244 THE PRINCE AND THE THREE FATES
charm work, or would the water trickle away slowly through the sand, and the prince fall a victim to that horrible monster? For half an hour they stood with their eyes rooted to the spot, but the hole remained as full as at the beginning, with the little green leaf floating on the top. Then the prince turned with a shout of triumph, and the crocodile sulkily plunged into the river.
The prince had escaped for ever the second of his three fates !
He stood there looking after the crocodile, and rejoicing that he was free, when he was startled by a wild duck which flew past them, seeking shelter among the rushes that bordered the edge of the stream. In another instant his dog dashed by in hot pursuit, and knocked heavily against his master's legs. The prince staggered, lost his balance and fell backwards into the river, where the mud and the rushes caught him and held him fast. He shrieked for help to his wife, who came running ; and luckily brought her rope with her. The poor old dog was drowned, but the prince was pulled to shore. ' My wife,' he said, ' has been stronger than my fate.'
[Adapted from Les Conies Populaires de VEgyple Ancienne.]