25 (nº4) = J. Basanavicius, Lietuviskos pasakos yvairios, I, Shenandoah. Pa. 1898, 83ff nº28. Cf. Medea demonstrating her rejuvenation-process with a ram].
This ‘Medea’ motif is also present in the ending of the Russian ATU 301-tale of ‘The Raven of the Raven’. When Ivan is brought up to the surface by the 12 fellows, he hears that his brothers have married the princesses of the copper and silver kingdom and that his father the tsar wants to marry his fiancée, the most beautiful queen of the golden kingdom (he even has his wife Anastasia the Beautiful [who can be compared with Rama’s wife Sita in the Ramayana] put to death on accusation of sexual relations with the Evil Spirit [cf. Ravana, wherefore Sita had to undergo a cleansing, or a test to prove she didn’t have sexual relations]). She demands a pair of shoes without her size being taken. Ivan sends an old man with whom he lodges to the king to ask for leather for his ‘son’. When Ivan gets the leather, he tears it to pieces and throws it out of the window. Then he opens the golden kingdom (ball) and takes out a pair of shoes and sends his ‘grandfather’ with them to the tsar. Now the princess wants a dress, that is also brought by the old man, taken by Ivan out of the golden kingdom. So now the princess wants only to marry the tsar, when the ‘son’ of the old man is caught and boiled in a tub of milk. Ivan comes up two times and is then so beautiful it can’t be described. The princess asks the tsar whom she must marry, him, old and decrepit or the brave chap. So the tsar also wants to bathe and is boiled, whereupon Ivan marries the queen of the golden kingdom [Gruel-apert 1988, p. 137-141 nº36: ‘Les trois royaumes III (Corbeau du Corbeau)’ (Afan. 130/71c)].
As we have seen, the feather of the bird can be a hair from some supernatural being (three hairs of the devil, Buddha), the bird can be a princess. In a Jewish tale from Palestine, dated between the nineth and 12th century, the king wants to marry and shall give an answer to his council within three days. The second day a raven flies over the palace and drops a beautiful golden hair from his beak, right before the feet of the king, and he declares the next day in the council that he only wants to marry this woman [Schwartz 1986, 143. The equivalence of feather and hair was also clear to Chauvin, BOA, VI, 5 n. 1, where he first lists variants of: ‘Recherche à cause d’une plume’, and then ‘A cause d’un cheveu’].
The conclusion that the hair belongs to a woman, just on the basis that it is amazingly beautiful is of course quite rash; and more understandable is the version told by Strabo about the eagle, that flew from Naucratis to Memphis to drop in the lap of the young king the slipper of the courtesan Rhodopis. The lovely Rhodopis was bathing with her slave-girl in the Nile, when an eagle dove down on her clothes and flew off with one of her sandals. He flew away and dropped the sandal in Memphis in the lap of the ruler of Egypt, Mycerinus, who at that moment held court in the open air. The rareness of the event together with the curiosity, aroused by the smallness [!] of the sandal, gave the king the intention to look in the whole country for its owner. When she was at last found in Naucratis, her beauty exited the king so much that he took her as his wife. When she died after many happy years together, the king put up for her a memorial, namely the smallest of the three pyramids, which is the most expensive one because of the stones of exceptional hardness brought from the far Ethiopian mountains with which this pyramid is made. [Vollmer, 400. Herodotus II:135 reports that Mycerinus built the smallest of the three pyramids from stones from Ethiopia, and adds: ‘There are people in Greece who say that this pyramid was erected by the courtesan Rhodopis. They are quite wrong, and I do not think they even know who Rhodopis was…’ Cf. Brunner-Traut 1974, 138f nº27: ‘De schoen van Rhodopis’].
A Latin version in Hyginus’s Astronomica reports that Hermes, in love with Aphrodite, suffered because the goddess wouldn’t respond. Zeus pitied him. While Aphrodite was bathing in the Achelaus he sent an eagle to rob a slipper (soccum) of her. The eagle flew with the slipper in his beak towards Egypt in order to give it to Hermes. Aphrodite followed the eagle all the way to the city Amitarnia. There she found her slipper and the enamored god. In exchange for the slipper Aphrodite gave Hermes her body. Out of gratitude Hermes placed the eagle in the sky, above Ganymede, who was once abducted by an eagle. [Calasso 1991, 226 from Hyginus, Astronomica, II:16:2.]
