This section is from the book "Myths And Folk-Tales Of The Russians, Western Slavs, And Magyars", by Jeremiah Curtin. Also available from Amazon: Myths and Folk-Tales of the Russians, Western Slavs, and the Magyars.
"Oh, I was where ye will not be to your dying day, brothers!"
"How didst thou prosper?"
"Where hast thou the cap and the mantle?"
"Oh, that woman took them from me!"
"Woe to us, - woe, passing woe! Now we have neither the purse, the cap, nor the mantle. We are beggared beyond reckoning".
The innkeeper would not let them go because of their debt.
"What will become of us?" asked they in one voice.
The man whom Wind bore home said: "I have here noble and wonderful fruit which I brought from the wild mountains. One of you will take these pears to the street and sell them; but do not dare to sell them to any one save the princess when she is going home from church. For the people thou must put such a price that they will not buy; for the princess reduce the price so that she may buy".
One of the men put the pears in a clean basket, covered them with a neat cloth, and went to the square through which the princess was wont to go to church and return. Soon she was coming out of the church, her servant following some steps behind. She saw the uncommonly beautiful pears from a distance, came up herself, and asked: "How many dost thou give for a copper?"
"Oh, these pears are not sold for copper coin! They are so splendid, and have such a flavor, that I can give only three for a ducat".
The princess bought all, and gave them to her servant to carry; she had barely reached home, and sat near the table, when she took a golden knife, pared and ate with great relish a number of pears. She ate with such pleasure that she saw not how horns began to grow on her head after the first pear; and in a little while they had grown so much that she could not remain in the room. She went to the great supper-hall, but even there was forced to lie down on the floor, so broad and so lofty were her horns. She gave herself up to fearful lamentation and tears, so that all the servants and the king, her father, with the queen, her mother, ran in. All were horrified and wrung their hands, seeing the princess disfigured.
The king sent quickly for the doctors, who came in all haste from each corner and town. The servants ran to every place; each one in his excitement brought whomsoever he knew. The doctors met and shook their heads one after another; each said that in his life he had never seen nor had experience of such a case. They held a consultation, and at last decided to saw off the horns. They went to work, but in vain; they had barely sawed a piece, when it grew on again quickly, so that fright seized every one. The princess was so horrified and ashamed that she would have preferred to be out of the world; no man could help her. Then the king made proclamation that whoso would free the princess from the horns, would get her in marriage, and with her the whole kingdom.
Who was so glad now as the man with the apples? "Wait," thought he; "my little bird, thou 'It sing as I whistle, - no man can help thee but me".
He had fine clothes brought, and dressed as a doctor had himself announced at the palace. He was soon admitted, and began to speak to the princess, saying: "You must have angered God greatly, must have committed grievous sins, for which you are punished in this way. I expect to give you real help; but first of all you must tell me sincerely what you have done, - my aid has to be rendered in view of that".
She confessed with weeping that she had been fond of playing cards; had outplayed all men, then had them flogged from the castle. The last time she had played with a stranger, from whom she had stolen a magic purse; and afterward she had stolen from another man a magic cap and mantle. No doubt the Lord had now punished her for that.
"Before we can think of a cure," said the unknown physician, "you must return the stolen property".
The princess had all the above mentioned articles brought at once, and gave them gladly to the doctor, who promised to deliver them to the owners. "I will carry them away," said he. "and bring my medicine, through which you will be freed from the horns".
Half an hour later he returned, took her by the hand, looked at her tongue, and said: "Charming woman, you have eaten something, I suppose, from which these horns grew".
The princess answered: "I don't know that I have eaten anything harmful; I ate a few beautiful pears; with that exception I have never eaten any common food".
"You must have eaten something," said the doctor. "I have good medicine that will not fail; but I can only help you on condition that I receive the whole kingdom, with you in marriage, as our lord the king has proclaimed".
The king and princess promised then that the proclamation would be carried out if he would free her from the horns. After these words he set about the cure. He took from his pocket an apple, and cut it into four parts; he told her to lie down, and gave her the first fourth of the apple. She was not able however to lie with comfort by reason of the horns. When she had eaten all the four quarters of the apple, the horns fell off at a blow. Then there was mighty gladness throughout the whole castle; every one rejoiced that the princess, the only daughter of the king, was free of her horns.
The king had the marriage contract drawn up, and soon after they celebrated the wedding,.at which the two friends of the young king were present; and he promised that while they lived they should remain at his court as the very first lords.
There was eating and drinking at the wedding; and among other things they ate bread made from rye. But, Mark tell thou no lie.