This is the story of King Dalmar. There was a king of France, who had a son. He had reached the age of being a young man, and he said one day to his father that he wanted to get married.
- To whom then, my son?
- To King Dalmar's daughter.
- Alas! My child, as for that one, you will not have it. Since the age of twelve, she has been locked in a tower, where no one ever visits her except the woman who brings her food every day.
"It doesn't matter to me, I'll always go and ask her father for her, and if I don't have this one for a wife, I won't have any other in the world." I don't know which direction to take, or where to go to King Dalmar's court; but, by dint of walking, I will eventually get there, sooner or later.
- If your resolution is well taken, I will not oppose it; but, after a year and a day, you will have to be back home.
- I promise to be back, after a year and a day.
And he set off in a fine coach, accompanied only by a valet. They were going haphazardly, not knowing which direction to take. They never stopped going, always going in front of them, never stopping. One day, the night surprised them, in the middle of a large forest. The horses were tired, and the valet offered to his master to unhitch them, to give them a little rest, and to spend the night in the forest. The prince consented. He slept, as usual, in his carriage, and the valet stretched out on the moss and fern at the foot of an old oak tree, while the horses grazed quietly not far away.
Towards midnight, the servant, who was not yet asleep, heard a noise in the tree, above his head, like a large bird coming to perch there to spend the night. He looked up, and saw (since it was moonlight) someone sitting in an armchair balanced on the branches of the tree. This surprised him greatly. A moment later, the same noise was repeated, and a second personage arrived, and sat down in a second armchair. Then, a third. The first then spoke, and said:
Well ! My children, has the day been good? Do you know something new?
- Bad day ! The other two replied, and we don't know anything new.
- Well ! I know something new. The son of the King of France is in the woods.
- Ah! Truly ? What a godsend, if we could get our hands on it!
- He is going to ask in marriage the daughter of King Dalmar. But, he is not yet at the end of his troubles; it is not as easy as he imagines, no doubt, to go to the court of King Dalmar. On leaving the forest, he will meet a river, which is sixty leagues wide. How could he pass it? Because he will not find a ferryman or a boat. There is a way though, and if he had been here, I could have taught him.
The prince's valet lent his two ears, I beg you to believe it.
- And what is this way? The other two asked.
— Arriving near the river, he would have to cut a stick in the hedge, on the east side, remove the bark, then strike three blows on the water. Immediately a beautiful bridge would be erected over the river; he could cross it, and thus easily reach the capital of King Dalmar. But that's not all. When she arrived in the city, she would still have to dress as a princess and introduce herself to the old king as a friend of his daughter, whom she would have known in Spain, and who would have come to visit him. He would ask to sleep in the same room as the king's daughter, and he would take her out of the window at night. If he had been here listening to me, he could have put this advice to good use, and perhaps he would have succeeded in his enterprise.
At this moment, the day began to dawn, and our three characters flew away.
The valet had heard everything, but he said nothing to his master. He woke the latter, who had slept all night, in his coach, and had heard nothing; he harnessed the horses, then they set off again. They arrived without delay near the river.
- Alas! Here we will have to stop, said the prince, seeing before his eyes such a large expanse of water.
- Perhaps, my master; do not despair of anything, said the valet.
- And how do you want us to go? It won't be swimming, I think; and no ferryman, not the slightest boat!
The valet made no reply; but he went to the hedge, towards the east, cut there, with his knife, a stick of an elbow tree and began to skin it, while continuing on his way. When he reached the bank of the river, he struck his wand three times on the water, and instantly they saw a beautiful bridge emerge, which went from one bank to the other.
- What man are you then? said the astonished prince to his servant.
They crossed the river easily, and found themselves without delay in the capital of King Dalmar. They stayed at the best hotel in town.
