He slept, and then he began to dream, and soon he saw a young girl in a white gown walking slowly towards him. Her eyes shone like stars, and there was something so pure and fine about her that he thought she might be an angel.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am the maiden of the Castle of Rosy Clouds,” she answered.
“Whoever wins you will never know sorrow,” said the young man.
“If you want to win me, you must look for me,” said the girl. And with that, she disappeared.
The young man sprang to his feet and looked around eagerly, but there was nothing to see. Everything went on as it had before. The young man worked day after day, yet he coiuld never forget his lovely dream of the maiden from the Castle of Rosy Clouds.
“Do you want to find the maiden in the castle of clouds?
If you want to win the maiden in the castle of clouds
First you need a stallion gray
Who midst the clouds can find his way.
You need a mantle, like that of a squire
To keep you safe from embers and fire.
And you need the sword that is known as Gull
To split the iron serpent’s skull.
Many long years passed after this. The young man’s cheeks were furrowed now and his hair had turned gray but he had never stopped looking for the Castle of Rosy Clouds.
At last, one evening, he saw in the distance a golden castle rising against the rosy evening sky. Now he was riding, jubilantly happy, on the airy, billowing highway toward the shining golden Castle of Rosy Clouds.
The drawbridge was down, and the lovely young maiden with briljant starry eyes came to meet him. She put out her hand and said, “You have found me, and you have won me.”
The rider sighed and answered, “But it took me so long. Now I am old and gray.”
The maiden only smiled, and held a silver mirror . And once again he was a handsome young man, tall and slim, with rosy, unlined cheeks. And hand in hand he and the maiden entered the castle.
-Harald Östenson, Swedish fairy tales-
Illustration: John Bauer