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.
Yarmil's courage fell. That moment the white lady from the white castle appeared suddenly before him and said: "Bind thy horse's hoofs with thy coat, and go very carefully over the bridge. The giant who stands on watch will see thee only when thou art in front of him, and will start after thee; but throw behind this dust and nothing will harm thee. Do the same for the second and third giant." She gave him three packages of dust, and said: "Beyond the river is a mill in which they give a witch to grind. Ask the miller for a night's lodging; he will give it thee, and invite thee to supper. Towards the end of the supper the cook will bring him a roast cock, and to that he will not invite thee; he eats it all himself. The bones of it he leaves on the plate and the cook must throw them under the wheel; but tell her to hide them for thee. And when it will be midnight, go to the glass mountain and put the bones before thee; but be careful to save one till thou art on the summit, then throw that last one back over thy head".
The moment the lady had finished, she disappeared. Yarmil sprang from his horse, tore his coat into four pieces, and with them muffled the feet of his horse; then he mounted and rode cautiously to the bridge. The first giant was sitting with his back to him and dozing. Yarmil passed him safely; but that moment the giant woke, and howled with a terrible voice to him to come back. Here Yarmil threw the dust behind, and that moment there was- such darkness that it hid the giant completely. The same happened with the second and third giant, and Yarmil crossed the river safely. Not far off was the mill, and the miller stood just on the threshold.
"What dost thou wish here?' growled he at Yarmil.
"Oh, grant me a night's lodging," said Yarmil; "I am a traveller from distant lands".
"I'll give thee nothing," answered the miller, roughly, "for if I did I should lose my place".
Yarmil begged again, and begged so long that the miller asked: "Whence art thou?" Yarmil told him; and the miller, meditating awhile, said: "Well, if thou art the son of so powerful a king, I will give thee a night's lodging; for we are from the same country, and I knew thy father very well".
Then he led him to a sitting-room; and since it was just dark, he asked him to supper. Yarmil watched continually to see if the cock would soon come to the table, and he had not long to wait. The miller grew sullen, and without speaking a word ate the cock. Yarmil went out, and pressing a few goldpieces into the hands of the cook, begged her to hide the bones of the cock for him. The moment the cook saw the goldpieces she was glad to agree.
When the miller had picked the cock he called the cook and ordered her strictly to throw the bones under the wheel. The cook took the plate and motioning as if she had thrown them into the water, put them very adroitly into her apron; when all were asleep she gave them to Yarmil. He waited quietly till the approach of midnight, then he went out cautiously and made for the glass mountain with his horse. Full of expectation he took out the first bone and put it on the mountain; and behold! in a moment a step was made so that he could walk comfortably on it, and so it happened with every bone. Yarmil was already at the summit and only one bone remained to him; this he threw with all his power over his head, and in a twinkle there was a pleasant highway along which his horse ran after him with ease.
All wearied, Yarmil fell down at the castle, in which lived the sorceress with the twelve princesses her daughters, and he soon fell asleep. When he woke the sun was high in the heavens; and before he could think what further to do, his own princess came to him.
"I told thee," said she, reproachfully, "to forget me; but thou didst not obey".
"Hide me somewhere quickly from the sorceress; in the night we will flee".
"Simple man!" said the princess smiling. "She knows long ago that thou art here; rather go to her, but be polite beyond measure. At dinner, rise after each dish and walk through the room, otherwise thou wilt stay here for the ages".
Yarmil had to obey. When he came to the sorceress he bowed low before her, and said: "Great mighty lady, I have come for my bride".
"I will give her to thee," smiled the sorceress, "but first thou must serve me three years".
"I am glad to do everything thou mayest desire," said Yarmil bowing; and the sorceress answered graciously, inviting him at once to the table, to which just then one of the princesses brought the first dish. Yarmil ate with a relish; but when he had finished, he said to the sorceress: "Permit me, great mighty lady, to walk a little. I have travelled so much that I fear my legs will lose their power".
