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The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder

The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and the stories of Prester John. Stories of a similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration, who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.

The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it became attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, first Governor of Puerto Rico. According to an apocryphal story that features a combination of New World and Eurasian elements, Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513. Since then the fountain is frequently attached to Florida, and stories it have become some of the most persistent folklore associated with the state.

Contents

Early accounts

Al-Khidr and Alexander watch the Water of Life revive a salted fish

Herodotus mentions a fountain containing a very special kind of water located in the land of the Ethiopians, which gives the Ethiopians their exceptional longevity.[1] A story of the "Water of Life" appears in the Eastern versions of the Alexander romance, which describes Alexander the Great and his servant crossing the Land of Darkness to find the restorative spring. The servant in that story is in turn derived from Middle Eastern legends of Al-Khidr, a sage who appears also in the Qur'an. Arabic and Aljamiado versions of the Alexander Romance were very popular in Spain during and after the period of Moorish rule, and would have been known to the explorers who journeyed to America. These earlier accounts clearly inspired the popular medieval fantasy The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, which also mentions the fountain. Due to the influence of these tales, the Fountain of Youth legend remained popular through the European Age of Exploration.[2]

There are countless indirect sources for the tale as well. Eternal youth is a gift frequently sought in myth and legend, and stories of things such as the philosopher's stone, universal panaceas, and the elixir of life are common throughout Eurasia and elsewhere. An additional hint may have been taken from the account of the Pool of Bethesda in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus heals a man at the pool in Jerusalem.

Bimini

The native stories about the curative spring were related to the mythical land of Bimini or Beniny (hence Bimini), a land of wealth and prosperity. The spring was purportedly located on an island called Boinca. Although subsequent interpretations suggested the land was located in the vicinity of the Bahamas, the natives were referring to a location in the Gulf of Honduras.[2] The islands of Bimini in the Bahamas were known as La Vieja during the Ponce expedition. According to legend, the Spanish heard of Bimini from the Arawaks in Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Sequene, an Arawak chief from Cuba, had purportedly been unable to resist the lure of Bimini and its restorative fountain. He gathered a troupe of adventurers and sailed north, never to return. Word spread among Sequene's more optimistic tribesmen that he and his followers had located the Fountain of Youth and were living in luxury in Bimini.

Bimini and its curative waters were widespread subjects in the Caribbean. Italian-born chronicler Peter Martyr d'Anghiera (Peter Martyr) told of them in a letter to the pope in 1513, though he didn't believe the stories and was dismayed that so many others did.[3]

Ponce de León and Florida

In the 16th century the story of the Fountain of Youth became attached to the biography of the conquistador Juan Ponce de León. According to the story, Ponce de León heard of the land of Bimini from the people of Puerto Rico when he conquered the island. Growing dissatisfied with his material wealth, he launched an expedition to locate it, and in the process discovered Florida. Though he was one of the first Europeans to set foot on the American mainland, he never found the Fountain of Youth.

The story is apocryphal. Ponce de León does not mention the fountain in his writings throughout the course of his expedition.[2]While he may well have heard of the Fountain and believed in it, his name was not associated with the legend in writing until after his death. That connection is made in Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo's Historia General y Natural de las Indias of 1535, in which he wrote that Ponce de León was looking for the waters of Bimini to cure his impotence.[4] Some researchers have suggested that Oviedo's account may have been politically inspired to generate favor in the courts.[2] A similar account appears in Francisco López de Gómara's Historia General de las Indias of 1551.[5] In the Memoir of Hernando D'Escalante Fontaneda in 1575, the author places the restorative waters in Florida and mentions de León looking for them there; his account influenced Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas' history of the Spanish in the New World.[6] Fontaneda had spent seventeen years as an Indian captive after being shipwrecked in Florida as a boy. In his Memoir he tells of the curative waters of a lost river he calls "Jordan" and refers to de León looking for them. However, Fontaneda makes it clear he is skeptical about these stories he includes, and says he doubts de León was actually looking for the fabled stream when he came to Florida.[6]

It is Herrera who makes that connection definite in the romanticized version of Fontaneda's story included in his Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas y tierra firme del Mar Oceano. Herrera states that local caciques paid regular visits to the fountain. A frail old man could become so completely restored that he could resume "all manly exercises… take a new wife and beget more children." Herrera adds that the Spaniards had unsuccessfully searched every "river, brook, lagoon or pool" along the Florida coast for the legendary fountain.[7] It would appear the Sequene story is likewise based on a garbling of Fontaneda.