The next morning, the valet said to his master:
- Now you have to dress like a princess and, thus disguised, you will go to the king Dalmar and will tell him that you are a friend of his daughter, that you knew her in Spain and that you come to make her visit and spend a few days with her. You will also ask not to leave the princess, day or night, and to sleep in her own room. The king will easily grant you your request. You will take a rope under your dress. At midnight, when everyone is asleep, in the castle, I will be under your bedroom window, with my coach, you and the princess will go down, using the rope, and we will leave immediately.
The prince, who had unlimited confidence in his valet since what he had seen him do near the river, obeyed him point by point. He dressed as a princess, as beautifully as he could, went thus disguised to the castle, and asked to speak to the king.
- Hello, he said, King Dalmar.
"Good morning, young princess," replied the king.
- I am a friend of your daughter, whom I knew in Spain, and I came to visit her and spend a few days with her.
- Welcome, then; I will call my daughter, who will be happy to see you again.
And he summoned the princess, and left them both alone. They easily obtained permission to spend the night in the same room. Then the prince told the princess who he was, explained to her the reason for his visit and his disguise, and asked her if she would consent to follow him.
"I will follow you wherever you like," she replied; my father keeps me locked up all the time, in this tower, where I never see anyone, and I can't wait to regain my freedom.
At midnight, their preparations for departure were made, and they heard, under the window, the prince's valet, who said:
- Prepare to descend; tie the rope tight, then throw it to me!
What they did. But, when it was time to go down, the princess was afraid and said:
- Alas! My poor prince, my father is a sorcerer; He will soon find out that we have escaped, and he will send his soldiers after us, and if we are caught, woe to us!
"Let us always go," replied the prince; we will see later.
They got off, using the rope, got into the waiting car, and set off at a triple gallop.
- Alas! I hear my father's soldiers coming! cried the princess, after some time.
And they were indeed arriving at a full gallop, with the king at their head. They were going to reach them, their horses were already walking over the bridge of the great river which bounded the kingdom of King Dalmar, on this side, when the carriage reached the other end. The servant, with his white wand, struck three blows on the bridge, and immediately he fell into the water and disappeared, and with him disappeared the soldiers of King Dalmar, who were all drowned. It was time ! King Dalmar alone was still alive, and across the river he was shouting, furious and showing his fist:
- You deceived me, son of the King of France! But, before arriving in Paris with my daughter, you will still have to reckon with me!
However, the prince and the princess, now free from all worries, continued their journey quietly. Night surprised them in the same wood, and, on the advice of the valet, it was decided that they should still wait for daylight there. The prince and the princess slept in the carriage, and the valet stretched out on the moss and the fern, at the foot of the same tree as the first time. At midnight, he heard the sound of wings again, like large birds coming down on the tree, then a voice said:
- Are we all there?
- Yes, answered another voice; if not the Devil-Lame, however; but, he is always late, you know that.
The Lame Devil also arrived, a moment later.
- Well ! What's up ? The others asked him.
- What's up ? But, you don't know anything? The son of the King of France is still in the woods! He has succeeded in kidnapping Princess Dalmar, and he is taking her to Paris. But he will have a lot to do before he gets there. First, when he comes out of the woods, he will be attacked by twelve thieves, who will take away from him, the princess, and their servant, all their gold, their coach and even their clothes. They will put them naked, as when they were born, then they will abandon them, in this state. And whoever among them wanted to put up some resistance would instantly be turned to stone. Being in this sad state, they will then meet an old woman, on the threshold of her cottage, who will invite them to come in and accept clothes. If they have the misfortune to enter the old woman's cottage and accept clothes from her (because there will be some to choose from: clothes of princes, princesses, dukes, marquises), immediately, they will still be transformed into marble statues, and they will come to warm with us. They will then arrive at the edge of a pond, in which they will see a man about to drown, and calling for help; woe to them again, if they want to help this man, for immediately they will be transformed into marble statues again, and they will come and warm with us. These are the tests he will have to undergo before arriving in Paris. And how do you want him to do it? This would only be possible if someone reported to him what I have just told you, and neither of you will be foolish enough for that; on the other hand, no one can hear our conversations here; and even though they could be heard from someone, if that one reported to the prince, within a year and a day, what I have just said, he himself would be immediately changed into a marble statue, and he would come heat at home.
