This section is from the book "Fairy Tales Of The Slav Peasants And Herdsmen", by Aleksander Borejko Chodzko, Emily J. Harding.. Also available from Amazon: Fairy Tales of the Slav Peasants and Herdsmen (Illustrated Edition).
"Just so," replied the red fox, "for I am greatly in need of some kindness. Now if you will fetch me some of the Water of Death, and some of the Water of Life, from the Red Sea, I will let your nestling go safe and sound".
The old raven promised to fetch the water, and went off at once.
Within three days he returned, carrying in his beak two small bottles, one full of the Water of Death, the other of the Water of Life. When the red fox received them he wished first to try their effect upon some living creature, so he cut the small raven up, and joining the pieces together, watered them with the Water of Death. Instantly they became a living bird, without mark or join anywhere. This he sprinkled with the Water of Life, upon which the young raven spread its wings and flew off to its family.
The red fox then performed the same operation on the body of the young prince, and with the same happy result, for he rose again perfect in form, and having about him no wound scars. On coming to life again, all he said was, "Dear me! What a pleasant sleep I have had".
"I believe you," replied the red fox, "you would have gone on sleeping for ever if I had not awakened you. And what a foolish young man you are: did I not particularly order you not to stop anywhere, but to go straight back to your father's house?"
He then related all that his brothers had done, and having obtained a peasant's dress for him, led him to the outskirts of the forest, close to the royal palace, where he left him.
The young prince then entered the palace grounds, unrecognised by the servants, and on representing that he was in need of employment, was appointed stable-boy to the royal stables. Some little time after he heard the grooms lamenting that the Horse with the Golden Mane would eat no food.
"What a pity it is," said they, "that this splendid steed should starve to death; he droops his head and will take nothing".
"Give him," said the disguised prince, "some pea-straw; I bet you anything he will eat that".
"But do you really think so? Why, our rough draught horses would refuse such coarse food".
The prince's only answer was to fetch a bundle of pea-straw, which he put into Zlato-Nrivak's marble trough: then, passing his hand gently over his neck and mane, he said to him, "Grieve no more, my horse with the golden mane".
The beautiful creature recognised his master's voice, and neighing with joy, greedily devoured the pea-straw.
The news was noised about from one end of the palace to the other, and the sick king summoned the boy to his presence.
"I hear you have made Zlato-Nrivak eat," said his majesty; "do you think you could make my fire-bird sing? Go and examine him closely: he is very sad, he droops his wings, and will neither eat nor drink. Ah me ! if he dies I shall certainly die too".
"Your majesty may rest assured, the bird will not die. Let him have some husks of barley to eat, then he will soon be all right and begin to sing".
The king ordered them to be brought, and the disguised prince put a handful into Ohnivak's cage, saying, "Cheer up, my fire-bird".
As soon as Ohnivak heard his master's voice he shook himself, and made his feathers shine with more than their usual brightness. Then he began to dance about his cage, and pecking up the husks, sang so exquisitely that the king immediately felt better, and it was as if a great weight had been lifted off his heart. The fire-bird again burst into song, and this so affected the king that he sat up quite well, and embraced the disguised prince out of very gratitude.
"Now," said he, "teach me how to restore to health this beautiful maiden with the golden hair whom my sons brought back with them; for she will not speak a word, her beautiful hair remains uncared for, and her tears fall night and day".
"If your majesty will allow me to speak a few words to her, it may be the means of making her bright and happy".
The king himself led the way to her apartments, and the disguised prince, taking her hand, said: "Look up a moment, sweetheart; why these tears? And why grieve thus, dear bride?"
The maiden knew him at once, and with a cry of joy threw herself into his arms. This astonished the king mightily, and he could not for the life of him think how a stable-boy dare address such a princess as his "dear bride".
The prince then addressed the king thus: "And are you indeed the only one who does not know me? How is it, my father and sovereign, that you have not recognised your youngest son? I alone have succeeded in obtaining the Fire-Bird, the Horse with the Golden Mane, and the Maid with the Golden Hair".
Thereupon he related all his adventures, and Zlato-Vlaska in her turn told how the wicked brothers had threatened to kill her if she betrayed them. As for these bad men, they shook from head to foot, and trembled like leaves in the wind. The indignant king ordered them to be executed then and there.
Not very long after these events the youngest prince married the beautiful Zlato-Vlaska, and the king gave him half of his kingdom as a wedding present. When the old king died he reigned in his stead, and lived happily with the princess ever after.