Fountain of Youth today

Postcard from the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine

The city of St. Augustine, Florida is home to the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park, a tribute to the spot where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed. The tourist attraction was created by Luella Day McConnell in 1904. "Diamond Lil", as she was known, fabricated stories to amuse and appall the city’s residents and tourists until her death in 1927.[8]

Though the fountain situated there is not "the" Fountain, this does not stop tourists from drinking its water. The park exhibits native and colonial artifacts to celebrate St. Augustine's Timucuan and Spanish heritage.

In the book Weird Florida, part of the Weird U.S. series by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, author Charlie Carlson says he conversed with members of a supposed St. Augustine-based secret society claiming to be the protectors of the Fountain of Youth, which has granted them extraordinary longevity. They claimed Old John Gomez, a protagonist in the Gasparilla legend from Florida folklore, had been one of their members.[9] In August 2006, popular American magician David Copperfield claimed he had discovered a true "Fountain of Youth" amid a cluster of four small islands in the Exuma chain of the Bahamas which he recently purchased for roughly $50 million. "I've discovered a true phenomenon," he told Reuters. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. … Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting." Copperfield, who turned 50 in September 2006, says that he hired scientists to conduct an examination of the "legendary" water, but as of now, the fountain remains off limits to outside visitors.[10]

The Fountain of Youth lives on as a metaphor for anything that potentially increases longevity. It is a frequently used plot device in age regression stories. Nathaniel Hawthorne used the Fountain in "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" to demonstrate that positive thinking is a far better remedy than deluded journeys to Florida for legendary cures; Orson Welles directed and starred in a 1958 TV program based on the legend;[11] and Tim Powers featured it in On Stranger Tides, a novel of 18th century pirate-voodoo adventure. In 1953, the Walt Disney Company created a cartoon entitled Don's Fountain of Youth, in which Donald Duck had supposedly discovered the famous fountain and can't resist pretending to his nephews that it really works. In 1974 Marvel Comics featured the Fountain (which works if bathed in, but cripples if drunk from) in Man-Thing and later The Savage She-Hulk, and in 2005 the Fountain turned up in the DC Comics series Day of Vengeance. The fountain and its waters form the main plot device in Microsoft and Ensemble Studio's Age of Empires III campaign "Blood, Ice and Steel". Recently, characters in the 2006 Darren Aronofsky film The Fountain search for the Tree of Life to cure a brain tumor. Jorge Luis Borges refers to the Fountain of Life in a short story in the book The Aleph, in which the people who are immortal get tired of it and eventually start looking for the Fountain of Death to reverse their immortality.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, is set to be based on a journey in search of the Fountain of Youth. This was alluded to at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End where Captain Jack Sparrow had taken the map from Captain Hector Barbossa. The film is scheduled for filming in summer 2010, then released in 2011.

See also

References

  1. ^ Herodotus, Book III: 22-24
  2. ^ a b c d Peck, Douglas T. "Misconceptions and Myths Related to the Fountain of Youth and Juan Ponce de Leon's 1513 Exploration Voyage" (PDF). New World Explorers, Inc. http://www.newworldexplorersinc.org/FountainofYouth.pdf. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  3. ^ Pedro Mártir de Angleria. Decadas de Nuevo Mundo, Decada 2, chapter X.
  4. ^ Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. Historia General y Natural de las Indias, book 16, chapter XI.
  5. ^ Francisco López de Gómara. Historia General de las Indias, second part.
  6. ^ a b "Fontaneda's Memoir". Translation by Buckingham Smith, 1854. From keyshistory.org. Retrieved July 14, 2006.
  7. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages 1492-1616 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 504.
  8. ^ Florida Heritage website: Great Floridians 2000 Program-St. Augustine/Dr. Luella Day McConnell
  9. ^ Charlie Carlson (April 7, 2005). Weird Florida. New York: Sterling. ISBN 0-7607-5945-6
  10. ^ Jane Sutton (August 15, 2006). "David Copperfield 'finds Fountain of Youth'". Reuters.
  11. ^ The Fountain of Youth, 1958, directed by Orson Welles. [1]

External links

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The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and the stories of Prester John. Stories of a similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration, who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.

