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 king was rejoiced most of all. He conducted the bride to the banqueting-hall, where there was a multitude of guests, and with tears of delight he exalted the happiness of his favorite son; but the elder princes and the queen were enraged, though they would not let it be known.
On the following day came the weddings of the three princes; though Yarmil and his bride were the last, still glory came only to them. At the banquet the guests drank continually to the health of his bride, so that the other princesses were purple from shame.
When Yarmil was almost reeling with delight, the queen drew near him, and praised with great flattery the beauty of his bride; but all at once she spoke of her origin, and in every way tried to discover whence she had come.
Yarmil at first evaded her questions; but when she urged him vehemently to tell from what land came his bride, he said: "Dear mother, I will do everything according to thy wish, but of this one thing ask me not".
"I know well whence she comes," smiled the queen; "I know, too, that thou didst not see her first in her present form".
"Of course not; but I am proud that I liberated her".
"Oh, my dear son!" exclaimed the queen, compassionately. "I pity thee greatly for letting thyself be so duped; but dost thou know that that beauty of hers is pure deceit?"
"Why?" asked Yarmil in fright.
"Because she is a witch," whispered the queen in his ear, with an anxious look. "There is still time," continued she, when she saw that Yarmil as it were believed, "to extricate thyself from her snares; and I wish to aid thee in every way. But thou must tell me what form she had before".
Yarmil said that he would not tell, but the queen did not abandon her plan. When she could not discover from him directly, she began to name every kind of beast, looking with exceeding quickness at his face. Yarmil shook his head unceasingly, but was confused when she said "toad".
"Then she was a toad before," cried in horror the queen. "Ah! dear son, it is ill, very ill with thee; but it may be well yet if only I know in how many skins she was living".
Again Yarmil answered decidedly that he would not tell, but the queen tried so long that at last she discovered. Now she knew what she wanted, and went from Yarmil. It is a wonder that he was not suspicious, but he said nothing to the princess.
Next morning a number of guests went with the king and his sons to the chase, and stayed in the forest till evening; thus the queen could act freely.
While the three princesses and the remaining guests were walking in the garden, she stole into the chamber of Yarmil's bride, found the twelve shirts and the tapers, hid them in her own apartments, and in the evening, when the king had returned from the chase and all were sitting in the banqueting-hall at table, she went to the garden, where she burned the shirts and the tapers. At that moment Yarmil's bride felt great faintness, so that she went for fresh air in the garden.
Yarmil hurried after her, but he had scarcely gone through the door, when she cried: "Woe is me, Yarmil! Thou hast told what I forbade thee to tell. Forget me; I must now to the glass mountain, from which there is no liberation." Straightway she vanished in the darkness of night.
Yarmil remained a moment as if paralyzed; then he ran through the garden as if he had lost his wits, and called his bride by the most endearing names, but in vain. The guests ran out at the sound of his lamentation, and were greatly terrified when Yarmil told his misfortune. The queen also came quickly, and listened as if with terrified wonder to what had happened.
"That was a witch," said she; "and 't is well that other mishaps have not come".
But the king was grieved more than all, and put an end to the rejoicing. Next day the two elder brothers went away with their brides, and poor Yar-mil stayed home alone. In vain did his father try to comfort him; in vain did he promise that he would go himself to seek another bride for him. Yarmil was not to be consoled; and when the first onrush of sorrow had passed, he resolved to go to the glass mountain for his bride.
"In what direction wilt thou go?" objected his father. "While I live no one has heard of a glass mountain".
"Still I will go," said Yarmil, firmly. "It will come to the same whether I perish on the road or at home; in any event I shall die of disappointment".
The king tried in all ways to dissuade him from going, but Yarmil would not let him talk. He mounted his horse, dropped the reins, and let him go whithersoever he would. He travelled long in this objectless way, hither and thither; but at last he saw that he must act differently if he meant to reach the glass mountain. But now came his real trouble; for wherever he asked about the glass mountain, people stared at him, and said that there was no such mountain in the world. Yarmil did not let himself be frightened; and now he galloped the more eagerly on his horse, and asked the more carefully everywhere. He had passed through towns without number, but still no one knew of a glass mountain. At last he heard the name.
In a certain town there was a juggler, - a showman with every kind of wonder. Yarmil was just going past him at the moment when he cried out: "The witch with her twelve daughters on the glass mountain!"
Yarmil called the juggler aside and said: "Here are ten goldpieces, tell me where the glass mountain is".
"I am a poor man," said the juggler, honestly, "and need these goldpieces greatly; but I know nothing of the glass mountain".
"Nor in what country it is?" asked Yarmil, impatiently.
"I know that," answered the man. "It is in the east, but they say it is very far off; and besides, they say that no one can go within twenty miles of it".
Yarmil threw the ten goldpieces into the juggler's cap, and putting spurs to his horse galloped off to the east. Many a time did the sun rise and set before he reached the glass mountain. But what good did it do him to go there? Around the mountain flowed an immensely great river, and on the bridge which was across it stood on guard three very fierce giants.