THE FALSE BRIDE. 185
when the girls returned home, he sent for the strange maiden, and asked her the meaning of all he had seen and heard.
"I dare not tell," she replied, "neither can I venture even to complain of my trouble to any one ; for I have sworn in the sight of heaven that I will divulge nothing, and were I to do so, my life will be forfeited!"
The king pressed her veiy much to tell him, but all to no purpose; he could get nothing out of her. Then he said : "Go and complain of your trouble in that iron close*. Till you tell mc all, there you shall stay F
Then she crept into the iron closet with a trembling heart, and began to lament and weep, and said aloud: " I am now forsaken by the whole world, and yet I am a king's daughter. A false lady's-maid has done this ; she got me into her power, made me take off my royal dress and give them to her, and has taken my place with my bridegroom, while I must go out and serve as a tender of herds of geese, and if I tell, she will kill me. Oh! if my mother knew, she would break her heart!"
The king, who had been standing near the closed door listening, heard all she said. So he opened the door, and called her to come out. Without a word he sent for some of her royal clothes, and desired her to put them on, and made her uncover her golden hair. As soon as she had done so, he was astonished to find her so beautiful.
The old king now sent for his son, and disclosed to him that he had a false bride, who was merely the lady's-maid to the princess, whom she had frightened into silence, and that the maiden who had been obliged to keep the secret was the real bride.
The prince, notwithstanding his astonishment, could not help seeing how beautiful the true bride was, and how much more gentle and refined than the woman who had been so cruel to her, and whom he could not love. He listened to the story of her sorrow, and was full of joy when he told her it was at an end, and a day was fixed for his friends and acquaintances to be invited to meet the true bride ; but not a word was said to the deceiver.
When the day arrived, the bridegroom placed the king's daughter on one side of himself, and the lady's-maid on the other. But the lady's-maid never expected to see the goose-tender at the