The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it became attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, first Governor of Puerto Rico. According to an apocryphal story that features a combination of New World and Eurasian elements, Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513. Since then, the fountain has been frequently associated with Florida.

Contents

Early accounts

[[File:|thumb|left|Al-Khidr and Alexander watch the Water of Life revive a salted fish]] Herodotus mentions a fountain containing a very special kind of water located in the land of the Ethiopians, which gives the Ethiopians their exceptional longevity.[1] A story of the "Water of Life" appears in the Eastern versions of the Alexander romance, which describes Alexander the Great and his servant crossing the Land of Darkness to find the restorative spring. The servant in that story is in turn derived from Middle Eastern legends of Al-Khidr, a sage who appears also in the Qur'an. Arabic and Aljamiado versions of the Alexander Romance were very popular in Spain during and after the period of Moorish rule, and would have been known to the explorers who journeyed to America. These earlier accounts clearly inspired the popular medieval fantasy The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, which also mentions the fountain. Due to the influence of these tales, the Fountain of Youth legend remained popular through the European Age of Exploration.[2]

There are countless indirect sources for the tale as well. Eternal youth is a gift frequently sought in myth and legend, and stories of things such as the philosopher's stone, universal panaceas, and the elixir of life are common throughout Eurasia and elsewhere. An additional hint may have been taken from the account of the Pool of Bethesda in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus heals a man at the pool in Jerusalem.

Bimini

The native stories about the curative spring were related to the mythical land of Bimini or Beniny (hence Bimini), a land of wealth and prosperity. The spring was purportedly located on an island called Boinca. Although subsequent interpretations suggested the land was located in the vicinity of the Bahamas, the natives were referring to a location in the Gulf of Honduras.[2] The islands of Bimini in the Bahamas were known as La Vieja during the Ponce expedition. According to legend, the Spanish heard of Bimini from the Arawaks in Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Sequene, an Arawak chief from Cuba, had purportedly been unable to resist the lure of Bimini and its restorative fountain. He gathered a troupe of adventurers and sailed north, never to return. Word spread among Sequene's more optimistic tribesmen that he and his followers had located the Fountain of Youth and were living in luxury in Bimini.

Bimini and its curative waters were widespread subjects in the Caribbean. Italian-born chronicler Peter Martyr d'Anghiera (Peter Martyr) told of them in a letter to the pope in 1513, though he didn't believe the stories and was dismayed that so many others did.[3]

Ponce de León and Florida

In the 16th century the story of the Fountain of Youth became attached to the biography of the conquistador Juan Ponce de León. According to the story, Ponce de León heard of the land of Bimini from the people of Puerto Rico when he conquered the island. Growing dissatisfied with his material wealth, he launched an expedition to locate it, and in the process discovered Florida. Though he was one of the first Europeans to set foot on the American mainland, he never found the Fountain of Youth.

The story is apocryphal.The Fountain of Youth was said to have been discovered by an early Spanish explorer. The Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, according to legend, went looking for in Florida in 1513. It is said that anyone who drinks from the Fountain would have their youth restored. Ponce de León does not mention the fountain in his writings throughout the course of his expedition.[2] While he may well have heard of the Fountain and believed in it, his name was not associated with the legend in writing until after his death. That connection is made in Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo's Historia General y Natural de las Indias of 1535, in which he wrote that Ponce de León was looking for the waters of Bimini to cure his impotence.[4] Some researchers have suggested that Oviedo's account may have been politically inspired to generate favor in the courts.[2] A similar account appears in Francisco López de Gómara's Historia General de las Indias of 1551.[5] In the Memoir of Hernando D'Escalante Fontaneda in 1575, the author places the restorative waters in Florida and mentions de León looking for them there; his account influenced Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas' history of the Spanish in the New World.[6] Fontaneda had spent seventeen years as an Indian captive after being shipwrecked in Florida as a boy. In his Memoir he tells of the curative waters of a lost river he calls "Jordan" and refers to de León looking for them. However, Fontaneda makes it clear he is skeptical about these stories he includes, and says he doubts de León was actually looking for the fabled stream when he came to Florida.[6]

