I. Prince Csihan (Nettles)

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There was once—I don't know where, at the other side of seven times seven countries, or even beyond them, on the tumble-down side of a tumble-down stove—a poplar-tree, and this poplar-tree had sixty-five branches, and on every branch sat sixty-six crows; and may those who don't listen to my story have their eyes picked out by those crows!

There was a miller who was so proud that had he stept on an egg he would not have broken it. There was a time when the mill was in full work, but once as he was tired of his mill-work he said, "May God take me out of this mill!" 

Now, this miller had an auger, a saw, and an adze, and he set off over seven times seven countries, and never found a mill. So his wish was fulfilled. On he went, roaming about, till at last he found on the bank of the Gagy, below Martonos, a tumble-down mill, which was covered with nettles. Here he began to build, and he worked, and by the time the mill was finished all his stockings were worn into holes and his garments all tattered and torn. He then stood expecting people to come and have their flour ground; but no one ever came.

One day the twelve huntsmen of the king were chasing a fox; and it came to where the miller was, and said to him: "Hide me, miller, and you shall be rewarded for your kindness." 

"Where shall I hide you?" said the miller, "seeing that I possess nothing but the clothes I stand in?" 

"There is an old torn sack lying beside that trough," replied the fox; "throw it over me, and, when the dogs come, drive them away with your broom." 

When the huntsmen came they asked the miller if he had seen a fox pass that way. 

"How could I have seen it; for, behold, I have nothing but the clothes I stand in?" 

With that the huntsmen left, and in a little while the fox came out and said, "Miller, I thank you for your kindness; for you have preserved me, and saved my life. I am anxious to do you a good turn if I can. Tell me, do you want to get married?" 

"My dear little fox," said the miller, "if I could get a wife, who would come here of her own free will, I don't say that I would not—indeed, there is no other way of my getting one; for I can't go among the spinning-girls in these clothes." 

The fox took leave of the miller, and, in less than a quarter of an hour, he returned with a piece of copper in his mouth. "Here you are, miller," said he; "put this away, you will want it ere long." 

The miller put it away, and the fox departed; but, before long, he came back with a lump of gold in his mouth. "Put this away, also," said he to the miller, "as you will need it before long." 

"And now," said the fox, "wouldn't you like to get married?" 

"Well, my dear little fox," said the miller, "I am quite willing to do so at any moment, as that is my special desire." 

The fox vanished again, but soon returned with a lump of diamond in his mouth. "Well, miller," said the fox, "I will not ask you any more to get married; I will get you a wife myself. And now give me that piece of copper I gave you." Then, taking it in his mouth, the fox started off over seven times seven countries, and travelled till he came to King Yellow Hammer's. 

"Good day, most gracious King Yellow Hammer," said the fox; "my life and death are in your majesty's hands. I have heard that you have an unmarried daughter. I am a messenger from Prince Csihan, who has sent me to ask for your daughter as his wife." 

"I will give her with pleasure, my dear little fox," replied King Yellow Hammer; "I will not refuse her; on the contrary, I give her with great pleasure; but I would do so more willingly if I saw to whom she is to be married—even as it is, I will not refuse her."

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