BROTHER AND SISTER
And when he got to the house he knocked at the door and said, ' My sister dear, open; I'm here.' Then the door opened and the King walked in, and there stood the loveliest maiden he had ever seen.
The girl was much startled when instead of the little Roe she expected she saw a man with a gold crown on his head walk in. But the King looked kindly at her, held out his hand, and said, ' Will you come with me to my castle and be my dear wife ? '
' Oh yes!' replied the maiden, ' but you must let my Roe come too. I could not possibly forsake it.'
' It shall stay with you as long as you live, and shall want for nothing,' the King promised.
In the meantime the Roe came bounding in, and sister tied the rush cord once more to its collar, took the end in her hand, and so they left the little house in the forest together.
The King lifted the lonely maiden on to his horse, and led her to his castle, where the wedding was celebrated with the greatest splendour. The Roe was petted and caressed, and ran about at will in the palace gardens.
Now all this time the wicked stepmother, who had been the cause of these poor children's misfortunes and trying adventures, was feeling fully persuaded that sister had been torn to pieces by wild beasts, and brother shot to death in the shape of a Roe. When she heard how happy and prosperous they were, her heart was filled with envy and hatred, and she could think of nothing but how to bring some fresh misfortune on them. Her own daughter, who was as hideous as night and had only one eye, reproached her by saying, ' It is I who ought to have had this good luck and been Queen.'
' Be quiet, will you,' said the old woman; ' when the time comes I shall be at hand.'
Now after some time it happened one day when the King was out hunting that the Queen gave birth to a beautiful little boy. The old witch thought here was a good chance for her ; so she took the form of the lady in waiting, and, hurrying into the room where the Queen lay in her bed, called out, ' The bath is quite ready ; it will help to make you strong again. Come, let us be quick, for fear the water should get cold.' Her daughter was at hand, too, and between them they carried the Queen, who was still very weak, into the bath-room and laid her in the bath ; then they locked the door and ran away.
They took care beforehand to make a blazing hot fire under the bath, so that the lovely young Queen might be suffocated.