chapter  6
14 Pages

The Princess

So she was preparing to go, too. The next morning they rose and after breakfast the two princes got on their horses, and the queen and her maid climbed into the coach. They ordered twenty-four young lads to accompany them. Twenty-four soldiers escorted them. So-the two princes on horseback, the queen mother seated facing her maid, and the coachman in the driver’s box-they took off. Well, eventually they ar­ rived in the other country.Said the prince: “Here we are. This is my country”“I am glad,” said the prince, “I could hardly wait to be here and to see her.”Right away they proceeded home.“This is the royal fort. Here is the king’s palace.”They reached the gates and were let in. When the princess saw her brother, she was so overjoyed, she didn’t know what to do. She ran outside and began plying him with questions. But then she noticed that there was another regal looking lad, she could tell from his attire that he was regal. She thought to herself: what is this young man doing here?They came face to face, introduced themselves and entered into the room. They sat down at the table. The princely lad couldn’t take his eyes off the girl. He had liked her on the photograph but when he saw her, he liked her even more. Well, he didn’t know how to tell her why he had come. He didn’t know how to present it to her. While they were sitting at the table, food and drink were served. They drank, but the princely lad just couldn’t stop gazing at the girl. He nearly devoured her with his eyes. He fell deeply in love with her.“Princess,” he said, “I’ll tell you my most secret thoughts. No one knows, ex­cept your brother, why I came here from so far away. Ever since I saw your photograph, the one your brother carries, I have not been able to sleep. I’ll die if you cannot be mine. So I came to find out your answer. I came to take you for my wife, if you’ll have me.”The girl became alarmed; she didn’t know what to say.“I want to know your answer. Will you be my wife or not?”The girl asked her brother what she should do. Should she marry him? Should she take him for her husband?“Look,” he said, “I saw his good appearance, but what he’s like, what his heart is like, I really can’t say. I don’t know him from the inside out but I can tell you, if you fancy him, you may marry him.”The girl liked him, he was a handsome lad, not a weakling-a nice, regal look­ ing lad, with a stately bearing.“All right,” she said. “I will.”Right away they exchanged rings, became engaged and the following morning started on their way, back to the lad’s country.“Well now,” said her brother, “take what you want, what you need for the jour­ney, but nothing else. Take only what you need.”The princess put on a beautiful gown. They climbed in the carriage; the lad

helped the princess into her seat. She sat in the back with the queen mother, facing the attendant. The carriage went ahead and the two young men on horseback followed behind. So, they took off and were on their way.Soon the prince called out: “Mother, watch over my fiancee, my bride, don’t let the breeze get to her. Take good care of her!”“I am here, beside her. If it gets to her, it gets to me. I am as concerned about her as I am about myself.” So they continued on the road, flanked by soldiers on either side and followed by the riders. When they were farther along, the prince called out again: “My angel, look after yourself! Don’t let the breezes or anything harmful touch you!”She didn’t hear him well.She asked: “What did the prince say?”“He said that your golden hair, reaching down to your heels, should be cut off.” The princess said: “Dear God Almighty, is this true? What harm is there in my long hair? Why does my hair bother him? Why does he want to cut it off?”“Well, he didn’t say why. He said it, so we have to do it, we have to cut it.”The old queen cut the girl’s golden hair as she sat there-she sheared it all off. The girl cried bitterly, she was heartbroken for her hair. She became very sad, her spirits were completely dampened. Why did he want to do this? Put her to shame, even before they reached home?They continued on their journey. Soon the prince called out again:“Look after yourself, my angel! Don’t let anything happen to you! Mother, you too, make sure no harm will come to her.”“What did he say?”“He said that I should poke out your eyes.”“Well, if that’s what he said, you’d better cut off my head, but don’t take my eyes. Did he take me from my home to become my murderer, rather than my savior? If they take my eyes, what will my life be worth? What will I do without my eyesight?” “What the prince commands, has to be!” The queen took a penknife out of her pocket and gouged out her two eyes. She wept and wept bitterly, she didn’t know what to do, she was so distressed.They came to a big stream. A bridge led across it. When they reached the bridge, the prince called out:“Don’t worry, my angel, we’ll soon be home!”And the princess again asked: “What did he say now?”“He said that I should undress you, leave you naked; that I should take away your clothes and, at the other end of the bridge, I should throw you into the muddy pond.” (But she didn’t even say that she was repeating the words of the wicked prince; she said:) “I should strip you of your clothes and push you into the muddy pond at the end of the bridge.”