It is Herrera who makes that connection definite in the romanticized version of Fontaneda's story included in his Historia general de los hechos de los Castellanos en las islas y tierra firme del Mar Oceano. Herrera states that local caciques paid regular visits to the fountain. A frail old man could become so completely restored that he could resume "all manly exercises… take a new wife and beget more children." Herrera adds that the Spaniards had unsuccessfully searched every "river, brook, lagoon or pool" along the Florida coast for the legendary fountain.[7] It would appear the Sequene story is likewise based on a garbling of Fontaneda.

Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park

29°54′24″N 81°18′53″W / 29.906778°N 81.314696°W / 29.906778; -81.314696

Postcard from the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine

The city of St. Augustine, Florida is home to the Fountain of Youth National Archaeological Park, a tribute to the spot where Ponce de León is traditionally said to have landed. The tourist attraction was created by Luella Day McConnell in 1904. "Diamond Lil", as she was known, fabricated stories to amuse and appall the city’s residents and tourists until her death in 1927.[8]

Though there is no evidence that the fountain located in the park today is the storied fountain or has any restorative effects, visitors drink the water. The park exhibits native and colonial artifacts to celebrate St. Augustine's Timucuan and Spanish heritage.

Author Charlie Carlson claims to have spoken with a supposed St. Augustine-based secret society claiming to be the protectors of the Fountain of Youth, which has granted them extraordinary longevity. They claimed Old John Gomez, a protagonist in the Gasparilla legend from Florida folklore, had been one of their members.[9] In August 2006, popular American magician David Copperfield claimed he had discovered a true "Fountain of Youth" amid a cluster of four small islands in the Exuma chain of the Bahamas which he recently purchased for roughly $50 million. "I've discovered a true phenomenon," he told Reuters. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. … Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting." Copperfield, who turned 50 in September 2006, says that he hired scientists to conduct an examination of the "legendary" water, but as of now, the fountain remains off limits to outside visitors.[10]

Literature and popular culture

The Fountain of Youth lives on as a metaphor for anything that potentially increases longevity. It is a frequently used plot device in age regression stories. Nathaniel Hawthorne used the Fountain in "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" to demonstrate that positive thinking is a far better remedy than deluded journeys to Florida for legendary cures; Orson Welles directed and starred in a 1958 TV program based on the legend;[11] and Tim Powers featured it in On Stranger Tides, a novel of 18th century pirate-voodoo adventure. In 1953, the Walt Disney Company created a cartoon entitled Don's Fountain of Youth, in which Donald Duck had supposedly discovered the famous fountain and can't resist pretending to his nephews that it really works. In 1974, Marvel Comics featured the Fountain (which works if bathed in, but cripples if drunk from) in Man-Thing and later The Savage She-Hulk. In 2005 the Fountain turned up in the DC Comics series Day of Vengeance. The fountain and its waters form the main plot device in Microsoft and Ensemble Studio's Age of Empires III campaign "Blood, Ice and Steel". Recently, characters in the 2006 Darren Aronofsky film The Fountain search for the Tree of Life to cure a brain tumor. Jorge Luis Borges refers to the Fountain of Life in a short story in the book The Aleph, in which the people who are immortal get tired of it and eventually start looking for the Fountain of Death to reverse their immortality.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, is set to be based on a journey in search of the Fountain of Youth. This was alluded to at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End where Captain Jack Sparrow had taken the map from Captain Hector Barbossa. The film is scheduled for filming in summer 2010, then released in 2011.

The common tale of the fountain of youth has also been creatively portrayed as a fountain of aging by Matt Groening in the hit series, "Futurama".

