The story of the Wild Man tells about skills to be mastered before inspiration can be turned into some shape.
Transformation (cooking), care taking (gardening) and struggling (guarding the borders, chasing away intruders).
Once upon a time there was a little prince who was playing in the courtyard with his golden ball. The ball rolled away from the stairs. The prince ran, head over heels, after the ball and came to a part of the palace where he had never been before. There he saw his ball behind the bars of one of the cells. The prince went up to the cell and saw a gigantic man sitting there. A Wild Man. He had to be very strong! ‘Will you give me my golden ball,’ the prince asked the man. ‘I will’, the man replied, ‘but you must set me free first.’ ‘I can’t do that’, the prince answered, ‘for I have no key.’ The Wild Man replied: ‘the key of the cell lies under your mother’s pillow.’ The prince suffered from an intense internal conflict. To steal the key from under his mother’s pillow! She would be very angry! But the golden ball was his ruling passion!
So he tried his luck. He went to the bedroom of his mother, the queen, took the key, and set the Wild Man free. He then realized he wouldn’t dare to look his mother in the eyes. ‘Can I come with you?’, the prince asked the Wild Man. And he could. The Wild Man lived deep in the forest. He told the boy he could stay with him and that he had treasures too much too count.
The next day the Wild Man took the boy to a pool. ‘At this well you will have to guard’, the Wild Man said, ‘nothing may fall into it.’ The boy did the best he could, but, sitting there, his finger, which had been caught between the bars of the cell of the Wild Man, started to ache.
His finger hurt more and more, so that he couldn’t resist and plunged it into the cool water of the well. It relieved him immediately. But when he drew his finger out of the water, his finger had become golden to his alarm. He couldn’t hide his offence. In the evening the Wild Man came round for him and saw immediately what had happened. He forgave the boy for this time.
The next day the boy had to guard the well again. His finger started to ache again. He put it into his hair by which a hair fell off, into the well. Alarmed, the boy jumped to his feet, but the hair had changed into gold already. The Wild Man immediately noticed but forgave him again.
The next day, as the boy was sitting at the well again, he sat on his finger to suppress the pain, but he didn’t find any peace. He looked into the water and saw some goldfish swimming around. He bent down further and saw his own face reflected and when he wanted to look himself in the eyes, his long hair fell down from his shoulders, into the pool. The gold quickly spread out over his hair. Now the boy had golden hair. When the Wild Man saw him like this, he said: ‘Now you can’t stay here any longer. You must go into the world, but whenever you will need my help, come to this forest and call for Iron Man, for that is my name.’
The boy hid his golden hair under a cap and became the cook’s boy at the palace of the king. There he learned everything the cook knew about cooking. One day he had to serve the royal table. Surprised, the king looked at his cap and said: ‘Come on boy, pull off your cap.
Don’t you know it is very impolite to keep one’s cap on in the presence of the king?’ ‘I have to keep my cap on my head, your majesty’, the boy said, ‘for I have ugly ulcers on my head.’ ‘What’, the king exclaimed, ‘you dare serve me, a boy with ulcers on his head?’ The king called for the cook and told him to discharge the boy. The gardener heard about it and because he could use some help, the prince became the gardener’s boy.
One day he was working in the garden. The sun shone and he took off his cap for a short moment to cool his head. The sun reflected the golden sheen of his hair in the chamber of the princess. When the princess went onto her balcony to look where this brilliance came from, the prince put on his cap in a great hurry, but the princess had seen it already. She called him and asked for a bouquet of flowers. The gardener’s boy plucked a nosegay of flowers and took it to the princess. When the boy entered the room of the princess, she seized his cap with a quick movement and pulled it off his head. His golden hair waved down over his shoulders, but quickly he put his cap on again and didn’t let it happen a second time. When the princess asked him again for flowers, he held onto his cap with both hands and told her again he had ulcers on his head. The princess, who knew better, didn’t insist.
Two times five years went by, when one day the king of a neighbouring country invaded the country with an immense army. All men went to war and when the gardener’s boy asked if he might join them, they all started to laugh and they gave him an old lame horse. He mounted it and went to the forest where he called: ‘Iron Man!’ The Wild Man appeared and gave the boy a beautiful horse, a suit of armour and a troop of the best horsemen. With them he won the victory. The boy rode back to the forest, changed his steed for the lame horse and returned to the palace. ‘Well, look who comes here.
We certainly don’t owe the victory to you. But there was this knight. When we in fact had given up, he arrived with a vast army. Thanks to him we won. But the knight disappeared and we haven’t seen him again.’
The king also regretted he couldn’t honour the knight and thank him and he organized a huge tournament which would last for three days. The winning knight would obtain kingship and the hand of the princess. ‘Then the mysterious knight will show up for sure,’ the king thought. Many princes came to the tournament. They were all eager to mary the beautiful princess. The night before the tournament, the gardener’s boy sneaked off and went on his olf nag to the forest. There he called: ‘Iron Man, Iron Man!’ The Wild Man gave a red suit of armour and a fox-coloured horse to the prince. The prince rode back, won the tournament and caught the golden apple which the princess threw to the victor. Then he quickly rode away.
The next day the Wild Man provided the prince with a grey and a white suit of armour. Again the prince won the tournament and again he caught the apple with which he quickly rode away. The king then ordered that the mysterious knight should be pursued if he would try again to run off.
The third day, the prince came on a black horse in a black suit of armour. The prince won the tournament and caught the golden apple, but when he wanted to ride away, one of the servants of the king threw a spear by which the knight was wounded in the leg. The prince escaped, but the next day the princess went to the gardener and asked after the gardener’s boy. He just arrived, walking towards them, dragging his leg. ‘You are the knight who has saved the country and won the tournament three times’, she said.
‘Yes, I am that knight’, the prince answered. Then the prince revealed himself to the king. ‘I am the knight who has won the war for you. I also am the knight who has won the tournament three times and here are the golden apples which the princess has thrown to me.’
The prince married the princess and at their wedding a mighty king entered. He embraced the prince and said: ‘I am the Iron Man. I was bewitched into a Wild Man. You have broken the spell. All the treasures which I own, will be yours.’ And they lived for a long time and happily in luxury and prosperity