There was a princess who had twelve windows in her castle. These windows let her see her entire kingdom in greater and greater detail. From the twelfth window nothing could be kept secret from her.
The princess thought rather highly of herself and decreed that she’d only marry the man who could stay hidden from her. Any who tried to hide and she found would have their head cut off and stuck on a pike. Ninety-seven men had tried and failed and their heads were now before her castle. No man had tried to claim her in years.
But then three brothers tried their luck. The eldest hid in a limepit, but she saw him from the first window and his head became number ninety-eight. The middle brother hid in the palace cellar, and his head became number ninety-nine.
The youngest brother asked for a day to think and asked that she overlook his first two attempts. Because he was attractive, she said yes, but warned him that on his third fail his head would be number one hundred.
The young man thought for a long time, but couldn’t think of any place to hide. So he went hunting. He was about to shoot a raven when the bird said he’d make it worth his while not to kill him. The man lowered his gun and went on. He came to a lake and saw a large fish and went to shoot it, but the fish said he’d make it worth his while not to kill him. So the man lowered his gun and went on.
The man then came to a fox that was lame. He shot at it, but missed. The fox said he should pull the thorn from his foot, which the man did. He then wanted to kill and skin the fox, but he said he’d make it worth his while if he didn’t. Since it was evening, the man then went home.
The next day the man couldn’t think of a place to hide. He went to the raven and asked him where he could be hidden. The raven thought, and then took an egg from his nest and put the man in it. The raven then sat on the egg. At first the princess could not find the man, which made her uneasy, but she was able to spot him from the eleventh window. She had the raven shot and the egg brought to her and broken open.
The next day the man went to the fish and asked for a place to hide. The fish swallowed the man and went to the bottom of the lake. The princess could not find him until she looked out the twelfth window. She had the fish caught and killed.
On the third day the man went to the fox and asked where to hide. The fox thought, and then took the man to a spring. The fox went into the spring and was transformed into a merchant who dealt in animals. He had the man get in the spring, which turned him into a sea-hare. The fox merchant took the sea-hare to town and many people were impressed with it.
Eventually the princess came and bought the sea-hare. As he handed it over, the fox merchant told him to creep under her braids when she went to the windows to look for him.
When the princess looked for the man, she couldn’t find him from any of her windows. She was so angry the whole castle shook and all the windows broke. She found the sea-hare and threw it to the ground yelling at it to get out of her sight.
The sea-hare went back to the merchant who went back to the spring and they regained their original forms. The man went back to the princess and married her, never telling her where he hid. Since he was cleverer than her, she had respect for him.
I don’t care how lovely or wealthy a princess is, but if she has several dozen heads on pikes in front of her castle, I’d pass.
You’d think if your life depending on you finding a good hiding spot, you’d put some time into it before trying. “I’m sure none of the previous ninety-seven guys was smart enough to hide in a limepit.”
“Your crazy rule killed both of my brothers, but I still want to marry you.”
So all these creatures had to say is, “Don’t shoot me, and I’ll make it worth your while,” and the guy wouldn’t shoot them and just keep going on his way without so much as asking for an IOU?
Who shoots fish?
So since the man hadn’t shot him, the raven will … abort one of his kids?
If the fox is so wise, how did he get a thorn in his foot?
Does this spring change every man into a sea-hare, or do you have to tell it what to change people into?
In case you don’t know what a sea-hare is, it’s a kind of mollusk. How one could creep under a girl’s braids without her noticing, I don’t know.