He went on and on and on till he also came to the oven and the cauldron. The men who guarded the oven and the cauldron stopped him and asked him his business, and on finding out that he was going to kill the devil, they told the youth that he must first eat the bread of the oven and then drink the wine in the cauldron if he could. The son of the cinders wished for nothing better. He ate the loaves that were baked in the oven, drank all the wine, and further on he saw the wooden bridge and the iron bridge, and beyond the bridges the apple-trees.

The devil had observed the youth from afar, and his courage began to ooze out of him when he saw the deeds of the son of the ashes. "Any fool can go across the iron bridge," thought the youth, "I'll go across the wooden one," and as it was no very great feat to eat the sweet apples he ate the sour ones. - "There will be no joking with this one," said the devil, "I see I must get ready my lance and measure my strength with him."

The son of the ashes saw the devil from afar, and full of the knowledge of his own valour went straight up to him.

"If thou doest not homage to me, I'll swallow thee straight off," cried the devil.

"And if thou doest not homage to me, I'll knock thee to pieces with my lance," replied the youth.

"Oh ho! if we're so brave as all that," cried the three-faced monster, "let us out with our lances without losing any more time."

So the devil out with his lance, whirled it round his head, and aimed it with all his might at the youth, who gave but one little twist with his finger, and crick-crack! the devil's lance broke all to bits. "Now it's my turn," cried the son of the cinders; and he hurled his lance at the devil with such force that the devil's first soul flew out of his nose. - "At it again once more, if thou art a man," yelled the devil, with a great effort. "Not I," cried the youth, "for my mother only bore me once," whereupon the devil breathed forth his last soul also. Then the youth went on to seek the devil's wife. Her also he chased down the road after her husband, and when he had cut them both in two, lo and behold! all three of his kinsfolk stood before him, so he turned back home and took them with him. Now his brothers and sister had grown very thirsty in the devil's belly, and when they saw a large well by the wayside, they asked their brother Cinder-son to draw them a little water. Then the youths took off their girdles, tied them together, and let down the biggest brother, but he had scarcely descended more than half-way down when he began to shriek unmercifully: "Oh, oh, draw me up, I have had enough," so that they had to pull him up and let the second brother try. And with him it fared the same way. "Now 'tis my turn," cried Cinder-son, "but mind you do not pull me up, however loudly I holloa." So they let down the youngest brother, and he too began to holloa and bawl, but they paid no heed to it, and let him down till he stood on the dry bottom of the well. A door stood before him, he opened it, and there were three lovely damsels sitting in a room together, and each of them shone like the moon when she is only fourteen days old. The three damsels were amazed at the sight of the youth. How durst he come into the devil's cavern? they asked - and they begged and besought him to escape as he valued dear life. But the youth would not budge at any price, till he had got the better of this devil also. The end of the matter was that he slew the devil and released the three damsels, who were Sultan's daughters, and had been stolen from their fathers and kept here for the last seven years. The two elder princesses he intended for his two brothers, but the youngest, who was also the loveliest, he chose for himself, and filling the pitcher with water he brought the damsels to the bottom of the well, right below the mouth of it.

The Cinder Youth and the Three Damsels.

The Cinder-Youth and the Three Damsels. - p. 91.

First of all he let them draw up the eldest princess for his eldest brother, then he made them pull up the middling princess for his middling brother, and then it came to the youngest damsel's turn. But she desired that the youth should be drawn up at all hazards and herself afterwards. "Thy brethren," she explained, "will be wroth with thee for keeping the loveliest damsel for thyself, and will not draw thee out of the well for sheer jealousy."

"I'll find my way out even then," answered the youth, and though she begged and besought him till there was no more soul in her, he would not listen to her. Then the damsel drew from her breast a casket and said to the youth: "If any mischief befall thee, open this casket. Inside it is a piece of flint, and if thou strike it once a negro efrit will appear before thee and fulfil all thy desires. If thy brethren leave thee in the well, go to the palace of the devil and stand by the well. Two rams come there every day, a black one and a white one; if thou cling fast to the white one, thou wilt come to the surface of the earth, but if thou cling on to the black one thou wilt sink down into the seventh world."

