In a kingdom long ago, a poor woman’s son was born with a prophecy that he would marry the princess by his fourteenth birthday.
This news reached the king, who was filled with envy and fear. He visited the woman, saying with a sly smile, “Such fortune for your son! Let me take him and ensure his prosperous future.”
But in truth, the king left the baby in a river, hoping he’d be lost forever. Miraculously, the baby was found and raised by a miller and his wife.
Years passed, and the boy grew into a kind-hearted young man. One day, the king visited the mill and was shocked to see the boy alive.
Pretending to be kind, he said, “Young man, if you bring me a letter to the queen, I shall reward you handsomely.”
The letter, however, was a wicked command to the queen to take the boy’s life.
On his journey, the boy stayed at an old woman’s house. Seeing his pure heart, she switched the letter with one that requested the boy marry the princess.
The king, upon his return, was furious and said, “Only if you bring me three golden hairs from the devil’s head shall you marry my daughter!”
The boy bravely set off on his quest. Along the way, he encountered a city with a dried-up well, a kingdom with a withered tree bearing golden apples, and a ferryman seeking release from his endless toil.
Each asked him to question the devil about their woes.
Reaching the devil’s castle, he found the devil’s grandmother, who agreed to help. She transformed the boy into an ant and hid him in her hair.
When the devil slept, she plucked three golden hairs and asked him the questions. Each time, the devil murmured answers in his sleep.
With the three golden hairs and answers in hand, the boy returned. To the city, he said, “A mouse plagues your well,” to the kingdom, “An underground treasure stops your tree from growing,” and to the ferryman, “Give your oar to the next passenger.”
When he returned to the king with the golden hairs, the king was astonished. He asked, “How did you manage to get these?” The boy replied, “I helped those in need, and they helped me in return.”
The king, realizing the boy’s wisdom and bravery, allowed him to marry the princess. They lived happily ever after, and the boy’s kindness brought prosperity to the kingdom.
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