The day was beginning to dawn, and the figures who were on the tree left, or rather flew away.
The valet, lying under the tree, had heard everything. He woke up his master, but said nothing to him, harnessed the horses, and they set off again. Scarcely had they left the wood, when twelve thieves, coming out of a moat, rushed on them and stopped the horses, crying: "The purse or the life!" They forced the prince and the princess out of the carriage, stripped them of all their clothes, the valet too, then they left, taking the horses and the carriage. Our people, remained naked like savages, no longer dared to appear on the roads during the day. They hid in the woods, and traveled at night. An old woman, on the threshold of her cottage, seeing them pass, cried:
- Jesus! My poor people, what happened to you? See Christians in this state! Come into my house, and I will give you clothes; I won't let you go like this.
The prince and the princess wanted to enter; the valet did his best to prevent them; but in vain ; they entered the old woman's house. The valet then set fire to the house, and forced them out, before they had time to get dressed. They weren't happy. We had to get back on the road, in this pitiful state. The valet found some old trousers, no doubt fallen from some ragpicker's bag. He put it on, and was then able to go begging for bread and pancakes, on the farms, for himself and his two companions. They thus arrived at the edge of a large pond, where they saw a man on the point of drowning and who was crying out with pity:
- Help ! Help ! I'm drowning !…
The prince wanted to jump into the water, to save this man. The valet had all the trouble in the world to prevent him from doing so. He walked over to the edge of the pond, and with his wand he began to strike the man crying for help on the head, until he disappeared under the water.
- Bad ! Said the prince and the princess to him; you killed that man, when you could save him.
But the valet was little worried about this reproach, and they continued on their way.
They were approaching Paris. The valet, who had trousers, as we have seen, preceded his two companions into the city, and brought them clothes. So they were able to show themselves decently, and the three of them together entered the king's palace. The old monarch, who believed his son to be dead, celebrated his return with public rejoicings.
Some time later the prince married the daughter of King Dalmar, and there were still wonderful feasts and feasts.
Nine or ten months after their marriage, a son was born to them, who added to their happiness.
The prince had kept his faithful servant, and often they would talk together about their trip to King Dalmar's castle and their extraordinary adventures. He was very intrigued to know how he had managed to get them safely out of all the bad places they had been in, and he often asked him about it.
"I will tell you," replied the valet to his entreaties, "but only when the moment has come; I can't do it now.
The prince's desire and curiosity only increased by this resistance, and he urged him more and more; but, always in vain. Finally, one day, he entered the valet's room like a madman, his sword in his hand, and crying:
- You have to tell me your secret, or I'll kill you right now!
- I will tell you, my master, since you order it; but, you will regret it, later.
- Speak, I tell you, or prepare to die. And he brandished his big saber above his head.
- Do you remember, said the faithful servant, resigned, that on our way to King Dalmar's castle, we slept in a wood, where the night surprised us?
"Yes, I remember," replied the king.
- You spent the night in your coach; but I spent her lying on the moss and fern at the foot of an old tree. Towards midnight, I was awakened by hearing talk on this tree; there were three characters up there, who seem to me to be demons. One of the three, no doubt not knowing me there, informed the other two of our presence in the woods, the purpose of our trip and everything we had to do to bring it to a successful end.
Already the feet of the faithful servant had turned to marble. His master saw him well, but he let him continue like this:
- On the way back, we spent the night in the same wood, the princess and you, in the coach, and I, under the same tree. The same personages arrived again, at midnight, on the tree, and I learned in the same way all that it was necessary to do, in the second part of the journey, to arrive with the princess at your father's palace.
The prince, seeing his faithful servant already changed to marble, to the waist, cried at last:
- Quite ! Quite ! Do not go any further!
