East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Part 2
Next morning she sat down beneath the walls of the castle to play with the golden apple, and the first person she saw was the maiden with the long nose, who was to have the Prince. “How much do you want for that gold apple of yours, girl?” said she, opening the window. “It can’t be bought either for gold or money,” answered the girl. “If it cannot be bought either for gold or money, what will buy it? You may say what you please,” said the Princess.
“Well, if I may go to the Prince who is here, and be with him to-night, you shall have it,” said the girl who
had come with the North Wind. “You may do that,” said the Princess, for she had made up her mind what she
So the Princess got the golden apple, but when the girl went up to the Prince’s apartment that night he was asleep, for the Princess had so contrived it. The poor girl called to him, and shook him, and between whiles she wept; but she could not wake him. In the morning, as soon as day dawned, in came the Princess with the long nose, and drove her out again.
In the daytime she sat down once more beneath the windows of the castle, and began to card with her golden carding-comb; and then all happened as it had happened before. The Princess asked her what she wanted for it, and she replied that it was not for sale, either for gold or money, but that if she could get
leave to go to the Prince, and be with him during the night, she should have it. But when she went up to the
Prince’s room he was again asleep, and, let her call him, or shake him, or weep as she would, he still slept on, and she could not put any life in him.
When daylight came in the morning, the Princess with the long nose came too, and once more drove her away. When day had quite come, the girl seated herself under the castle windows, to spin with her golden spinning-wheel, and the Princess with the long nose wanted to have that also. So she opened the window, and asked what she would take for it. The girl said what she had said on each of the former occasions–that it was not for sale either for gold or for money, but if she could get leave to go to the Prince who
lived there, and be with him during the night, she should have it.
“Yes,” said the Princess, “I will gladly consent to that.”
But in that place there were some Christian folk who had been carried off, and they had been sitting in the
chamber which was next to that of the Prince, and had heard how a woman had been in there who had wept and called on him two nights running, and they told the Prince of this. So that evening, when the Princess came once more with her sleeping-drink, he pretended to drink, but threw it away behind him, for he suspected that it was a sleeping-drink.
So, when the girl went into the Prince’s room this time he was awake, and she had to tell
him how she had come there. “You have come just in time,” said the Prince, “for I should have been married
to-morrow; but I will not have the long-nosed Princess, and you alone can save me. I will say that I want to see what my bride can do, and bid her wash the shirt which has the three drops of tallow on it. This she will consent to do, for she does not know that it is you who let them fall on it; but no one can wash them out but one born of Christian folk: it cannot be done by one of a pack of trolls; and then I will say that no one shall ever be my bride but the woman who can do this, and I know that you can.”
There was great joy and gladness between them all that night, but the next day, when the wedding was to take place, the Prince said, “I must see what my bride can do.” “That you may do,” said the stepmother.
“I have a fine shirt which I want to wear as my wedding shirt, but three drops of tallow have got upon it which I want to have washed off, and I have vowed to marry no one but the woman who is able to do it. If she cannot do that, she is not worth having.”
Well, that was a very small matter, they thought, and agreed to do it. The Princess with the long nose began
to wash as well as she could, but, the more she washed and rubbed, the larger the spots grew. “Ah! you can’t wash at all,” said the old troll-hag, who was her mother. “Give it to me.” But she too had not had the shirt very long in her hands before it looked worse still, and, the more she washed it and rubbed it, the larger and blacker grew the spots.
So the other trolls had to come and wash, but, the more they did, the blacker and uglier grew the shirt, until at length it was as black as if it had been up the chimney. “Oh,” cried the Prince, “not one of you is good for
anything at all! There is a beggar-girl sitting outside the window, and I’ll be bound that she can wash better than any of you! Come in, you girl there!” he cried. So she came in. “Can you wash this shirt clean?” he cried. “Oh! I don’t know,” she said; “but I will try.” And no sooner had she taken the shirt and dipped it in the water than it was white as driven snow, and even whiter than that. “I will marry you,” said the Prince.
Then the old troll-hag flew into such a rage that she burst, and the Princess with the long nose and all the
little trolls must have burst too, for they have never been heard of since. The Prince and his bride set free all the Christian folk who were imprisoned there, and took away with them all the gold and silver that they could carry, and moved far away from the castle which lay east of the sun and west of the moon.
Notes: This is taken from the original Blue Fairy Book, from which the copyright has lapsed. Don’t sue me.
Ok, ok, so I betrayed the mission of Fantastic Fairy Tale Fridays a little bit. This tale is anything but obscure; in fact, it was one of my favorite stories as a child. I had the picture book of it, yes I did.
I want to point out right away that Lang did not write this tale. He edited it, added and subtracted bits, and adapted it for his famous book, “The Blue Fairy Book” (published 1889). This fairy tale was originally Scandinavian, but exactly what part of Scandinavia remains unclear. You can tell its Scandinavian though, because of the trolls. Seriously. Trolls = Scandinavia, I promise. This version is based off of the most well known variant of the tale, the Norwegian one (which is basically this minus a few bells and whistles). The Swedish version is called “Prince Hat under the Ground,” and the German version is called “The Singing, Springing Nightingale” (wherein its a Lion and not a Polar Bear who marries the girl).
If you want to get really technical, this story probably goes as far back as Ancient Greece. After all, the Greeks developed the idea of the beast-bridegroom. Originally in the tale “Cupid and Psyche,” Psyche gets left on a mountaintop and is bedded by Cupid, whose face she never sees. Her family convinces her to shine a light (oil lamp) on him in his sleep; three drops fall on him, and he flies away. Etc, etc.
The reason I chose Lang’s version for this edition of Fantastic Fairy Tale Fridays is twofold: one, he tells a darn good story. He really brings out the story’s repetition (the three women, their instructions, the winds, the interactions between the girl and the Princess, etc), and adds some lovely – but thankfully not over the top – descriptions.
The other reason is to take Lang down a peg or two – because popular opinion holds that he wrote the story. He didn’t. To his credit, he never claimed to have written then; in his preface to “Blue Fairy Book,” Lang discussed how he honored the old fairy tale above all attempts to modernize and improve them, saying: “Such are the new fairy tales. May we be preserved from all sort of them!”
But at the same time, Lang did mess with the stories. A bit. He sanitized this particular story quite a bit – originally (all the way back to Cupid and Psyche, and in the original Scandinavian versions, too) the girl sleeps with the Bear/Prince every night. In the Greek version, she gets pregnant with his child. That being said, I actually don’t really dislike Lang all that much, and his fairy tale books (of which there are quite a few) are wonderful addition to any library, since they contain diverse and well-chosen tales.