138 THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS.
Soon after the robbers came home and asked angrily, what that youth was lying there for.
" Ah," said the old woman, " he is an innocent child, who has lost himself in the wood, and I took him in out of compassion. He is carrying a letter to the queen, which the king has sent."
Then the robbers went softly to the sleeping youth, took the letter from his pocket, and read in it that as soon as the bearer arrived at the palace he was to lose his life. Then pity arose in the hard-hearted robbers, and their chief tore up the letter and wrote another, in which it was stated, that as soon as the boy arrived he should be married to the king's daughter. Then they left him to lie and rest on the bench till the next morning, and when he awoke they gave him the letter and showed him the road he was to take.
As soon as He reached the palace and sent in the letter, the queen read it, and she acted in exact accordance to what was written. Ordered a grand marriage feast, and had the princess married at once to the fortunate youth.
He was very handsome and amiable, so that the king's daughter soon learnt to love him very much, and was quite happy with him.
Not long after when the king returned home to his castle, he found the prophecy respecting the child of fortune fulfilled, and that he was married to a king's daughter.
" How has this happened?" said he; " I have in my letter given very different orders."
Then the queen gave him the letter and said, " You may see for yourself what is stated there."
The king read the letter and saw very clearly that it was not the one he had written. He asked the youth what he had done with the letter he had intrusted to him, and where he had brought the other from.
" I know not," he replied, " unless it was changed during the night while I slept in the forest."
Full of wrath, the king said, "You shall not get off so easily, for whoever marries my daughter must first bring me three golden hairs from the head of the Demon of the Black Forest. If you bring them to me before long, then shall you keep my daughter as a wife, but not otherwise."
Then said the child of fortune, " I will fetch these goldep hairs