According to the ministers there is only one man capable of getting the woman with the golden hair and that is the Jew Johanan, who speaks all languages [cf. ATU 670]. He is summoned and threatened with death; he asks for three years, says goodbye to his wife and kids and goes to the wood Ilai, where he meets an enormous dog, howling from hunger, which he gives one of his three breads, just like an enormous raven somewhat further down the road. At a river he buys the catch of a fisher and puts the fish back in the water, feeding it with his last bread. On the other side of the river is a city with a princess, who sees him coming, knows what he comes for, has him brought to her by the ferryman, and gives him three impossible assignments in order to prevent the marriage with the king. Johanan is very impressed by her beauty and asks for the first assignment: he has to get a bucket of water from Gehenna. He goes with the bucket to the wood Ilai, where the raven with the bucket around his neck fetches for him the water. The second task is getting a bucket of water from the Garden of Eden. Again Johanan goes to the wood, where the raven cannot help him, because his wings were burnt by the Gehenna-water. Then the dog takes the raven on his back and he is cured by the water from the Garden. The princess tests the water on a dead bird, found that day, and it flies immediately away. As third task Johanan has to find the ring she lost 25 years ago, and this time it is the fish, that brings the ring, after which Johanan returns with the princess to the king, who wants to marry right away, but in the country of the princess it is the habit to wait a year. During that time there is a war in which many people die, also the wife of Johanan. He himself fights in the frontline and is killed. As soon as the princess hears this, she goes to the battlefield and brings him back to life, where upon the king, abandoning all fear, throws himself in the frontline and also gets killed. But on him the princess pours Gehenna-water, so that his body burns to ashes, that the wind blows away. There after the princess and Johanan marry and take up together the government of the country [Schwartz 1986, 143-151 (ATU 670 + 554; the first part I have left for further on)].
The version slightly differs from the one presented by Gaster, where the first two tasks of the queen are combined. She says to Jochanan: ‘I possess two pitchers; and I wish thee to bring me one full of the water of Hell, and the other one full of the water of the Garden of Eden.’ With the pitchers he goes immediately across the river and travels until he comes to the forest of Ilai. He prays to God to send him the raven to which he gave his bread, and which promised to help him. The raven comes and perches upon him, and says: ‘I am here to thy bidding.’ He then takes the pitchers and hangs them upon the raven’s neck, and the raven flies off. It arrives and, immersing a pitcher in the river of Hell, fills it with the water of that river; but the water is boiling hot, so that no one could put his finger into it without scalding himself, and had it not been that the mercy of God was upon it the raven would have been burnt. From thence it goes to the river which flows in the midst of the Garden of Eden and fills the other pitcher with its water. The raven then dips itself in the water (of that river) and washes its body, after which its flesh is healed of the wounds and bruises which it has received from the waters of Hell. Then it brings the pitchers to Jochanan, who takes them to the queen, who notices that the water of Hell is very hot and has a very bad odor, while the water of the Garden of Eden is very cold and its smell was that of sweet spices. Then she has another request to find the ring she received 25 years ago from her father, when he died, and that has a very precious stone, the like of which is not to be found in the whole world, and that she lost one day walking by the river-side. Jochanan then goes along the river until he comes to the spot where he cast the fish which he once bought (for 100 gold-pieces, exactly the amount he had in his pocket). Again he prays, and the fish appears, knows what he is seeking, doesn’t have it himself, but is able to recognize the fish that does have it, and goes to the court of Leviathan, who commands him to bring that fish to him, and then commands the fish to hand it over, after which it is brought to Jochanan. But when the fish spits it out, a huge swine snatches it away, swallows it, and runs off. Jochanan weeps (as many times before), and the fish says he can’t help