THE SISTER OF THE SUN 227
any disobedience to the king's commands. However, in consideration of what the youth had done the day before, he hoped his majesty's heart might be softened, especially as he had sent a message that they might expect him at once. With this the bridal pair had to be content, and be as patient as they could till the king's arrival.
He did not keep them long, but they saw by his face that nothing good awaited them.
' The marriage cannot take place,' he said shortly,' till the youth has joined to their roots all the trees he cut down yesterday.'
This sounded much more difficult than what he had done before, and he turned in despair to the Sister of the Sun.
' It is all right,' she whispered encouragingly. ' Take this water and sprinkle it on one of the fallen trees, and say to it: "So let all the trees of the forest stand upright," and in a moment they will be erect again.'
And the young man did what he was told, and left the forest looking exactly as it had done before.
Now, surely, thought the princess, there was no longer any need to put off the wedding ; and she gave orders that all should be ready for the following day. But again the old man interfered, and declared that without the king's permission no marriage could take place. For the third time his majesty was sent for, and for the third time he proclaimed that he could not give his consent until the bridegroom should have slain a serpent wrhich dwelt in a broad river that flowed at the back of the castle. Everyone knew stories of this terrible serpent, though no one had actually seen it; but from time to time a child strayed from home and never came back, and then mothers would forbid the other children to go near the river, which had juicy fruits and lovely flowers growing along its banks.
So no wonder the youth trembled and turned pale when he heard what lay before him.
' You will succeed in this also,' whispered the Sister of