THE MAGIC RING
Together they entered the palace, and were received by the King with great kindness. Turning to his daughter, he said :
' My child, I had almost given up the hope of ever seeing you again. Where have you been all these years ?'
' My father,' she replied, ' I owe my life to this youth, who saved me from a terrible death.'
Upon which the King turned to Martin with a gracious smile, saying: 'I will reward your courage by granting you whatever your heart desires. Take as much gold, silver, and precious stones as you choose.'
' I thank you, mighty King, for your gracious offer,' answered Martin,' ' but I do not covet either gold, silver, or precious stones; yet if you will grant me a favour, give me, I beg, the ring from off the little finger of your royal hand. Every time my eye falls on it I shall think of your gracious Majesty, and when I marry I shall present it to my bride.'
So the King took the ring from his finger and gave it to Martin, saying: ' Take it, good youth ; but with it I make one condition— you are never to confide to anyone that this is a magic ring. If you do, you will straightway bring misfortune on yourself.'
Martin took the ring, and, having thanked the King, he set out on the same road by which he had come down into the Under-world. "When he had regained the upper air he started for his old home, and having found his mother still living in the old house where he had left her, they settled down together very happily. So uneventful was their life that it almost seemed as if it would go on in this wTay always, without let or hindrance. But one day it suddenly came into his mind that he would like to get married, and, moreover, that he would choose a very grand wife—a King's daughter, in short. But as he did not trust himself as a wooer, he determined to send his old mother on the mission.
' You must go to the King,' he said to her, ' and demand the hand of his lovely daughter in marriage for me.'
' "What are you thinking of, my son ? ' answered the old woman, aghast at the idea. ' Why cannot you marry someone in your own rank ? That would be far more fitting than to send a poor old woman like me a-wooing to the King's Court for the hand of a Princess. Why, it is as much as our heads are worth. Neither my life nor yours would be worth anything if I went on such a fool's errand.'
' Never fear, little mother,' answered Martin. ' Trust me; all