References

  1. ^ Herodotus, Book III: 22-24
  2. ^ a b c d Peck, Douglas T. "Misconceptions and Myths Related to the Fountain of Youth and Juan Ponce de Leon's 1513 Exploration Voyage" (PDF). New World Explorers, Inc. http://www.newworldexplorersinc.org/FountainofYouth.pdf. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  3. ^ Pedro Mártir de Angleria. Decadas de Nuevo Mundo, Decada 2, chapter X.
  4. ^ Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. Historia General y Natural de las Indias, book 16, chapter XI.
  5. ^ Francisco López de Gómara. Historia General de las Indias, second part.
  6. ^ a b "Fontaneda's Memoir". Translation by Buckingham Smith, 1854. From keyshistory.org. Retrieved July 14, 2006.
  7. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages 1492-1616 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 504.
  8. ^ Great Floridians 2000 Program-St. Augustine/Dr. Luella Day McConnell
  9. ^ Carlson, Charlie (April 7, 2005). Weird Florida. New York. ISBN 0-7607-5945-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=Mip2dUc3ti4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=weird+florida&source=bl&ots=ENHZWN2oj5&sig=izqjF096f88z-buoaDkFu0Ssx_M&hl=en&ei=AXlJTKe6FYH68AbChPW0Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  10. ^ Jane Sutton (August 15, 2006). "David Copperfield 'finds Fountain of Youth'". Reuters.
  11. ^ The Fountain of Youth, 1958, directed by Orson Welles

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

The Water of Life
by Brothers Grimm
From Grimm's Fairy Tales.
Wikipedia logo Wikipedia has more on:
The Water of Life (German fairy tale).

Long before you or I were born, there reigned, in a country a great way off, a king who had three sons. This king once fell very ill--so ill that nobody thought he could live. His sons were very much grieved at their father's sickness; and as they were walking together very mournfully in the garden of the palace, a little old man met them and asked what was the matter. They told him that their father was very ill, and that they were afraid nothing could save him. 'I know what would,' said the little old man; 'it is the Water of Life. If he could have a draught of it he would be well again; but it is very hard to get.' Then the eldest son said, 'I will soon find it': and he went to the sick king, and begged that he might go in search of the Water of Life, as it was the only thing that could save him. 'No,' said the king. 'I had rather die than place you in such great danger as you must meet with in your journey.' But he begged so hard that the king let him go; and the prince thought to himself, 'If I bring my father this water, he will make me sole heir to his kingdom.'

Then he set out: and when he had gone on his way some time he came to a deep valley, overhung with rocks and woods; and as he looked around, he saw standing above him on one of the rocks a little ugly dwarf, with a sugarloaf cap and a scarlet cloak; and the dwarf called to him and said, 'Prince, whither so fast?' 'What is that to thee, you ugly imp?' said the prince haughtily, and rode on.

But the dwarf was enraged at his behaviour, and laid a fairy spell of ill-luck upon him; so that as he rode on the mountain pass became narrower and narrower, and at last the way was so straitened that he could not go to step forward: and when he thought to have turned his horse round and go back the way he came, he heard a loud laugh ringing round him, and found that the path was closed behind him, so that he was shut in all round. He next tried to get off his horse and make his way on foot, but again the laugh rang in his ears, and he found himself unable to move a step, and thus he was forced to abide spellbound.

Meantime the old king was lingering on in daily hope of his son's return, till at last the second son said, 'Father, I will go in search of the Water of Life.' For he thought to himself, 'My brother is surely dead, and the kingdom will fall to me if I find the water.' The king was at first very unwilling to let him go, but at last yielded to his wish. So he set out and followed the same road which his brother had done, and met with the same elf, who stopped him at the same spot in the mountains, saying, as before, 'Prince, prince, whither so fast?' 'Mind your own affairs, busybody!' said the prince scornfully, and rode on.

But the dwarf put the same spell upon him as he put on his elder brother, and he, too, was at last obliged to take up his abode in the heart of the mountains. Thus it is with proud silly people, who think themselves above everyone else, and are too proud to ask or take advice.

