So the daughter of the Emperor pitched away the second pair of iron sandals that she had worn out, tied up the bones, took her child on her arm and a third staff in her hand, and went after the Wind.
On this journey she met with hardships greater than any before, for she came upon mountains of flint-stones, one after another, through which darted flames of fire, forests untrodden by man, and fields of ice dark with snow-storms. More than once the poor creature was on the point of falling, but with perseverance and the help of God she overcame even these great hardships, and at last she reached a ravine between two mountains, large enough to hold seven cities.
This was the abode of the Wind.
There was a gate in the wall which surrounded it. She knocked and implored them to let her in. The mother of the Wind had compassion on her, and let her in and invited her to rest. "If she had hidden from the Sun," she said, "surely the Wind would not find her out."
The next day the mother of the Wind told her that her husband was living in a huge dense wood, which the axe of man had never yet reached, and there he had made him a sort of house by piling up the trunks of trees one on the top of another, and plaiting them together with withy bands, where he lived all alone for fear of wicked men. Then, after she had given her a roast fowl and told her to take good care of the bones, the mother of the Wind counselled her to follow the road that led straight to the sky, and let the stars of heaven be her guides. She said she would, and after thanking her with tears of joy for her hospitality and for her glad tidings, she went on her way.
The poor woman turned night into day. She stopped neither to eat nor to rest, so fiercely did the desire to find her husband burn within her. She went on and on till she quite wore out the third pair of sandals. She threw them away, and began to walk with bare feet. She cared not for the hard clumps of earth, she took no heed of the thorns that entered into her feet, nor of the pain she suffered when she stumbled over the hard stones. At last she came to a green and beauteous meadow on the margin of a forest, and her heart rejoiced within her when she felt the soft grass and saw the sweet flowers. She stopped and rested a little. But when she saw the birds in couples and couples on the branches of the trees, a burning desire for her own husband came upon her, and she began to weep bitterly, and with her child on her arm, and her bundle of bones in her girdle, she went on her way. She entered the forest. She did not once look at the soft green turf which soothed her feet, she listened not to the birds that chirped enough to deafen her, she regarded not the flowers that peeped out from among the bushes, but groped her way step by step into the depths of the forest. For from the tokens given her by the mother of the Wind she perceived that this must be the forest in which her husband was staying.
Three days and three nights she roamed through the forest, and could see no one. So worn was she now with fatigue that she fell to the ground, and there she lay for a day and a night without moving, nor did she eat and drink.
At last she rallied all her remaining strength, rose up, and tottering along, tried to support herself on her staff; but it could help her no more, for that also was quite worn down so that it was now no good to her. Still trusting in God, she went on as best she could. She hadn't taken ten steps forward when she saw in a cleft of the rock just such a sort of house as the mother of the Wind had told her of. She went towards it, and just managed to get up to it and no more. It was a house that had neither window nor door, but there was an opening in the roof. She looked around her, but there was no sign of a ladder.
What was she to do to get inside it?
She thought and thought again. She tried to climb up it, but in vain. Suddenly she thought of the bones which she had been carrying all this way. "If only I could find out," said she, "how these bones are to assist me!" She took them out of the bundle, looked at them, reflected a little, and then put one atop the other, and - oh, wonderful! - they joined on to each other as if they had been glued. Then she joined another on to the first two and then another till she made out of them two long bars. Then she put a little bone across the two bars, and it stuck fast like the rung of a ladder. She mounted on it, and placed another little bone across a bit higher, and then she mounted on that also, and so she ascended from rung to rung, placing the small bones across as she went along, till she got quite near the top; but then she saw that there was a wide gap between the last rung of her ladder and the door in the roof of the house, and she now had no more bones to make the last rung. She must have lost it on the way. What was she to do now? She bethought her for a while, and then she cut off a finger and placed that between the bars. Sure enough it joined on to and formed the last rung, and mounting on it she entered the door of the house with her child in her arms. There she rested for awhile, gave her child to suck, and sat down herself on the threshold.
When her husband came he was so amazed at what he saw that he could scarce believe his eyes, and there he stood looking at the ladder of bones, the last rung of which was a severed human finger. Fear came upon him lest there should be some evil enchantment about the thing, and he would have turned his back upon the house if God had not put it into his mind to enter. So turning himself into a dove, and flying up into the air without once touching the ladder, lest evil spells should lay hold of him, he entered the house in full flight, and there he beheld his wife nursing a child; and instantly he was full of tenderness and compassion towards her, for he bethought him of how much she must have suffered and endured before she could have found her way to him. Nay, he could scarce recognize her, so changed was she by her hardships and sufferings.
But the daughter of the Emperor, when she saw him, sprang from her seat, and her heart failed her for fright, for she did not know him. Then he made himself known to her, and she regretted no longer all she had gone through to find him, nay, she forgot it altogether, for he was as tall and straight as a lordly pine.
Then they began talking together. She told him all that had befallen her, and he wept for pity. Then he also spoke, and told her his story.
"I am the son of an Emperor," said he. "In the war which my father waged with the dragons, our neighbours (and evil neighbours they were, ever ravaging his domains), I slew the smallest of the dragons. Now his mother knew that thou wert my destined bride, so she laid the curse of her spells upon me, and constrained me to wear the skin of an unclean beast, with the design of preventing me from having thee. Yet God aided me, and I won thee nevertheless. That old woman who gave thee the cord to tie my legs with was the dragon's mother, and when I had but three days more to bear the spell, I was forced, by thy folly, to go about in pigskin three years longer. But now since thou hast suffered for me and I have suffered for thee, let us praise God and return to our parents. Without thee I should have resigned myself to living the life of a hermit, and so I chose this desert for my habitation, and built me this house so that no child of man should get at me."
Then they embraced each other full of joy, and promised to forget all their past sorrows.
The next day they rose early and went back first of all to the Emperor his father. When it was known that he and his consort had arrived, all the world wept with joy; but his father and mother embraced them tightly, and the public rejoicings lasted three days and three nights.
Then he went on to the Emperor the father of his wife, and he was like to have gone out of his mind for joy when he saw them. When he had heard all their adventures he said to his daughter: "Did I not tell thee not to believe that he who sought thy hand was ever born a hog? Thou hast done well, my daughter, to listen to my words."
And being an old man, and having no heirs, he descended from his throne and put them upon it in his stead. Then they reigned in peace, and if they are not dead they are living still.
And now I'll mount my horse again and say an "Our Father" before I go.