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The Singing, Ringing Tree

A beautiful princess refused all offers of marriage because she considered no one worthy of her. A prince offered her a casket of pearls but she tipped them on the floor. She told him she would only accept the Singing Ringing Tree. The prince searched for it till he came to the mountains. 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.

He went through the opening and found a strange land. He looked round and saw a lake and a waterfall. A dwarf had been following 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.

He 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, as she would not be told what to do. He took the tree and left the castle. He rode to the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. As the sun set he turned into a bear.

Now the princess had changed her mind. She wanted the tree now and told the king to get it. He rode to the Magic Kingdom. 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. But it was his daughter who greeted him; she had roughly pushed the dog out of the way. While waiting for him in a tower she had been unkind to some doves, whose home it was. 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 came and took her to the magic kingdom. The dwarf cast a spell and she became ugly. She was upset, but now became kinder. She helped the bear make a new home for them in a cave. She also showed kindness to the animals, to a dove with a broken wing, a giant fish that was trapped in ice, and a strange horse with antlers that was trapped in snow. Each time she told the animal that she knew why it was frightened of her - because of her past behaviour - and she promised she would not do it again. Each time she did this, some of her beauty returned.

Now that she had become kind, the dwarf knew he was losing his power over them. He told her that her father was dying and needed her at the castle. She went there, and then she realised that he had been lying to her. She heard singing and ringing and went into her garden and found the tree. She asked it about the bear, and 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 sad because the princess had left him. He stood upon the arch of stone and looked out. Then he went into the magic kingdom and 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. The dwarf flooded the rocky chasm, but the giant fish came and carried her across. As they were halfway across, the dwarf emptied the chasm. The fish floundered on the glistening wet rocks at the bottom of the chasm.

The doves came with lengths of vine and she escaped. 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. The bear turned back into the prince. His horse turned back from stone. As they approached the tree it sang and rang. She climbed upon his horse, and they left.