When the second prince had thus been gone a long time, the youngest son said he would go and search for the Water of Life, and trusted he should soon be able to make his father well again. So he set out, and the dwarf met him too at the same spot in the valley, among the mountains, and said, 'Prince, whither so fast?' And the prince said, 'I am going in search of the Water of Life, because my father is ill, and like to die: can you help me? Pray be kind, and aid me if you can!' 'Do you know where it is to be found?' asked the dwarf. 'No,' said the prince, 'I do not. Pray tell me if you know.' 'Then as you have spoken to me kindly, and are wise enough to seek for advice, I will tell you how and where to go. The water you seek springs from a well in an enchanted castle; and, that you may be able to reach it in safety, I will give you an iron wand and two little loaves of bread; strike the iron door of the castle three times with the wand, and it will open: two hungry lions will be lying down inside gaping for their prey, but if you throw them the bread they will let you pass; then hasten on to the well, and take some of the Water of Life before the clock strikes twelve; for if you tarry longer the door will shut upon you for ever.'

Then the prince thanked his little friend with the scarlet cloak for his friendly aid, and took the wand and the bread, and went travelling on and on, over sea and over land, till he came to his journey's end, and found everything to be as the dwarf had told him. The door flew open at the third stroke of the wand, and when the lions were quieted he went on through the castle and came at length to a beautiful hall. Around it he saw several knights sitting in a trance; then he pulled off their rings and put them on his own fingers. In another room he saw on a table a sword and a loaf of bread, which he also took. Further on he came to a room where a beautiful young lady sat upon a couch; and she welcomed him joyfully, and said, if he would set her free from the spell that bound her, the kingdom should be his, if he would come back in a year and marry her. Then she told him that the well that held the Water of Life was in the palace gardens; and bade him make haste, and draw what he wanted before the clock struck twelve.

He walked on; and as he walked through beautiful gardens he came to a delightful shady spot in which stood a couch; and he thought to himself, as he felt tired, that he would rest himself for a while, and gaze on the lovely scenes around him. So he laid himself down, and sleep fell upon him unawares, so that he did not wake up till the clock was striking a quarter to twelve. Then he sprang from the couch dreadfully frightened, ran to the well, filled a cup that was standing by him full of water, and hastened to get away in time. Just as he was going out of the iron door it struck twelve, and the door fell so quickly upon him that it snapped off a piece of his heel.

When he found himself safe, he was overjoyed to think that he had got the Water of Life; and as he was going on his way homewards, he passed by the little dwarf, who, when he saw the sword and the loaf, said, 'You have made a noble prize; with the sword you can at a blow slay whole armies, and the bread will never fail you.' Then the prince thought to himself, 'I cannot go home to my father without my brothers'; so he said, 'My dear friend, cannot you tell me where my two brothers are, who set out in search of the Water of Life before me, and never came back?' 'I have shut them up by a charm between two mountains,' said the dwarf, 'because they were proud and ill-behaved, and scorned to ask advice.' The prince begged so hard for his brothers, that the dwarf at last set them free, though unwillingly, saying, 'Beware of them, for they have bad hearts.' Their brother, however, was greatly rejoiced to see them, and told them all that had happened to him; how he had found the Water of Life, and had taken a cup full of it; and how he had set a beautiful princess free from a spell that bound her; and how she had engaged to wait a whole year, and then to marry him, and to give him the kingdom.

Then they all three rode on together, and on their way home came to a country that was laid waste by war and a dreadful famine, so that it was feared all must die for want. But the prince gave the king of the land the bread, and all his kingdom ate of it. And he lent the king the wonderful sword, and he slew the enemy's army with it; and thus the kingdom was once more in peace and plenty. In the same manner he befriended two other countries through which they passed on their way.

When they came to the sea, they got into a ship and during their voyage the two eldest said to themselves, 'Our brother has got the water which we could not find, therefore our father will forsake us and give him the kingdom, which is our right'; so they were full of envy and revenge, and agreed together how they could ruin him. Then they waited till he was fast asleep, and poured the Water of Life out of the cup, and took it for themselves, giving him bitter sea-water instead.

When they came to their journey's end, the youngest son brought his cup to the sick king, that he might drink and be healed. Scarcely, however, had he tasted the bitter sea-water when he became worse even than he was before; and then both the elder sons came in, and blamed the youngest for what they had done; and said that he wanted to poison their father, but that they had found the Water of Life, and had brought it with them. He no sooner began to drink of what they brought him, than he felt his sickness leave him, and was as strong and well as in his younger days. Then they went to their brother, and laughed at him, and said, 'Well, brother, you found the Water of Life, did you? You have had the trouble and we shall have the reward. Pray, with all your cleverness, why did not you manage to keep your eyes open? Next year one of us will take away your beautiful princess, if you do not take care. You had better say nothing about this to our father, for he does not believe a word you say; and if you tell tales, you shall lose your life into the bargain: but be quiet, and we will let you off.'

