"Oh, that matters nothing!" exclaimed the son. "Now I only know the condition, it's all right!" The next morning the young man set out on his travels through the world in search of a man who could teach him the trade that no one knows. He wandered about a long time without being able to find out where he could learn such a trade. At length one day, being quite tired out with walking and very sad, he sat down on a fallen log by the wayside. After he had sat thus a little while, an old woman came up to him, and asked, "Why art thou so sad, my son?" And he answered, "What is the use of your asking, when you cannot help me?" But, she continued, "Only tell me what is the matter, and perhaps I can help you." Then he said, "Well, if you must know, the matter is this: I have been travelling about the world a long time to find a master who can teach me the trade which no one knows." "Oh, if it is only that," cried the old woman, "just listen to me! Don't be afraid, but go straight into the forest which lies before you, and there you will find what you want".
The young man was very glad to hear this, and got up at once and went to the forest. When he had gone pretty far in the wood, he saw a large castle, and, whilst he stood looking at it and wondering what it was, four giants came out of it and ran up to him, shouting, "Do you wish to learn the trade that no one knows? "He said, "Yes; that is just the reason why I come here." Whereupon they took him into the castle.
Next morning the giants prepared to go out hunting, and, before leaving, they said to him, "You must on no account go into the first room by the dining-hall." Hardly, however, were the giants well out of sight before the young man began to reason thus with himself: "I see very well that I have come into a place from which I shall never go out alive with my head, so I may as well see what is in the room, come what may afterwards." So he went and opened the door a little and peeped in. There stood a golden ass, bound to a golden manger. He looked at it a little, and was just going to shut the door when the ass said, "Come and take the halter from my head, and keep it hidden about you. It will serve you well if you only understand how to use it." So he took the halter, and, after fastening the room door, quickly concealed it under his clothes. He had not sat very long before the giants came home. They asked him at once if he had been in the first room, and he, much frightened, replied, "No, I have not been in." "But we know that you have been!" said the giants in great anger, and, seizing some large sticks, they beat him so severely that he could hardly stand on his feet. It was very lucky for him that he had the halter wound round his body under his clothes, or else he would cer-tainly have been killed.
"The giants asked the young man if he had been in the first room".
The next day the giants again prepared to go out hunting, but before leaving him they ordered him on no account to enter the second room.
Almost as soon as the giants had gone away he became so very curious to see what might be in the second room, that he could not resist going to the door. He stood there a little, thinking within himself, "Well, I am already more dead than alive, much worse cannot happen to me!" and so he opened the door and looked in. There he was surprised to see a very beautiful girl, dressed all in gold and silver, who sat combing her hair, and setting in every tress a large diamond. He stood admiring her a little while, and was just going to shut the door again, when she spoke, "Wait a minute, young man. Come and take this key, and mind you keep it safely. It will serve you some time, if you only know how to use it." So he went in and took the key from the girl, and then, going out, fastened the door and went and sat down in the same place he had sat before.
He had not remained there very long before the giants came home from hunting. The moment they entered the house they took up their large sticks to beat him, asking, at the same time, whether he had been in the second room.
Shaking all over with fear, he answered them, "No, I have not!"
"But we know that you have been," shouted the giants in great anger, and they then beat him worse than on the first day.
The next morning, as the giants went out as usual to hunt, they said to him, "Do not go into the third room, for anything in the world; for if you do go in we shall not forgive you as we did yesterday, and the day before! We shall kill you outright!" No sooner, however, had the giants gone out of sight, than the young man began to say to himself, "Most likely they will kill me, whether I go into the room or not. Besides, if they do not kill me, they have beaten me so badly already that I am sure I cannot live long, so, anyhow, I will go and see what is in the third room." Then he got up and went and opened the door.
He was quite shocked, however, when he saw that the room was full of human heads! These heads belonged to young men who had come, like himself, to learn the trade that no one knows, and who, not having obeyed faithfully and strictly the orders of the giants, had been killed by them.
The young man was turning quickly to go away, when one of the heads called out, "Don't be afraid, but come in!" Thereupon he went into the room. Then the head gave him an iron chain, and said, "Take care of this chain, for it will serve you some time if you know how to use it!" So he took the chain, and going out fastened the door.
He went and sat down in the usual place to wait for the coming home of the giants, and, as he waited, he grew quite frightened, for he fully expected that they would really kill him this time.
The instant the giants came home they took up their thick sticks and began to beat him without stopping to ask anything. They beat him so terribly that he was all but dead; then they threw him out of the house, saying to him, "Go away now, since you have learnt the trade that no one knows!"When he had lain a long time on the ground where they had thrown him, feeling very sore and miserable, at length he tried to move away, saying to himself, "Well, if they really have taught me the trade that no one knows, for the sake of the king's daughter I can suffer gladly all this pain, if I can only win her!"