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East o' the Sun
and West o' the Moon

(continued)


One Sunday the White Bear came and said that now they could set off to see her father and mother. Off they started, she sitting on his back, and they went far and long. At last they came to a grand house, and there her brothers and sisters were running about out-of-doors at play, and everything was so pretty 'twas a joy to see.

"This is where your father and mother live now," said the White Bear, "but don't forget what I told you, else you'll make us both unlucky."

No, of course she would not forget! When she had reached the house, the White Bear turned right about and left her.

Then when she went in to see her father and mother and there was such great joy there was no end to it. None of them thought they could thank her enough for all she had done for them. Now they had everything they wished, as good as good could be, and they all wanted to know how she got on where she lived.

She said it was very good to live where she did; she had all she wished. What she said besides I don't know but, of course, she did not tell any of them about the Bear. However, in the afternoon, after their dinner, all happened as the White Bear had said. Her mother wanted to talk to her alone in her bedroom. She remembered what the White Bear had said, and would not go upstairs. "Oh, what we have to talk about will keep!" she said, and put her mother off.

But somehow or other, her mother got round her at last, and she had to tell her the whole story. She said that every night a man came and lay down beside her as soon as she had put out the light, and that she never saw him because he was always up and away before the morning dawned. She told her that she went about sad and sorrowful, for she thought she should so like to see him, and that all day long she walked about alone and it was dull, dreary and lonesome.

"My!" said her mother; "it may well be a Troll who sleeps by your side! But now I'll tell you how to see him. I'll give you a bit of candle, which you can carry home in your bosom. Just light the candle while he is asleep and you can look upon his face. But take care not to drop the tallow on him."

She took the candle and hid it in her bosom, and as night drew on, the White bear came to fetch her away.

When they had gone a bit of the way, the White Bear asked if all had not happened as he had said?

Well, she couldn't say it hadn't.

"Now, remember," said he, "if you have listened to your mother's advice, you have brought bad luck on us both, and then all that has passed between us will be as nothing,"

"No," she said, "I have not listened to my mother's advice."

When she reached home it was the old story over again. There came a man and lay down beside her. But at dead of night, when she heard he slept, she got up and struck a light, lit the candle, and let the light shine on him. Then she saw he was the loveliest prince one ever set eyes on. At once she fell deeply in love with him and thought that if she couldn't kiss him there and then she wouldn't be able to live. So she did, but at the same time she accidentally dropped three hot drops of tallow on him and he woke up.

"What have you done?" he cried. "Now you have made us both unlucky, for had you waited only this one year I had been freed. I have a stepmother who has bewitched me, so that I am a white bear by day and a man by night. But you have not kept your word, and I must set off from you to her. She lives in a castle which stands east o' the sun and west o' the moon, and there, too, is a princess with a nose three feet long, and she's the wife I must now have."

She wept and pleaded, but there was no help for it - go he must.

Then she asked if she might not go with him?

No, she mightn't.

"Tell me the way then," she said, "and I'll seek for you; that surely I may get leave to do."

"Yes, you may do that," he said, "but there is no way to that place. It lies east o' the sun and west o' the moon, and thither you will never find your way."

Next morning, when she woke up, both Prince and castle were gone. She found herself lying on a little green patch, in the midst of the gloomy, thick wood. By her side lay the same bundle of rags she had brought with her from her old home.

continued...

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