THE ENCHANTED WREATH 115
wreath of singing roses?' asked he, for the birds were so tiny that till you looked closely you never saw them.
'I live in a hut on the edge of the forest,' she answered, blushing, for she had never spoken to a prince before. 'And as to the wreath, I know not how it came there, unless it may be the gift of some doves whom I fed when they were starving.' The prince was delighted with this answer, which showed the goodness of the girl's heart, and besides he had fallen in love with her beauty, and would not be content till she promised to return with him to the palace, and become his bride. The old king was naturally disappointed at his son's choice of a wife, as he wished him to marry a neighbouring princess; but as from his birth the prince had always done exactly as he liked, nothing was said and a splendid wedding feast was got ready.
The day after her marriage the bride sent a messenger, bearing handsome presents to her father, and telling him of the good fortune which had befallen her. As may be imagined, the stepmother and her daughter were so filled with envy that they grew quite ill, and had to take to their beds, and nobody would have been sorry if they had never got up again; but that did not happen. At length, however, they began to feel better, for the mother invented a plan by which she could be revenged on the girl who had never done her any harm.
Her plan was this. In the town where she had lived before she was married there was an old witch, who had more skill in magic than any other witch she knew. To this witch she would go and beg her to make her a mask with the face of her stepdaughter, and when she had the mask the rest would be easy. She told her daughter what she meant to do, and although the daughter could only say 'dirty creatures,' in answer, she nodded and smiled and looked well pleased.
Everything fell out exactly as the woman had hoped. By the aid of her magic mirror the witch beheld the new