THE SEVEN FOALS
magnificent that they shone with splendour, and they went into the church and received bread and wine from the priest, who was standing before the altar, and Cinderlad went in too. But when the priest had laid his hands on the princes and read the blessing, they went out of the church again, and Cinderlad went out too, but he took with him a flask of wine and some consecrated bread. No sooner had the seven princes come out into the churchyard than they became foals again, and Cinderlad got upon the back of the youngest, and they returned by the way they had come, only they went much, much faster.
First they went over the bridge, and then past the trunk of the birch tree, and then past the old hag who sat in the cleft of the rock spinning, and they went by so fast that Cinderlad could not hear what the old hag screeched after him, but just heard enough to understand that she was terribly enraged.
It was all but dark when they got back to the King at nightfall, and he himself was standing in the courtyard waiting for them.
' Hast thou watched well and faithfully the whole day ? ' said the King to Cmderlad.
' I have done my best,' replied Cinderlad.
* Then thou canst tell me what my seven foals eat and drink ? ' asked the King.
So Cinderlad pulled out the consecrated bread and the flask of wine, and showed them to the King. ' Here may you behold their meat, and here their drink,' said he.
'Yes, diligently and faithfully hast thou watched,' said the King, ' and thou shalt have the Princess and half the kingdom.'
So all was made ready for the wedding, and the King said that it was to be so stately and magnificent that everyone should hear of it, and everyone inquire about it.
But when they sat down to the marriage-feast, the bridegroom arose and went down to the stable, for he said that he had forgotten something which he must go and look to. When he got there, he did what the foals had bidden him, and cut off the heads of "all the seven. First the eldest, and then the second, and so on according to their age, and he was extremely careful to lay each head at the tail of the foal to which it had belonged, and when that was done, all the foals became princes again. When he returned to the marriage-feast with the seven princes, the King was so joyful that he both kissed Cinderlad and clapped him on the back, and his bride was still more delighted with him than she had been before.