THE LUTE PLATER
in pawn and come and deliver me out of this horrible prison.'
The queen received the letter, read it, and wept bitterly as she said to herself, ' How can I deliver my dearest husband ? If I go myself and the heathen king sees me he will just take me to be one of his wives. If I were to send one of the ministers ! — but I hardly know if I can depend on them.'
She thought, and thought, and at last an idea came into her head. She cut off all her beautiful long brown hair and dressed herself in boy's clothes. Then she took her lute and, without saying anything to anyone, she went forth into the wide world.
She travelled through many lands and saw many cities, and went through many hardships before she got to the town where the heathen king lived. When she got there she walked all round the palace and at the back she saw the prison. Then she went into the great court in front of the palace, and taking her lute in her hand, she began to play so beautifully that one felt as though one could never hear enough.
After she had played for some time she began to sing, and her voice was sweeter than the lark's:
' I come from my own country far Into this foreign land, Of all I own I take alone My sweet lute in my hand. ' Oh ! who will thank me for my song, Reward my simple lay ? Like lover's sighs it still shall rise To greet thee day by day. ' I sing of blooming flowers
Made sweet by sun and rain; Of all the bliss of love's first kiss,
And parting's cruel pain. ' Of the sad captive's longing
Within his prison wall, Of hearts that sigh when none are nigh To answer to their call.