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The Singing, Ringing Tree

A beautiful princess refused all offers of marriage because she considered no one worthy of her. One day a prince came to the castle and asked the king for his daughter's hand in marriage. The king told him that he must ask her himself.

He offered her a casket of pearls but she tipped them on the floor. She thought long and hard about how she could discourage him. She told him that any fool could bring her pearls but she would only accept the Singing Ringing Tree.

The people in the court were so surprised at what she said that they talked to each other and laughed. No one knew if it really existed or where it could be found. The prince quelled the commotion by announcing that he will find the tree.

He got onto his horse and rode. He came to a farmer working amongst his trees. The farmer could not help him, but suggested an older farmer who lived near the seaside might know.

The prince found the other farmer who was working with his horse. He said he did not know, but suggested that an old herb-gatherer might.

When he found the house of the old woman she could not help him. He was feeling very downhearted and wandered aimlessly in the mountainous landscape. A dwarf saw him approaching and hid himself with brown dead foliage.

The prince stopped because a rocky chasm blocked his way, but he could see an arch of stone, like a bridge, which crossed it. This lead to an opening in the cliff face on the other side of the chasm.

The prince cautiously stepped onto the arch, which sounded a loud note with each footstep. The opening on the other side was shrouded in cobwebs, but he took out his sword and cut them away.

On the other side of the opening he found a strange land. He looked round and saw a lake and a waterfall. The dwarf followed the prince and asked him what he wanted. The prince pointed his sword to the dwarf, and the dwarf snapped the end of it. The dwarf told the prince that he was the ruler of this kingdom, and the prince was now his prisoner.

The prince explained his quest for the magical tree, and the dwarf offered it to him, on one condition. If the princess still did not love him by sunset, he must return to live in the magic kingdom. The prince was so confident that he joked. He said that if he failed he would be a bear.

The prince took the tree to the castle, but the princess would not believe him. The tree would not sing or ring for her. He explained that if she would only love him, then the tree would ring and sing. She became angry, because she did not want to be told what to do.

He took the tree and left the castle. The king told his daughter that he thought the prince really did have the magical tree. She told him to take some knights and ride after the prince. She sprinkled water on her face and pretended to her father that she was crying.

The prince rode to the entrance of the magic kingdom. He got down from his horse and stood on the stone arch. As the sun set he turned into a bear. He walked through the opening. The dwarf clambered up from a ledge within the chasm, like a big black spider. The horse was startled. The dwarf turned, saw the horse rearing, and turned it into stone.

The bear was angry with the dwarf, but the dwarf said it was his own fault. The dwarf said that if the tree sings and rings in the magic kingdom then he would be freed. He told him that the tree's magic is stronger than his own.

The king rode to the entrance of the magic kingdom. The bear emerged and spoke to him. The king was very surprised, and asked the bear if he could really speak. They talked, and the bear said he could have the tree but wanted in exchange the first thing that greeted him on his return to the castle. The king agreed, because he knew it would be his dog.

The princess went into a tower with a servant to watch for the return of her father. She insisted that all the doves were removed. The servant saw the king returning and woke the princess, who rushed down the spiral staircase to the door. A big dog was waiting at the door, but she forced it out of the way. The king was horrified to see his daughter greet him. He told her to stay within, and ordered his soldiers to mount a guard.

On the border of his kingdom a soldier was on guard. He had been sent by the king to kill the bear. The bear appeared and took the soldier's spear from him. He flung the spear into a tree, it went right through, and he hung the soldier up upon it. He questioned him: what was the first thing to greet the king?

The bear went to the castle and climbed a wall. The princess awoke in her four-poster bed. Her crown was kept on a cushion on the table next to the bed. She took it and placed it firmly on her head. She asked her servant if the tree had sung/rung. She told her that if the tree did not sing for her today she would burn it. The servant suggested it might need sun. The princess told her to dress her, as she would go into her garden, even though the king had forbidden it.

In the centre of her little garden was a fountain. She removed the plug and drained it. She ordered the servant to fill it with earth. She did not care about the fish that lived there. She planted the tree, and told it that now it must sing for her or she would burn it. But still it was silent.

The bear had been watching this and now took hold of her. The soldiers came and soon he was surrounded with his back to the wall. But the wall collapsed and he escaped. He pushed down a tree. Its branches blocked the hole in the wall so that the soldiers could not follow.

On the border he pulled down the soldier from the tree and frightened him away. He carried and dragged the princess to the magic kingdom. Her crown fell off. As they crossed the arch of stone, the dwarf was watching them from a ledge higher up. He walked along the ledge and through a smaller opening onto another ledge within the magic kingdom. He continued to watch them.

The next morning she woke and saw the bear next to the lake. He was stroking a giant fish in the lake. As she approached the fish swam away. She told him that she wanted her silver bath. He offered her the lake to bathe in. She told him she could not bathe in the lake, she was a princess. The dwarf was watching them from a cloud and was laughing at them.

The bear was picking berries from a bush. Doves were perching in it and eating. As the princess approached they flew away. She told him she was hungry, and he offered her some berries. She told him she would not eat berries, and she always ate from her golden plates, she was a princess. The dwarf was watching them from inside a big conch shell and was laughing at them. The bear could hear the laughter, and looked round, but the dwarf hid from him deeper within the shell.

The bear was gathering moss. A strange horse with antlers was standing next to him. As she approached it ran away. He offered her moss to sleep on, but she told him she wanted her four-poster bed, she was a princess. The dwarf was watching them from a hole in the ground and was laughing at them.

