The Golden Bird

Grimm’s Fairy Tales. 1

The Golden Bird
There was a king who had a magnificent garden, and inside the garden there was a tree that grew apples made of gold. These apples were routinely counted, and at about the time when they started to get ripe, it was discovered that one of them disappeared overnight every single day without fail. As a result of this, the monarch got quite angry, and he gave the gardener the command to maintain constant vigilance below the tree. The gardener entrusted his oldest son with keeping watch, but at twelve o’clock he slept off, and when he woke up the next morning, another one of the apples was gone. Then the second son was given the task of keeping watch, but at twelve o’clock he, too, fell asleep, and when he woke up the next morning, another apple was missing. After that, the third son made an offer to keep watch, but the gardener first refused to allow him for fear that something bad might happen to him. In the end, however, he gave in, and the young man positioned himself under the tree so that he could keep an eye open. When the clock struck twelve, he heard a rustling sound in the air, and a bird that was made of pure gold came flying. As the bird’s beak was snatching at one of the apples, the gardener’s son leaped up and fired an arrow at the bird. The bird, however, was unharmed by the arrow; all that happened was that it shed a golden feather from its tail and then flew away. The golden feather was sent to the monarch first thing in the morning, and he immediately gathered the whole council around him. Everyone agreed that its value was greater than the whole wealth of the country, but the king insisted that he couldn’t settle for just one feather of the bird because he wanted the entire bird.
Then the gardener’s eldest son set out in search of the bird and thought he would find the golden bird very easily. When he had gone only a little distance, he came to a wood, and on the side of the wood he noticed a fox sitting. So he got his bow and made ready to shoot at it. The fox then responded, “Do not kill me, because I will offer you excellent advice; I know what your job is and that you want to discover the golden bird.” The fox knew that the hunter was trying to find the golden bird. You will arrive at a village in the evening, and when you get there, you will see two inns opposite each other. One of the inns will be very appealing and beautiful to look at; however, you should avoid staying in that one and instead choose to spend the night in the other inn, despite the fact that it may appear to you to be very poor and mean. The son, though, had this idea go through his head: “What can a beast like this possibly know about the situation?” Therefore, he fired his arrow at the fox; however, he missed it, and the fox rushed into the nearby forest with its tail up over its back. Then he started on his journey and arrived at the hamlet where the two inns were in the evening. In one of them, people were singing, dancing, and feasting; however, the other seemed to be extremely unclean and destitute. “I would be very stupid,” he muttered to himself, “if I went to that shabby home and abandoned this wonderful location.” So he walked inside the elegant house, ate and drank at his pleasure, and forgot the bird as well as his country.

Time went by, and when the oldest son did not return and there was no word about him, the second son decided to go on his own journey; however, he encountered the same difficulties as his predecessor. When he arrived at the two inns, his eldest brother was standing at the window where the merrymaking was and called to him to come in; and he could not resist the temptation, so he went in, and he forgot the golden bird and his country in the same way. He also forgot the fox, who had given him good advice.

The years continued to pass, and eventually even the youngest son expressed an interest in exploring the world in search of the golden bird. However, his father refused to give in to his request for a considerable amount of time because he loved his son very much and was concerned that he, too, might fall victim to misfortune and be prevented from returning home. Nevertheless, in the end, it was decided that he should go since he would not rest at home. As he was coming to the wood, he encountered the fox, and he got the same wise advice from both of them. But he was grateful to the fox, and unlike his brothers, he did not seek to take his life; as a result, the fox advised him, “Sit upon my tail, and you will travel faster.” So he sat down, and the fox started running, and away they raced over stock and stone at such a rapid pace that their hair whistled in the wind as they travelled.

When they arrived at the hamlet, the son followed the advice of the fox and, without looking around, walked to the run-down inn. There, he spent the whole night at his own leisure and relaxed in comfort. In the morning, the fox appeared once more and met him as he was beginning his journey. “Go straight forward, until you come to a castle, in front of which lies a whole troop of soldiers fast asleep and snoring: take no notice of them, but go into the castle and pass on and on until you come to a room, where the golden bird sits in a wooden cage; close by it stands a beautiful golden cage; but do not attempt to take the bird out,” the fox said.After that, the fox once again spread out his tail, and the young man sat down, and off they went through stock and stone till their hair whistled in the wind.

Everything was exactly as the fox had predicted before the entrance to the castle, so the son went inside and discovered the room where the golden bird was kept in a wooden cage. Under the wooden cage, the golden cage stood, and the three golden apples that had been lost were lying close by it. After that, he realized, “It will be a very foolish thing to bring such a fine bird away in this shabby cage,” so he opened the door, grabbed it, and placed it in the golden cage.”However, the bird made such a terrible cry that it woke up all of the soldiers, and once they were up, they captured him and brought him before the king. The next morning, the court convened to pass judgement on him, and after everything was said and done, it handed down a sentence of death, unless he brought the king the golden horse that could run as quickly as the wind; and if he did this, he was to have the golden bird given to him as his own.

So he continued on his way, groaning and feeling utterly hopeless. All of a sudden, his companion the fox came across him and said, “You see now what has occurred as a result of your not following my advice.” The traveller was deeply saddened by this news. If you promise to carry out my instructions, I will, despite this, reveal to you the location of the golden horse. You are required to continue on in the same direction until you reach the castle, where the horse is standing in his stall. The groom will be sound asleep and snoring by the horse’s side. Take the horse away quietly, but make sure to put the old leather saddle on him and not the golden one that is close by. The son then climbed up on the fox’s tail, and they continued their journey through stock and stone until their hair began to whistle in the wind.

