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.
"Bear me to that place then," said Jalmir, with a voice of entreaty.
The eagle's brother caught him in his strong talons, and was soon flying with him high in the air; so high that Jalmir saw his native place, but it was as small as an ant-hill. He went farther, it became greater, till at last the eagle came to the earth and put Jalmir down near the old pear-tree; then he parted with him, and soon vanished in the air.
The white steed was standing behind the pear-tree, with drooping head, and so gloomy that he did not notice his master.
"My very good steed!" cried Jalmir, and fell on his neck.
"Thou art alive and well?" asked the steed in amazement.
"Yes," answered Jalmir, and told him all that had happened.
"I am happy," said the steed; "but now sit quickly on me, we must go to the princess or we shall be late".
"What is the matter?" asked Jalmir in fright.
"The king wants the wedding to-day," answered the steed.
"Then let us hurry," said Jalmir, and he sprang on the steed, opened his arms toward the town, and cried: "Oh, my dear father!"
"Calm thyself," said the steed; "I know that thou wouldst embrace him; but vain is thy wish, for he died long ago." The steed rose in the air and flew so swiftly that his native place soon vanished from the tearful eyes of Jalmir. On the road the steed said: "When thou art king, judge justly, even if thy heart has to bleed".
Jalmir did not understand him; but when-he came to the town and heard how his brothers were laughing at their puny little Jalmir who had perished somewhere, an evil feeling seized him. Mastering himself however, he went to the princess to give her the three waters; and she hastened to the king to whom she said: "My dear bridegroom, so that our marriage be equal, thou must become young and beautiful as I am, and therefore I will rub thee with the water of death so that thy old age shall perish, then with the water of youth, and last with the water of life".
The king consented with gladness, and the princess rubbed him with the water of death; then he straightened himself on the couch so that the princess herself was terrified. Seizing quickly the water of youth; she rubbed him with it and the fresh color of youth shone on the face of the old king. "But still he is not so beautiful as Jalmir," sighed the princess, greatly grieved. With tearful eyes she reached for the water of life, but instead of it took the water of death and rubbed the king. Straightway the pallor of death spread over his face. The princess fell in a faint at his side and remained in it till Jalmir came by chance to the chamber, seized the water of life, and rubbed with it quickly the princess and the king. The princess stood up at once, but the king remained dead,
"Is there no help for him?" asked Jalmir with trembling voice.
"There is not," said the princess, shaking her head; "whoever is rubbed twice with the water of death can never live again".
"But what shall I do now?" muttered Jalmir, closing his eyes.
"Thou art king," answered the princess, "but I - "
"Queen!" cried Jalmir eagerly, and sank at her feet saying, "Forgive me, but I love thee more than myself".
The princess in place of an answer kissed him; and now they went to announce to the people that the old king was dead..
The people, who had already assembled in the square for the wedding of the king, were greatly distressed; but when the princess presented Jalmir as the new king, and herself as his wife, they broke out into mighty rejoicing, which had no end. But Jalmir's brothers were silent; and when the new king with his bride retired, they reported that these two had poisoned the old king. The people raised a tumult; but Jalmir went out among them and asked the cause. Some were silent, and others told him what his brothers had said. "Do ye believe this? ' asked Jalmir.
"We do not believe," was shouted from every side.
"Very well," answered Jalmir, "but that ye may believe me I will tell how my brothers tried to kill me;" and he told them all.
"The wretches!" cried the people in a rage; and they caught all the six brothers. Before Jalmir could stop them the people had fired a stack of straw, and when it was blazing high they threw the six brothers into the flames.
"Now ye are all in one pile," laughed the people, "because hitherto ye were always setting fire".
Jalmir turned to the princess with tears in his eyes, but she soon consoled him. After the funeral of the old king they celebrated their betrothal; but when Jalmir, full of happiness, sat at the feast by the side of his bride, all at once he remembered his steed, ran to him, and fell on his neck thanking him as author of all his happiness.
"I have helped thee, do thou help me now," said the steed. "Lead me to the garden." Jalmir did as he desired; then the steed said: "Cut off my head".
"I cut off thy head!" cried Jalmir in fright.
"Wilt thou let me suffer one hundred years longer?" asked the steed in a sad voice.
In place of an answer Jalmir drew his sword, and with one blow cut off his friend's head. The head fell on the ground, but out of it flew a white dove which rose toward the sky. Jalmir turned in sorrow to the princess, but she soon drove the sadness away from his face. They lived happily, together, and because they had the water of life, they lived so long that no one has memory of it.