Good day, fair readership. Is that a mug of hot cider I see next to your mouse? Enjoying the season, I see, as you should be! Thoughts of colored leaves and warm pumpkin pie will make the Mondays go away.
Come on over and cuddle up next to the hearth, kids, it’s time for another Freaky Fairy Tale! Today’s tale….rambles. It sounds like it’s about to end, and then it goes on to a whole other story arc, and then it looks like it’s going to end, but goes on to another one! It’s more bizarre and amusing than it is Halloweenish, but I give you an iron stove, err, ironclad promise that the ridiculous levels in this one are worth it. Also, beware of geeks bearing gifs.
THE IRON STOVE
[Original source] - I’ve added punctuation and fixed formatting here.
The story starts by saying, “In the days when wishing was still of some use,” and I wonder, if the middle ages didn’t think that they were the days when “wishing was still of some use,” I’m starting to wonder if that time actually existed! Were they thinking of the dark ages, or classical times like Greek history? THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT AND I MUST KNOW–Anyway!
A young prince was cursed by an old witch and was “shut up,” in an old iron stove in a forest. The story doesn’t specify if a lock was involved. Maybe that was the spell, that the stove was impenetrable.
But apparently no one thought to find the prince there, and no one could rescue him. He’s a king’s son, you’d think someone would be trying to find him, but no! And no mention of food either, so I suppose that might be part of the curse too, that he lives but will not die….it’s gonna be one of those stories, isn’t it?
I’m fine! REALLY!
So he’s sitting there, and the story tells us that many years pass, presumably with him not eating or anything…he must be a horrible mess and going a bit insane by this point…like me…already…
Then a king’s daughter came into the forest, who had lost herself, and could not find her father’s kingdom again. After she had wandered about for nine days, she at length came to the iron stove.
I guess that’s part of the curse too, no one can find the stove unless they’re not trying to find it? At least I can understand a princess being horribly lost, especially at a time when most people didn’t know what the world looked like ten miles away from their homes.
Then a voice came forth from [the stove], and asked her, “Whence do you come, and whither are you going?”
Well, he doesn’t sound as crazy as expected. Once she tells him her story, he poses a deal.
“I will help you to get home again, and that indeed most swiftly, if you will promise to do what I desire of you. I am the son of a far greater king than your father, and I will marry you.”
No pressure, right? And wait, how does he know what kind of a king her father is? I guess she told him, but that’s not specified.
Then was she afraid, and thought, “Good heavens. What can I do with an iron stove?”
WAIT! Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait wait WAIT! She thinks she’s talking to a stove? Does she REALLY, REALLY think that she is talking to a stove? Seriously?!
WAHAHAHAAAA!!! OMG WHUT?
Wow! She is not the brightest bulb in the box! But she wants to get home, so she agrees, and he tells her,
“You shall return here, and bring a knife with you, and scrape a hole in the iron.”
Then he gave her a companion who walked near her, but did not speak, and in two hours he took her home.
Wait, there was a “companion” that was with him the whole time just in case he needed him?? This is a weird spell! Also, to scrape a hole in the iron, a hardcore metal file would do better, I think! Maybe he is crazy…
So the princess goes home and everyone is happy, especially her father the king, but she tells him her story with a heavy heart.
“I should never have got home again from the great wild forest, if I had not come to an iron stove, but I have been forced to give my word that I will go back to it, set it free, and marry it.”
Then the old king was so terrified that he all but fainted.
*splutter* Wow. She really thinks so, doesn’t she, based on her use of the genderless “it.” And the king apparently believes her too! No one thought about this for a second and said, “Hey, maybe there’s a guy in there?” Seriously, this is just silly!
They therefore resolved they would send, in her place, the miller’s daughter, who was very beautiful. They took her there, gave her a knife, and said she was to scrape at the iron stove. So she scraped at it for four-and-twenty hours, but could not bring off the least morsel of it. When the day dawned, a voice in the stove said, “It seems to me it is day outside.”
Then she answered, “It seems so to me too, I fancy I hear the noise of my father’s mill.”
“So you are a miller’s daughter. Then go your way at once, and let the king’s daughter come here.”
