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He rode on again, and after a time he seemed to hear a voice in the
sand at his feet. He listened, and heard an Ant-King complain: 'I wish
these human beings and their animals would keep out of our way. A
clumsy horse has just put his hoof down upon a number of my people in
the most heartless way.'
He turned his horse into a side path, and the Ant-King cried: 'We will
remember and reward you.'
The road now ran through a forest, and he saw a pair of Ravens
standing by their nest throwing out their young.
'Away with you, you gallows birds,' they were saying. 'We can't feed
you any longer. You are old enough to look after yourselves.'
The poor little nestlings lay on the ground, fluttering and flapping
their wings, and crying: 'We, poor helpless children, to feed
ourselves, and we can't even fly! We shall die of hunger, there is
nothing else for it.'
The good Youth dismounted, killed his horse with his sword, and left
the carcase as food for the young Ravens. They hopped along to it, and
cried: 'We will remember and reward you.'
Now he had to depend upon his own legs, and after going a long way he
came to a large town.
There was much noise and bustle in the streets, where a man on
horseback was making a proclamation.
'The King's daughter seeks a husband, but any one who wishes to sue
for her hand must accomplish a hard task; and if he does not bring it
to a successful issue, he will forfeit his life.'
Many had already attempted the task, but they had risked their lives
When the Youth saw the Princess, he was so dazzled by her beauty that
he forgot all danger, at once sought an audience of the King, and
announced himself as a suitor.
He was immediately led out to the seashore, and a golden ring was
thrown into the water before his eyes. Then the King ordered him to
fetch it out from the depths of the sea, and added--
'If you come to land without it, you will be thrown back every time
till you perish in the waves.'
Every one pitied the handsome Youth, but they had to go and leave him
standing solitary on the seashore.
He was pondering over what he should do, when, all at once, he saw
three Fishes swimming towards him. They were no others than the very
ones whose lives he had saved.
The middle one carried a mussel-shell in its mouth, which it laid on
the sand at the feet of the Youth. When he picked it up, and opened
it, there lay the ring.
Full of joy, he took it to the King, expecting that he would give him
the promised reward.
The proud Princess, however, when she heard that he was not her equal,
despised him, and demanded that he should perform yet another task.
So she went into the garden herself, and strewed ten sacks of millet
seeds among the grass.
'He must pick up every one of those before the sun rises to-morrow
morning,' said she. 'Not a grain must be missing.'
The Youth sat miserably in the garden, wondering how it could possibly
be done. But as he could not think of a plan, he remained sadly
waiting for the dawn which would bring death to him.
But when the first sunbeams fell on the garden, he saw the ten sacks
full to the top, and not a grain was missing. The Ant-King had come in
the night with thousands and thousands of his Ants, and the grateful
creatures had picked up the millet and filled the sacks.