In the morning she began to ramble about, singing ballads so beautifully that all the tents were left empty, and the soldiers ran round in crowds, and thought of nothing but hearing her sing. Amongst the rest came the soldier to whom the horn belonged, and as soon as she saw him she winked to her maid, who slipped slily through the crowd, and went into his tent where it hung, and stole it away. This done, they both got safely back to the palace, the besieging army went away, the three wonderful gifts were all left in the hands of the princess, and the three soldiers were as penniless and forlorn as when little Red-jacket found them in the wood.
Poor fellows! they began to think what was now to be done. " Comrades," at last said the second soldier, who had had the purse, " we had better part; we cannot live together, let each seek his bread as well as he can." So he turned to the right, and the other two went to the left, for they said they would rather travel together. Then on the second soldier strayed till he came to a wood (now this was the same wood where they had met with so much good luck before), and he walked on a long time till evening began to fall, when he sat down tired beneath a tree, and soon fell asleep.
Morning dawned, and he was greatly delighted, at opening his eyes, to see that the tree was laden with the most beautiful apples. He was hungry enough, so he soon plucked and ate first one, then a second, then a third apple. A strange feeling came over his nose: when he put the apple to his mouth something was in the way. He felt it—it was his nose, that grew and grew till it hung down to his breast. It did not stop there—still it grew and grew. "Heavens!" thought he, "When will it have done growing ?" And well might he ask, for by this time it reached the ground as he sat on the grass,— and thus it kept creeping on, till he could not bear its weight or raise himself up; and it seemed as if it would never end, for already it stretched its enormous length all through the wood, over hill and dale.
Meantime his comrades were journeying on, till on a sudden one of them stumbled against something. "What can that be?" said the other. They looked, and could think of nothing that it was like but a nose. "We will follow it and find its owner, however," said they. So they traced it up, till at last they found their poor comrade, lying stretched along under the apple-tree.
What was to be done ? They tried to carry him, but in vain. They caught an ass that was passing, and raised him upon its back; but it was soon tired of carrying such a load. So they sat down in despair, when before long up came their old friend the dwarf with the red jacket. " Why, how now, friend?" said he, laughing : "well, I must find a cure for you, I see." So he told them to gather a pear from another tree that grew close by, and the nose would come right again. No time was lost; and the nose was soon brought to its proper size, to the poor soldier's " I will do something more for you yet," said the dwarf: "take some of those pears and apples with you; whoever eats one of the apples will have his nose grow like yours just now; but if you give him a pear, all will come right again. Go to the princess, and get her to eat some of your apples; her nose will grow twenty times as long as yours did: then look sharp, and you will get what you want from her."
Then they thanked their old friend very heartily for all his kindness; and it was agreed that the poor soldier, who had already tried the power of the apple, should undertake the task. So he dressed himself up as a gardener's boy, and went to the king's palace, and said he had apples to sell, so fine and so beautiful as were never seen there before. Every one that saw them was delighted, and wanted to taste; but he said they were only for the princess; and she soon sent her maid to buy his stock. They were so ripe and rosy that she soon began eating; and had not eaten above a dozen before she too began to wonder what ailed her nose, for it grew and grew down to the ground, out at the window, and over the garden, and away, nobody knows where.
Then the king made known to all his kingdom, that whoever would heal her of this dreadful disease should be richly rewarded. Many tried, but the princess got no relief. And now the old soldier dressed himself up very sprucely as a doctor, and said he could cure her. So he chopped up some of the apple, and, to punish her a little more, gave her a doze, saying he would call to-morrow and see her again. The morrow came, and, of course, instead of being better, the nose had been growing on all night as before; and the poor princess was in a dreadful fright. So the doctor then chopped up a very little of the pear and gave her, and said he was sure that would do good, and he would call again the next day. Next day came, and the nose was to be sure a little smaller, but yet it was bigger than when the doctor first began to meddle with it.
Then he thought to himself, "I must frighten this cunning princess a little more before I shall get what I want from her " ; so he gave her another doze of the apple, and said he would call on the morrow. The morrow came, and the nose was ten times as bad as before. " My good lady," said the doctor, "something works against my medicine, and is too strong for it; but I know by the force of my art what it is: you have stolen goods about you, I am sure ; and if you do not give them back, I can do nothing for you." But the princess denied very stoutly that she had anything of the kind. " Very well," said the doctor, " you may do as you please, but I am sure I am right, and you will die if you do not own it." Then he went to the king, and told him how the matter stood. "Daughter," said he, "send back the cloak, the purse, and the horn, that you stole from the right owners."
Then she ordered her maid to fetch all three, and gave them to the doctor, and begged him to give them back to the soldiers; and the moment he had them safe he gave her a whole pear to eat, and the nose came right. And as for the doctor, he put on the cloak, wished the king and all his court a good day, and was soon with his two brothers; who lived from that time happily at home in their palace, except when they took an airing to see the world, in their coach with the three dapple-grey horses.