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THE Esthonian version of this story (the last in Galland’s original translation of the Thousand p. 10 and One Nights, and also found in Germany and elsewhere), is peculiarly fantastic as “The Prince who rescued his Brothers” (Kreutzwald). A young king was very ill, and the soothsayers and magicians could not cure him. One of the magicians, however, at length finding that the king’s hands and arms were gold-coloured to the elbows, his legs silver-coloured to the knees, and his belly of the colour of blue glass, told him that he would only be cured by marrying a young bride similarly coloured. Such a bride was discovered in the daughter of one of the king’s generals, and she was made queen. The queen was confined of six boys at once; but her eider sister was jealous of her, and availed herself of the services of an old witch, who carried the children away by night, and handed them over to the Old Boy, replacing them with puppies. The queen was confined a second and a third time, each time of three princes, who suffered the same fate, but the nurse contrived to hide one of the last three princes. Nevertheless, the king was now so enraged that he ordered the mother and child to be thrown into the sea on an iron bed for a boat. But it floated away with them; and when the prince was seven weeks old, he had p. 11 grown to be a young man, and he began to talk to his mother. Soon afterwards they reached an island, when the prince kicked the bed to pieces, and they went ashore. The prince met an old man, who gave him a hatchet which would build houses, and a wand which would change ants into men; whereupon the prince built and populated a city. The prince then changed himself into a flea, and went to his father’s palace. The king had married the wicked sister-in-law, and she was trying to persuade him not to visit the island where the queen and prince had settled, but to visit another country, where he would see more wonderful things. He went; but his son had already removed the wonders to his own island, and he returned disappointed. As the king was still bent on visiting the island, the new queen advised him instead to visit a country where he would see eleven men, coloured like himself. When the prince told his mother what he had heard, she knew that they were her sons. Then the queen prepared three cakes, one poisoned, and the others mixed with milk from her breast. The prince set out, gave the poisoned cake to the old devil who guarded his brothers, and divided the other cakes with them. They then p. 12 escaped to the prince’s island in the form of doves, and presently the king and queen arrived, and the king was informed of the whole plot.
Then the king ordered the wicked queen and the sorceress to be put to death, and settled down in his son’s island with his wife and children.