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When he came
to the courtyard he found a beautiful maiden standing at the well,
drawing water with two golden pails. And as she was about to carry away
the glittering water she turned round and saw the stranger, and asked
him who he was. Then he replied: "I am a merchant," and opening his
apron, he let her peep in. "Oh! my," she cried; "what beautiful gold
wares!" she set down her pails, and examined one thing after the other.
Then she said: "The Princess must see this, she has such a fancy for
gold things that she will buy up all you have." She took him by the hand
and let him into the palace, for she was the lady's maid.
When the Princess had seen the wares she was quite enchanted, and said:
"They are all so beautifully made that I shall buy everything you have."
But Trusty John said: "I am only the servant of a rich merchant, what
I have here is nothing compared to what my master has on his ship; his
merchandise is more artistic and costly than anything that has ever been
made in gold before." She desired to have everything brought up to her,
but he said: "There is such a quantity of things that it would take many
days to bring them up, and they would take up so many rooms that
you would have no space for them in your house." Thus her desire and
curiosity were excited to such an extent that at last she said: "Take me
to your ship; I shall go there myself and view your master's treasures."
Then Trusty John was quite delighted, and brought her to the ship; and
the King, when he beheld her, saw that she was even more beautiful than
her picture, and thought every moment that his heart would burst. She
stepped on to the ship, and the King led her inside. But Trusty John
remained behind with the steersman, and ordered the ship to push off.
"Spread all sail, that we may fly on the ocean like a bird in the air."
Meanwhile the King showed the Princess inside all his gold wares, every
single bit of it--dishes, goblets, bowls, the birds and game, and all
the wonderful beasts. Many hours passed thus, and she was so happy that
she did not notice that the ship was sailing away. After she had seen
the last thing she thanked the merchant and prepared to go home; but
when she came to the ship's side she saw that they were on the high
seas, far from land, and that the ship was speeding on its way under
full canvas. "Oh!" she cried in terror, "I am deceived, carried away and
betrayed into the power of a merchant; I would rather have died!" But
the King seized her hand and spake: "I am no merchant, but a king of as
high birth as yourself; and it was my great love for you that made me
carry you off by stratagem.
The first time I saw your likeness I fell to
the ground in a swoon." When the Princess of the Golden Roof heard this
she was comforted, and her heart went out to him, so that she willingly
consented to become his wife.
Now it happened one day, while they were sailing on the high seas,
that Trusty John, sitting on the forepart of the ship, fiddling away to
himself, observed three ravens in the air flying toward him. He ceased
playing, and listened to what they were saying, for he understood their
language. The one croaked: "Ah, ha! so he's bringing the Princess of
the Golden Roof home." "Yes," answered the second, "but he's not got her
yet." "Yes, he has," spake the third, "for she's sitting beside him on
the ship." Then number one began again and cried: "That'll not help him!
When they reach the land a chestnut horse will dash forward to greet
them: the King will wish to mount it, and if he does it will gallop away
with him, and disappear into the air, and he will never see his bride
again." "Is there no escape for him?" asked number two. "Oh! yes, if
someone else mounts quickly and shoots the horse dead with the pistol
that is sticking in the holster, then the young King is saved. But who's
to do that? And anyone who knows it and tells him will be turned into
stone from his feet to his knees."
Then spake number two: "I know more
than that: even if the horse is slain, the young King will still not
keep his bride: when they enter the palace together they will find a
ready-made wedding shirt in a cupboard, which looks as though it were
woven of gold and silver, but is really made of nothing but sulphur and
tar: when the King puts it on it will burn him to his marrow and bones."
Number three asked: "Is there no way of escape, then?" "Oh! yes,"
answered number two: "If someone seizes the shirt with gloved hands and
throws it into the fire, and lets it burn, then the young King is saved.
But what's the good? Anyone knowing this and telling it will have half
his body turned into stone, from his knees to his heart." Then number
three spake: "I know yet more: though the bridal shirt too be burnt, the
King hasn't even then secured his bride: when the dance is held after
the wedding, and the young Queen is dancing, she will suddenly grow
deadly white, and drop down like one dead, and unless some one lifts her
up and draws three drops of blood from her right side, and spits them
out again, she will die. But if anyone who knows this betrays it, he
will be turned into stone from the crown of his head to the soles of his