Encountering The BIG Bull
He was riding his horse down the road when an old man came bursting out of a gate, rushing up to him. He had a sword in one hand and a bull whip in the other, and he was riding a big bull. He shook his weapons at him and yelled,
"Thief! Thief! You get off my horse you horrible man!"
The prince looked at him aghast.
"You dare speak to the prince like he was a common criminal? If you want your miserable horse just say so!"
The old man looked at him as if he had just said that he knew of pigs who could fly!
"Well young man!" he snapped, "If you are the prince, which I don't think you are, you have no reason to be mad at me. Because I don't think princes ride around with filthy clothes that look like he just crawled out of the trash after food. But your stomach suggests that you are not a beggar. Now get off my horse!"
The prince scowled at him and dismounted. The man grabbed the horse and went away still riding the bull. The prince stood watching the man ride across the fields. When he got off, the bull charged toward the gate and busted it to pieces, and the old man ran after it yelling and waving his arms at it. The prince was happy the old man was having a hard time.
Serves him right for not leaving me alone! he thought.
He began walking, er, waddling down the road. He walked all day and slept in a cornfield at night. In the morning he reached for the corn. He was pretty hungry, and the corn was halfway to his mouth when he decided to not eat again until he was the proper size. He threw the corn away and began walking he knew not where. He walked all that day and all that night. In the morning he laid down and went to sleep. When he woke up he realized he was thin again. "I have walked all the fat off!" he cried joyfully.
He jammed his hands into his pockets and found that he had some bread left from when he had greedily snatched it off the table. He ate it and continued walking.
He walked on until he entered a forest. He looked around himself, and saw that this was no ordinary forest. The trunks of trees were made of bronze, the leaves of some trees were made of gold and some of silver. The path was not earth, it was diamond. The prince began picking the beautiful leaves and using his sword to pry the diamonds up. He soon had his pockets full. He was also carrying a lot in his arms. He was not paying attention to anything but the treasure he was getting.
I will be able to make a diamond castle for my True Love! I will be able to give her anything she wants.
He did not know someone had come and was standing right beside him until a voice made him remember where he was.
"What are you doing, Prince Robert?"
Prince Robert jumped and looked at the speaker.
"Why, you're so big!"
And he was! It was the bull the old man had been riding, but it looked extremely big now that it was standing right beside him. "Aw, you ain't seen nothin' man!"
The prince didn't know what he was talking about but he said,
"I have a heavy load. Would you carry it for me?"
"Well sure, and I will carry you too. Climb up," said the Big bull.
"I can't! You're too tall," said the prince.
So the bull laid down and the prince got on and the bull began running down the road.
"Stop!" yelled the prince. "You haven't even asked were I want to go."
The bull did not slow down. It said,
"I know. I go were I please."
"Then stop and let me off!"
The prince was beginning to panic.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To the stable of the big bull," the big bull said.
"Y-y-you mean there is a bull bigger than you?"
"Of course stupid. I am only one of his subjects. A mere miniature of him."
"Gulp!" said the prince, "A mere miniature. How big is he?"
"Oh, bigger than both of us put together," said the bull.
They were going pretty fast, and everything was a blur. Then the bull came to a sudden stop. Another bull bigger than the first one stood in the path. It looked very solemn. The big bull the prince was riding spoke first.
"Hello Gimner, I am here with the prince. I want to see the king." Gimner looked at him and stepped aside. The bull Prince Robert was riding ran past.
"That was Gimner; he cannot talk yet. You see, the big bull enlists other bulls into his kingdom. They cannot speak like we can until he thinks they are ready to learn."
The bull stopped again. Another bull, bigger than Gimner stood there.
"Halt! What do you have, Gritler? Are you bringing him to the big bull?"
"I have Prince Robert. And yes, I am bringing him to the big bull."
The bull stepped aside and let him past. Gritler continued running down the road.
"That was Cornus. He has been around much longer than me." Gritler stopped again a short time later; they were in front of a huge stable. It was not an ordinary stable. It had bronze walls and diamond windows, and the big doors were made of silver. A bull bigger than Cornus stood like a sentry at the door. It would have been taller than Prince Robert if he were standing.
"Halt!" It said.
Gritler said, "Foinley, this is Prince Robert, I am bringing him to the big bull."
The doors magically opened and Gritler stepped inside. The stable was beautiful inside: the floor was ruby, there was a golden chandelier hanging from the roof, and in the middle of it there was a bull that was almost as big as a house. It lay on a golden pillow with silver thread. Gritler came up and bowed.
"Your majesty, I have brought you Prince Robert. He was stealing the treasure from your royal forest." The big Bull stood up and looked like it might knock the prince's head off.
"Why were you taking from the royal forest?"
"Uuuuuuum, weeell, I jest dunno. Y'see I didn't know anybody owned it or anything. And I was going to build my True Love a diamond house. But I can't find her."
"I see. I know where your True Love is."
"You do?" Prince Robert nearly passed out with joy. "Where is she?"
"Oh, well, I will tell you, but only after you have done something for me to pay back the treasure you took," said the big Bull.
The prince dumped the treasure on the floor and said,
"Here it is. All of it. Now where is she?"
"No, I do not want the treasure back. Keep it and do what I tell you and I will tell you were she is."
"Very well. What do I do?"
"First you will need different clothes. Princely clothes are not for traveling in. Then you will need to rest because you will need it. Then you will eat at my table with me."
The prince was disappointed that he must wait so long, but he was showed to a bed. He determined that he would not go to sleep so that he could get up a short time later and say he was ready, but hardly had he lain down than he was fast asleep because of the softness. He did not know that it was the magical bed of rest. It made whoever slept in it sleep until they were completely rested and no longer.
