HE HUNTSMAN, HOWEVER, was sad at heart, and travelled about the world, and made his animals dance before people. It came to pass that precisely at the end of one year he came back to the same town where he had delivered the King's daughter from the dragon, and this time the town was gaily hung with red cloth. Then he said to the host, "What does this mean? Last year the town was all hung with black crape, what means the red cloth to-day?" The host answered, "Last year our King's daughter was to have been delivered over to the dragon, but the marshal fought with it and killed it, and so to-morrow their wedding is to be solemnized, and that is why the town was then hung with black crape for mourning, and is to-day covered with red cloth for joy?"
Next day when the wedding was to take place, the huntsman said at mid-day to the inn-keeper, "Do you believe, sir host, that I while with you here to-day shall eat bread from the King's own table?" "Nay," said the host, "I would bet a hundred pieces of gold that that will not come true." The huntsman accepted the wager, and set against it a purse with just the same number of gold pieces. Then he called the hare and said, "Go, my dear runner, and fetch me some of the bread which the King is eating." Now the little hare was the lowest of the animals, and could not transfer this order to any the others, but had to get on his legs himself. "Alas!" thought he, "if I bound through the streets thus alone, the butchers' dogs will all be after me." It happened as he expected, and the dogs came after him and wanted to make holes in his good skin. But he sprang away, have you have never seen one running? and sheltered himself in a sentry-box without the soldier being aware of it. Then the dogs came and wanted to have him out, but the soldier did not understand a jest, and struck them with the butt-end of his gun, till they ran away yelling and howling. As soon as the hare saw that the way was clear, he ran into the palace and straight to the King's daughter, sat down under her chair, and scratched at her foot. Then she said, "Wilt thou get away?" and thought it was her dog. The hare scratched her foot for the second time, and she again said, "Wilt thou get away?" and thought it was her dog. But the hare did not let itself be turned from its purpose, and scratched her for the third time. Then she peeped down, and knew the hare by its collar. She took him on her lap, carried him into her chamber, and said, "Dear Hare, what dost thou want?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here, and has sent me to ask for a loaf of bread like that which the King eats." Then she was full of joy and had the baker summoned, and ordered him to bring a loaf such as was eaten by the King. The little hare said, "But the baker must likewise carry it thither for me, that the butchers' dogs may do no harm to me." The baker carried if for him as far as the door of the inn, and then the hare got on his hind legs, took the loaf in his front paws, and carried it to his master. Then said the huntsman, "Behold, sir host, the hundred pieces of gold are mine." The host was astonished, but the huntsman went on to say, "Yes, sir host, I have the bread, but now I will likewise have some of the King's roast meat."
The host said, "I should indeed like to see that," but he would make no more wagers. The huntsman called the fox and said, "My little fox, go and fetch me some roast meat, such as the King eats." The red fox knew the bye-ways better, and went by holes and corners without any dog seeing him, seated himself under the chair of the King's daughter, and scratched her foot. Then she looked down and recognized the fox by its collar, took him into her chamber with her and said, "Dear fox, what dost thou want?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here, and has sent me. I am to ask for some roast meat such as the King is eating." Then she made the cook come, who was obliged to prepare a roast joint, the same as was eaten by the King, and to carry it for the fox as far as the door.
Then the fox took the dish, waved away with his tail the flies which had settled on the meat, and then carried it to his master. "Behold, sir host," said the huntsman, "bread and meat are here but now I will also have proper vegetables with it, such as are eaten by the King." Then he called the wolf, and said, "Dear Wolf, go thither and fetch me vegetables such as the King eats." Then the wolf went straight to the palace, as he feared no one, and when he got to the King's daughter's chamber, he twitched at the back of her dress, so that she was forced to look round. She recognized him by his collar, and took him into her chamber with her, and said, "Dear Wolf, what dost thou want?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here, I am to ask for some vegetables, such as the King eats." Then she made the cook come, and he had to make ready a dish of vegetables, such as the King ate, and had to carry it for the wolf as far as the door, and then the wolf took the dish from him, and carried it to his master.
