104 THE THREE CROWNS
The clothes he had on him were as ragged as you please, but he had his crowns safe under his old cloak.
Then the smith came out, and says he, ' It's a shame for a strong, big fellow like you to be lazy, and so much work to be done. Are you any good with hammer and tongs ? Come in and bear a hand, an I'll give you diet and lodging, and a few pence when you earn them.' ' Never say't twice,' says the prince. 'I want nothing but to be busy.' So he took the hammer, and pounded away at the red-hot bar that the smith was turning on the anvil to make into a set of horse-shoes.
They hadn't been long at work when a tailor came in, and he sat down and began to talk. ' You all heard how the two princesses were loth to be married till the youngest would be ready with her crowns and her sweetheart. But after the windlass loosened accidentally when they were pulling up her bridegroom that was to be, there was no more sign of a well, or a rope, or a windlass, than there is on the palm of your hand. So the princes that were courting the eldest ladies wouldn't give peace or ease to their lovers nor the king till they got consent to the marriage, and it was to take place this morning. Myself went down out o' curiosity, and to be sure I was delighted with the grand dresses of the two brides, and the three crowns on their headsó gold, silver, and copper, one inside the other. The youngest was standing by mournful enough, and all was ready. The two bridegrooms came in as proud and grand as you please, and up they were walking to the altar rails, when the boards opened two yards wide under their feet, and down they went among the dead men and the coffins in the vaults. Oh, such shrieks as the ladies gave! and such running and racing and peeping down as there was ! but the clerk soon opened the door of the vault, and up came the two princes, their fine clothes covered an inch thick with cobwebs and mould.