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.
When the morning sun rose people shouted "Fire!" in the castle. All ran to the garden to put it out; but the princess standing in her window cried, "Be quiet! That is my golden castle".
Soon after the king hurried in, and opening his arms in delight, wished to embrace the princess, calling out, "Now thou art mine!"
"Not yet," answered the princess. "What is my golden castle to me if I have lost the key of it?"
The king was frightened; but soon he said, with clear face: "My dear Jalmir will bring it to thee." He wanted to go for him; but Jalmir came just then to the princess to tell her that he had brought the castle. The king told his wish; and Jalmir, gaining pleasure and strength from a gracious smile of the princess, departed. He took counsel of his steed, who said: "The key is somewhere in the sea near the dam." Jalmir mounted; they flew through the air, and were soon on the island where the castle had been.
"But how shall I find the key in the sea?" sighed Jalmir.
"Thou hast the whistle from the fish helped by thee into the water".
"Yes," rejoiced Jalmir; and he blew on the whistle.
That moment the fish swam to the surface, and asked, "What dost thou wish?"
"The princess has lost the key of her golden castle," answered Jalmir, who was about to ask the fish to find it; but the fish had already vanished to tell all fish to look for the key. Now there was life under water, - such gleaming of fish flying hither and thither, up and down! till at last after long swimming, one little fish brought the key to the chief fish. The chief fish gave it to Jalmir; Jalmir gave heartfelt thanks, and was soon flying through the air on his steed, so that he was home before night. When he had given the key to the king he went to his room and shut himself in. Why he did this he knew not himself; but he felt that it would have been better for him had he never seen that princess of the golden castle.
The king, perfectly happy, went with the key to the princess; he felt sure this time that she would make no objection. All the greater was his grief when she said: "I have the castle and the key to it; but what would life be in the castle without the water of death, the water of life, and the water of youth? '
"And where are they to be found?" asked the king.
"They are on my island," answered the princess so decidedly that the king went away in silence to think whom he should send. He had pity on Jalmir, and therefore he went to the brothers; but they spoke to him so convincingly that the king asked Jalmir again to go and do that last service for him. How could Jalmir refuse? Besides, what he had done he had done for her for whom he would have jumped into fire if need be. He went to his steed to ask aid once more, and for the last time. The steed reproached him for lack of courage, and said: "Sit on my back; we'll go straight for the water." Jalmir did so with joy, and was soon going through the air to the island swifter than ever he had travelled before. In a short time the horse came down on the seashore and said: "Go to the island for the water of death, the water of life, and the water of youth; but hurry, or the waves will wash down the dam and thou wilt perish. I will eat grass here a while".
Jalmir went forward, but very slowly; for the image of the princess rose continually before his eyes. Except her, the whole world was as naught to him. He was perhaps halfway on the dam when all at once the sea rose and bore it away. Jalmir screamed in terror and disappeared in the sea. The steed heard his screams, but did not run to help him, and hanging his head, went with slow step; he knew well that he could give no aid to Jalmir. Then came a terrible storm on the sea. The steed thought that Jalmir had perished; he rose in the air and shot away like a flash.
Not far from the dam - of which there was not a trace after the storm - was an eagle's nest high on the cliff, and in it five little eagles that stretched out their necks, without ceasing looking down eagerly, and crying meanwhile. "What do ye want?" called the old eagle, which sat near by on a cliff and looked down. But how quickly did she fly to the beach when she saw a body there! She recognized it at once; for though she was only a wild creature she remembered well that Jalmir had done her a kindness by giving her the quarter of beef for her young. She seized him now in her strong talons and bore him to the island where the golden castle had been; she plunged him into a spring, then placing him on the ground, sat near his side. Soon Jalmir began to breathe, - at first with difficulty and slowly, then more quickly and evenly, till at last he opened his eyes with a deep sigh. "Why not let me sleep longer? - I slept so lightly! I dreamed so sweetly!" said Jalmir, as if waking from slumber. When he looked around more attentively he called out in amazement, "What has been done to me?"
"Dost thou not know me?" asked the eagle, standing before him.
"I do not know thee," replied Jalmir, shaking his head.
"But I know thee well," cried the eagle. "Thou didst give me a quarter of beef for my children. But what art thou looking for now?"
"The princess sent me to this island for the water of death, the water of life, and the water of youth," answered Jalmir.
"Then take them," said the eagle, and brought him to the three springs. Jalmir took three flasks from his bosom, and filled them with the three waters.
"But how shall I leave here?"
"I would gladly bear thee wherever thou wishest, but I cannot, for I have children; but I will go to my brother. He has no children." She flew off in a flash, soon returning, and with her her brother.
"But where has my white steed gone?' asked Jalmir suddenly.
"I will soon tell thee," answered the eagle, and she rose in the sky till she seemed to the eye of Jalmir as small as the point of a pine leaf. She remained motionless a moment, then came down like a bolt and said: "I saw thy steed under the old pear-tree which stands before the southern gate of the great town".