238 THE PRINCE AND THE THREE FATES
and the marriage took place the following day, and great herds of cattle and a large estate were given to the young couple.
After a little while the prince said to his wife : ' My life is in the hands of three creatures—a crocodile, a serpent, and a dog.'
' Ah, how rash you are ! ' cried the princess, throwing her arms round his neck. ' If you know that, how can you have that horrid beast about you ? I will give orders to have him killed at once.'
But the prince would not listen to her.
' Kill my dear little dog, who has been my playfellow since he was a puppy ? ' exclaimed he. ' Oh, never would I allow that.' And all that the princess could get from him was that he would always wear a sword, and have somebody with him when he left the palace.
When the prince and princess had been married a few months, the prince heard that his stepmother was dead, and his father was old and ill, and longing to have his eldest son by his side again. The young man could not remain deaf to such a message, and he took a tender farewell of his wife, and set out on his journey home. It was a long way, and he was forced to rest often on the road, and so it happened that, one night, when he was sleeping in a city on the banks of the great river, a huge crocodile came silently up and made its way along a passage to the prince's room. Fortunately one of his guards woke up as it was trying to steal past them, and shut the crocodile up in a large hall, where a giant watched over it, never leaving the spot except during the night, when the crocodile slept. And this went on for more than a month.
Now, when the prince found that he was not likely to leave his father's kingdom again, he sent for his wife, and bade the messenger tell her that he would await her coming in the town on the banks of the great river.