160 THE GREEN KNIGHT
' It is true,' persisted the girl. ' He is dressed all in green, and is very handsome. I saw him myself, though he did not see me, and he got into a boat and rowed over to the island, and the princess was waiting for him at the castle door.'
' I must find out what this means,' thought the queen. But she bade her maid of honour cease chattering and mind her own business.
Early next morning the queen got up and went down to the shore of the lake, where she hid herself behind a tree. Sure enough there came a handsome knight dressed in green, just as the maid of honour had said, and he got into a boat and rowed over to the island where the princess awaited him. The angry queen remained by the lake all day, but it was not until the evening that the knight returned, and leaping on shore, he tied the boat to its moorings and went away through the forest.
' I have caught my step-daughter nicely,' thought the queen. ' But she shall not be married before my own sweet girl. I must find a way to put a stop to this.'
Accordingly she took a poisoned nail and stuck it in the handle of the oar in such a way that the knight would be sure to scratch his hand when he picked up the oar. Then she went home laughing, very much pleased with her cleverness.
The next day the Green Knight went to visit the princess as usual; but directly he took up the oars to row over to the island he felt a sharp scratch on his hand.
' Oof!' he said, dropping the oars from pain, ' what can have scratched so ?' But, look as he might, only a tiny mark was to be seen.
' Well, it's strange how a nail could have come here since yesterday,' he thought. ' Still, it is not very serious, though it hurts a good deal.' And, indeed, it seemed such a little thing that he did not mention it to