290 HE WINS WHO WAITS
bystanders thought; nothing that was likely to take a girl's fancy. A hundred others were handsomer, and all wore finer clothes ; but he met the princess's eyes frankly and with a smile, and she smiled too, and held out the apple.
' There is some mistake,' cried the king, who had anxiously watched her progress, and hoped that none of the candidates would please her. ' It is impossible that she can wish to marry the son of a poor widow, who has not a farthing in the world! Tell her that I will not hear of it, and that she must go through the rows again and fix upon someone else;' and the princess went through the rows a second and a third time, and on each occasion she gave the apple to the widow's son. ' Well, marry him if you will,' exclaimed the angry king; ' but at least you shall not stay here.' And the princess answered nothing, but threw up her head, and taking the widow's son by the hand, they left the castle.
That evening they were married, and after the ceremony went back to the house of the bridegroom's mother, which, in the eyes of the princess, did not look much bigger than a hen-coop.
The old woman was not at all pleased when her son entered bringing his bride with him.
' As if we were not poor enough before,' grumbled she. ' I dare say this is some fine lady who can do nothing to earn her living.' But the princess stroked her arm, and said softly :
' Do not be vexed, dear mother ; I am a famous spinner, and can sit at my wheel all day without breaking a thread.'
And she kept her word ; but in spite of the efforts of all three, they became poorer and poorer ; and at the end of six months it was agreed that the husband should go to the neighbouring town to get work. Here he met a merchant who was about to start on a long journey with a train of camels laden with goods of all sorts, and