Golden Bird

Picture Book by Max Techemacher.

We have this picture book in two different covers. Here is number two.

Once upon a time, there was a king who had three sons. He also had a garden with a tree with golden apples. But each day one apple was missing, so the king decided to put a guard under the tree.

His first son volunteered. He fell asleep around midnight and in the morning another apple was missing.

His second son tried as well. He fell asleep too and another golden apple was gone.

The youngest son wanted to try for the third evening. He didn't sleep and he saw a beautiful bird flying at the tree to steal an apple. He shot it with a bow but the bird escaped. One of its feathers fell on the ground. It was made of pure gold.

When the king heard about the bird and saw the feather he wanted to have the golden bird.

Again, the oldest prince went to search first.

He didn't return for a while and nobody knew what had happened to him.

The second son followed after him. He disappeared too.

It was the youngest prince's turn to try.

In the woods, he met a fox and got advice to spend the night in the less attractive of two inns. He followed the advice and the fox took him to the place where he could find a golden bird.

The fox told him not to take a golden cage but the wooden one but the prince didn't listen and was caught.

The king who owned the golden bird gave him a chance to avoid the punishment. He would be free if he brought him a golden horse and he could also keep the bird.

The fox helped the prince and gave him another advice which was not accepted and he was caught again, this time by another king.

This king also gave him a chance to leave (with the horse) if he brought him a princess from the golden castle.

The fox helped the prince and told him not to give her a chance to say farewell to her parents.

 The prince failed again and was imprisoned. This time the king ordered him to remove a hill in a week.

The fox saved him one more time. He organized an escape and the prince took the princess, the horse, and the bird with him.

But the prince made another mistake. Despite the fox's advice, he saved his brothers from under the gallows. While he was on the mission, they became robbers and were caught.

When they got a chance, they pushed their younger brother into a well and returned to the castle with his treasures.

Fortunately, the fox saved him for one more time and the prince returned in time to tell the truth.

The treacherous brothers were punished and the young prince married the princess. Then he fulfilled the fox's wish - he cut off his head.

The fox turned into a handsome prince. He was the brother of the princess from the golden castle, enchanted by a witch. They all lived happily ever after.

This is just one of the many known versions of the story. In the earliest variations the youngest son was presented as a simpleton and some modern versions use that approach again. The story varies by geography as well - we have versions with the wolf, the bear, and other animal helpers instead of the fox.

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