THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
The next day the magician again commanded Prince Milan to be led before him. His daughters were all arranged in a straight row in front of him, dressed exactly alike, and with their eyes bent on the ground.
"Now, you genius," said the magician, "look at these beauties three times, and then tell us which is the Princess Hyacinthia."
Prince Milan went past them and looked at them closely. But they were all so precisely alike that they looked like one face reflected in thirty mirrors, and the fly was nowhere to be seen; the second time he passed them he still saw nothing; but the third time he perceived a little fly stealing down one cheek, causing it to blush a faint pink. Then the prince seized the girl's hand and cried out: "This is the Princess Hyacinthia!"
"You're right again," said the magician in amazement; "but I've still another task for you to do. Before this candle, which I shall light, burns to the socket, you must have made me a pair of boots reaching to my knees. If they aren't finished in that time, off comes your head."
The prince returned to his room in despair. Then the Princess Hyacinthia came to him once more changed into the likeness of a bee and asked him: "Why so sad, Prince Milan?"
"How can I help being sad? Your father has set me this time an impossible task. Before a candle which he has lit burns to the socket I am to make a pair of boots. But what does a prince know of shoemaking? If I can't do it I lose my head."
"And what do you mean to do9" asked Hyacinthia.
"Well, what is there to be done? What he demands I can't and won't do, so he must just make an end of me."
"Not so, dearest. I love you dearly and you shall marry me, and I'll either save your life or die with you. We must fly now as quickly as we can, for there is no other way of escape."
With these words she breathed on the window, and her breath froze on the pane. Then she led Milan out of the room with her, shut the door, and threw the key away. Hand in hand they hurried to the spot where they had descended into the lower world, and at last reached the banks pf the lake. Prince Milan's charger was still grazing on, the grass which grew pear the water. The Eorse