The Three Fairies Of Sandy Batoum 

  
           There was once a boy who was apprenticed to a butcher just at the time the king's daughter was to be wed. 
           The king came to the butcher and said, "You owe me much, and to settle part of that debt, I want forty sheep for my daughter's wedding tomorrow and all of them still warm."  Then he left, slamming the door behind.
           The butcher put his head in his hands. "How can I do such a thing'!" he cried.
           But the boy laughed. Can there be anvthing easier? ust bring me a bag of nuts and come back in the morning."  So the butcher put his fate in the boy's hand and left.
           The boy sat up all night, eating the nuts.  At dawn he prayed to God, and God heard hirn and sent the forty sheep, ready for eating, and they were still warm.
           The butcher was so pleased that, after the king's daughter's wedding, he told the boy, "You shall be my son and marry my daughter."
           He neglected to say that the girl was already betrothed to another. The butcher was not a very smart man.
           Well, the girl's fiance was not pleased and determined to rid himself of his rival.  So he took the boy to a strange meadow, saying, "Let us make a party here, to show there are no bad feelings between us."  The boy liked the sound of that. 
           "Do you see that vine over there?" the fiance said.  "It has grapes both winter and summer.  Go and bring some for us to eat." 
           Now that vine was thought to grow in a vile place.  It was said that wicked fairies lived thereabouts.  Whoever climbed the vine never              returned.  But the boy did not know this.  He went to the vine, said a prayer to God, and was about to climb up when he heard a noise behind him.  Turning, he saw a fairy maiden, as lovely as spring. 
           He grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the ground, whereupon she turned into a dove with great white wings and a golden beak. 
           "Take this golden bracelet," said the dove.  "And if you search for rne, you will find me in Sandv Batoum."  Then she flew off. 
           The boy took the bracelet and some grapes as well, but when he returned to the table, the fiance had run off, so the boy went home alone. 
           Well, that very next day, having seen his daughter and her new husband off on a trip, the king came to the butcher once again. 
    "You must now bring the rest of what you owe me," said the king.  "And by my accounting it is three hundred and fifty gold pieces."  He left, slamming the door behind.  
           The butcher put his head in his hands. "How can I do such a thing?" he cried. 
           The boy laughed.  "Can there be anything easier?  Take this bracelet and sell it and pay your debt." 
           So the butcher went to the market and found a gold merchant who said, "Where did you find this?  It is mine.  I shall have you arrested."  He called for the authorities and immediately the butcher was taken to court. 
           But the boy went to speak on his behalf, saving, "It is my fault, not the butcher's.  However, if you give me forty days, 1 will go and fetch another bracelet just like it so you can see that it is not the merchant's but mine."  So the boy was given his forty days, but the butcher remained in jail the while. 
           The first thing the boy did was to ask around about fairies.  And, hearing that there 'Were dangerous fairies on the sea sinking all boats in a certain sea-lane, he borrowed a boat and rowed out to sea.  There, in the very middle of the sea-lane, was a fairy as beautiful as summer.  She had been seizing the rudder of each boat that passed and sinking every one.   
           The boy stood up and grabbed her by the hair and dashed her to the plankings of his little boat. She turned into a dove just like the other 
with great white wings and a golden beak. And like the other, she, too, said, "Take this golden bracelet. And if' you search for me, you will find me in Sandy Batoum." Then she flew off. 
           The boy went back to shore,   but when he landed he saw that the city was draped in black mourning cloth.  "Who has died'?" he asked an old woman. 
           "The king's son," she answered. "He had a stroke and died at once. He has been placed in his tomb." 
           "Show me the tomb, then," said the boy. 
            So the old woman brought him to the place where the prince had been buried, With a white marble marker over the site, gleaming in the bright sun.  The boy dug a hole under the tomb, and there he saw the king's son being tickled and tickled by a fairy, and she was as beautiful as the year round. 
           The boy reached down and grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her up to the surface of the earth where he threw her on the ground.  She, too, turned into a dove just like the other fairies, with great white wings and a golden beak. nd, like the others, she, too, said, "Take this golden bracelet.  And if you search for me, you will find me in Sandv Batoum."    Then off she flew. 
           The boy reached back down under the marble marker and drew the king's son up by the hair, and the prince was alive.  So the boy took him at once to his father, the king. 
           The king was puzzled and overjoyed at the same time, but the boy said nothing about the fairy.  And neither did the prince, though whether it was because he did not remember or because lie was embarrassed, I cannot say.  "Ask, of me what you will," said the king to the butcher's boy. 
           "Find me a man to take me to Sandy Batoum," said the boy.  So  an old man was found who knew the way to everywhere in the world, and he led the boy by the hand over three mountains and through three valleys.
           When at last they were beyond anywhere the boy or the butcher or the king had ever known, the old man stopped and pointed ahead.  "I will go no farther," the man said.  "From here you must go alone." 
           "That I shall," said the boy, "if it pleases God." 
           "Well said," replied the man.  "Now listen carefully.  Ahead you will find the house of the three fairies of Sandy Batoum.  Take three sheep   with you for there are three lions guarding the gates.  Give a sheep to each lion, and you will be allowed to pass through.  This I have on good   authority, though I have never been there myself." 
           So the boy did as the old man directed, giving one sheep to each lion, and when he got to the fairies' house, he hid himself behind a door and watched. 
           Soon three doves flew in through the window, and when they touched the floor they turned into the three fairies, the one as lovely as spring, the second as Iovely as summer, and the third as lovely as the year round. 
           They sat down at a table, and it was magically laid for them, with bread and cheese and wine as red as blood. 
           "Tell me, sisters," said the eldest, "what have you been doing?  For the following happened to me.  I was standing beneath a vine,
  guarding, the grapes of long life, when a young man grabbed my hair and threw me to the ground,"  She held up her glass.  "That he could see
  me and that he could rule me, I drink his health."  And she drank the glass down to the dregs.  
           The middle sister said, "Well, I was sinking boats
in the sea-lanes that they not go off to war, and a young man came by and grabbed me by the hair and dashed me to the deck.  And that he could see me and could rule me, I drink his health."  And she, too, drank her wine. 
           Then the youngest said, "I was under the royal tomb tickling the king's son, who had fallen into a faint and had been buried while still alive, and a young man dragged me out by the hair and flung me to the earth.  And that he could see me and could rule me, I drink his health." 
           But before the youngest could drink her wine, the butcher's boy came from behind the door. "I am that young man," he said, and showed them the two golden bracelets on his arm. 
           Then the three fairies leaped up and came over to him and covered him with kisses, asking, "Why have you come here?  To get more golden
bracelets?" 
    "One more from you," he said to the eldest fairy. "And one more from you," he said to the middle fairy.  But he asked none of the youngest,
who was as lovely as the year round. 
           So they gave him the bracelets and now he had four, one for the butcher and three for himself.  Then the fairies gave him his choice of mount.  One lion could carry him back home in three hours, the second in two hours, and the third in half an hour.  
           He mounted the third lion and got to the marketplace where the merchant was still selling his wares. 
           The boy summoned the members of the law court to watch. He put the four bracelets down on the merchant's table and the law court put down the fifth.  "Which one is yours?" asked the boy. 
           The merchant shook his head. "They are all the same." 
           So the butcher was let out of jail and used his bracelet to pay off' the king.  The merchant was sent packing. 
           As for the boy...well, the boy mounted the lion once again and in half an hour was back at the fairies' home.  He married the youngest fairy, the one as lovely as the year round, ate of the grapes of long life, and lived happily ever after.