“Uh, sire? I think there might be a man inside the-”
“OH WOE! The stove is wise and saw right through our ruse! QUICK, Plan B!”
…But there was a swine-herd’s daughter, who was even prettier than the miller’s daughter, and they determined to give her a piece of gold to go to the iron stove instead of the king’s daughter. So she was taken thither…[but was] no better at it. When the day broke, a voice inside the stove cried, “It seems to me it is day outside.”
Then answered she, ”So it seems to me also, I fancy I hear my father’s horn blowing.”
“Then you are a swineherd’s daughter. Go away at once…”
“No, sire, really, I think there’s a man trapped in that stove.”
“…Uh, the stove also wanted me to tell you…”
“Tell the king’s daughter to come, and tell her all must be done as promised, and if she does not come, everything in the kingdom shall be ruined and destroyed, and not one stone be left standing on another.”
Wow, way to respect her choice, you arrogant stove. But, still, the princess decides to sacrifice her happiness for the kingdom’s sake.
So she goes to the stove and tries scraping at it with a knife, and it actually works for her!
[Once she made a small hole], she peeped in, and saw a youth so handsome, and so brilliant with gold and with precious jewels, that her very soul was delighted.”
WAIT!!!!! What, was that part of the spell too? That he wouldn’t age or his hair grow or even get DIRTY!?!
He wanted to take her away with him to his kingdom, but she entreated him to let her go once again to her father, and the king’s son allowed her to do so, but she was not to say more to her father than three words, and then she was to come back again.
Ugh, those weird, strict curse-breaking stipulations. Well, she could probably write her father a note explaining what was going on and then said, “Love you, father.”
So she went home, but she spoke more than three words…
GREAT ODIN’S RAVEN, WOMAN!!!! Look what you did!!
…and instantly the iron stove disappeared, and was taken far away over glass mountains and piercing swords, but the king’s son was set free, and no longer shut up in it.
OH. WELL, THAT’S USEFUL! Also, glass mountains and piercing swords WHAT?
Of course, she goes back to find him, and he isn’t there, and she goes searching for him. She hunts for days on foot, probably wishing she had LISTENED TO HIM! She apparently goes for nine days without food. Geez! She took some money from her father, but she didn’t take food?
She takes refuge in a tree one night to stay away from the wild animals, when she sees a light in the distance. She decides to follow the light to see if she can get help. It’s either a light from a house of someone kindly, a lantern belonging to a witch, or a will-o’-the-wisp, which means they’ll lead her off the safe path and she’ll probably die. But hey, she’s delirious with hunger, so any little light could mean hope.
She finds the light belongs to a house surrounded by overgrown grass, and when she looks in the window, the house is filled with toads of all sizes, including an old fat one!
Now, in the Middle Ages toads were seen as witch familiars, and were heavily associated with the devil, who was said to have three toads on his coat of arms.
I didn’t know the devil needed a coat of arms–though apparently in the middle ages it was a requirement–but that gives you a strong indicator that these toads are nothing but trouble.
She took courage, and knocked at the door…and a small toad…opened the door to her. When she entered, they all bade her welcome, and she was forced to sit down.
Oooh, they forced her to sit down! In folklore, toads are also known for purposefully poisoning people. She better get out of there if she doesn’t want to die horribly!
She tells them her sad story.
Then the old fat one said, “Little green waiting-maid, Waiting-maid with the limping leg, Little dog of the limping leg, Hop hither and thither, And bring me the great box.”
Then the little one went and brought the box. After this they gave her meat and drink, and took her to a well-made bed, which felt like silk and velvet, and she laid herself therein, in God’s name, and slept.
Also, that’s a really convoluted, long way to say, “Hey, kid, do this.” And “Little dog” what??? She’s a toad, right? So confusing.
So the next morning, the old fat toad tells her a way to get her prince back.
She gave her three things [to cross the high glass mountain, three piercing swords and a great lake] which she was to take the greatest care of, namely, three large needles, a plough-wheel, and three nuts.
With these she traveled onwards, and when she came to the glass mountain which was so slippery, she stuck the three needles first behind her feet and then before them, and so got over it, and when she was over it, she hid them in a place which she marked carefully.
After this she came to the three piercing swords, and then she seated herself on her plough-wheel, and rolled over them.
