The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

Click the image above to fetch a new random story.

Prince with the Speaking Horse

I was lost my way the forest, and after five days of wandering, I came to a stately palace in a large open space. The atmosphere was silent, without a trace of human life, and the door was open. I went in and wandered through the deserted rooms without seeing a living soul. Then I came into a great hall where a table was spread with dainty dishes and choice wines. I sat down, and as soon as I had satisfied my hunger and thirst, the table disappeared. That struck me as very strange. I got up and searched through all the rooms, upstairs and down, but I could find no one to speak to. At last, just as it was beginning to get dark, I heard steps and saw an old man coming towards me up the stairs.

“What are you doing wandering about my castle?” he asked.

I told him I had lost my way hunting in the forest. “If you will take me into your service, I will serve you faithfully,” I said.

He agreed. He told me to keep the stove lit all the time, and to fetch the wood for the fire from the forest. He also put me in charge of the black horse in the stables. In exchange he would pay me a small amount of money and I would always have as much food and drink as I wished.

One day I forgot the fire, and it burned so low that it very nearly went out. Just then the old man stormed into the room. I ran to get the wood and he gave me a severe box on the ear. He warned me that if ever it happened again I would fare badly. At the time I did not know that he was a magician, and if the fire went out, so would his power.

I went to the stables and sat there in a disconsolate state. Just then, the black horse suddenly started speaking to me. He told me to come into his stall, and fetch his bridle and saddle. He gave me a series of instructions that prepared me to not only leave the house, but burn the whole place down.

That was just the beginning of the guidance I received from the horse. I trusted him because, among other things, he taught me to listen to the ground.

Prince with the Speaking Horse in The Magician’s Horse, Grey Fairy Book