160 THE ENCHANTED DEER
and that the weaver might have it for his kindness to him.
Now as nobody had appeared to demand the hand of the princess, the king ordered another race to be run, and the fisher's son rode into the field still more splendidly dressed than he was before, and easily distanced everybody else. But again he left the prize unclaimed, and so it happened on the third day, when it seemed as if all the people in the kingdom were gathered to see the race, for they were filled with curiosity to know who the winner could be.
' If he will not come of his own free will, he must be brought,' said the king, and messengers who had seen the face of the victor were sent to seek him in every street of the town. This took many days, and when at last they found the young man in the weaver's cottage, he was so dirty and ugly and had such a strange appearance, that they declared he could not be the winner they had been searching for, but a wicked robber who had murdered ever so many people, but had always managed to escape.
' Yes, it must be the robber,' said the king, when the fisher's son was led into his presence ; ' build a gallows at once and hang him in the sight of all my subjects, that they may behold him suffer the punishment of his crimes.'
So the gallows was built upon a high platform, and the fisher's son mounted the steps up to it, and turned at the top to make the speech that was expected from every doomed man, innocent or guilty. As he spoke he happened to raise his arm, and the king's daughter, who was there at her father's side, saw the name which she had written under it. With a shriek she sprang from her seat, and the eyes of the spectators were turned towards her.
' Stop ! stop ! ' she cried, hardly knowing what she said. ' If that man is hanged there is not a soul in the