Next Thursday evening the White Bear came to fetch her. She seated herself on his back with her bundle, and thus they departed. When they had gone a great part of the way, the White Bear said: "Are you afraid?"
"East of the Sun, West of the Moon" seems to be a favorite tale of many of the readers of this blog; it certainly is one of mine. It is a Scandinavian version of the myth of "Cupid and Psyche" from which many other tales flowed, including "Beauty and the Beast." According to SurLaLune:
"No, that I am not," said she.
"Keep tight hold of my fur, and then there is no danger," said he.
~ from "East of the Sun, West of the Moon"
The tale of Cupid and Psyche is considered by many scholars to be one of the first literary fairy tales. Written by Lucius Apuleius in the second century A.D.... the tale features many characters from Greek/Roman mythology, although earlier records of this tale are not known. Cupid and Psyche was translated into English in 1566 by William Adlington and was well-known throughout Europe. For example, John Milton refers to the story in his Comus, first performed in 1634 and published in 1637....The tale is a direct ancestor of the French Beauty and the Beast tale. However, it bears even closer resemblance to East of the Sun and West of the Moon.Many such stories involve a prince who has been changed into an animal and whom only sacrificial love can restore to human form. It also has many resemblances to "Snow White and Rose Red," in that a bear shows up at the door of a humble cottage one night. The peasant family pities the bear, who is really a prince in disguise. In "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" the parents entrust their daughter to the bear and she goes off with him. Instead of coming to a predictably dreadful end, the girl finds wealth and love, which she comes close to losing forever through giving in to curiosity. I never understood why the girl should be blamed for wanting to see what the prince looks like. Fairy tales, however, are not always reasonable; this particular one is latent with symbolism, all of which is explained HERE.
Artist Kay Nielsen illustrated the story quite magnificently.