There once was a king who really loved this apple tree. If anyone picked an apple from it, he wished them deep underground. Well, he had three daughters and they figured the “no picking apples” only applied to strangers. They picked an apple and each took a bite, and then all were whisked deep underground.
The king searched for his daughters but could not find them, so he offered that whoever found them could marry one.
Among the men who went searching for the daughters were three huntsmen. After searching for several days, they came to a castle. Nobody was there, but there was plenty of food that remained hot. They decided that one would stay in the castle while the other two went out searching.
The next day, the eldest stayed in the castle and a dwarf, or elf, showed up asking for some bread. The huntsman gave him some bread, but the dwarf dropped it and asked for more. When the huntsman went to give him more, the dwarf took a stick and beat him.
The next day, the middle huntsman stayed at the castle and the dwarf came and the same thing happened, because the eldest didn’t say anything. Later, the two shared their stories with each other, but didn’t saying anything to the youngest who they didn’t like.
The next day when the youngest stayed in the castle, the dwarf showed up again. But when he dropped the bread, instead of the youngest giving him more, he told the dwarf to just pick up what he dropped. And then he started beating the dwarf.
The dwarf begged the youngest to stop, and he would tell him how to find the daughters. He took the huntsman to a well and told him the three daughters were at the bottom in three rooms with multi-headed dragons. He also told the huntsman that his two brothers would mistreat him, and then he disappeared.
The next day, all three went to the well. The two oldest were each lowered in a basket so far, until they rang a bell asking to be pulled back up. But the youngest stayed in until he reached the bottom. He killed the dragons and the daughters all kissed him. He then sent them up in the basket one by one. But when the basket came down for him to go up, he remembered what the dwarf had said so he put a heavy rock in it. When the basket was halfway up, one of the other huntsman cut the rope so it fell back down. The two huntsman threatened the daughters not to say anything, and then they took them back to the king and asked that each get a wife.
The youngest stayed in the bottom of the well for some time, but then he saw that there was a flute hanging on the wall in one of the rooms. So he began to play it, and with each note a dwarf/elf appeared. He explained that he wanted to go back to the surface, so each grabbed a hair on his head and drew him back to the surface.
When he got to the kingdom, the three daughters fainted. The king thought he must have been cruel to them, so he had him locked up. Once the daughters woke, they told the king to set him free, but they couldn’t say why. So the king had them tell the stove. He stood in the doorway and heard what they said to the stove, so he had the two other huntsman hanged, and the youngest huntsman and the youngest daughter were wed.
I don’t know if the three huntsmen were supposed to be brothers or not. Sometimes it read that way, and sometimes not.
So in the olden days you could find an empty castle where food remained hot and just move in without wondering who built it?
So just having each daughter guarded by a dragon wasn’t enough, they had to be multi-headed?
So they pulled him up by his hair. Didn’t they have stairs, or something?
The ending of this story came out of nowhere. This is the last sentence of the story: “Then [the king] caused the two brothers to be hanged on the gallows, and to the third he gave his youngest daughter, and on that occasion I wore a pair of glass shoes, and I struck them against a stone, and they said, ‘Klink,’ and were broken.” What? What do glass shoes have to do with the apples, and the dragons, and the … what?