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IN a little village lived a poor couple who had two children, a boy and a girl. When the parents died, the children were to divide what was left, and that was only a cow and a dog. In those days a brother inherited more than a sister, so the boy took the cow and the dog was left for the girl. She cried and moaned and said:
“How can I live with nothing but a dog?” But there was no help for it; she did not get more. Those were the days when animals could talk, so when the girl was left alone with the dog, he said:
“Do not grieve, dear girl, but take me with you and we will go out and wander in the world.”
After they had gone some distance they came to a store. Then the dog said: “Now you must go in and ask for cloth for three dresses.”
When the cloth was measured off, the dog took a gold coin he had picked up on the road and laid it on the counter. Then he took the cloth in his mouth and ran with it to the dressmaker, and she made three fine dresses.
Then he did the same at the shoemaker’s, and so the girl had shoes.
After they had walked a long time they came to a great king’s castle, and the dog told the girl she must beg to stay there over night. The girl did so, and the queen had a bed of straw made for her in a chamber. After she had lain down, the dog said:
“When they come in to-morrow morning with coffee, you must say that you think you must have been lying on peas, because you are so lame all over that you are not able to get up.”
And when the maid servant came in, the girl said what the dog had told her. Then the maid servant told the queen she thought it must be a real princess, when she was so sensitive.
Now there was a young prince in the castle, and when he saw the girl, he thought she was more beautiful than any one he had ever seen, and he wished to marry her. But the king and queen wished to know first what sort of a person she was; but they did not succeed, for the dog said:
“You must not say whether you are high or low born, rich or poor.” And the girl did as he said.
“We will let her walk through the green alley; it is muddy there, and if she lifts up her dress, she is of common folks, but if she lets it drag, as we do, then is she of distinguished family.”
But the girl followed the dog's advice once more, and walked along without looking at her feet, so the dress dragged in the mud. Then all saw clearly, that the girl was a great man’s daughter, and they consented to the marriage which the prince so much desired. But they wished first to visit her home, so the dog said:
“Now the king and queen are going to your home; let them go, but follow my advice and do not tell them a thing.”
The dog ran ahead, and soon he met a shepherd tending sheep.
“If any one asks you who is the owner of the sheep, you must say they belong to the young bride to be,” said the dog to the shepherd. “If you do that, you shall have a silver knife and fork.”
The shepherd promised to do as the dog said.
Then he met a shepherd tending goats, then one tending cows, and finally, one with horses; and to all of them he said the same as to the first one; and the court people were amazed at the possessions of the princess.
At last the dog came to a fine great castle, where a giant lived, and he was the one who owned all the cattle they had seen on the way.
“What do you want?” said the giant, and was going to eat up the dog.
“If I were you, I should rather eat up the maiden who is dancing behind you,” said the dog.
Then the giant forgot himself and looked back and caught sight of the sun, which was just that instant rising. And then he fiew all to pieces, for giants cannot look on the sun and live. The dog then carried away the remains of the giant and put everything in order to receive the king’s train, and they were all very glad, but especially the girl, when they heard that the stately castle
belonged to her.
Now everything was arranged so well, the dog said to the girl:
“I have served you faithfully, now you must do me a service. Will you promise to do it, no matter what it is?”
Yes, the girl promised solemnly to do it.
“Take a little block, an ax and a stick and follow me to the grove over yonder,” said the dog.
The girl did as the dog told her. When they had reached the grove, the dog said:
“Now chop off my head, stir the blood in the spring, and. then throw my body into it.”
“That would be repaying your service very badly,” replied the girl. “I cannot do it!”
“You must do what I tell you,” said the dog, “else a great misfortune will befall me. Afterwards stand beside the spring a few minutes, and you will see what will happen.”
Well, there was no help for it, and with streaming eyes, the girl did as the dog commanded her.
But when she had stood beside the spring several minutes, the water began to bubble and rise, and up came the most beautiful prince one could wish to see. He said that once when he was out wandering, he came to the castle and the giant bewitched him and changed him into a dog. If the girl had not chopped off his head, he would never have escaped from the spell, but would have remained a dog to the end of the world. When he went up to the castle with the princess, there was great rejoicing, you can believe.