"Behold, sir host," said the huntsman, "now I have bread and meat and vegetables, but I will also have some pastry to eat like that which the King eats." He called the bear, and said, "Dear Bear, thou art fond of licking anything sweet; go and bring me some confectionery, such as the King eats." Then the bear trotted to the palace, and every one got out of his way, but when he went to the guard, they presented their muskets, and would not let him go into the royal palace. But he got up on his hind legs, and gave them a few boxes on the ears, right and left, with his paws, so that the whole watch broke up, and then he went straight to the King's daughter, placed himself behind her, and growled a little. Then she looked behind her, knew the bear, and bade him go into her room with her, and said, "Dear Bear, what dost thou want?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here, and I am to ask for some confectionery, such as the King eats." Then she summoned her confectioner, who had to bake confectionery such as the King ate, and carry it to the door for the bear; then the bear first licked up the comfits which had rolled down, and then he stood upright, took the dish, and carried it to his master.
"Behold, sir host," said the huntsman, "now I have bread, meat, vegetables and confectionery, but I will drink wine also, and such as the King drinks." He called his lion to him and said, "Dear Lion, thou thyself likest to drink till thou art intoxicated, go and fetch me some wine, such as is drunk by the King." Then the lion strode through the streets, and the people fled from him, and when he came to the watch, they wanted to bar the way against him, but he did but roar once, and they all ran away. Then the lion went to the royal apartment, and knocked at the door with his tail.
Then the King's daughter came forth, and was almost afraid of the lion, but she knew him by the golden clasp of her necklace, and bade him go with her into her chamber, and said, "Dear Lion, what wilt thou have?" He answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here, and I am to ask for some wine such as is drunk by the King." Then she bade the cup-bearer be called, who was to give the lion some wine like that which was drunk by the King. The lion said, "I will go with him, and see that I get the right wine." Then he went down with the cup-bearer, and when they were below, the cup-bearer wanted to draw him some of the common wine that was drunk by the King's servants, but the lion said, "Stop, I will taste the wine first," and he drew half a measure, and swallowed it down at one draught.
"No," said he, "that is not right." The cup-bearer looked at him askance, but went on, and was about to give him some out of another barrel which was for the King's marshal. The lion said, "Stop, let me taste the wine first," and drew half a measure and drank it. "That is better, but still not right," said he. Then the cup-bearer grew angry and said, "How can a stupid animal like you understand wine?" But the lion gave him a blow behind the ears, which made him fall down by no means gently, and when he had got up again, he conducted the lion quite silently into a little cellar apart, where the King's wine lay, from which no one ever drank.
The lion first drew half a measure and tried the wine, and then he said, That may possibly be the right sort, and bade the cup-bearer fill six bottles of it. And now they went upstairs again, but when the lion came out of the cellar into the open air, he reeled here and there, and was rather drunk, and the cup-bearer was forced to carry the wine as far as the door for him, and then the lion took the handle of the basket in his mouth, and took it to his master.
The huntsman said, "Behold, sir host, here have I bread, meat, vegetables, confectionery and wine such as the King has, and now I will dine with my animals," and he sat down and ate and drank, and gave the hare, the fox, the wolf, the bear, and the lion also to eat and to drink, and was joyful, for he saw that the King's daughter still loved him. And when he had finished his dinner, he said, "Sir host, now have I eaten and drunk, as the King eats and drinks, and now I will go to the King's court and marry the King's daughter." Said the host, "How can that be, when she already has a betrothed husband, and when the wedding is to be solemnized to-day?" Then the huntsman drew forth the handkerchief which the King's daughter had given him on the dragon's hill, and in which were folded the monster's seven tongues, and said, "That which I hold in my hand shall help me to do it." Then the innkeeper looked at the handkerchief, and said, "Whatever I believe, I do not believe that, and I am willing to stake my house and courtyard on it." The huntsman, however, took a bag with a thousand gold pieces, put it on the table, and said, "I stake that on it."