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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Fairy Gifts and their Ill-Luck
Myths and Folk-Lore of the Aryan Peoples
 
From ‘The Science of Fairy Tales,’ by Edwin Sidney Hartland

A PEASANT in Swedish Lappmark who had one day been unlucky at the chase, was returning disgusted, when he met a prince who begged him to come and cure his wife. The peasant protested in vain that he was not a doctor. The other would take no denial, insisting that it was no matter, for if he would only put his hands upon the lady she would be healed. Accordingly the stranger led him to the very top of a mountain, where was perched a castle he had never seen before. On entering it, he found the roof overlaid with silver, the carpets of silk, and the furniture of the purest gold. The prince took him into a room where lay the loveliest of princesses on a golden bed, screaming with pain. As soon as she saw the peasant she begged him to come and put his hands upon her. Almost stupefied with astonishment, he hesitated to lay his coarse hands upon so fair a lady. But at length he yielded; and in a moment her pain ceased, and she was made whole. She stood up and thanked him, begging him to tarry awhile and eat with them. This, however, he declined to do; for he feared that if he tasted the food which was offered him he must remain there. The prince then took a leathern purse, filled it with small round pieces of wood, and gave it to him with these words: “So long as thou hast this purse, money will never fail thee. But if thou shouldst ever see me again, beware of speaking to me; for if thou speak thy luck will depart.” When the man got home he found the purse filled with dollars; and by virtue of its magical property he became the richest man in the parish. As soon as he found the purse always full, whatever he took out of it, he began to live in a spendthrift manner, and frequented the alehouse. One evening as he sat there he beheld the strange prince with a bottle in his hand, going round and gathering the drops which the guests shook from time to time out of their glasses. The rich peasant was surprised that one who had given him so much did not seem able to buy himself a single dram, but was reduced to this means of getting a drink. Thereupon he went up to him and said: “Thou hast shown me more kindness than any other man ever did, and I will willingly treat thee to a little.” The words were scarce out of his mouth when he received such a blow on his head that he fell stunned to the ground; and when again he came to himself, the prince and his purse were both gone. From that day forward he became poorer and poorer, until he was reduced to absolute beggary.  1
 
  NOTE.—This story exemplifies the need of the trolls for human help, the refusal of food, fairy gratitude, and the conditions involved in the acceptance of supernatural gifts. It mentions one further characteristic of fairy nature—the objection to be recognized and addressed by men who are privileged to see them.—E. S. H.  2
 
 
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