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(c) 2002 by Rosemary Lake, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, in Once Upon a Time When the Princess Rescued the Prince (13 Fairy Tales) available in paperback and ebook from http://www.rosemarylake.com

Free sample excerpt from

Under the Glass Mountain

    Once upon a time a princess, after the death of her mother, lived alone in a small castle with her father the king, who loved her above all else in the world.

    Her father gave her anything she wanted, but he wished her never to marry and leave him, for he considered that none of the youths of his own kingdom, or the princes of the neighboring kingdoms, were truly worthy of her. Because her beauty and spirit attracted so many suitors, her father set himself to think of some way of discouraging them and keeping her to himself for as long as possible.

    Now just behind the king's palace there stood a great craggy mountain made of glass, which each morning and evening glowed pink and crimson in the rays of the rising or setting sun. After taking thought, the king made a decree:

    Any man wishing to marry the princess must prove himself worthy by climbing the great glass mountain. If he fails, he must leave my kingdom at once and never return.

    Many would-be suitors tried the task, but found it well nigh impossible. Where the glass was sharp, it cut their ropes and their shoes and their feet; and where it was smooth, it was so slippery that they slid straightaway back to the castle, where the king's soldiers were waiting for them with new shoes and thermos bottles of hot chocolate for their journey out of the kingdom.

    Princess Helena often watched the suitors’ attempts from her bedroom window high up in the castle. She was allowed to ride and study with the young nobles, but as soon as any of them showed romantic interest, her father locked her in her own chambers till the suitor had tried the climb, failed, and been sent away.

    For a long time Helena did not really mind this, for she thought marriage sounded quite dull and she was glad to have a polite excuse to avoid it, although of course she tried her best to persuade her schoolmates to remain just good friends rather than getting themselves exiled. But one day her very best friend, a lad named Jason who was a knight of a neighboring country, said to her: “We know each other so well, I have grown to love you. Would you like to marry me?”

    “Oh, don't talk of such things!” said Helena. “I don't want you to be sent away!”

    “I must speak my heart to the king.”

    “Wait a week,” she begged. “Let me think…”

    At the end of the week, Jason was still determined to propose marriage.

    “I have thought it over,” said Helena, “and I am in love with you too. Forget about the mountain and my father! Let's just run away together!”

    Jason shook his head. “First I want to try the mountain. I think I can do it. After all,” he added, “if I fail, we can always run away together afterwards.”

    Helena had to agree this was logical. But she made her own plan, too…

    On the morning when Jason was to climb the mountain, Princess Helena woke at dawn and snuck out of the castle alone, just as the first rays of the sun struck the peak and turned its glassy crags all beautiful shades of pink and gold. Carrying a silken rope and a picnic basket of food from the kitchen, she climbed the mountain just high enough that no one would be able to see her from the plain. There she hid behind a glowing crag and waited for Jason.

 

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Much enlarged from “Old Rinkrank” in Hunt’s Grimm. Most details are mine, but nine bean rows would be worth searching for.