The Kingdom of the Green Mountains

At last, the man came across an old man, fixing the tiles of his roof. The soldier asked if he may have heard of the kingdom of the Green Mountains.

By Liana Paraschaki

Once upon a time, three soldiers, three friends, together decided they would desert their army. One was a sergeant, the other a corporal, the last one a private. When the three friends decided to desert, they also decided they would each take their own path, never to be seen or found in company.

After a day or two, the sergeant happened upon a palace, rich and great. Starving and thirsty as he was, he asked if he would be allowed to remain. A young girl came out the door and said that the sergeant could, indeed, stay for supper, as it was known that soldiers and sailors had many stories. When it was finally time for supper, a luxurious meal was placed in front of the soldier, every single food he could ever imagine placed within his reach. Once again, the lady came to him and said:

“You will see that we take our meals very seriously here. Please mark out the one that you think is the best.” And with those words, the young lady blew out the candle and let the sergeant select his dish. No sooner had he placed his dish in front of him, when she struck her foot on the floor, summoning two officers.

“Take this man and put him away in prison.” And so, the sergeant was imprisoned, feeding only on bread and water.

The next evening, the corporal came across the same house. As he was also tired and exhausted, he asked if he might spend the night. Once again, the young lady appeared and said that he would be allowed to spend the night, as he was a soldier – and soldiers must have a lot of stories. Come dinner time, the corporal grew hungrier by the minute; when the lady finally came down, she said:

“We do not have light meals here, it is our custom. Please mark the one that is most favourable to you,” before blowing out the candle and striking her foot on the ground once more. Two officers appeared yet again, taking the corporal as prisoner, to be sustained only in bread and water.

On the third evening, the private came to the palace. Like his friends before him, he was tired and hungry, and asked if he might spend the night.

“I understand that you are a soldier. And soldiers often have a story. You may spend the night here,” the lady said to the private.

Soon afterwards, the private was shown to the dining room. There he sat, waiting for his meal, before the lady came and said:

“As you can see, we have no light meals here. Please mark out your favourite dish.” And with those words, she made to blow out the candle. But, before she had time to strike her foot on the floor, the private came close to her and kissed her. “The food is good, but I prefer you the most.”

She then struck her foot on the ground, but this time, she called for no officers. Instead, she asked for a light. The woman and the soldier then sat down and had dinner and spoke all night, telling stories to each other. She asked about his education and to see his handwriting. And then she asked him to marry her.

When he accepted, she continued: “I am the daughter of the King of the Green Mountains, but have never desired to wed a king or a knight, just a common lad. I have enough silver and gold, and a large estate as well.” And the happy couple set a date for their wedding.

The next morning, they had breakfast together. When they finished breakfast, the lady of the palace gave him some money and sent him to a tailor to get some clothes for the wedding. The soldier went to the tailor, and the tailor made the suit and it was a good fit. When the soldier left, the tailor’s mother said to the tailor: “Go with him, he will be thirsty. And bring an apple, so he can fall asleep.”

So, the soldier and the sailor set out together. When they sat down to rest, the soldier realised he was thirsty. And so the tailor offered him his apple. When the soldier ate the apple, he fell fast asleep. A few minutes later, the lady arrived on a coach, looking for the soldier. When she saw the two men, she asked the tailor to awaken the soldier. Try as he might, the soldier would not awaken. The lady took a golden ring out of her pocket, and bade the tailor give it to the soldier.

So, the lady left and went home, while the two men returned to the tailor’s house. The next morning, when the soldier woke up, the tailor gave him the ring the lady had given him the day before. When the two men were set to depart, the tailor’s mother said to him: “It will be no use giving him an apple today. But here is a pear – perhaps the King’s daughter will fall for you instead.”

The two men set out on their journey. Soon enough, the soldier grew thirsty again, so the tailor offered him the pear. This time, however, the soldier was hesitant. “Last time, I took an apple from you and fell asleep. Now, I am afraid to take the pear.” But the tailor eased his worries, and so the soldier ate the pear. Soon enough, he was asleep once more.

When the lady arrived, the tailor could not awaken the soldier. Frustrated, the lady took a penknife out of her pocket and gave it to the tailor. “Give this to him, and tell him I shall meet him here tomorrow.” And with those words, she turned on her heel and left.

When the lady had already departed, the soldier awoke. Startled, he asked if his betrothed had arrived already.

“Indeed, she has. It was impossible to wake you, so she gave me this penknife and said you shall meet her here tomorrow.” And so, the two men, left for the tailor’s house once again.

The next morning, the two men were about to begin their journey once again, when the tailor’s mother approached him: “Neither an apple nor a pear will do us any good today. But, take this pin and put it on the back of his coat, as it will make him sleepy.”

And so the tailor did, putting the pin on the back of the soldier’s coat. When the lady arrived she brought two men alongside her, so they could lift the man into the coach. Try and try and try they did, but they could not lift the man. This time, the lady left a gold pin behind, and said to the tailor, that she will not return again.

When the soldier finally awoke, the tailor told him of his beloved’s departing words. The soldier refused to follow the tailor home, and instead set out on a journey of his own, to return to his beloved. Alas, as he asked around for the kingdom of the Green Mountains, no one seemed to recognise it, or to have heard of it before.

At last, the man came across an old man, fixing the tiles of his roof. The soldier asked if he may have heard of the kingdom of the Green Mountains.

“I have not, but my father, who is older than I am, might.” And so, the soldier went to the old man’s father, but he, too, had never heard of such kingdom. He was then introduced to that old man’s father, and his father, and his father, until he finally met a fowler, as old as can be, who said: “I, too, have never heard of such kingdom. Alas, tomorrow, I will go to the hill and blow my whistle, a whistle no bird can resist. If there is such a kingdom, a bird from it will answer my call.”

And so it happened. The next morning, the fowler blew his whistle and birds flew in from all the corners of the earth. Later than the others, a large eagle approached the fowler and the soldier. “And where have you come from?” asked the fowler.

“I have come from the kingdom of the Green Mountains,” said the eagle, who agreed to carry the soldier on her back the following morning, and fly him to the kingdom of the Green Mountains.

Morning came, and the eagle accepted the soldier on her back. Soon, she grew hungry, and after eating her own share and the soldier’s as well, her hunger had not been satiated. “I must let you go. I am too weak.” But the soldier begged and begged, until the eagle agreed to continue on her journey; but only if the soldier would let her have a bite from his thigh.

After eating from both of his thighs, soldier and eagle finally arrived at the kingdom of the Green Mountains. Injured, and unable to walk, the soldier stayed with the gardener’s wife until he was cured. Word came that the king’s daughter was to be wed. The soldier went to find her. He showed her the gold ring and the penknife she had left behind for him, and the couple reunited in joy. Quickly, she disposed of the man she was to marry, and set a new date with the private. Once the happy couple was officially wed, the lady took him to see the prisoners of the castle. When he recognised his two old friends, he swiftly released them, giving them each a good sum of money. And so they all lived, each in their own happily ever after.