THE FLOWER QUEEN'S DAUGHTER1
A YOUNG Prince was riding one day through a meadow that stretched for miles in front of him, when he came to a deep open ditch. He was turning aside to avoid it, when he heard the sound of someone crying in the ditch. He dismounted from his horse, and stepped along in the direction the sound came from. To his astonishment he found an old woman, who begged him to help her out of the ditch. The Prince bent down and lifted her out of her living grave, asking her at the same time how she had managed to get there.
' My son,' answered the old woman, ' I am a very poor woman, and soon after midnight I set out for the neighbouring town in order to sell my eggs in the market on the following morning ; but I lost my way in the dark, and fell into this deep ditch, where I might have remained for ever but for your kindness.'
Then the Prince said to her, ' You can hardly walk ; I will put you on my horse and lead you home. Where do you live ? '
' Over there, at the edge of the forest in the little hut you see in the distance,' replied the old woman.
The Prince lifted her on to his horse, and soon they reached the hut, where the old woman got down, and turning to the Prince said, ' Just wait a moment, and I will give you something.' And she disappeared into her hut, but returned very soon and said, ' You are a mighty Prince, but at the same time you have a kind heart, which deserves to be rewarded. Would you like to have the most beautiful woman in the world for your wife ? '
' Most certainly I would,' replied the Prince.
So the old woman continued, ' The most beautiful woman in the whole world is the daughter of the Queen of the Flowers, who has been captured by a dragon. If you wish to marry her, you must first set her free, and this I will help you to do. I will give you
1 From the Bukowinaer. Von Wliolocki.