him with this. So Jochanan prays to God to send the dog, and up comes the dog barking, telling that he has already performed his request; for he met the swine, killed it, tore it inwards, and took its entrails out of its body. He takes Jochanan to the spot, who opens the entrails and finds the ring within. Also the continuation is slightly different. During the one year waiting period the king takes his [seal]ring from his finger, gives it to Jochanan, making him the controller of all his household and ruler over everything he possesses, arousing the envy of his counselors, who one day ambush him, smite him and tear him to pieces limb from limb. News reaches the king and queen, who are exceedingly grieved, and the queen is taken to the spot, where she takes each limb and joins them together just as they were in the beginning. She then takes her ring, and on touching the wounds with the stone the bones and sinews become joined together, by virtue of the power of the stone which the ring contains. After this she takes some of the water from the Garden of Eden and washes his flesh, so that it becomes healed, and has the appearance of the flesh of a young boy. She then lies upon him, places her mouth against his mouth, and kisses him. She then prays to God, and He restores his soul, so that he comes to life again, rises up, and walks upon his feet. This gives the king the idea to go to war, thinking: ‘If I am killed, she will be able to restore me to life.’ But when it comes to reviving the king and his princes she takes instead water from Hell and sprinkles it upon them, when they are all immediately burnt to ashes. She then says: ‘Behold the wonders of God; for mine is not the wisdom nor the knowledge to kill and restore to life (etc.).’ A while the country is without king, and then Jochanan is elected and given the beautiful woman to wife [M. Gaster, ‘Fairy Tales from Inedited Hebrew Mss. of the 9th and 12th centuries’, in: Folk-Lore 7, 232-240 nº2: ‘The Princess with Golden Hair’. A late version of this tale was known through the Jewish-German Maassebuch of the 16th century.; the German translation of Helvicus (1612) and Tendlau’s Fellmaier’s Abende. This version of Gaster belongs at latest to the 12th century. The Ms. has been written in a French-speaking country, and the tale stands in the very midst of a copy of a much older Ms. He points to the connection between this Ms, and an older collection written some centuries previously in Palestine].
In a Hungarian story (with a comparable introduction, see infra) the hero arrives at the Louvre and is taken in the service of the White King, who often looks sad, so Jan asks him about it, and the king tells he is in love with the beautiful Helen, daughter of the king of the Fairies, and that he has to bring her on pain of death. Jan is not dismayed, leaves right away on the best horse of the king and on the way he releases a greyhound from a thorn in its leg, puts a fish back in the water, and sets 2 doves free from a net, who point him the way to Fairyland (ATU 554: the grateful animals give him hairs, scales, feathers to call them). After seven hours he arrives on a golden meadow with trees with golden fruits. The castle is rotating very fast on the leg of a cock, but advised by the doves he stops the turning by touching the spur with a feather. Helen comes outside, but cannot go with him because she has lost her wedding ring. Jan calls the fish, who tells him it has been swallowed up by a toad. This turns out to be the big toad (from the introduction), who is grateful and vomits up the ring, but it is snatched by a hare, whereupon Jan calls the greyhound, who catches the hare [cf. ATU 302]. Jan brings the ring to the princess, who now wants Water of Life and of Death, which is brought by the doves. Then Helen tabs with a golden wand three times on the gate of her castle and changes it into a clew that she puts in Jan’s knapsack [a blind motif: without follow-up], and jumps behind him on the horse. In seven hours they are back at the White King, who immediately sends for the priest to celebrate the wedding. A banquet is organized and Helen pours some Water of Death on Jan. He immediately drops dead, which saddens the king. But Helen says him not to mourn, and empties the bottle of Water of Life on Jan, and he immediately stands up, more beautiful and younger than before. The king wants that too and pours the Water of Death over himself and drops dead. Unfortunately the Water of Life is finished, so Jan is elected king and marries the beautiful Helen. [Klimo, 197-208: ‘Le Crapaud’ (collected by A. Benedek).]