When the bear was not looking, she grabbed some berries from the bush and ate them. She held out some in her hand and commanded the doves to come to her. They would not. She was angry and threw a stone at them. The bear came and told her to stop. She accused him of telling the animals not to come to her. He explained that animals did not see her pretty face. He said that if she looked as she behaved, her nose would stick out and she would be ugly.

She joked about this, and he warned her not to do so. But it was too late, the dwarf was listening and cast a spell which made her ugly. She went to the lake to see her reflection, and became distressed, splashing about in the water.

The next day she found the bear working on making a cave. She said good morning, and asked who the cave was for. He told her it was for him, but if she helped him she could live there too. He said he thought it might not be good enough for her, what with her being a princess. He told her it would take 1,000 bundles of rocks before the cave would be finished. She gathered rocks in her dress and took them to the lake. Eventually their home was ready, with moss to sleep on and big shells for bowls. She put a garland of flowers at the entrance to the cave.

She was gathering berries and the dwarf made the wind blow. She sheltered behind a big rock. A dove fell out of the sky, with a broken wing. She took it back to their cave and laid it on a bed of moss. Together the princess and the bear bandaged it with some of her dress. She told the dove that she knew the doves were frightened of her because she had been cruel to the doves in the tower at the castle. She promised she would not do it again. Just then, some of her beauty returned, and she no longer had a long upturned nose.

She was washing in the lake, and the giant fish was close by. The dwarf was watching her from the top of the waterfall. He cast a spell and froze the lake and the waterfall. Her hands were trapped in the ice, but she freed them. She ventured onto the ice and broke it with her shoe where it trapped the fish. Before it submerged and swam away she told it that she knew it was frightened of her because she had been cruel to the fish in her garden at the castle. She promised she would not do it again. As before, more of her beauty returned.

She was gathering moss in Moss Valley. The dwarf cast a spell and there was a heavy snowstorm. The strange horse with antlers was trapped in a snowdrift. She tried to free it, and then went to get the bear. Together they dug it out. He had a big shell that he used to scoop away the snow. She told the horse that she knew it was frightened of her because she had been cruel to the dog at the doorway of the castle. She promised she would not do it again. Now all of her beauty had returned.

The dwarf was angry because he knew that he was losing his power over them. The bear had explained to her that a good deed is more powerful than evil spells. She had called him 'dear bear'. The dwarf wanted her to leave his kingdom.

He went to their cave. The dove was frightened and it flew away. He kicked the entrance and made the cave fall down. The princess was cold and the bear told her to go back to the cave, he would finish digging the horse out of the snow. When she got back to the cave, she saw it had been demolished.

The dwarf appeared and said that the bear had demolished the cave. He told her that the bear was dangerous and might kill them both. She found this very difficult to believe, as he had been so kind to the animals. He tempted her with images of the comforts of her castle, her four poster bed, her silver bath, and her golden plates. He told her that if she went home she would not be cold or hungry, and would not have to work again. She started back towards the bear, but he told her that her father was near death. He urged her to leave the Magic Kingdom.

She left the magic kingdom and walked to the castle. It was empty apart from one soldier who did not recognise her. She did not look like a princess with her torn dress and her bare feet. He told her that the king was out looking for the princess, and then she knew that the dwarf had lied to her. She heard singing and ringing and went into her garden, where the wall was still broken, and found the tree. It was singing and ringing, and at first she could not understand this. She had been told it would ring only if she loved the prince, but she loved the bear. Then she asked the tree if the bear was really the prince. It sang and rang in reply. She took it and went back towards the magic kingdom.

The bear was standing on the arch of stone looking into the distance. He cried, and then went back into the magic kingdom. The arch collapsed.

The dwarf saw the princess coming and threw some thorns towards her. Where they landed, a line of tall thorns appeared. She tried to get through, but they made her hands bleed. She did not know what to do, until the strange horse with antlers jumped to her side of the thorns. She climbed upon its back and it jumped back again.

As she approached the rocky chasm the dwarf rolled away a stone, and a trickle of water came from the rocks. More and more water came forth, until the chasm was full. Not only was the chasm filled, but so too the land around it. The princess came to the edge of the water and told the horse to flee and save itself. She looked around to see how she could get to the entrance to the magic kingdom, which was some distance away. A gush of water pushed her into the water but the giant fish came and she climbed upon its back. It carried her across. They were almost at the other side and had passed the horse turned into stone, part of which they could see above the water.

The dwarf used his magic to stop the flow of water over the rocks and into the chasm. Then some more magic and it began to empty. There was nothing the princess could do as the water ran out and the glistening wet walls of the chasm rose around them. The water had nearly all gone and the fish floundered on the rocks at the bottom of the chasm. She looked up and could see way above her the top of the chasm. The doves came with lengths of vine and they lifted her out.

The dwarf grabbed the tree and ran away, with her chasing him. He pushed it into the ground and made a ring of flames appear around it. She tried to get through but she was frightened of the flames. The tree sang and rang from within the circle of flames and she was no longer frightened. She walked though the flames to the tree. Now defeated, the dwarf flew around and around, and then disappeared into the ground. In the distance, lightning was seen.

The bear turned back into the prince. His horse turned back from stone. As they approached the tree it sang and rang. He asked her if they should take the tree with them, and she said that they should leave it there, it might bring good luck to someone else. She climbed upon his horse, and they left.