He slept all day and all night, and in the morning he woke up and the big Bull was waiting for him. A table made of bronze was in the middle of the room, and on it was very good looking food.
It doesn't compare at all to the oak table in the tower. Even the food there was better, he thought.
He ate as much as he could and then got up. He realized that he already had different clothes on so he got ready to go.
"Well," said the big Bull. "Are you ready?"
"Yes, what do I do?" he asked.
Gritler was standing by him and whispered in his ear,
"Say, 'yes your majesty', stupid. You are not prince of this land." "Yes your majesty. Now what do I do?"
"For years I have wanted to be able to plant a new plant in the royal forest. But it must be worth being there. And I know where it is, so you must get it. It is a flower that is made of sapphires. It grows in only one place in the world, on the top of the mountain called Heringath, It is the tallest mountain in the world and no one has ever climbed it before except for Jonase the mountain man. He lived to be eight hundred ninety-three. That was the year he climbed it, and he lived long enough to bring down news of what was on it. He was my best friend. He told me about the flower on his death bed, and made me promise not to go after it myself; he also said that if you take the wrong path you may never come back alive. He did not say I could not send anyone, so I send you in hopes that you will bring me the roots of one of them. Will you do it?"
"Well, of course. But where is mount Heringath?"
"My servant Gimner will bring you there. Then you are all on your own. The flower grows on the very top."
Climbing Mount Heringath
Prince Robert was left at the bottom of mount Heringath with enough food to last for a week. He saw that there was a path in front of him. He walked up the path all day. He had gone about a mile when he came to a fork in the path; there was a sign pointing down each path. One said Pleasures on it and the other said Treasures. He did not know at first which path to take. He decided that since he was after a sapphire flower he would go down the path that said treasures. He climbed another mile up. He saw up ahead was a huge fence made of ruby. The sun shone so brightly on it that it was hard to look at. He climbed up to it, and saw that on the gate was a huge lock as big as his head. He did not know how to open it. He thought about climbing it, but the walls were so smooth and high, he would never be able to do it. He tried to chop the lock open but it broke his sword. He sat down to think when he saw a piece of paper on the ground, and picked it up. It said 'He who wishes to enter the ruby walls must have the key...'
"Well, duh. What is the lock there for if you don't need the key?"
'To get the key he must speak to the great troll about it...'
"I don't know if I want to meet a troll."
'He must take his chances with the troll and risk life and limb'
"Oh bother, I wish I hadn't broken my sword on that lock, I might need it."
'And even if he succeeds with getting the key, he must risk all in the garden of treasures.'
The prince got up; he did not know where to look for the troll. Then for the first time he noticed a path, overgrown with weeds and grass leading around the walls. He began following the path, it led around to the back of the wall and on down the other side of the mountain. He walked down the path until he saw a cottage. The path led to it. On the door was a brass knocker shaped like a wolf's head. Underneath was a board painted red and black, with the words 'The Troll' on it.
He took a deep breath and banged on the door. Moments later the door opened and an old man stepped out. It was the same old man that had made the prince give him the horse. The prince almost toppled over with shock.
"I-I would like to see the troll."
"You must be powerfully stupid. Don't you see that I am he?"
"Well," said the prince. "In that case, I need the key to the garden of treasures."
He stood there waiting for an answer, but the man merely stared at him.
"Well?" the prince said. "How about it?"
"You are an impudent fool! Do you think I would give you the key just like that? You are indeed stupid."
With that the troll drew a sword and tried to kill the prince. But the prince pulled out his bow and said,
"Old fool, give me the key!"
"Not on your life. It is mine. You are a thief."
So the prince shot him and took the keys off of him. He then went back to the ruby walls, feeling very proud of himself. He unlocked the gate and went in. He looked around; it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen. There was a statue of a golden eagle and a silver horse. Then he saw the sapphire flower. "I don't know what that paper was talking about when it said risk all in the garden. It's very peaceful here." He reached for the flower, but his fingers had hardly touched it, than his hand jerked back. He looked at his fingers, which had become red. The flower was as hot as the inside of an oven. He used his knife to dig the flower up, then put it in his pocket. It burned a hole through it and fell to the ground. He was trying the think what to do when he heard someone say,
"I'll carry it and you."
"Don't be stupid, it would burn you too."
"No it wouldn't. That's what I am here for."
The prince looked up and saw that the statue of the horse was standing beside him. "Well, how did you get here?"
"Never mind, just hand me the flower and climb up. But you must be on your guard; my job is to help, but the eagle's job is to hinder. The instant you are on me, he will try to kill you."
"Is there any other way to carry it?"
So he drew his dagger and mounted the horse. Immediately the eagle spread its wings and began attacking him. He fought back with his dagger, but the eagle snatched it. So he got his bow and shot at it, but the eagle caught them in midair. He got his broken sword and the eagle snatched that. He hit it with his hand and then the eagle stopped and the prince heard a snap behind him. The gate had closed. The golden horse went down the mountain. They got to the place were the road forked and the horse said,
"Alright, you can carry it now. Goodbye."
And it bucked him off and left the flower. As it galloped back up the mountain he thought he would burn his hand off, but, for his True Love, he picked it up. He was shocked that it was cool.
He ran down the mountain and arrived breathless at the stable were the big Bull lived. When he was brought before him he gave him the flower and Gritler went and planted it in the royal forest. "Now," said Prince Robert. "Where is my True Love?" "She lives across the sea, in the palace by the sea," said the big Bull.