“Try and lead a good life, my son,” he used to tell him. “Never lie, keep your promises and above all never take what doesn’t belong to you. This way people will respect you.” The old man succeeded in this respect.
One day he got very sick and he told his son, “My son, sell the little land we have and pay for all the debts we owe around here. Take the remainder of the money and leave this part of the country. Go west but remember what I used to tell you about leading a good life. Be considerate at all times.”
Soon afterwards the father passed away. The son did as he was instructed. He sold everything, paid his debts and, after the funeral, headed west.
That night he camped beside a lake and the next morning he pushed on. That evening it started to rain and he sought shelter at a nearby building. As he came closer he recognized it as a church.
“I’ll camp here tonight’, he thought to himself. He entered and saw a corpse in there. He bedded down beside it. Around midnight two men walked in. Not long afterwards a priest walked in from the other door.
“Well, are you going to bury this corpse?” one of the men asked the priest.
“Not until you pay me fifty dollars,” the priest replied.
“We don’t have any money”, was the reply.
“Well then you’re out of luck.” The young man hearing all this conversation remembered what his deceased father used to tell him.
“I’ll pay for them”, he said quietly and handed fifty dollars to the priest.
The funeral was held next day. After the funeral he once again departed. That evening as he was getting ready to make camp he heard a voice.
“You will come upon some rocky places and flat prairies. You camp there. When you wake up, you will see a large town below the hill. You are going to be the Chief of that village.”
He departed once again. He glanced behind and saw somebody coming from the direction he just came from. He walked a little faster being kind of scared. The faster he walked the closer the person following came. Finally the other person caught up to him.
“Where are you heading for, young man?” the stranger asked.
“Over to the next village”, he replied.
“That’s where I’m heading too,” the other man said. “I’ll walk with you.”
That evening they came upon rocky country. “This must be the place the voice told me to camp,” he thought. He made camp there but didn’t bother looking around.
The next morning he looked below the hill and saw a village. He recognized it as the one he was to be Chief in.
“Well, what should we do?” his companion asked. He didn’t even know who this person was.
“Come with me, follow me down this hill,” he told him and lead the way to the village.
Early evening they arrived at their destination. He asked the people where the cheapest place was to camp and eat. “I’m looking for a job,” he told them.
He was instructed to go to this certain place, supposedly the cheapest. They slept and ate there the next day. Around noon, he saw somebody drive up in a fancy decorated carriage. The next day, the same carriage went by. This went on for four days until finally he asked a passerby, “Why is this fancy decorated carriage driving by here everyday?”
“That’s the princess in that carriage, she’s looking for somebody to challenge her. She’ll ask you what she’s thinking about and you’ll have to guess right, he was told.
“Why don’t you challenge her?” his companion told him.
After a while of coaxing he decided he had nothing to lose and decided to challenge her. The news of the challenge traveled like a prairie fire around the village.
He was then told the consequences if he lost the challenge and the prize if he won. If he lost, the princess was going to hang him but if he won he was to marry the princess and run the village.
“Come with me”, one of the townspeople told him. He was shown how many people were already hanged because they lost. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from she’ll hang you if you lose.”
The young man kind of backed out but the stranger kept coaxing him until it was settled that he’d go along with it.
That evening the stranger told the young man, “I’ll go over to the princess’ place for awhile, you wait for me here.” He was snooping around there when suddenly the door opened and the princess stuck her head out but went back in. Later again, as soon as it got real dark, the door opened and the princess flew in thin air and over the hill. All this time the stranger was the corpse that was in the church and was now a ghost. He had come to help out the young man in return for his kindness.
He followed the princess to the top of the hill. The princess picked up a rock and knocked a few times on the boulder and it opened.
“We have another challenger, master, “she said, “looks like we’re going to have another meal.” She was possessed by the devil and she couldn’t help what she was doing. “Well, you ask him what you are thinking”, a voice answered. “And he’ll have to answer, “your right thumb” for anything else will be the wrong answer.”
The stranger was listening to all this. He returned to his companion and told him what to say when he was asked.
“When she asks you what she’s thinking, tell her she’s thinking of her right thumb.”
The next day around noon, there were lots of people gathered around.
The princess approached him and asked, “Well, young man, what am I thinking?”
“You are thinking of your right thumb”, he answered.
“You are right, but you have to try your luck again tomorrow noon, for four days, if you win you’ll run this town and I’ll marry you.”
Again that evening, the ghost went to the princess’ place around the same time as the night before. Again he followed her to the same place. She went through the same procedures.
“He guessed right, my master,” she informed the devil.
“He won’t guess right again”, a voice replied. “Tomorrow, it will be your left small toe. We will eat yet.”
The ghost (stranger) was listening to all this and went to inform his companion again.
The next day the young man went to the princess.
“What am I thinking about?” she asked.
“You are thinking about your left small toe,” he guessed.
“You are right again, two more right guesses and you’ll own this town.” Again she went up the hill. “He guessed right again,” she informed.
“He won’t do it again,” the voice said. “We’re going to eat yet, this time it will be your right big toe.”
The next day again the young man guessed right with the help of his companion.
“One more correct guess and you’ve won,” she said.
That evening again, for the final time she went to meet her master.
“He guessed right again, looks like he’s going to win,” she said.
“No, we’ll beat him this time, we’ll eat yet”, the voice answered confidently. “This time you’ll think of your head.”
The next day, the same procedures were taken. The crowd was bigger for this was the final time. “What am I thinking, young man?” she said.
“You are thinking about your head”, he replied and touched her head lightly. The princess swooned for she was surprised she lost for the first time. When she finally came to, the wedding preparations were all ready.
The young man married the princess and owned the town.