THE WEIRD TREE

A fairy tale

There once was a king who had in his kingdom a tree so tall that you couldn't see the top. The king wanted to know how tall the tree was, and what kind of fruit it bore. So he had this announced throughout the kingdom: »Whoever gets to the top of the tree and bring its fruit, will get the king's daughter as his wife as well as the kingdom after the king dies.« Many people came to try their luck, but no one made it, and many were hurt, because they fell from the tree and died. Amongst others there was a man from far away who decided to try his luck.

 

As he is walking through the woods, he meets a shepherd and asks him if he is going the right way. He notices the shepherd has a metal contraption on his feet that looks like claws. He asks him, why drag something like that around. The shepherd tells him he needs it to quickly climb a tree and save himself if a wild beast came along. The man, who was nicely dressed, asks the shepherd to swap his clothes together with the metal claws. The shepherd laughed at first, because he couldn't understand why the man would trade his nice clothes for a tattered shepherd's garment. But when he sees that the man is serious, they swap clothes, and on top of it all, the man gives him a fair sum of money.

 

When the man comes to the city, he changes his clothes again, he only keeps the metal claws. He then goes to the king, salutes him and tells him his resolve. The king allows him to try and climb the tree. Beside the metal claws he also took enough food for seven days. For three days and nights he climbed upwards and didn't see any branches at all. Only on the fourth day he notices a bunch higher up, and only gets there on the seventh day. There was no bough though, but a castle. When he gets to the castle, he knocks on the iron door. Soon he hears steps inside. A beautiful girl comes to open the door, invites him in, leads him into a hall that was decorated in pure silver, and gives him food and drink. There were three cursed girls living in the castle. He spent the night there as he had not slept for seven days and nights.

 

The next morning the girls wake him up and make him a good breakfast. After breakfast the prettiest girl says to him: »If you wish to reach the top of this tree, you will need to go by two more castles. To get to the first one will take you fourteen days of climbing, and there you'll find six girls. They will tell you what to do next. Here is a piece of bread. When you are hungry, thirsty or tired, just lick the bread and you will feel neither hunger not thirst or fatigue anymore.« He climbed for ten days and nights, and still saw nothing ahead of him. On the eleventh day, he saw something catching the light in the distance, and on the fourteenth day, he knocks on the door of a castle made from pure gold. Here the girls welcome him as warmly as the ones in the first castle, give him food and drink and a bed, and tell him: »You will get to one last castle. To get there, you will need three weeks. Nine girls live there and they will tell you what to do to get to the top of the tree.« They also give him bread that you only needed to lick to feel neither hunger nor thirst or fatigue anymore. When he gets to the third castle, made from precious gems and sparkling pearls, he was welcomed and given food and shelter. There were nine girls here, and one of them had golden hair. This one tells him that he will need to climb for another month to reach the top of the tree. Then she adds: »there are five pieces of golden fruit up there, three on the right and two on the left. The three on the right you can cut with these scissors. But woe to us if you cut the ones on the left: all of us in the three castles will be doomed, because we are held here by the devil. He would shake the tree so hard that we would disappear into the ground together with the castles. When you're done with the fruit, go back to the ground. The crowd there is waiting for you, and they are curious as to what you will bring and tell. However, you are not allowed to tell anyone what you've seen and heard, not even the king. The morning after you get to the ground, come wait for us on the main road next to the city. We will be riding by in a carriage made out of nothing but diamonds, driven by golden horses. Our carriage moves faster than the birds under the sky. If you just touch it, we will be saved. If you don't touch it, the devil will take us to a castle with no windows or doors.«

 

When he returned to the ground, a large crowd was waiting for him. Everyone wanted to know what he did for so long up in the tree. Yet he wouldn't say anything or show the fruit, not even to the king. The next day he wakes up before dawn and goes to wait for the carriage. When the sun comes up, he sees in the distance a small puff of smoke getting closer and closer. Soon he recognizes the carriage and in a few moments, it has already flown by without him being able to touch it.

 

He is overcome by desperation. He didn't know what to do from sheer sadness and desolation. When he consoled himself a bit, he went to the king and told him everyting. He also showed him the three pieces of golden fruit and told the king that he was setting off to find the castle with no windows or doors.

 

He wanders around the world for two months but no sign of the castle.

