232 THE SPRIG OF ROSEMARY
wonder what could be in the chest, which was opened by the key. As everybody knows, if we once begin to think we soon begin to do, and it was not very long before the key was no longer in the maiden's hand but in the lock of the chest.
But the lock was stiff and resisted all her efforts, and in the end she had to break it. And what was inside after all ? Why, nothing but a serpent's skin, which her husband, who was, unknown to her, a magician, put on when he was at work; and at the sight of it the girl was turning away in disgust, when the earth shook violently under her feet, the palace vanished as if it had never been, and the bride found herself in the middle of a field, not knowing where she was or whither to go.
She burst into a flood of bitter tears, partly at her own folly, but more for the loss of her husband, whom she dearly loved. Then, breaking a sprig of rosemary on a bush hard by, she resolved, cost what it might, to seek him through the world till she found him.
So she walked and she walked and she walked, till she arrived at a house built of straw. And she knocked at the door, and asked if they wanted a servant. The mistress said she did, and if the girl was willing she might stay. But day by day the poor maiden grew more and more sad, till at last her mistress begged her to say what was the matter. Then she told her story — how she was going through the world seeking after her husband.
And her mistress answered her, ' Where he is. none car. tell better than the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind, for they go everywhere ! '
On hearing these words the damsel set forth once more, and walked till she reached the Golden Castle, where lived the Sun. And she knocked boldly at the door, saying, ' All hail, O Sun ! I have come to ask if, of your charity, you will help me in my need. By my own fault have I fallen into these, straits, and I am weary, for I seek my husband through the wide world.'