58 THE PRINCESS IN THE CHEST
of the same kind, and could no doubt help the queen as well, if she would send for her. The queen did so, and the wise woman came, and to her she confided her sorrow, that she was childless, and the king and his kingdom had no heir.
The wise woman knew help for this. ' Out in the king's garden,' said she, ' under the great oak that stands on the left hand, just as one goes out from the castle, is a little bush, rather brown than green, with hairy leaves and long spikes. On that bush there are just at this moment three buds. If your majesty goes out there alone, fasting, before sunrise, and takes the middle one of the three buds, and eats it, then in six months you will bring a princess into the world. As soon as she is born, she must have a nurse, whom I shall provide, and this nurse must live with the child in a secluded part of the palace ; no other person must visit the child ; neither the king nor the queen must see it until it is fourteen years old, for that would cause great sorrow and misfortune.'
The queen rewarded the old woman richly, and next morning, before the sun rose, she was down in the garden, found at once the little bush with the three buds, plucked the middle one and ate it. It was sweet to taste, but afterwards was as bitter as gall. Six months after this, she brought into the world a little girl. There was a nurse in readiness, whom the wise woman had provided, and preparations were made for her living with the child, quite alone, in a secluded wing of the castle, looking out on the pleasure-park. The queen did as the wise woman had told her; she gave up the child immedi-atety, and the nurse took it and lived with it there.
When the king came home and heard that a daughter had been born to him, he was of course very pleased and happy, and wanted to see her at once.
The queen had then to tell him this much of the story, that it had been foretold that it would cause great