360 THE PRINCE WHO WANTED
the dove had come to his rescue before, he was ready to obey her blindly.
When he reached the boat he found the dove perched on one of the masts, and at a signal from her he put to sea; the wind was behind them and they soon lost sight of land. The dove then spoke for the first time and said, ' Take that knife and cut off my head, but be careful that not a single drop of blood falls to the ground. Afterwards you must throw it into the sea.'
Wondering at this strange order, the prince picked up his knife and severed the dove's head from her body at one stroke. A little while after a dove rose from the water with a ring in its beak, and laying it in the prince's hand, dabbled itself with the blood that was in the basin, when its head became that of a beautiful girl. Another moment and it had vanished completely, and the prince took the ring and made his way back to the palace.
The king stared with surprise at the sight of the ring, but he thought of another way of getting rid of the young man which was surer even than the other two.
' This evening yon will mount my colt and ride him to the field, and break him in properly.'
The prince received this command as silently as he had received the rest, but no sooner was he in his room than he called for the dove, who said: 'Attend to me. My father longs to see you dead, and thinks he will kill you by this means. He himself is the colt, my mother is the saddle, my two sisters are the stirrups, and I am the bridle. Do not forget to take a good club, to help you in dealing with such a crew.'
So the prince mounted the colt, and gave him such a beating that when he came to the palace to announce that the animal was now so meek that it could be ridden by the smallest child, he found the king so bruised that he had to be wrapped in cloths dipped in vinegar, the mother was too stiff to move, and several of the daughters' ribs were broken. The youngest, however, was quite un-