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THE GIANT OF THE BLACK MOUNTAINS
NCE upon a time there was a hunter and he had one son.
While this son was still a little boy the hunter said
to his wife, "My dear, our child will no doubt grow up
to be a hunter just as I am, and if I should not be
alive when that time comes I wish you would take care
to tell him that he must not go to the Black Mountains
to hunt; for evil befalls whoever goes thither."
Soon afterward the hunter died, and in time his son
grew up and became a hunter as his father had been
before him. Then his mother said, "Son, your father
commanded me that I should warn you not to go to the
Black Mountains to hunt."
But the son saw no good reason why he should not hunt
there as well as elsewhere, and one day he took his bow
and arrows, mounted his horse and rode to the Black
Mountains. At length he was among the lofty,
forest-clad ranges, and he could not perceive but that
they were perfectly peaceful
 and free from
danger. "What could my father have meant by his
warning?" he said to himself, and he kept riding on
until suddenly a huge giant appeared before him.
"How now!" shouted the giant, "have you never heard of
me that you dare to come and hunt
 on my ground?"
and he picked up three great rocks and hurled them in
quick succession at the intruder, but the young man
contrived to dodge them, and fitting an arrow to his
bow he shot the giant and killed him.
"I understand my father's warning now, said the young
man; "but as this monster is no longer to be feared I
will seek out his dwelling and see what treasure it
So he went farther into the mountains and presently
came to a magnificent castle. When he drew near to the
entrance a beautiful maiden appeared at a window and he
addressed her and asked to whom the castle belonged.
"Its owner is a great giant who will soon come and tear
you in pieces," she replied. "How dare you venture
among these terrible mountains?"
"The giant is dead," said the young man. "I have killed
"Ah then'" cried she, "I am free. I have been his
prisoner for many years, and you are my deliverer. Wait
where you are and I will come down and unlock the
castle gates and let you in.
She soon had the gates open and bade the young man
welcome, and after he had led his horse to the
 stables the beautiful maiden conducted the young man
into the palace. Then she told him she was the daughter
of a prince, and that the giant had stolen her and that
she had almost despaired of help ever reaching her.
They talked together for a long time, and they liked
each other so well that before they got through talking
the young man asked the princess to be his wife.
"I am willing," said she, "and we can live here in the
"Yes," said he, "and I can go out hunting every day
among the mountains."
But there was an old witch woman who had a hut in a
wild glen not far from the castle, and when she knew
that the giant was dead she went secretly to the body
and administered some magic medicine that brought the
giant to life." Giant," said she, when she had restored
him, "the young man who slew you is now in your castle.
Go home and punish him as he deserves."
"No," said the giant, "I want nothing more to do with
him. He is too clever with his bow and arrows to suit
me, and I shall keep as far away from him as I can."
"Well, then," said the witch, "the task of disposing
of him falls to me; for I do not intend to have
 him staying here in the mountains, if there is any
way to prevent it."
"The quicker you get rid of him the better," said the
giant. "Send him away on some errand from which he can
never come back."
"That is just what I will do," responded the witch,
"and I promise you in three days' time he will be gone
to return no more."
Then the witch went to the palace and asked to be hired
as a servant, and work was given her in the kitchen. It
did not take her long to discover how fond the young
man was of the princess, and on her third day at the
palace she managed to put something into the food the
princess ate that made her sick. No sooner was this
accomplished than the witch said to the young man, "I
fear your princess will die."
"Oh, no," cried he, "she must not die. We must make her
"But there is only one thing can cure her," said the
witch, "and that is the Melon of Life."
"Then I will get the Melon of Life," said he, "and I
will start for it at once."
So he travelled all day long and in the evening he came
to the house of an old man, who gave him lodging for
the night. He told the old man the
 errand he was
on, and the old man said, "Son, you are deceived. The
expedition is a fatal one. Do not go."
But the young man would not be persuaded to turn back.
"Well," said the old man, "if you must have your way I
will give you three things to take with you. Here is a
little jug of water, and here is a comb, and here is a
knife. The Melon of Life is guarded by fifty giants,
and if they pursue you throw these things behind you
one at a time as
there is need."
The young man took the jug and the comb and the knife
and went his way, and at last he came to the garden of
the fifty giants. He succeeded in getting into it
without being seen, and there he found the Melon of
Life. This he picked, and he wasted not a moment in
starting on his return journey, but in getting through
the garden hedge he cracked some dry twigs, and that
alarmed the giants.
They looked around the garden to learn what had caused
the noise, and soon perceived that the Melon of Life
was gone. Then they set off in pursuit of the young
man. When he saw that they were getting near him he
threw the jug behind him. The water in it flowed out
and covered the land he had just passed over with a
 While the giants were going around this lake he
gained quite a distance on them. But presently he saw
them coming again. Then he threw the comb behind him
and there sprang up a thick jungle through which the
giants had great difficulty in forcing their way.
Thus he gained again on his pursuers. But they at
length came out of the jungle and were on his trail
once more. As soon as he saw them he threw the knife
behind him, and the land in his rear was covered with
thorn bushes, and the thorns were like sharp knives.
This time the young man got entirely away from the
fifty giants and returned to the Black Mountains.
However, during his absence, the giant whom the witch
had restored to life had taken possession of the
castle, and the princess had recovered from her
sickness and was locked up in a dungeon.
When the young man approached the castle the giant
chanced to be standing at the gates and saw him while
he was still at a distance. The giant was very much
startled, for he never expected that the young man
would come back, and as he did not care to meet him he
ran off at once to the forest.
The young man at sight of the giant knew that things
had gone wrong while he was away, and he
 made all
haste into the castle, and the first thing he did was
to release the princess. She was now quite well and did
not need the Melon of Life and he locked it up in a
They did not suspect the treachery of the witch woman
and she continued to work in the kitchen. Every night
she went to see the giant in the forest, and they
plotted how to get rid of the young man once more. "I
can never go back to my castle while he is alive," said
the giant, "but I know an easy way to dispose of him."
"What is it?" asked the witch.
"If you can pull three hairs from his head he will
die," replied the giant.
"Very well," said the witch, "I will pluck the three
hairs, though it may be some time before I find a good
So she watched and watched until one day the young man
fell asleep on a couch in the great hall of the castle.
Then the witch stole softly up to the couch, and
selecting three hairs suddenly pulled them out.
Immediately the young man's sleep became death, and the
witch hurried off to tell the giant of what she had
While she was gone the princess came in and found the
young man dead, and she cried and was
 very sad.
But at last she thought of the Melon of
Life locked in the closet and ran and brought it and
held it before the young man's nostrils. No sooner did
she do that than the young man sneezed seven times and
sat up saying, "Oh, what a sound sleep I have had!"
"Sleep!" exclaimed the princess, "it was a sleep out of
which you would never have awakened had it not been for
the Melon of Life."
Then she told him of how she had found him perfectly
lifeless." There is some villainy in this," said he,
"and we had better be on the watch."
So he got his bow and arrows, and he and the princess
went up on a tower to look around and see if any danger
threatened. They had not been long there when they
perceived the giant and the witch coming from the
forest. Then the young man let fly an arrow and it hit
the witch and that was the end of her. The giant did
not wait for him to shoot another arrow. He hastened
away as fast as he could go and was never seen in the
Black Mountains again, and the young man and the
princess lived very happily in the castle ever after.