|-- Page 2: Conclusion --|
|It must be said that the boy (who had actually grown into quite a handome young man by now) really was a good worker. But one day, the sun shone especially hot and he believed himself to be unobserved; so removed his cap to let the wind blow through is hair. Well, the sun so reflected off his golden tresses that the king's daughter noticed the glittering from her window. She decided to get to know this strange young man and called for him to fetch her some fresh flowers for her room. Quickly, he pulled his cap back on and picked the most beautiful bunch of field flowers.
On the way upstairs to the princess' room, the head gardner saw him and scolded him for picking wild flowers for the princess, he should have picked from the more noble flowers ... roses, carnations, and the like. But the boy insisted these flowers had a much more pleasing aroma and the princess would surely appreciate them.
She did. But she also bade him to remove his cap in her presence, whereupon he again told the one about his scabby head. Not to be fooled, the young woman grabbed his cap right off his head and beheld the beauty that was his hair. She would not let him go until he had accepted a handful of gold coins for his troubles. Not having any need of these, he gave them to the gardeners' children to play with.
This went on for some time, daily, he picked wildflowers for the princess, and the gardeners' children had gold coins to play with.
Then, as it is wont to do every so often, war broke out in the land and the king called all his men to arms. Our boy also wanted to be a soldier and asked for a horse so he could ride into war. He was laughed at and told to take what was left ... one lone horse with a gamey leg. Notwithstanding the laughter that followed him, he rode off ... to the woods. Called "Iron John" and as the wild man appeared and asked what was needed of him, the boy asked for a decent horse. "That you shall have," was the answer "and more to boot."
Soon, a magnificent black horse was led out of the forest, followed by a fearsome bunch of riders, all decked out in shiny silver armour, brandishing fearsome-looking swords. The boy handed the bridle of his lame horse to the groom, was soon armour-clad himself. Leading the warriors, he followed the king into war.
The battle was already not going too well for our king when the magnificent troupe arrived. How their swords and armour sparkled in the sun, putting fear into the hearts of the enemy! The tide finally turned and what was left of the opposition soon turned to flee, pursued relentlessly by the men in silver. None were left alive. But in the end, the silver horde did not follow the now victorious king, they disappeared as quickly as they had come.
When they reached to the forest, the boy again called for Iron John and asked for nothing more than the return of the old, lame horse, and please take back the armour and the warriors.
Upon returning home, the king was greeted by the princess who congratulated her father on his victory. He told her that it was not him that had won the battle, but a strange army of silver-clad warriors, and no, he had no clou as to their identity or their current whereabouts.
Soon, the boy also returned to the court, riding the lame horse. Again he was again laughted at. When they men asked him behind what bush he had hidden whilst they had risked their lives for their king and country, he remarked that he had done his best, and that things would have come to a bad end had it not been for him. They laughed at him all the more.
Meanwhile, the king called for a great feast to be prepared in celebration of the victory. It should last for three days, and the princess should toss a golden apple to the knights. He hoped that the unknown warrior would show up to claim the prize.
|Again, the boy went to the edge of the woods, called for Iron John, and asked whether it could be so that he catch the apple. "It will be so" was the reply. He was also given a red suit of armour and a red horse.
No-one recognised him at the feast, and he rode off as soon as he had caught the apple.
For the second feast-day, Iron John had supplied our boy with a white horse and a white suit of armour, and the events of the day before repeated themselves.
This was beginning to rub the king the wrong way, who declared that should this happen again, the knight must be followed and brought before him to identify himself.
On the third day, the most magnificent-looking knight appeared, clad in black armour, riding a spirited black horse, again sprinting off as soon as he had possession of the golden apple.
The pursuers actually managed to catch up with him at one point and the blow of a sword injured his leg. But he quickly got away from them as their horses could not match the speed and agility of the black stallion. The king wasn't too pleased when he heard of all this, but now he didn't know quite what to do.
The next day, the princess, with a healty dose of womanly intuition, asked the head gardner about the boy. She was told that he was hard at work in the gardens. And he sure was strange, that one. The night before, he had come to the gardner's hut and let the children play with three beautiful golden apples.
When the king heard of this, he ordered the gardner-boy brought before him. As usual, the young man was wearing his cap, but the princess snatched it from him, his golden locks falling to his shoulders. All that looked at him saw how handsome he really was.
"Are you the one that caught the apples"? the king asked.
He replied in the affirmative and as proof pulled out a kerchief and showed the apples.
"And are you also the silver knight who won the battle for me?"
Again, the reply was affirmative, and as futher proof he revealed the wound the king's men had inflicted as they pursued him.
Everyone was quite astonished. The king declared that there was no way this was a simple gardner's helper, he was asked to reveal his true identity. So he told the story of all that had happened to him, from the time his father, a king in a far-away land, had caged the brown man, up to the present.
The king asked him if there was anything he could do to repay him for all he had done, whereupon the boy, who was now revealed as a handsome prince, asked for the hand of the princess. This was granted with pleasure, not least on the part of the princess. Who, of course, lost no time informing her father that she had known all along that this golden-haired boy wasn't as simple as he had appeared to be.
The wedding was magnificent. His mother and father had been notified and they were present, joy in their hearts for they had long ago given up all hope of ever seeing their son again.
Everyone was finally was at table, the meal had barely begun, when the music suddenly stopped. The doors swung open and a tall, handsome figure entered the room. A king, no doubt, by his dress and bearing.
This man stepped up to the young groom and took him in his arms for a bear hug. Then he told the tale of how he was bespelled by an evil sorcerer, but the boy's loyalty had finally broken the spell and returned him to his former self.
The riches with which he presented the young couple were the biggest treasure anyone there had ever seen.
And I'm sure they all went on to live happily ever after ...
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