THE BRIDE'S VENTURE.
the peas lay, they stepped upon them so heavily, and had such a firm strong walk, that not a single pea rolled, or even moved.
After they were gone, the king said to the lion, " You have spoken falsely to me ; they walk like men."
"Yes," answered the lion; "they knew that the peas were put there to prove them, so they exerted all their strength; but now give them another trial: have twelve spinning-wheels placed in the ante-room, and when they see them, they will look quite delighted, whereas no man would notice them."
The king was pleased with this advice also, and gave orders for twelve spinning-wheels to be placed in the ante-room.
The servant, however, who really believed in the truthfulness of the young huntsmen, disclosed the plan to them. When they were alone, the king's daughter cautioned them not even to glance at the spinning-wheels, and to walk firmly.
The next morning the king sent for his twelve huntsmen; but as they passed through the ante-room with a firm step, not one of them took the slightest notice of the spinning-wheels.
"Wrong again, lion," said the king; "they must be men, for they did not even see the spinning-wheels."
" Because," answered the lion, " they knew that you were trying them with another test." But after this, the king would not believe the lion.
The twelve huntsmen generally followed or accompanied the king when he went hunting, and the more he knew of them, the more he liked them.
It happened one day, while they were out hunting, that information was brought of the approach of the king's bride. As soon as the chief huntsman—who really was the king's first bride, and rode near him—heard the news, such a pang of grief came upon her that her heart seemed to stop, and she fell off her horse to the ground insensible. The king, who supposed that his favourite huntsman had met with an accident, ran to help him; and, in raising him up, his glove fell off. Then the king saw with surprise that he wore on his finger a ring which he had given to his first bride, and looking earnestly in the face, he recognized her. Then was his heart so completely at rest that he kissed her, and, as she opened her eyesr he exclaimed, " Thou art mine, and I am thine, and no one in the world shall separate us again."