THE GARDEN OF THE SORCERESS.
visits; till one day Lettice said innocently, " I shall not have such a heavy weight as you to draw up much longer, Mother Grethel, for the king's son is coming very soon to fetch me away."
"You wicked child," cried the witch, "what do I hear you say? I thought I had hidden you from all the world, and now you have betrayed me." In her wrath she caught hold of Lettice's beautiful hair, and struck her several times with her left hand. Then she seized a pair of scissors and cut Lettice's hair, while the beautiful locks, glistening like gold, fell on the ground. And she was so hard-hearted after this that she dragged poor Lettice out into the forest, to a wild and desert place, and left her there in sorrow and woe.
On the same day on which the poor maiden had been exiled, the witch tied the locks of hair which she had cut off poor Lettice's golden head into a kind of tail, and hung it over the window-sill.
In the evening, the prince came and cried—
" Lettice, Lettice, let down your hair, That I may climb without a stair."
Then the witch let the hair down, and the king's son climbed up; but at the open window he found not his dear Lettice, but a wicked witch, who looked at him with cruel and malicious eyes.
" Ah !" she cried, with a sneer, " you are come to fetch your loving bride, I suppose; but the beautiful bird has flown from the nest, and will never sing any more. The cat has fetched it away, and she intends also to scratch your eyes out. To thee is Lettice lost; thou wilt never behold her again."
The prince felt almost out of his mind with grief as he heard this, and in his despair he sprung out of the tower window and fell among the thorns and brambles beneath. He certainly escaped with his life, but the thorns stuck into his eyes and blinded them. After this he wandered about the wood for days, eating only wild roots and berries, and did nothing but lament and weep for the loss of his beloved bride.
So wandered he for a whole year in misery, till at last he came upon the desert place where. Lettice had been banished and lived in her sorrow. As he drew near he heard a voice which he seemed to recognise, and advancing towards the sound came within sight of Lettice, who recognised him at once with tears, wo of