Everything worked out well, and the groom went to sleep, dozing off with his hand on the golden saddle. But when the son took a good look at the horse, he decided that it would be a terrible waste to saddle it up with the leather saddle. He added, “I will give him the nice one; I am sure he deserves it.” The groom awakened as he was taking up the golden saddle, and his shouts were so loud that all of the guards hurried in and took the young man prisoner. The next morning, he was taken back before the court to be tried, and he was given a death sentence. However, it was decided that he would be allowed to live and that the bird and the horse would be given to him as his own, provided he was successful in bringing the lovely princess there.

After that, he proceeded on his way feeling quite miserable, but the old fox caught up with him and said, “Why didn’t you listen to me?” If you did, you would have been able to take the bird as well as the horse with you, but even so, I will offer you some advice once more. Continue in the same direction, and by dark you will find yourself at a castle. The princess goes to the bathhouse around twelve o’clock in the night. If you walk up to her and offer her a kiss, she will let you lead her away. However, you must be careful not to let her leave to meet her parents at this time. After that, the fox spread out his tail, and they continued their journey through stock and stone until their hair began to whistle once again.

When they arrived at the castle, everything happened exactly as the fox had predicted, and at twelve o’clock, the young man encountered the princess as she was going to the bath. He gave her the kiss, and she agreed to run away with him, but she pleaded with him through many tears to let her say goodbye to her father. She wept even more and more and fell at her knees till he finally accepted; however, the minute she arrived at her father’s home, the guards awoke, and he was taken into custody.

Then he was taken before the monarch, who told him, “You shall never have my daughter until in eight days you dig away the hill that prevents the view from my window.” Now, this hill was so large that even the whole globe could not remove it; and after he had laboured for seven days but had accomplished very little, the fox walked up to him and asked. “What have you accomplished?” “Just lie down and go to sleep; I’ll get to work for you in the morning.” When he awoke the next morning, the hill had vanished, so he joyfully went to the king and informed him that now that the hill had vanished, he needed the princess from him.

Then the young man and the princess were sent away, as the king was forced to maintain his promise; however, the fox came up to him and said, “We will take all three, the princess, the horse, and the bird.” The young guy exclaimed, “Ah, that would be a wonderful thing, but how can you arrange it?”

If only you would listen to what I have to say, the fox replied, it is possible.When you approach the monarch and he inquires about the beautiful princess, you are obligated to respond, “Here she is!” Then he will be very happy, and you will saddle the golden horse that they are going to give you, and you will stretch out your hand to bid them farewell, but you will shake hands with the princess last of all. Then you should immediately lift her onto the horse that is behind you, slap your spurs to the side of his, and ride away as rapidly as you possibly can.

Everything went according to plan, at which point the fox offered the following advice: “When you come to the castle where the bird is, I will stay with the princess at the door, and you will ride in and speak to the king; and when he sees that it is the right horse, he will bring out the bird; but you must sit still and say that you want to look at it to see whether it is the true golden bird; and when you get it into your hand, ride away.” Everything went according to plan.

They were successful in stealing the bird, the princess was able to get back on her horse, and they continued on their journey until they reached a large forest. The fox then appeared and requested that it be put to death, along with its head and feet being severed. But the young man refused to do it, so the fox added, “I will at least offer you some useful advice: beware of two things: do not ransom anybody from the gallows, and do not sit down by the side of any river.” After that, he left the scene. The young man thought, “Well, it is not a difficult issue to follow that advice,” and continued his contemplation.

He continued on his journey with the princess till he finally arrived at the hamlet where he had previously abandoned his two brothers. And there he heard a great disturbance and uproar, and when he inquired what the matter was, the people responded, “Two men are about to be hung.” And so he went to the place where he heard the disturbance, and he saw the hue and cry. As he got closer, he discovered that the two men were his brothers who had turned into thieves; as a result, he said, “Can they in any way be saved?” (Is it really possible for them to be saved?) But the people replied with a resounding “no,” unless he was willing to spend all of his money on the rascals and purchase their freedom. After that, he did not remain to think over the matter but instead paid what was required of him, and his brothers were released, and they continued on with him toward their house.

And when they got to the wood where the fox had first met them, the two brothers said, “Let us sit down by the side of the river, rest a bit, and then eat and drink.” The weather was so cold and beautiful when they arrived at the wood, and the fox had first met them there. So he replied, “Yes,” and promptly forgot the advice that the fox had given him before sitting down by the river. Then, as he sat there, they sneaked up behind him, threw him off the bank, and managed to make away with the princess, the horse, and the bird. When they returned to the king, who was their master, they said the following: “By our hard work, we have earned all of this.” After that, there was a great deal of celebration, but the horse refused to eat, the bird refused to sing, and the princess wept.

The youngest son was the one who ended up falling into the river’s bed. Fortunately, the water was almost completely dry, but he came out of it with virtually broken bones, and the bank was so steep that there was no way for him to go back up. The old fox then came back a second time and rebuked him for not obeying his advice; had he done so, nothing bad would have happened to him. “Yet,” he added, “I cannot leave you here; therefore, lay hold of my tail and hold tight.” Then he dragged him out of the river and told him as he got onto the shore, “Your brothers have set watch to murder you if they discover you in the kingdom.” After that, he left the river, disguised himself as a beggar, and sneaked his way into the king’s court. He had just made it through the doors when the horse started to feed, the bird began to sing, and the princess stopped crying. He had succeeded in his mission. After that, he went to the king and informed him of all of his brothers’ misdeeds. As a result, his brothers were arrested and imprisoned, and the princess was returned to him. When the king passed away, he became the successor to his kingdom.

After a considerable amount of time had passed, he went for a walk one day in the forest, where he saw the elderly fox, who, with tears in his eyes, pleaded with him to kill him and cut away his head and feet. And in the end, he did so, and in an instant, the fox was transformed into a man, and it came out that he was the brother of the princess, who had been missing for a very long period of time.


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