- No, I have to go all the way, since I started. I was not to reveal this secret to you, otherwise I would be changed into a marble statue. You ordered me to speak; you are my master, I obeyed you; you know everything now, and the prediction is done.
And indeed, the faithful servant was now a marble statue from head to toe. The last words he spoke were these:
- It is all over with me now; I will burn in the fire of hell, and you yourselves will join me there, if you do not redeem your fault!
The prince was inconsolable at the misfortune of his faithful servant. He had become sad, taciturn, he fled from society, and he was often found crying. No one, even his wife, suspected the cause of such a complete change. His old father asked him one day:
- Where is your faithful servant, whom you loved so much? I haven't seen him for some time.
The prince remained silent.
- Beware of killing him.
- No, my father, rest assured, I did not kill him.
He constantly dreamed of the means to deliver him. How to go about it ? Who would advise him? After having vainly consulted a large number of scholars, magicians and sorcerers, the idea occurred to him to go and spend another night in the forest where they had already spent two. He left one morning in his coach, without telling anyone where he was going, and went to the forest. He easily recognized the place, and he lay down under the tree, like his old servant; but, he did not sleep. At midnight he heard a loud noise of wings above his head, then a voice saying:
- Well ! comrades, the valet of the son of the King of France, who had heard our conversation and revealed it to his master, came to warm up with us, as I had predicted to you; and the prince himself will come too, I hope, without delay. There is only one way for him to avoid it and to deliver his faithful servant, whom he regrets so much now.
The prince was all ears, at this moment, I beg you to believe it; the other continued:
- He would have to slaughter his only son, whom he loves so much, during High Mass, collect all the blood from it, in a vase, water the marble statue, which was his servant, with this blood, then put back this blood. same blood in the child's mouth, and lay him in his cradle. The statue would revive little by little as it was sprinkled with blood, and before the end of high mass the prince's valet would have completely returned to his first state; the child himself would be resuscitated soon after, and would find himself as healthy and healthy as in front. This is what he would have to do; but, how do you think the idea could ever come to him?
Day began to dawn at this moment, and the hosts of the tree flew away, with a loud clatter of wings.
The prince had not lost a word of everything that had been said. He came home, a little less sad, and full of hope.
The Sunday which followed, he told everyone to go to high mass in the village, and to leave him alone at home. Everyone left, and he was left absolutely alone in the palace. When he heard the bells announcing that High Mass was about to begin, he took a knife and walked resolutely towards the cradle where his child was sleeping.
But his courage failed him when he knocked, and he recoiled in horror and began to cry.
He returned a moment later, more resolute; he turned his head away and knocked. Blood spurts out immediately. He collected it in a vase and ran to the marble statue and began to rub it with the blood of his child, still warm. And as he rubbed it, he saw the marble which was noticeably revived, and, as the mass ended, the statue walked and the faithful servant spoke thus to his master:
- Ah! My poor master, how hot I have been since! I had been told that I would be hot one day if I revealed the secret; and we had not lied. You yourself would have had the same fate if you had not behaved as you did! But, don't waste time; put the blood back in your child's mouth, and don't worry.
The prince hastened to put the blood back into the child's mouth; but, in spite of everything, he was not without anxiety. Shortly afterwards the people of the palace returned from High Mass. We sat down to table at the ordinary hour. The princess and the old king were surprised and happy to see their faithful servant again. However, they were astonished to see the prince more concerned than usual.
- Where's the kid? asked the princess.
"He's in his cradle, and he sleeps well," he replied.
A moment later, having heard a cry, as of a child waking up, he got up from the table, ran to the apartment where his son was, and returned immediately, holding him in his arms, wide awake and smiling at his mother. Then he told everything, and the subject of his grief, and the reason for his last journey, and the manner in which he had delivered his faithful servant.
There were then great feasts and magnificent feasts in the palace. I myself was able to slip through the crowd of servants to the kitchen. But, as I dipped my finger in all the sauces, the master cook, who saw me, gave me a big kick, where you know well, and threw me here to tell you my tale.