The hair or feather can also be a portrait (we already saw the feather with the portrait on it). This is the case in a Norwegian tale, called ‘The Golden Castle, that hangs in the air’, that starts with the familiar brothers-trio, who after the death of their father decide to go into the world, but the two eldest don’t want to take the youngest with them, because he is a no-good-for-nothing, only good for digging in the ashes and blowing sparks, and that is why he is called Askeladd (Cosquin’s male Cendrillon), so he goes alone. The two eldest meet in the forest an old woman, who hasn’t had a crumb of bread in 100 years, and say contemptuously, that she can do without a while longer. They go on and are hired by a king. Askeladd also goes into the wood and discovers on the spot where he wants to eat a painting in a tree. He fetches it and sits staring with open mouth at the raving beauty, when the old woman comes out of her heap of earth and asks for some bread. He gives her (because it is high time) and receives from her (a mother’s service) a knot of grey wool, that will bring him where he wants to be, but tells him to ignore the painting, because it will bring him misfortune. But Askeladd takes it with him and comes as stable-boy in the service of the same king, where his brothers are servants. Very soon he is beloved by everyone, but his free time he spends staring at the portrait, and his jealous brothers tell the stable-master that he is an idol-worshipper. The man informs the king, who goes looking and discovers on the painting his youngest daughter, who is abducted by a troll. The brothers tell the stable-master that Askeladd has said that he can get the daughter of the king back, and when he tells it the king, Askeladd has to go and get her. He asks two days thinking time and follows the knot, that brings him to the old woman, who advises him to take all kinds of things with him and to follow the knot until he meets a raven and a troll-child. From the king he gets the needed nails, meat, bacon, horses, servants and wagons (quite a lot, the king remarks) and arrives after several days at a high mountain with a raven on a fir. Askeladd aims his gun and the raven promises to help him, because on the mountain there runs a lost troll-child. The raven takes Askeladd on his back and sets him down on the mountain with the advice to ask as reward from the mountain-troll for nothing else than the grey donkey (standing behind the door of the stable). The raven carries Askeladd with the troll-child to the mountain-troll, who is so glad that he says to Askeladd that he can have whatever he wants, and in the horse-stable he asks for the grey donkey (then he wouldn’t fall so hard). The troll has to keep his promise, and Askeladd departs on the donkey (with his train) and after a long march they come to an enormous mountain, where an unicorn attacks them. On advice of the donkey [ATU 531] he feeds the animal 20 oxen and hires him to drill a road through the mountain for 20 pigs. Through the mountain they go on through many countries (longer than long) until they reach an enormous mountain-plateau, where in the far distance (as the Moon) the silver castle shines. Before the gate three dragons sleep already 100 years, so that moss covers their eyes. Askeladd has to wake up the youngest, feed it with 20 oxen and pigs; it will do a good word to the others, to whom Askeladd feeds a hundred oxen and pigs, after which they let the boy pass. He crosses all the rooms of the gorgeous palace and arrives at last near a princess, who warns him for the tree-headed troll. She asks him to lift up a sword hanging behind the door, but he is too weak for that; but a few sips from a bottle, hanging next to it, and Askeladd chops off the heads of the troll that comes dashing in. The liberated princess has a sister, kidnapped by a six-headed troll, in a golden castle, 300 miles further than the End of the World. With the three dragons the boy goes (on his donkey, with his train) to the castle, again very far away, and before the entrance is a snake, that is burnt by the three dragons (after a hearty meal), after which they unhook the castle, that is hanging in the air, and put it down, whereupon Askeladd kills the troll (with the sword) and has the castle with the sleeping princess (white and red as milk and blood) put next to that of her sister. To awaken the princess ‘water of death’ and ‘water of life’ is needed from the wells on both sides of the golden castle, that hangs in the air 900 miles past the End of the World. Again the boy passes the End of the World and arrives (past mountains, hills and high rocks) at the golden castle, hanging in the air, where the nine-headed troll lives with his abducted princess, and that is guarded by all the wild beasts of the world. At twelve o’clock Askeladd goes inside and has one hour, that the wild beasts are sleeping, and he fills the jugs, but then he goes looking around in the castle, walks through all the gorgeous rooms till he comes in a bedroom, where the princess of the portrait lies, red and white as blood and snow, on a golden bed, and he keeps staring at her till near the evening the troll comes dashing in, whom he with the sword (with one stroke) chops off his nine heads, whereupon he falls asleep next to the princess. At midnight they are both awake for a moment; she tells him that he has released her, but that she has to stay for three more years. If she doesn’t come at that time, he has to come and get her. In the afternoon near one o’clock he is awakened by the braying of the donkey, but first he cuts a piece from the dress of the princess [cf. ATU 304]. He has wasted so much time that the animals awake, but a few drops of ‘water of death’ make them drop dead. Back at the princess he sprinkles ‘water of life’ over her sister, who awakes immediately, after which they go back to the king, who makes the boy his vice-king, which makes many jealous, especially Knight Red, who gets the oldest princess so far, that she drops ‘water of death’ on the sleeping Askeladd. In the fourth year the youngest daughter of the king comes with her three-year old child in a warship and sends a message that she will not come on land if not the one, who was with her in the golden castle, comes to receive her. A high-placed person is sent, but the child, that plays with a golden apple, is not able to discover his father in him, just like in Knight Red, and because the princess threatens, they quickly awaken Askeladd with the ‘water of life’, and he has the cut-out piece of her dress as proof, but also the child with the golden apple recognizes his father, whereupon there is a great feast, except for Knight Red and the oldest princess, whom the king wants to be put in a barrel full of nails [and then rolled from a mountain], but Askeladd puts in a good word. The grey donkey turns out to be the most beautiful prince, who marries the second princess [Baars-Jelgersma 1941, p. 257-268 nº48. Combination with ATU 551: in the palace of the sleeping princess, the sign of proof, the baby].
