THE GREEN KNIGHT 161
the princess. However, when he reached home in the evening, he felt so ill he was obliged to go to bed, with no one to attend on him except his old nurse. But of this, of course, the princess knew nothing; and the poor girl, fearing lest some evil should have befallen him, or some other maiden more beautiful than she should have stolen his heart from her, grew almost sick with waiting. Lonely indeed she was, for her father, who would have helped her, was travelling in a foreign country, and she knew not how to obtain news of her lover.
In this manner time passed away, and one day, as she sat by the open window crying and feeling very sad, a little bird came and perched on the branch of a tree that stood just underneath. It began to sing, and so beautifully that the princess was obliged to stop crying and listen to it, and very soon she found out that the bird was trying to attract her attention.
' Tu-whit, tu-whit! your lover is sick ! ' it sang.
' Alas !' cried the princess. ' What can I do ?'
' Tu-whit, tu-whit! you must go to your father's palace ! '
' And what shall I do there ?' she asked.
' Tu-whit! there you will find a snake with nine young ones.'
' Ugh !' answered the princess with a shiver, for she did not like snakes. But the little bird paid no heed.
' Put them in a basket and go to the Green Knight's palace,' said she.
' And what am I to do with them when I get there ? ' she cried, blushing all over, though there was no one to see her but the bird.
' Dress yourself as a kitchen-maid and ask for a place. Tu-whit! Then you must make soup out of the snakes. Give it three times to the knight and he will be cured. Tu-whit!'