ONCE THERE was a beautiful princess. Her hair was like gold; her skin was like flowers; her voice was like a bird singing. She was clever and kind.
All the princes wanted to marry her. But she looked at each one of them, and then she said, "No! I will marry the man who brings me a golden apple!"
Now, golden apples are very hard to find. When they heard what she said the princess shook their heads. Their faces grew sad, and they went back to their homes again. But one brave prince stayed behind.
He got on his horse and he went to look for the apple. He looked by the streams; he looked in the hills; he looked in the tree-tops; he went far from home, but he could not find one. There wasn't a golden apple anywhere!
He spent all his money; he lost his good horse, but still he went on looking. His face became thin; his clothes were torn, and still he went on looking.
Then, one day, the price came to a little house in the woods. He knocked at the door, and he said to the old woman who opened it, "Please let me in; please give me food. I have nothing to give you. But if you like, I will tell you a story."
The old woman took him into her house. He sat down and he ate. He had so much food to eat that he soon felt happy and strong again.
When he had finished eating, he told the old woman the story about the beautiful princess and the golden apple.
At the end of the story she got up, and smiled at him. She gave him a little bottle, and she said, " Take this with you, and go to the top of that high mountain. There you will see a beautiful garden. In the garden there is a tree which has golden apples. But the garden belongs to a giant. He is very, very, big. He is bigger than even a dream could make him! He eats men."
"Open this bottle when he comes near you. And if you are lucky, it will send him to sleep. Then take your apple and run. Be brave and be quick."
The young man thanked the old woman, and the next morning he climbed the mountain.
He got higher and higher. No one could see him.
At last he came out of the clouds into the sunshine. Suddenly, there in front of him, was the tree he was looking for!.
He climbed up that tree and he picked a big golden apple. But then the giant came. He was big! He was as big as a man must look to an ant.
The giant picked up the prince; he held him up he looked at the prince carefully. Then he smiled a great smile and he opened his mouth to eat him.
The prince was so frightened that he almost dropped the bottle that the old woman had him! But at last it was opened. He held it under the giant's nose.
The giant's eyes closed, and his head fell forward. Then he lay down on the ground and went straight off to sleep!
The prince climbed down from the great big fingers. He ran away quickly as fast as he could. He ran from the giant, and the mountain-top. He ran down through the clouds. He ran for a whole day!
Then he walked, and he walked and he walked. At last he got back to the home of the princess.
When the prince went to see her she did not know him: his face was so thin and his clothes were so torn and so old. But as soon as he spoke, she smiled and went to him.
"I know who you are," "You are the prince who looked for the apple for me. Did you find it, brave Prince? Is it there in your pocket?"
The prince took the apple out his pocket and gave it to the princess. "Here is your apple, Princess," he said. "I found it, at last. But it took a long time.!"
The prince took the apple out of his pocket and gave it to the princess. "Here is your apple, Princess," he said. "I found it, at last. But it took a long time!"
The prince and the princess were soon married, and they lived happily together for a long time. But nobody knows what happened to the golden apple. No one has seen it since then.