The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Prince Employed by a Giant

I’m the youngest of many sons of the king, and When I grew into manhood, I was determined to go out into the world and try my luck.

It took a long time to persuade my father, but I persisted and at last he was forced to let me go. I traveled around for several days and then came to a giant’s house. I asked him if he needed a servant, and he gave me a position. The next day the giant had to bring his goats out to pasture. On his way out of the house, he told me to clean out the stable. “And after you have done that, you need not do any more work today, for you have come to a kind master,” he said. “But what I am telling you to do must be done well and thoroughly, and you must on no account go into any of the rooms which lead out of the room in which you slept last night. If you do, I will take your life.”

‘Well to be sure, he is an easy master!’ I said to myself. I walked around my room humming and singing. I had plenty of time to clean out the stable. Hmm. It sure would be amusing to steal a glance into his other rooms. I thought, ‘Why won’t he allow me to enter them? Is there something behind those doors that he’s afraid of me seeing?’

I opened the door to one of the rooms and saw a cauldron hanging from the ceiling. The liquid was boiling but there was no fire under the pot. How strange. I dipped a lock of my hair in the liquid, and the lock turned into copper. I was glad I hadn’t tasted the soup or it would have gilded my throat!

I wondered what was in the other rooms so I opened a second door and found a cauldron just like the first, only this time, when I dipped a lock of my hair in the liquid, it turned silver. I opened a third door to another cauldron that turned a lock of my hair into gold.

There was one other door. ‘Things are not going from bad to worse,’ I thought. ‘They are getting better and better. So what will I find behind the fourth door?’

I opened it, and to my amazement a beautiful maiden was sitting in there, on a bench. i had never seen her equal.

“In heaven’s name, what are you doing here?” she asked.

I said I had taken the position of a servant.

“May you soon have a better place!”

“Oh, but I think I have got a kind master. He hasn’t given me hard work to do today. When I have cleaned out the stable, I will be done.”

“Yes, but how will you be able to do that?” she asked. “If you clean it out as other people do, you’ll get ten pitchforks full of hay for every one you throw out. I will teach you how to do it. You will have to turn your pitchfork upside down, and work with the handle. Then the hay will fly out of its own accord.”

I must say, I am very glad that I am the sort of person who is willing to do the impossible, because otherwise I would be doomed.

The Slow Prince, The Mastermaid, Blue Fairy Book. Painting by Antonio Mancini.

 slow prince