Once, in the autumn, a boy found an eagle that could not fly. He felt sorry for it and took it home with him. The boy took care of the eagle all through the winter. In the spring the feathers on the eagle’s wings began to change. New feathers grew. The boy said to the eagle, “Now you can fly and you can go to your friends.”
The eagle was happy and said to the boy. “You have been very good to me. What can I do for you?”
“How can an eagle help me?” the boy answered.
Then the eagle said, “Take one of my feathers, one from the wing, and hide it. If you should ever be in trouble, beat the feather between two stones, and I’ll come to help you.” After he said that, the eagle flew away.
The time came when the boy left home to try his luck in the world. As he was walking by a river, he saw a man sitting and thinking on the bank of the river. There was a wolf behind the man and the wolf was looking at the man.
“You, my friend, there’s a wolf behind you!” shouted the boy.
The man instantly jumped into the river. The wolf ran away and the boy kept on walking.
After a while, the boy found a big fish on the bank of the river. The water had splashed on the shore and thrown the fish right out of the river. The boy felt sorry for the fish and pushed it back into the water with his stick.
The fish turned its head to the boy and said, “What would you like me to give you? I want to pay you back for the help you gave me.”
” What can a fish give me ?” the boy laughed.
“Cut off one of my scales and keep it,” the fish replied.
“Then if you ever need my help, beat the scale between two stones and I’ll come to help you.”
The boy kept on walking and met the man he had saved from the wolf. The man said to the boy, “Hello, my friend, God be with you.”
“God be with you too,” the boy replied.
“I want to do something for you,” said the man, “because of what you did for me. You know, when you saved me from the wolf.”
“What kind of man are you?” asked the boy.
“I’m the devil!”
The boy was frightened when he heard that and cried, “I don’t want your help, I’m afraid you’ll do something bad to me!”
“Don’t worry,” said the devil. “I must do something good for you, nothing bad. Take three hairs of my head and go to the nearest city. That’s where the king’s daughter lives. Her name is Dunya and she’s very beautiful. She’s decided to marry anyone who can hide from her for three days without her finding him. Make a bet with her that you can do it. Then burn my three hairs and I’ll come to you and tell you what to do. Believe me, I’ll help you become the king’s son-in-law.”
The boy took the devil’s hairs and went away. The devil jumped into the river.
Then the boy went to the city that the devil had told him about. He told a messenger from the king’s palace that he wanted to make a bet that he could hide from the king’s daughter. The messenger told the boy that many young men had tried their luck doing it, but had lost the bet and gotten killed by the king. If he couldn’t hide from the king’s daughter, they warned him, he would also get killed!
“Don’t worry about me!” the boy cried and he went to get a room at the inn. When he got in his room, he burned the devil’s hairs. Instantly the devil appeared.
“I know why you’re calling me,” said the devil. Where is the eagle’s feather you have? Beat that feather between two stones and the eagle will come here because he will know you need him.”
The boy did what the devil told him to. Instantly the eagle flew down to him and asked, “Why are you calling me?” “I made a bet with the king’s daughter.” replied the boy. Please help me hide from her so she won’t be able to find me.”
The eagle called four more eagles and said to the boy, “First eat and drink. Then spread yourself across our backs!”
The boy ate and drank and then spread across the eagles’ backs. The eagles flew up in the sky, above the clouds, so that no one could see the boy. The next morning, before sunrise, the king’s daughter bathed herself nicely and climbed up a high tower, from which she could see the whole world. She looked through a telescope but she couldn’t see the boy anywhere. Then she looked out at the ocean. Still she couldn’t see the boy. Then she looked up to the sky. First she saw a dark cloud, and then she saw a piece of the boy’s clothes sticking out behind it.
After a while, the boy went to see the king’s daughter. “No one has hidden better than you,” she praised him, “but I found you anyway. You were hiding above the clouds on the backs of five eagles.”
The boy went away. Then, as the devil had told him to do, he beat the fish scale between two stones and went to the shore where he had first seen the fish.
“Why are you calling me?” the fish asked the boy. The boy told the fish everything that had happened and finally said, “I would like you to hide me someplace where nobody can see me.”
“Come here and get inside my mouth,” said the fish. The boy got into the fish’s mouth. The fish swam under water and hid itself under a rock in the sea.
The next morning, the king’s daughter got up, washed her face nicely as usual, and climbed to the top of the tower. She looked all over the sky and the earth but she couldn’t see the boy. Then she looked through the telescope at the ocean. She saw a piece of the boy’s clothes caught in the fish’s teeth. That was a fine surprise for her!
At a certain time, the boy came to the king’s daughter again. “Were you able to see me this time?” he asked.
“Yes, as God wills, I saw a piece of your clothing in the fish’s mouth.”
The boy left. That night, he decided to hide for the third time. This time, the devil blew on him and turned him into an apple. He put the apple under the king’s apple tree, near a spring, where the king’s servants always got water. The servants saw the apple on the ground and thought it looked strange. One of them picked up the apple and went running back to the king’s daughter to show it to her. She liked the apple so much that she stuck it in her bodice.
The next morning the king’s daughter climbed to the top of the tower again. She saw the whole world, the sky, the earth, and the sea. But she couldn’t see the boy anywhere. Happily she called out, “Oh, boy, boy, where are you?”
At that moment, the apple rolled out of her bodice. It turned into the boy again. “I’m here!” the boy cried.
The Queen’s daughter held out her hand to the boy and said, “From this moment, I am yours and you are mine!”
And that is how the boy who was always doing good things for people became the king’s son-in-law.