60 THE PRINCESS IN THE CHEST
idea, and so things went on, until the very day before the princess completed her fourteenth year.
The king and the queen were out in the garden then, and the king said, ' Now I can't and I won't wait any longer. I must see my daughter at once. A few hours, more or less, can't make any difference.'
The queen begged him to have patience till the morning. When they had waited so long, they could surely wait a single day more. But the king was quite unreasonable. 'No nonsense,' said he; 'she is just as much mine as yours, and I will see her,' and with that he went straight up to her room.
He burst the door open, and pushed aside the nurse, who tried to stop him, and there he saw his daughter. She was the loveliest young princess, red and white, like milk and blood, with clear blue eyes and golden hair, but right in the middle of her forehead there was a little tuft of brown hair.
The princess went to meet her father, fell on his neck and kissed him, but with that she said, ' O father, father! what have you done now? to-morrow I must die, and you must choose one of three things: either the land must be smitten by the black pestilence, or you must have a long and bloody war, or you must, as soon as I am dead, lay me in a plain wooden chest, and set it in the church, and for a whole year place a sentinel beside it every night.'
The king was frightened indeed, and thought she was raving, but in order to please her, he said, ' Well, of these three things I shall choose the last; if you die, I shall lay you at once in a plain wooden chest, and have it set in the church, and every night I shall place a sentinel beside it. But you shall not die, even if you are ill now.'
He immediately summoned all the best doctors in the country, and they came with all their prescriptions and their medicine bottles, but next day the princess was stiff and cold in death. All the doctors could certify to