PRINCE AND PRINCESS IN THE FOREST 269
So that evening the man took the ring to the palace and gave it to his daughter, who was the princess's favourite slave, and the girl gave it to her mistress. When the princess saw it she uttered a cry of joy.
' It is the ring I gave my betrothed !' she said. ' Take me to him at once.'
The bath-keeper thought it strange that the princess should be betrothed to a blind beggar, but he did as she bade him, and when she saw the prince she cried:
' At last you have come ! The year is over, and I thought you were dead. Now we will be married immediately.' And she went home and told the king that he was to send an escort to bring her betrothed to the palace. Naturally the king was rather surprised at the sudden arrival of the prince ; but when he heard that he was blind he was very much annoyed.
'I cannot have a blind person to succeed me,' he said. ' It is perfectly absurd !'
But the princess had had her own way all her life, and in the end the king gave way as he had alwa}rs done. The prince was taken to the palace with much ceremony and splendour; but in spite of this the king was not contented. Still, it could not be helped, and really it was time the princess was married, though she looked as young as ever. There had been hundreds of knights and princes who had begged her to bestow her hand upon them, but she would have nothing to do with anyone ; and now she had taken it into her head to marry this blind prince, and nobody else would she have.
One evening, as it was fine, the prince and princess went into the garden, and sat down under a tree.
Two ravens were perched on a bush near by, and the prince, who could understand bird language, heard one of them say: ' Do you know that it is Midsummer-eve to-night ? '
' Yes,' said the other.