Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess and she lived in a beautiful castle. There were many gardens and greenhouses in the castle. There were many courts and they had gardens in them too.
Once when she was enjoying these gardens immensely, a dragonfly flew into her garden. The dragonfly said to her,
“Good day, Princess.”
“What a strange dragonfly you are, that can speak!”
“But Princess, but Princess!” said the dragonfly.
“What is it, dragonfly?” said the princess.
“A big terrible troll is coming this way! There were tales for ages and ages that a troll would come some day. And I’m afraid now it will come true. It has come true!” said the dragonfly.
And soon the princess heard the tromp, tromp of immense boots.
“There it is! There it is!” said the dragonfly.
And before the princess knew what was happening the roof of the greenhouse was being taken off and she was in a very ugly hand. With fear, she fainted and the next thing she knew she was lying in a damp cave.
Meanwhile, in the princess’ kingdom, the dragonfly had warned the king what had happened to his daughter. The king sent out his soldiers to put up posters promising anyone who could find his daughter riches beyond his wildest dreams.
Meanwhile, in a small hole by the side of the road, a small mouse had just woken up from a nap. He lazily crawled out of his hole and looked astonished at a poster that had definitely not been there the day before. It read:
Any man who can find the princess, my daughter, will be given money, a good place to sleep and great favors from me. Any man, any man at all, I don’t care what man, I don’t care if it is a witch, anyone at all who can bring back my daughter.
The mouse asked his best friend the dragonfly why there were posters everywhere saying the same thing. The dragonfly explained the whole thing, for it was the same dragonfly who had flown into the princesses greenhouse.
“Well, George,” said the dragonfly, for the mouse’s name was George.
“I can tell you the exact place of the troll’s cave, if you promise to give me half the money you win, if you win it.”
The mouse said it was a deal.
The dragonfly told him the place which was miles upon miles away. But all these miles he traveled were miles of smiles because he couldn’t help thinking of all the money he would win when he rescued the princess.
He finally got to an immense cave after days and days of traveling. He knocked on the door but there was no reply. He knocked as hard as he could but hardly any noise came from the knocking.
I am a very small mouse, he said to himself. Not knowing what to do, he sat down in the mud despairingly. But then he saw a bit of vine hanging down from a tree. And then he saw some sticks lying about and a few pebbles. That gave him an idea. He nibbled off a bit of the vine, picked up a pebble and a stick and tied them together with the pebble in the center. He put it down and tested it. It worked remarkably and rocked back and forth for the pebble was very round.
He then balanced another larger pebble on one end of the stick. He positioned the catapult so that the pebble would shoot directly towards the door. Then he jumped on the other end of the stick. The pebble flew into the air and glanced off the door with a loud bump!
Now all I have to do is wait, said George to himself. And sure enough, very soon, he heard the tramping of big boots. A very, very ugly face popped out of the door.
The troll looked about and was about to close the door, not seeing anybody, when the mouse suddenly cried out as loud as he could:
“Excuse me, troll! Would you please let me in? I would like to challenge you to a battle.”
“Alright! Come in! We shall have the battle tomorrow.”
But please pause this story right now for I think I must tell you a little something about the troll. You see, when the troll popped his face out the door, it wasn’t just once face, it was many faces. For it was a many-faced troll. He had about a dozen faces. Each face wore a different expression. He never slept or at least he never closed all his faces’ eyes at the same time. You see, while he slept, his faces took turns opening their eyes and keeping watch.
The next day when they had their battle, all throughout the night, the mouse had been devising a plan. He had three sacks, each full of different things. The first sack was full of pepper. The second sack was full of salt and the third sack had a roasted chicken in it.
George came out onto the field carrying the first sack. The pepper made all the troll’s faces sneeze a great deal. Then he went back in, put the first sack down and took out the second sack.
He brought it out onto the field and the salt made all the troll’s faces cough a great deal. Then he went back in and put down sack number two and picked up sack number three.
He brought it out onto the field. The smell of the chicken made all of the troll’s mouths water a great deal. The troll couldn’t fight but just fell down with hunger. For his weakness was anything that made him sneeze and the hunger just made him collapse. He died right there on the battlefield.
Now the beautiful princess was saved from the cave. She came back with George and gave him a mouse-sized version of the castle and riches beyond his wildest dreams, as the posters had said. Of course, he gave half of his riches to the dragonfly, as was the deal.
And they all lived happily ever after.