From, The Red Fairy Book, edited By Andrew Lang
And retold by William Thompson
Time passed for the Princess, till one fine day an enormous pig from the North walked suddenly into the palace, and going straight up to the King said, “Hail! Oh King. May your life be as prosperous and bright as sunrise on a clear day!”
“Greetings, friend,” answered the King, cautiously, “what wind has brought you hither?”
“I come a-wooing,” replied the Pig.
The King was astonished to hear such a speech from a Pig, and he was certain something strange was afoot. He remembered the book and his daughter’s fate, but he still didn’t want to give the Princess in marriage to a pig. As he hesitated, one of the courtiers whispered in his ear that the Court and the street were filled with hundreds of pigs. The King saw there was no escape, and he knew he must give his consent. The Pig insisted that the wedding should take place within a week, and he refused to go away till the King had sworn a royal oath upon it. What was the King to do?
The King then sent for his daughter. “Your fate is upon you, my dear,” he said.
The Princess began to weep, but the King said: “My child, the words and demeanor of this Pig are unlike any creature I have ever seen. Depend upon it. Some magic is at work. Go with him and obey him. I feel sure that fate has more in store for you than marriage to a pig.”
“If you wish me to marry him, dear father, I will do it,” replied the Girl, swallowing her tears.
The wedding-day arrived, and soon after, the Pig and his bride set out for his home in one of the royal carriages. The parting from her father was grievous, but the Princess did her best to be brave.
On the road into the North they passed a great bog, and the Pig ordered the carriage to stop. He got out and rolled about in the muck till he was covered from head to foot. Then He clambered back into the carriage and turned to his bride. “Kiss me, my dear,” he said.
What was the poor girl to do? She remembered her father’s words, and, pulling out her pocket handkerchief, she gently wiped the Pig’s snout and gave it a kiss.
By the time they reached the Pig’s home, which stood alone in a thick wood, it was dark. They sat down quietly for a little, as they were tired after their journey. Then they had supper together, and lay down to rest. During the night, the Princess noticed a strange thing: the Pig had changed into a beautiful young man. She was surprised and a little frightened, but remembering her father’s words, she took courage. She decided to wait and see what would happen.
Every night after that, she saw that the Pig turned in to the beautiful young man, and every morning he was back to being a Pig. This happened night after night, and the Princess knew that her husband must be under an enchantment. As the days passed, she grew quite fond of him, for he was kind and gentle.
One day, as the Princess was sitting alone and watching the forest, she saw an old woman walking through the trees. She could hardly contain her excitement, as it was so long since she had seen another human being.
She called out to the old woman: “Come sit with me, old mother. You can join me in a cup of tea.”
The old woman joined her, and the two of them were soon deep in conversation. Among many other things, the old woman told the Princess that she understood all manner of magic arts, and that she could foretell the future, and knew the healing powers of herbs and plants.
“I shall be forever grateful, old mother,” said the Princess, “if you will tell me what is the matter with my husband. Why is he a Pig by day and a man by night?”
“I was just going to tell you that very thing, my dear, just to show you what a good fortune-teller I am. He’s under an enchantment, of course. If you like, I will give you a charm to break the spell.”
“If you only will,” sighed the Princess. “I will give you anything in return, for I cannot bear to see my poor husband like this.”
“Here, then, my dear child,” said the old woman, with a curious gleam in her eye. “Take this thread, but don’t say anything to your husband, for if you did, it would lose its healing power. Once he is asleep, get up very quietly and fasten the thread round his left foot. In the morning, you will see no pig beside you, but the beautiful young man.”
“And I need no reward. I shall be repaid by knowing that you are happy, for it breaks my heart to think of all you have suffered, and I only wish I had known it sooner, as I should have come to your rescue at once.”
After the old woman had gone away into the forest, the Princess hid the thread very carefully. That night, she got up quietly, and with a beating heart she bound the thread round her husband’s foot. Just as she was pulling it tight, the thread broke with a crack, for it was rotten to the core.
Her husband awoke with a start. He looked at her in the moonlight that streamed through the open window. “Unhappy woman!” he cried. “What have you done? Three more days and this cursed spell would have fallen from me. Now, who knows how long I may have to go about in the shape of a pig?”
“I am leaving you at once, and we shall never meet again: not until you have worn out three pairs of iron shoes and blunted a steel staff in your search for me.” And so saying, he fled the house and disappeared into the forest.
(To be continued)