 

Towards the end of the third month he was lost in a dark forest and couldn't find the way. As morning approached, he saw a light some way further on top of a small hill. He sets toward the light without hesitation. What does he see? A run down cottage. That was the home of the Moon. Bravely he knocks on the old door. The hinges creak and the door opens. He steps back when he is confronted by a woman holding a burning torch. She was old as the world, big as an oak tree, black as a charred woodblock, her eyes were as big as the coins of Maria Theresa, her hair was like a horse's mane and she was as thin as a stick. This old hag was the Moon's mother. She looked at him angrily and asked what he wanted. He told her he lost his way while searching for the castle with no windows or doors. He also asked her if perhaps she knew the whereabouts of this castle. She replies to him: »A thousand years have gone by since I've been further away from the house than an hour's walk. How would I know of such a castle? But my daughter the Moon surely knows about it, for she circles the world every single day. But she can't find you here; she would tear you up into small pieces if she did. Escape now, because she'll be back soon!« The desperate man begged her on his knees to hide him in a corner and ask her daughter about the castle with no windows or doors, then tell him when the Moon is not at home. The old hag takes pity on him and hides him under the staircase. When her daughter the Moon returns home, she starts to question her at once, and wants to know if there is a human in the house. The mother denied it, but when the Moon got very angry, she told er everything and begged her to have mercy for the unfortunate man, and to tell him about the castle with no windows or doors. When the miserable man revealed himself from under the staircase, the Moon took pity on him and said: »I would like to tell you, if I knew; but you should know that I have never shone on every single corner of the earth. It is possible that the castle with no windows or doors is somehwere in a desert that my eye hasn't seen yet. But perhaps my brother the Sun would know. He shines on a bigger part of the world than me. Go to him!«

 

He wandered for a long time in the forest where the Sun's castle was. When he finally finds it, he goes in. Only the Sun's mother was home, and she was even older and more terrible than the Moon's mother. She also agreed to hide him. When the Sun comes home in the evening, he begins to make a fuss because his mother hid a human in the house.When the poor man hears this, he comes out of his hiding place and begs the Sun so hard that he is finally granted his wish. The Sun says to him: »Even I don't know of this castle with no windows or doors, because even I haven't shone on every single place on earth. It may be that this castle really exists. If it does, the Wind would know about it, he finds all the nooks and crannies.Go ask him!«

 

The man searched for three weeks for the home of the Wind. When he finds it, he enters and luckily finds the chief of the Winds inside. He tells him of his misfortune and asks him for help. The Wind listened calmly, and when the man told him everything, he takes a whistle and blows on it so hard that all the winds of the world heard him. They all hurried back home, but none of them knew about the castle with no windows or doors. There was one wind who didn't come with the rest, bevcause his leg hurt and he had the longest to go. He only limped home an hour later and told the man about the castle with no windows or doors. In order to make sure that this castle is really without windoes or doors, the chief Wind goes to check himself. He only needed a quarter of an hour to get there. Because he felt pity for the poor man, he had a large chest made, into which the man climbed, and the wind took the chest with him, because he could not carry just the man. For a human would need several years to get to the castle. When the chest wad made, the man crawled inside and the chief of the winds took the chest and set it down in front of the castle. Now the Wind started to check if there is any way into the castle. There was just a very small hole at the top.

 

The Wind pushed himselft through this hole and started to make such a fuss that the walls were trembling. Beside the eighteen girls, there were in the castle also the devil and his mother. The wind grabbed the devil with such might that he squeezed him through the small hole at the top and in the air pulverized the devil, so that there was nothing left of him. All of the girls, except for the golden haired girl, were dead. The golden haired one was doomed to be murdered as last and to watch all the orthers die, because she transgressed the most. Now the Wind grabs the devil's mother as well and shakes her so hard that her bones were cracking. Then he asks how the girls were murdered. Naturally, the old hag made excuses and said that she didn't know, because it was her son who did the murdering. But the Wind threatened to pulverize her in the same way as he did the devil if she doesn't tell him. Finally the old hag told him, because she was afraid of being annihilated in the same way as her son. She also told him how to bring them back to life. In the closet, there is a sprinkler with which he should sprinkle the girls to make them live again. The Wind takes the sprinkler and sprinkles one of the girls, who immediately comes back to life. Then the Wind takes the old hag and crashes her through the small hole at the top so that it was even more enlarged than the first time, whem he was breaking the devil. He brought all the girls back to life one by one and also cured the golden haired one who was also already half dead. Gradually he put them all into the chest, then demolished the castle.

 

All of the girls and the man were safely transported by the Wind in front of the king's palace. But the man didn't marry the princess, but the golden haired girl, and they lived happily for a very long time.