I don’t even know what that’s supposed to look like!
At last she arrived in front of a great lake, and when she had crossed it, she came to a large and beautiful castle.
THEY DIDN’T TELL US HOW SHE CROSSED THE RIVER. I GUESS IT WASN’T IMPORTANT.
She went and asked for a place, she was a poor girl, she said, and would like to be hired. She knew, however, that the king’s son whom she had released from the iron stove in the great forest was in the castle. Then she was taken as a scullery-maid at low wages. But already the king’s son had another maiden by his side whom he wanted to marry, for he thought that she had long been dead.
Oh no! Oh well, I guess that’s the end of that, right? Haha! We’re done, it’s over, we can all go home now! Right?
So, sad and poor and very busy with her new job, one night she opens one of the nuts to eat…
When lo and behold there was a stately royal garment in it.
Huh! Fancy that. It must have been REALLY crushed in there, unless it was tiny. But I don’t think that’s the case because the new almost-bride of the Stove Prince (I’m gonna call him that from now on) saw it and wanted to buy it. The princess says she doesn’t want to sell, but will trade it for one night in the Stove Prince’s chamber. Uh…uhhhhh…DISTRACTION!
The bride thinks this is hysterical and takes the dress from her, and runs the idea by the Stove Prince, who says he’s up for it if she is. Then she gives him a drugged glass of wine so he would sleep soundly. I don’t blame her for this, though it just shows she doesn’t trust him. But the Scullery Princess just wants to have a chance to talk to him and reveal herself so they can get out of there.
So the bridegroom and the scullery-maid went to sleep in the room, and he slept so soundly that she could not waken him. She wept the whole night and cried, “I set you free when you were in an iron stove in the wild forest, I sought you, and walked over a glass mountain, and three sharp swords, and a great lake before I found you, and yet you will not hear me.”
The servants sat by the chamber-door, and heard how she thus wept the whole night through, and in the morning they told it to their lord.
Well, at least the servants told him instead of the horrible fiancee.
The scullery-maid princess is game to try again, and opens the second nut to find an even more beautiful dress inside it. The Evil Bride wants to buy this one too, but Princess Scullery begs to sleep in the Stove Prince’s room again (the names are getting funnier). The Evil Bride gives him a sleeping daught again, so the Scullery Princess can talk all she likes, but the Stove Prince won’t hear her. Again the servants hear her weeping words, and tell the prince in the morning.
This happens one more time, and the third nut holds a dress even more beautiful than the rest, “stiff with pure gold.” Of course, the Evil Bride wanted it, the Scullery Princess wanted one more chance to talk to the prince, and the Evil Bride agrees.
Except this time, the Stove Prince knew what was happening now and threw away the sleeping draught.
Now when she began to weep and to cry, “Dearest love, I set you free when you were in the iron stove in the terrible wild forest” – the king’s son leapt up and said, “You are the true one, you are mine, and I am yours.”
Thereupon, while it was still night, he got into a carriage with her, and they took away the false bride’s clothes so that she could not get up.
Wait, in addition to the three dresses, did they steal ALL her clothes? LOLZ!
They crossed the lake, apparently by boat, passed the sharp swords via the plough wheel (somehow) and somehow both of them used the same three needles to get down the mountain. That sounds safe.
Not sure if plot hole, or just stupid.
But they somehow get down safely and go back to the toad’s house.
[But] it was a great castle, and the toads were all disenchanted, and were king’s children, and full of happiness.
Are they the children of one king or of different kings and were all just thrown into the house together I DON’T CARE IT’S ALMOST OVER!
Then the wedding was celebrated, and the king’s son and the princess remained in the castle, which was much larger than the castle of their fathers. But as the old king grieved at being left alone, they fetched him away, and brought him to live with them, and they had two kingdoms, and lived in happy wedlock.
Aww, they even gave her father a nice plot bow, that was–
A mouse did run,
This story is done.
………Yeah. Nice, unrelated dénouement…
So…the moral? Don’t…talk to strange stoves in the woods? I dunno.
I still can’t believe EVERYONE thought he was a stove. HA!
Thanks for reading, guys! Freaky Fairy Tales concludes next week! Hope to see you there!