The rescue of the troll-child is part of a Swedish tale, based on a Danish chapbook translated in 1831, and called ‘The shooter Bryte’ about the only son of a poor farmer, who walks around with a gun from when he was as big as a fist [Thomb Thump – Strong Hans]. When he is an adult he kills an eagle, that wants to kill a child, but when he comes closer he sees that it is a troll-child. It tells him, that the eagle also was a troll, and Bryte, the shooter, has to bring the child to its home to get rewarded. He is allowed three choices and takes on the advice of the child the grey donkey, a flute and an old gun, and takes service with a king, who can use a good shooter. Now the utility of the gifts is proven, because Bryte just has to blow on the flute and the game comes running; and his gun doesn’t miss, so that the table of the king is well equipped, and Bryte is high in his favor, which makes the courtiers jealous, and they accuse him of being a troll-man, who can only escape death by bringing back the only daughter of the king, who is abducted by a troll-witch. Bryte makes no problems and goes immediately his way, but then realizes that he doesn’t know the way. He blows on the troll-flute and there is the grey donkey that brings him to the troll-witch. She opens the door in an abominable appearance and invites him inside. He puts the donkey in the stable and follows her to the princess. He can get her if he is able to find her: the game of hide and seek. Two times the donkey knows where the princess hides, but the third day he doesn’t know and Bryte seeks the whole day and goes then to the stable and sees a hornet on the hoof of his donkey and wants to kill it. ‘Don’t kill me,’ the princess shouts and now that she is found for the third time, the troll-witch bursts from anger, whereupon the donkey changes into the troll-child, who declares that Bryte is the ruler of the country of the witch, after which he brings the princess home, marries her and goes back with her to his domain to rule it [Schier 1971, 38-42 nº7: ‘Der Schütze Bryte’ (Wigström 1884, p. 55-58 from Skåne). Excursus about hide-and-seek: The comment points to a late Medieval Faeringian dance-song, the Lokka táttur, wherein Loki, the well known god from the Norse mythology fulfils the role of helper. Better examples in the Norse and Danish version. See also the Rumanian tale ‘Juliana Kossesjana’, and as a separate type in ‘The Sea-hare’ (KHM 191; ATU 329), the Rumanian ‘The Princess and the Swineherd’, the Chilean ‘The Magic Mirror’, Greek ‘The Son of the Fisherman’, the Russian ‘The Black Fox’ and ‘The Wise Jelena’. Other tales of hide-and-seek, related to ATU 552, are the German ‘Thunder, Lightning and Thunderstorm’, the Russian ‘Marja Morjevna’, German ‘The Princess on the Tree’, the Serbian ‘The Golden Apple-tree and the Nine Peahens’].
The helpful horse [from ATU 531] is also present in a Finnish tale from the collection of Salmelainen (1852). The only son of an old man wants to shoot against his father’s wishes a grey-hen out of a birch and is lured by the bird to a dark wood, where he saves in the night a devil (cf. troll-child) from a pack of wolves. The [grateful] devil takes the boy with him to reward him, but arrived in his house the boy falls asleep. When he wakes up, the kitchen-maid advises him to ask for the horse that is in the third box on the right. This turns out to be the best horse of the devil and he is very reluctant to part with it, but he gives it together with a kantele (Finnish citer), a violin, and a flute, to call him if he is in need. On the road the mare advises him to go to the big city, where he comes in the service of the king, and pretty soon the king’s horses have become gorgeous. The former stable-boy tells the king, that the boy has claimed to be able to bring back the warhorse of the king that he has lost many years ago. The mare tells the boy to ask the king for a hundred chopped-up bulls, and takes him to a certain well, where he has to grab the third horse that arises. After that the boy scatters the meat to prevent that the ravens of the devil eat them, and that way the horse reaches safely the king’s court. This time the former stable-boy says that the hero claimed he could also bring back the long ago disappeared queen, and again the mare takes the boy to the well, has herself thrown in, and changes into the queen. The boy is very well rewarded, but now the former stable-boy says to the king that the boy wants to eliminate him in order to be king himself, and the king commands immediately to hang the boy. On the scaffold the boy has a ‘last request’, to play on the kantele. Immediately everyone starts dancing [ATU 592 (horn of