334 GIRL WHO PRETENDED TO BE A BOY
been heard to boast that he knew where Iliane was to be found — the celebrated Iliane of the song which begins :
' Golden Hair The fields are green,'
and that to their certain knowledge he had a curl of her hair in his possession.
When he heard that, the emperor desired the page to be brought before him, and, as soon as the princess obeyed his summons, he said to her abruptly:
' Fet-Fruners, you have hidden from me the fact that you knew the golden-haired Iliane! Why did you do this? for I have treated you more kindly than all my other pages.'
Then, after making the princess show him the golden curl which she wore round her neck, he added: ' Listen to me; unless by some means or other you bring me the owner of this lock, I will have your head cut off in the place where you stand. Now go !'
In vain the poor girl tried to explain how the lock of hair came into her possession; the emperor would listen to nothing, and, bowing low, she left his presence and went to consult Sunlight what she was to do.
At his first words she brightened up. ' Do not be afraid, mistress; only last night my brother appeared to me in a dream and told me that a genius had carried off Iliane, whose hair you picked up on the road. But Iliane declares that, before she marries her captor, he must bring her, as a present, the whole stud of mares which belong to her. The genius, half crazy with love, thinks of nothing night and day but how this can be done, and meanwhile she is quite safe in the island swamps of the sea. Go back to the emperor and ask him for twenty ships rilled with precious merchandise. The rest you shall know by-and-by.'
On hearing this advice, the princess went at once into the emperor's presence.