"Oh, walk if it please thee," answered the sorceress, but her eyes glittered with anger. And Yarmil did the same after each dish, and the sorceress was ready to split from rage. Next day she gave him a wooden axe and saw, and said: "Thou must clear all that forest over there, or be the son of Death".
Yarmil took the axe and the saw, and went on. In the forest he threw himself on the ground and thought of death; for such a stretch of forest no man could clear alone, still less with such tools. At midday his princess brought him dinner.
"Ah!" scolded she, "thou art not working diligently".
"Why trouble myself for nothing?" sighed Yarmil.
"Only be of good courage," said the princess, comforting him. "It is not so bad to-day; it will be worse to-morrow".
Then she gave him dinner; and when Yarmil had eaten, he put his head on her lap and fell asleep soundly. Then the princess took out of .her bosom some kind of powder, and muttering mysterious words she threw it in the air. And wonder of wonders! in the twinkle of an eye invisible hands began to fell the aged trees, cut, split, and pile, so that in a short time the whole forest was felled.
Now Yarmil woke up, and hurried with the princess to the castle. The sorceress praised him; she suppressed her rage with difficulty, and said: "Thou hast worked out thy first year in order".
Next day the sorceress gave him a spade and a wheelbarrow, and said: "Thou must carry away that mountain out there, or be the son of Death".
Yarmil went with his tools to the hill, but when there he threw himself on the ground, for a thousand men would not have been able to carry off the hill in ten years. At midday his princess brought him dinner, and said: "Oh, thou art working as diligently as yesterday!"
"I am," sighed Yarmil.
"Only be of good cheer," said the princess, comforting him. "To-day it is not so bad; it will be worse to-morrow".
When Yarmil had eaten, he put his head on her lap and fell asleep. The princess again threw into the air a powder of some kind, muttering mysterious words; and straightway unseen hands began to work so vigorously that in a short time- the hill was carried away.
Then Yarmil woke up, and hurried to the sorceress to tell her he had done what she had commanded. She flamed up in anger, but nevertheless said: "Thou hast worked the second year of thy service in order".
Next day she gave him a tailor's thimble, and said: "Thou must bail out that fish-pond, or be the son of Death".
Yarmil took the thimble and went. At the fishpond, however, he threw himself on the ground and waited for the princess. She came sooner than usual; and when Yarmil, strengthened with food, had fallen asleep with his head on her lap, she threw powder in the air, muttering mysterious words. Soon the water began to disappear from the fish-pond. Now she roused Yarmil, and said to him: "Draw thy sword, and give good care. When all the water is gone from the pond the sorceress will take the shape of a rain-storm, and try to destroy us; but look well at the darkness, and where it is blackest strike there with thy sword".
Yarmil promised to do so, and had barely drawn his sword when a black darkness rushed from the castle, - but almost on the ground, so that Yarmil could strike the blackest spot with ease. At that moment the darkness turned into the sorceress, and Yarmil's sword stuck in her heart. With fearful cursing, she fell to the earth and died. Yarmil hurried to the castle with the princess, mounted his horse, and rushed off at a swift gallop.
He had to travel far before he came to his father's castle; but to make up, there was joy unspeakable at the happy meeting. The queen was terrified when she saw them, and she had reason; for when Yarmil told all to his father the king gave her to be burned without mercy.
When the feasting was over Yarmil set out with his wife on the journey to their kingdom. When they came to the mouse-hole it was no longer a mouse-hole, but a magnificent gate leading to a great city, in the middle of which stood a golden castle on a hill; and in that city there were multitudes of people everywhere, and in the castle throngs of courtiers and servants, who greeted with mighty applause their master and mistress, thanking Yarmil at the same time for their liberation.
Now followed feasting, which lasted for eight whole days; and when the feasting was over they all lived happily beyond measure, because the royal pair were goodness itself.