240 THE PRINCE AND THE THREE FATES
rest. Here he soon got better, and began to hunt, and to shoot wild duck with his bow ; and wherever he went, his dog, now grown very old, went with him.
One morning the prince and his dog were out as usual, and in chasing their game they drew near the bank of the river. The prince was running at full speed after his dog when he almost fell over something that looked like a log of wood, which was lying in his path. To his surprise a voice spoke to him, and he saw that the thing which he had taken for a branch was really a crocodile.
' You cannot escape from me,' it was saying, when he had gathered his senses again. ' I am your fate, and wrherever you go, and whatever you do, you will always find me before you. There is only one means of shaking off my power. If you can dig a pit in the dry sand which will remain full of water, my spell will be broken. If not death will come to you speedily. I give you this one chance. Now go.'
The young man walked sadly away, and when he reached the palace he shut himself into his room, and for the rest of the day refused to see anyone, not even his wife. At sunset, however, as no sound could be heard through the door, the princess grew quite frightened, and made such a noise that the prince was forced to draw back the bolt and let her come in. ' How pale you look,' she cried, ' has anything hurt you ? Tell me, I pray you, what is the matter, for perhaps I can help!'
So the prince told her the whole story, and of the impossible task given him by the crocodile.
' How can a sand hole remain full of water ?' asked he. ' Of course it will all run through. The crocodile called it a " chance " ; but he might as well have dragged me into the river at once. He said truly that I cannot escape him.'
' Oh, if that is all,' cried the princess, ' I can set you free myself, for my fairy godmother taught me to know the use of plants and in the desert not far from here there