“The Queen Bee”
A king had three sons. The oldest two set off to make their way in the world, but fell into a reckless life. The youngest son, Witling, set off to find them. He found them, but they laughed at his simpleness and thinking that he could succeed where they had failed. But the three set off together, and came across an anthill. The two older ones wished to stir it up to watch the ants race about, but Witling wouldn’t let them.
They went on to a lake with some ducks. The older two wanted to catch a couple to eat, but Witling said no. Then they came to a bees nest overflowing with honey. The two older ones wanted to smoke out the bees to get the honey, but Witling said no.
They went on until they came to a castle. In the stables all the horses were of stone. They went through the castle rooms until they found a door with three locks. There was a hole in the door and inside they could see a little man sitting at a table. They called to him, and he opened the locks and came out.
The man, without saying anything, took them to a table with food and drink. Afterwards, they all went to sleep. The next morning, the man took the oldest brother to a stone table with instructions on breaking the enchantment on the castle. The first was to find the thousand pearls of the princess, lost in the woods. If even one was missing by nightfall, he would be turned to stone. The oldest brother only found one hundred, and was turned to stone. The middle brother didn’t fare any better.
But when Witling was searching, the ant king marched in with thousands of his ants and they found all the pearls for him.
The second task was to get the key to the princess’s chamber from the bottom of the lake. The ducks found it for him.
The final task was to figure out which of three, sleeping princesses was the youngest. They all looked alike, but before sleeping they had each eaten something different. The youngest had a spoonful of honey. The queen bee that Witling had saved from the smoke checked the lips of all three for honey, and found the youngest. This broke the spell and everyone woke up, or stopped being stone. Witling married the youngest princess and became king after her father died. His older brothers just had the other princesses.
Why is this “The Queen Bee?” Why not, “Three Sleeping Princesses,” or “Don’t be a jerk to insects?” Or why not “Witling’s Adventures?” It’s rare for someone to actually get a name in these things.
Stirring up anthills, high entertainment in the olden days.
So Witling doesn’t want to hurt any animals. What did he eat?
So his two older brothers made fun of him for thinking he could go out into the world, but they listen to him when he tells them not to do things?
Why specifically were there three locks on the door?
Why didn’t the man speak? Was it part of the spell?
Who put the castle and the princesses under a spell? What was the point? Why didn’t they do something when Witling messed it up?
How fortunate that the three animals Witling passed were the ones best suited to help him. What would have happened if, instead of the ducks, they had come across a deer? Would the deer then have to swim down to find the key?
The last line of the story is “But his two brothers had to put up with the two other sisters.” It makes it sound like a terrible thing, but why? I’m going to dick around for a while, but then I’ll marry a beautiful princess but not have the burden of being king. I’ll sign up for that.