THE PRINCE AND THE THREE FATES 237
king who dwells across the river, and he fled from his own country to escape from the hatred of his stepmother.
At this news the king was very angry, for it had never entered his head that anyone but a prince would seek to woo his daughter.
' Let him go back to the land whence he came,' he shouted in wrath ; ' does he expect me to give my daughter to an exile ? ' And he began to smash the drinking vessels in his fury ; indeed, he quite frightened the young man, who ran hastily home to his friends, and told the youth what the king had said.
Now the princess, who was leaning from her window, heard his words and bade the messenger go back to the king her father and tell him that she had sworn a vow never to eat or drink again if the youth was taken from her. The king was more angry than ever when he received this message, and ordered his guards to go at once to the palace and put the successful wooer to death; but the princess threw herself between him and his murderers.
; Lay a finger on him, and I shall be dead before sunset,' said she; and as they saw that she meant it, they left the palace, and carried the tale to her father.
By this time the king's anger was dying away, and he began to consider what his people would think of him if he broke the promise he had publicly given. So he ordered the princess to be brought before him, and the young man also, and when they entered the throne room he was so pleased with the noble air of the victor that his wrath quite melted away, and he ran to him and embraced him.
' Tell me who you are ?' he asked, when he had recovered himself a little, ' for I will never believe that you have not royal blood in your veins.'
But the prince still had his reasons for being silent, and only told the same story. However, the king had taken such a fancy to the youth that he said no more,