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.
Jalmir did in silence according to the steed's words; and to his astonishment, before they came to the castle the rope and the net were finished.
"Now attend to my words," said the steed when he had come to the ground. "Tie one end of the rope to my foot and the other to the net, take the net with thee and put it on the door of the cellar, to which thou must go down on three hundred steps. In the cellar thou wilt see vessels with silver and gold and diamond hoops; pay no heed to them, or a blow will fall, and it will be ill with thee. Go to the farthest part of the cellar. There thou wilt see in a niche a little vessel with wooden hoops, take that quickly and hurry to me; but if thou art not able to come, just spring into the net and I will help thee".
Jalmir did everything according to the words of the steed. It was as clear as white day in the cellar from the silver, gold, and diamond hoops, so that he soon saw the little vessel in the niche; but when he caught it, it is a wonder that he did not fall under its weight. With a mighty effort he carried it to the steps; but there he struck his foot against a vessel, and such a blow fell that the castle trembled from its foundation to the highest points of its tower. Jalmir, however, did not grow weak; he sprang up like an arrow over the three hundred steps and jumped into the net.
Meanwhile, the sorceress flew out of the castle and sprang at the steed; but the steed got her down, and so thrashed her with his feet that he did not leave a sound bone in her body. At the same time he wound up the rope so nicely that in a little while he had drawn up the net containing Jalmir. "Sit quickly on me," said he. Jalmir mounted in a moment, keeping the vessel carefully in his arms. The steed rose in the air and flew like lightning, because the sorceress who had picked herself from the ground was chasing him. But soon they had the boundary of the castle land behind them, so that they had no further need to strain their powers.
When they reached home the steed was drooping wearily to the earth, so that Jalmir had to support him in going to the stable. Jalmir was barely able to go to his own room; but first, according to the command of the steed, he left the cask of wine at the door of the king's chamber, then he lay on his bed and was soon asleep.
When the king opened the door of his chamber in the morning he saw the cask. "This must be wine," said the king, rejoicing; and taking off the head, he tried it. "It's wine; it's wine!" rejoiced he; and calling the people of the castle, he drank a health with them all.
"But what is this?' wondered they; "we have taken ten kegs of wine out already, and still it comes".
"This must be an enchanted cask," said the king, and began to laugh. Then he said in serious tones: " Little cask, I should like to have red wine." He drew some. And what a wonder! the wine was red. "I want yellow wine," said the king; and yellow wine flowed out.
"In real fact, it is an enchanted cask," said the king. "Oh, Jalmir," cried he in delight, "how can I reward thee!"
"I have only obeyed thy command, gracious king," answered Jalmir, who had just entered the room.
"Yes, thou hast done all that I commanded, and much more," said the king; "therefore I make thee my son, and proclaim thee viceroy".
All present broke out in tumultuous shouting, but Jalmir's brothers were silent; they bit their lips and clinched their fists. The. king, altogether joyous and full of tenderness, from success and from wine, arranged to have a seven day's celebration in honor of the new viceroy. The people did not wait to have the order repeated, but began that very day, especially since they had plenty of food, and the wine which the enchanted cask gave them without stint. The new viceroy was greeted everywhere with shouts, and won at once the love of the people.
But his brothers were enraged all the more. Instead of going to the festivities they went to the room where the books were, and read as diligently as if they wished to become sages at once. This time, however, they were not able to find anything for a great while; but at last they read what they wanted.
"Now I have something for our darling viceroy!" cried one. "In the sea is a golden castle, and in the castle a princess, the most beautiful under the heavens. If our king would take her in marriage, he would grow young and lengthen his life".
"Oh, that is splendid!" said all, rejoicing. "The king will surely send him for the princess, and darling Jalmir will either be drowned in the sea or run home to his father".
When the feasting was over the brothers went to the king, who was, as it were, ill, - just the thing for them. "Gracious king," said the eldest, insinuatingly, "we are always trying to prepare some pleasure for thee".
"Indeed, I have need of it," said the king; "old age and disease are pressing me more and more every day".
"We have just found a remedy for those two evils," said the brothers.
"But what is it, - tell me!" broke out the king, delighted. They told him what they had read.
"Well, Jalmir must take the road this very day," cried the king; and calling Jalmir he explained his wish. Jalmir agreed in silence, but scarcely controlling his tears, hastened to his steed and fell on his neck, weeping.
"What is the matter now?" asked the steed. Jalmir told him all.
"Do not lose courage," said the horse. "Go to the king, and ask him to give thee three hundred loaves of bread, three hundred kegs of wine, and three hundred beeves. Have all put into wagons, and then we will go for the princess".
Jalmir went straightway to the king and asked for these. The king had all provided quickly, and promised him mountains and valleys if he would bring the princess. Jalmir took the road that very day, sitting on his good white steed, which this time did not fly through the air, but walked with slow step behind the wagons on which the loaves, the wine, and the beeves were carried. And many times did day and night change places before they came to the sea. Now they went along the shore; the white steed, going ahead with Jalmir, showed the road to the wagons.