THE WATER-LILY. THE GOLD-SPINNEBS 179
rode over it a few days ago and heard her singing, but was no wiser than the rest.'
' And he is to blame for all her misfortunes,' added the magpie. ' If he heeds only the words of men she will remain a flower for ever. She were soon delivered were the matter only laid before the old wizard of Finland.'
After hearing this, the Prince wondered how he could get a message conveyed to Finland. He heard one swallow say to another : ' Come, let us fly to Finland : we can build better nests there.'
' Stop, kind friends !' cried the Prince. ' Will ye do something for me ? ' The birds consented, and he said: ' Take a thousand greetings from me to the wizard of Finland, and ask him how I may restore a maiden transformed into a flower to her own form.'
The swallows flew away, and the Prince rode on to the bridge. There he waited, hoping to hear the song. But he heard nothing but the rushing of the water and the moaning of the wind, and, disappointed, rode home.
Shortly after, he was sitting in the garden, thinking that the swallows must have forgotten his message, when he saw an eagle flying above him. The bird gradually descended until it perched on a tree close to the Prince and said : ' The wizard of Finland greets thee and bids me say that thou mayst free the maiden thus: Go to the river and smear thyself all over with mud; then say: " From a man into a crab," and thou wilt become a crab. Plunge boldly into the water, swim as close as thou canst to the water-lily's roots, and loosen them from the mud and reeds. This done, fasten thy claws into the roots and rise with them to the surface. Let the water flow all over the flower, and drift with the current until thou comest to a mountain ash tree on the left bank. There is near it a large stone. Stop there and say : " From a crab into a man, from a water-lily into a maiden," and ye will both be restored to your own forms.'
Full of doubt and fear, the Prince let some time pass before he was bold enough to attempt to rescue the maiden. Then a crow said to him : ' Why dost thou hesitate ? The old wizard has not told thee wrong, neither have the birds deceived thee; hasten and dry the maiden's tears.'
' Nothing worse than death can befall me,' thought the Prince, ' and death is better than endless sorrow.' So he mounted his horse and went to the bridge. Again he heard the water-lily's lament, and, hesitating no longer, smeared himself all over with mud, and,