The Boy Who Found Fear At Last
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A woman had an only son. During a storm, she told him to shut the door because she felt frightened. He asked her what she meant. When she could not make him understand, he set out to find the fear she told him of.
He found robbers and sat with them by their fire. When they realized he did not fear them, they gave him the ingredients and sent him to a churchyard to cook them a cake. A hand from the grave asked for it, but the boy said that he did not give the food of the living to the dead, and rapped it with a spoon. Then they sent him to a pool. He found there a swing hanging over the pool with a child on it. A maiden told him that it was her brother and asked if she could climb on his shoulders to get him down; when he did, she started to strangle him with her feet. He threw her off, and she lost a bracelet that he took up.
He went on. An ogre demanded the bracelet, as it was his. They went before a judge, who decreed that neither of them had a right to it, and he would keep it until one of them brought him its partner. So the ogre and the boy both had to leave it.
He met up with a ship being wrecked. He swam to it and had the frightened sailors lower him into the sea. He found there a sea-maiden dragging down the ship. He freed the ship and chained her up.
He found a garden in which three doves flew in, and turned into maidens; one had been the hand in the graveyard, the second the one with the bracelet, and the third the seamaiden. They toasted his health. He appeared to them, and they gave him the matching bracelet.
He went on for a long time, but never found fear! One day he came to a crowded city. He was told the king had died and had no heir, so a pigeon would be released. Whoever it perched on would be king. It perched on the boy. He had a vision of himself trying to make his poor subjects rich, his bad ones good, and never succeeding and never be able to do as he wished. He was terrified, but they released more pigeons and they all flew to him.
Having found fear, the young man submitted to being king.
- The Boy Who Found Fear At Last, Andrew Lang's Fairy Books at www.mythfolklore.net