Once there was a Prince who grew tired of living at his father’s castle. And since he feared nothing, he thought, “I will go out into the Wild World where I will not be so bored. There must be many marvelous things to see out there.” So he took leave of his parent and set out on his journey, following along the road no matter where it took him.
One day The Prince happened to pass a Giant’s house. He saw some playthings lying in The Giant’s yard. There were several huge bowling balls, along with 9-pins as big as himself! The Prince decided to play a game. So he set up the 9-pins and began to bowl. The Giant, hearing the 9-pins fall, stuck his eye to the tiny window and spotted a normal man bowling the huge balls and pins. The Giant came out shouting,
“Hey, little worm! Where did you get the strength and nerve to move my game?”
“Think you are the only one with strong arms? I can do whatever I feel like doing.”
“Then, show me!” said The crafty Giant. “Go and fetch me The Apple from the Tree of Life.”
“What do you want with it?” Asked The Prince.
“It is not for myself but for my Bride. She has been waiting for so long. I went all around the
Wild World but I could not find The Tree.”
“I will find it for sure. Said the Prince. I can not imagine anything preventing me from picking an apple.”
“It’s not won yet,” said The Giant.“If you can find it, The Tree of Life will be surrounded by a tall, iron fence and there are many wild animals, side by side, In front guarding the gate. The animals protect the garden and won’t let anybody in!”
“But they will let me in,” said The Prince.
The Giant continued “…if you manage to get into the garden and see The Apple hanging there. Wait, it still is not won. There is a Golden Ring hanging in front of The Apple and you must put your hand through the glowing Golden Ring and then grasp The Apple to break it free. Nobody has ever succeeded in doing that.”
“I will succeed.”Said The Prince. The Prince took leave of The Giant and after searching found the miraculous garden. Right in the middle stood the Tree of Life with one perfect, red apple. The Prince carefully placed his hand through the Golden Ring. As he snapped The Apple off, the Golden Ring tightened around The Prince’s wrist until he could not get it off.
The Prince brought The Apple to The Giant who happily took it to his Bride.
“But where is The Golden Ring?” asked The Giant’s Bride. “There is a Golden Ring for the one who wins The Apple. I won’t believe you picked his apple for me until I see you wearing The Golden Ring on your arm!” The Giant hoped he would have little trouble getting The Golden Ring from the small, human Prince.
“The Ring should be wherever The Apple is.” The Giant reasoned as he hid behind an oak tree. Catching the Prince off his guard, The Giant attacked The Prince! He tore The Golden Ring from The Prince’s arm, and poked out both his eyes!
In most versions of the story, the Prince finds great wealth and power within the Golden Ring (and does eventually get his eyesight back.) Many old stories* start the same way and have the same elements… “Once there was a Prince, a Giant, and a Golden Ring” In one version of this story, the panicked Prince stumbles around, now blinded, and trips over The Giant knocking him off a cliff. The Giant falls to the bottom and smashes into a hundred pieces that somehow get back to his house to be put back together by his Bride who feeds him the Apple from the Tree of Life. The Giant searches for The Prince (Who has now, somehow, regained his sight!) and there ensues a 10-pin bowling battle that is still knocking around to this day. *Told from ‘Old, Old Fairy Stories’ c.1875#