Then he let them draw up the youngest damsel, and no sooner did his brethren see their brother's bride and perceive that she was the loveliest of all, than jealousy overtook them, and in their wrath they left him in the well and went home with the damsels.

So what else could the poor youth at the bottom of the well do than go back to the devil's palace, stand by the well, and wait for the two rams? Not very long afterwards a white ram came bounding along before him, and after that a black ram, and the youth, instead of catching hold of the white ram, seized the black one and immediately perceived that he was at the bottom of the seventh world. ... He went on and on, he went for a long time and he went for a short time, he went by day and he went by night, he went up hill and down dale till he could do no more, and stopped short by a large tree to take a little rest. But what was that he saw before him? A large serpent was gliding up the trunk of the tree and would have devoured all the young birds on the tree if Cinder-son had let him. But the youth quickly drew forth his lance and cut the serpent in two with a single blow. Then, like one who has done his work well, he lay down at the foot of the tree, and inasmuch as he was tired and it was warm he fell asleep at once. Now while he slept the emerald Anka, who is the mother of the birds and the Padishah of the Peris, passed by that way, and when she saw the sleeping youth she fancied him to be her enemy, who was wont to destroy her children year by year. She was about to cut him to pieces, when the birds whispered to her not to hurt the youth, because he had killed their enemy the serpent. It was only then that the Anka perceived the two halves of the serpent. And now, lest anything should harm the sleeping youth, she hopped round and round him, and touched him softly and sheltered him with both her wings lest the sun should scorch him, and when he awoke from his sleep the wing of the bird was spread over him like a tent. And now the Anka approached him and said she would fain reward him for his good deed, and he might make a request of her. Then replied the youth: "I would fain get to the surface of the earth again."

"Be it so," said the emerald bird, "but first thou must get forty tons of ox-flesh and forty pitchers of water and sit on my back with them, so that when I say ' Gik! ' thou mayest give me to eat, and when I say ' Gak!' thou mayest give me to drink."

Then the youth bethought him of his casket, took the flint-stone out of it, and struck it once, and immediately a black efrit with a mouth as big as the world stood before him and said: "What dost thou command, my Sultan?" - "Forty tons of ox-flesh, and forty pitchers of water," said the youth. In a short time the efrit brought the flesh and the water, and the youth packed it all up together and mounted on the wing of the bird. Off they went, and whenever the Anka cried "Gik!" he gave her flesh, and whenever she cried "Gak!" he gave her water. They flew from one layer of worlds to the next, till in a short time they got above the surface of the earth again, and he dismounted from the bird's back and said to her: "Wait here a while, and in a short time I shall be back."

Then the youth took out his coffer, struck the flint-stone, and bade the black bounding efrit get him tidings of the three sisters. In a short time the efrit re-appeared with the three damsels, who were preparing a banquet for the brothers. He made them all sit on the bird's back, took with him again forty tons of ox-flesh and forty pitchers of water, and away they all went to the land of the three damsels. Every time the Anka said "Gik!" he gave her flesh to eat, and every time she said "Gak!" he gave her water to drink. But as the youth now had three with him besides himself, it came to pass that the flesh ran short, so that when the Anka said "Gik!" once more he had nothing to give her. Then the youth drew his knife, cut a piece of flesh out of his thigh, and stuffed it into the bird's mouth.1 The Anka perceived that it was human flesh and did not eat it, but kept it in her mouth, and when they had reached the realm of the three damsels, the bird told him that he might now go in peace.

But the poor youth could not move a step because of the smart in his leg. "Thou go on first," he said to the bird, "but I will first rest me here a while."

"Nay, but thou art a droll rogue," quoth the bird, and with that it spit out of its mouth the piece of human flesh and put it back in its proper place just as if it had never been cut out.

1 The same incident occurs in the Cossack fairy-tale of the Bird Zhar and the Russian fairy-tale of the Bird Mogol.

The whole city was amazed at the sight of the return of the Sultan's daughters. The old Padishah could scarce believe his own eyes. He looked and looked and then he embraced the first princess; he looked and looked and then he kissed the second princess, and when they had told him the story he gave his whole kingdom and his three daughters to Cinder-son. Then the youth sent for his mother and his sister, and they all sat down to the banquet together. Moreover he found his sister a husband who was the son of the Vizier, and for forty days and forty nights they were full of joyfulness.