The old king was still very angry with his youngest son, and thought that he really meant to have taken away his life; so he called his court together, and asked what should be done, and all agreed that he ought to be put to death. The prince knew nothing of what was going on, till one day, when the king's chief huntsmen went a-hunting with him, and they were alone in the wood together, the huntsman looked so sorrowful that the prince said, 'My friend, what is the matter with you?' 'I cannot and dare not tell you,' said he. But the prince begged very hard, and said, 'Only tell me what it is, and do not think I shall be angry, for I will forgive you.' 'Alas!' said the huntsman; 'the king has ordered me to shoot you.' The prince started at this, and said, 'Let me live, and I will change dresses with you; you shall take my royal coat to show to my father, and do you give me your shabby one.' 'With all my heart,' said the huntsman; 'I am sure I shall be glad to save you, for I could not have shot you.' Then he took the prince's coat, and gave him the shabby one, and went away through the wood.

Some time after, three grand embassies came to the old king's court, with rich gifts of gold and precious stones for his youngest son; now all these were sent from the three kings to whom he had lent his sword and loaf of bread, in order to rid them of their enemy and feed their people. This touched the old king's heart, and he thought his son might still be guiltless, and said to his court, 'O that my son were still alive! how it grieves me that I had him killed!' 'He is still alive,' said the huntsman; 'and I am glad that I had pity on him, but let him go in peace, and brought home his royal coat.' At this the king was overwhelmed with joy, and made it known thoughout all his kingdom, that if his son would come back to his court he would forgive him.

Meanwhile the princess was eagerly waiting till her deliverer should come back; and had a road made leading up to her palace all of shining gold; and told her courtiers that whoever came on horseback, and rode straight up to the gate upon it, was her true lover; and that they must let him in: but whoever rode on one side of it, they must be sure was not the right one; and that they must send him away at once.

The time soon came, when the eldest brother thought that he would make haste to go to the princess, and say that he was the one who had set her free, and that he should have her for his wife, and the kingdom with her. As he came before the palace and saw the golden road, he stopped to look at it, and he thought to himself, 'It is a pity to ride upon this beautiful road'; so he turned aside and rode on the right-hand side of it. But when he came to the gate, the guards, who had seen the road he took, said to him, he could not be what he said he was, and must go about his business.

The second prince set out soon afterwards on the same errand; and when he came to the golden road, and his horse had set one foot upon it, he stopped to look at it, and thought it very beautiful, and said to himself, 'What a pity it is that anything should tread here!' Then he too turned aside and rode on the left side of it. But when he came to the gate the guards said he was not the true prince, and that he too must go away about his business; and away he went.

Now when the full year was come round, the third brother left the forest in which he had lain hid for fear of his father's anger, and set out in search of his betrothed bride. So he journeyed on, thinking of her all the way, and rode so quickly that he did not even see what the road was made of, but went with his horse straight over it; and as he came to the gate it flew open, and the princess welcomed him with joy, and said he was her deliverer, and should now be her husband and lord of the kingdom. When the first joy at their meeting was over, the princess told him she had heard of his father having forgiven him, and of his wish to have him home again: so, before his wedding with the princess, he went to visit his father, taking her with him. Then he told him everything; how his brothers had cheated and robbed him, and yet that he had borne all those wrongs for the love of his father. And the old king was very angry, and wanted to punish his wicked sons; but they made their escape, and got into a ship and sailed away over the wide sea, and where they went to nobody knew and nobody cared.

And now the old king gathered together his court, and asked all his kingdom to come and celebrate the wedding of his son and the princess. And young and old, noble and squire, gentle and simple, came at once on the summons; and among the rest came the friendly dwarf, with the sugarloaf hat, and a new scarlet cloak.

And the wedding was held, and the merry bells run.
And all the good people they danced and they sung,
And feasted and frolick'd I can't tell how long.

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