THE GRATEFUL PRINCE 97
that he had been wearing at the time he had vanished, so that his father might know him more quickly. She herself stayed behind in a. peasant's hut, so that father and son might meet alone.
But the father was no longer there, for the loss of his son had killed him ; and on his deathbed he confessed to his people how he had contrived that the old wizard should carry away a peasant's child instead of the prince, wherefore this punishment had fallen upon him.
The prince wept bitterly when he heard this news, for he had loved his father well, and for three days he ate and drank nothing. But on the fourth day he stood in the presence of his people as their new king, and, calling his councillors, he told them all the strange things that had befallen him, and how the maiden had borne him safe through all.
And the councillors cried with one voice, ' Let her be your wife, and our liege lady.'
And that is the end of the story.