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.
The poor man put on his coat, put the two thalers in his pocket, went to the market, bought the black cock and the cast-away, thrown-away saddle for two prices; each one for two small bits of money.
The Hedgehog then saddled the black cock with the cast-away, thrown-away saddle, sat upon him, and went to the court of the rich merchant whom he had led out of the great wild wood; he knocked at the door and called: "Hei, father-in-law, open the gate, let me in!"
The rich merchant opened the gate in great wonder. Who was coming? No one other than our Hedgehog, riding on a black cock.
"Hear me, rich merchant," began the Hedgehog; "knowest thou thy promise? When I led thee out of the great wild wood, dost remember thy promise to give me the best of thy three daughters and three sacks of coin? Now I have come for the maid and the money".
What could the rich merchant do? He called his three daughters into the white chamber, and turned to the Hedgehog, saying: "Well, choose among the three the one who pleases thy eye, thy mouth, and thy heart".
The Hedgehog chose the second daughter, for she was the most beautiful of the three. The merchant then measured out three sacks of coin, - in the first, as he had said, there was gold, in the second silver, in the third copper; then he put his daughter and the three sacks of coin in a coach, to which four horses were attached, and he sent on her way his most beautiful daughter, with the Hedgehog. They travelled and journeyed till the Hedgehog, who was riding at the side of the coach on his black cock, came up, looked in through the window, and saw that the bride was in tears.
"Why dost thou cry, why dost thou weep, my heart's beautiful love?" asked the Hedgehog of the maiden.
"Why should I not cry, why should I not weep, when God has punished me with such a nasty thing as thee? - for I know not whether thou art a man or a beast".
"If this is thy only trouble, my heart's beautiful love, we can easily cure it; I 'll keep the three sacks of coin for myself, and thee I 'll send back to thy father, for I see that of me thou art not worthy".
Thus was it settled; the Hedgehog kept the three sacks of coin, but the merchant's daughter he sent back to her father. The Hedgehog then took the coin to the poor man, who became so rich that I think another could not be found like him in seven villages.
Now the Hedgehog plucked up courage, saddled his black cock, sat on him, and rode away to the king, stood before him, and spoke in this fashion: "Dost thou remember, king, that when I brought thee out of the great wild wood, thou didst promise that if I would show the right road thou wouldst give me the most beautiful of thy three daughters and fill for me three coaches, the first with gold, the second with silver, and the third with copper coin? I am here so that thou mayest keep thy word".
The king called his three daughters to the white chamber and said: "I made a promise, and this is it: to give one of my three daughters to this Hedgehog as wife; I promised because the Hedgehog led me out of a great wild wood, in which I wandered for five days without food or drink, and he saved me from certain death. Therefore say, my dear daughters, which of you will agree to marry the Hedgehog".
The eldest daughter turned away, the second turned away also; but the youngest and fairest spoke thus: "If thou, my father the king, hast made such a promise, I will marry him. Let the will of God be done if he has appointed such a husband for me".
"Thou art my dearest and best daughter," said the king; and he kissed her again and again. Then the king measured out three coaches of coin, seated the princess in a chariot of gold and glass and started her on her journey, amid bitter tear-shedding, with the Hedgehog, who rode at the side of the chariot on his black cock. They travelled and journeyed across forty-nine kingdoms till the Hedgehog rode up to the chariot, opened the window, looked in, and-saw that the princess was not weeping, but was in the best cheerful humor.
"Oh, my heart's beautiful love," said the princess, "why art thou riding on that black cock? Better come here and sit at my side on the velvet cushion".
"Thou art not afraid of me?"
"I am not afraid".
"Thou art not disgusted with me?"
"No; if God has given thee to me, then thou shouldst be mine".
"Thou art my only and most beloved wife!" said the Hedgehog; and with that he shook himself, and straightway turned into such a pearl-given, charming, twenty-four-years-old king's son that tongue could not tell, - golden-haired, golden-mouthed, golden-toothed. And the black cock shook himself three times, and became such a golden-haired magic steed that his equal would have to be sought for; the cast-away, thrown-away saddle became golden, everything on it was gold to the last buckle.
The king's son then picked out the most beautiful place in the kingdom; standing in the middle of this he thought once, and suddenly that instant there stood before him a copper-roofed marble palace, turning on a cock's foot, and in it every kind of the most varied and beautiful golden furniture, - everything and everything was of gold, beginning with the mirror-frame and ending with the cooking-spoon. The king's son conducted the beautiful golden bird - the fair princess - into the pearl-given palace, where, like birds in a nest, they lived in quiet harmony. When the merchant's three daughters and the two elder princesses heard of the happiness of the youngest princess, - how well she had married, - in their sorrow one of them jumped into a well, another drowned herself in a hemp-pond, and a third was drawn dead out of the river Tisza [Theiss]. In this way four of the maidens came to an evil end; but the second daughter of the merchant gritted her teeth venomously at the princess, and made a firm and merciless resolve that she would imbitter her life's happiness. She went therefore to the palace, and found service in the guise of an old woman. She, the devil-given, came at a critical time; for the Bur-kus king 1 had declared war against the king's son, and the princess, while her husband was in the field, was left to the care of the merchant's daughter, disguised as an old woman. Milk might as well be confided to a cat as the princess to that cockroach of the underground kingdom. While the king's son was gone, the Lord gave the princess two beautiful children. The old woman packed them into a basket, put them under a tree in the woods, then ran back to the princess, who, recovering from a faint into which she had fallen, asked the old woman to give her the children so that she might embrace and kiss them.