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The Prince, who had been so nearly at the point of death that no one
would have believed to see him that there was any life in him at all,
immediately sat up, recovered and well.
He did not recognise the Princess, and when the King, his father, told
him the terms on which she had saved his life, and presented the maiden
to him, he refused.
'For the great service you have rendered me I am grateful indeed,' he
said; 'but I cannot marry you. My heart is already given to another, and
not even for my life will I be false to my word.'
When she heard this the Princess was secretly overjoyed; but she
pretended to be greatly displeased, and she disdainfully rejected all
other offers of reward that were made to her by the King and the Prince.
'Tell me who this other is, and I will go to her and get her to
relinquish you in my favour,' she said at length. 'When she learns what
I have done for you, I am sure she will agree that my claim is greater
'It is the Princess Grannmia; but that I am sure she will never do,'
said the Prince proudly. 'Even if she would, I will not. What is life
without love? and I would rather be a serpent again, and live in the
cottage of a poor forester all my days, than rule this kingdom without
my beloved Princess.'
On hearing this the Princess could no longer keep her secret.
'You must love me indeed, dear Prince,' she said, 'if you do not
recognise me when I come pleading to you to carry out your promise after
saving your life, and marry me as you would have done when the King, my
father, drove you away from me.'
Then the Prince recognised her, and he embraced her so heartily that the
Princess wondered whether he was still a serpent or only just a strong
young man who was very much in love with her, while the King went out
and gave immediate orders to set the bells a-ringing, and have
preparations made on the most lavish scale for the wedding feast.