Auberon)] till when it is evening the boy stops. The second day his last request is to play on the fiddle, and again everyone danced the whole day. The third day he wishes to play on his flute, but the king has danced enough. But others support the request and the king has himself tied to a tree and scratches open his back. At last the (old) Devil himself comes and takes the king away, after which the boy is elected as new king [Tengbergen 1994, p. 115-121. Excursus: the dancing fiddle: ‘The Jew Among Thorns’ (KHM 110); Swedish: ‘The Stingy Parson’, Norwegian ‘Freek with the Fiddle’, Estonian ‘The Dancing Flute’, Swiss ‘The Three Wishes’, German ‘Jack with his Whistle’, Flemish ‘The Quarrelsome Stepmother’, Middle English ‘Jack and his Step Dance’, Flemish translation from 1528: Van den jongen geheeten Jacken die sijns vaders beesten wachten int velt ende van den brueder dye daer quam om Jacke te castien; also in ‘Sweetheart Roland’ (KHM 56), in Greek ‘The Fool and the Prudent’, Rumanian Gypsy: ‘The crazy one’, Rumanian ‘Bakala’ (Extra: ATU 1000: Bargain Not to Become Angry)].
A different ending with motifs from ATU 569 has a Russian tale from the collection of Afanassiev, that already starts at the birth of the hero. His father has promised God to take the first one he meets as godfather and this is the king, unrecognized by the father, who sends money to raise his godson, who becomes very strong. When the boy is 10, he is big and strong and the king invites him to his court. The father gives the boy money to buy a horse, and on the road an old man advises him to buy from a farmer at the market a mangy jade without haggling and to let the horse graze for 12 days and nights in the fat and dewy meadows. When Ivan comes home with the jade, his father thinks it a waste of money, but after 12 days the horse is indescribably beautiful and strong and knows Ivan’s thoughts beforehand. In a beautiful armor Ivan goes to the capital and is seated by the king at the royal table. The king loves his beautiful godchild much and makes him an officer of his guard, and has complete trust in him, which arouses the jealousy of his former councilors who tell him that Ivan is a braggart who claims to be able to get the beautiful Princess Nastassia from the marble castle surrounded by high walls in the realm beyond the three times nineth country, in order to marry her. Ivan has not even dreamed such a thing, but has to do it or his head goes off. Weeping he comes to his horse that tells him to go to sleep, because the morning is wiser than the evening, and then he has to go ask the king for money for the journey. They depart, travel a lot or little, and arrive in the 30th country at the marble castle with enormous high walls. They wait till dark, then the horse changes into an eagle with grey wings (by throwing itself onto the humid soil), and flies with him over the wall where the beautiful princess is lying asleep on her down-bed, whom he has to take up quietly and softly. But when he sees her lying uncovered, he has to press a kiss on her mouth. She awakes, gives a shout, and immediately guards rush in, who put Ivan in prison with a glass of water and a pound of black bread a day. The horse now becomes a tiny bird, flies into Ivan’s cell and tells him the plan: tomorrow it will come to liberate him (by kicking the walls in with its hooves), then Ivan must hide himself behind some bushes, while it in the form of an old man lures the princess to Ivan. The plan works, Ivan grabs the princess, covering her mouth, after which the old man changes into the grey-winged eagle, flies with them over the wall and changes back into the heroes-horse. Ivan asks if she intended to put him forever in prison, and the princess admits that he is her destiny. Then they come upon two giants, fighting already three years over their father’s inheritance: a broom that with every sweep brushes an army-row away, and a stick that turns soldiers tabbed with it into prisoners. Ivan agrees to make a division, throws a handful of sand in the wood, promises the things to the one who brings the most sand, and speeds off with the objects. After much or little travelling he arrives in his country and sees that an enemy army has destroyed the country and is threatening the king in his capital. Ivan farmer’s son leaves the princess behind, goes with broom and stick towards the enemy army and sweeps row after row away; the remaining soldiers he takes prisoner with the stick and takes them to the king, who is overflowing with joy, has cannons fired, trumpets blasted, and appoints Ivan general, who fetches Nastassia and marries her [Bozoki 1978, 215-220 nº56: ‘Le cheval merveilleux’ (Afan. 185/107)].