large number of the king's troops had already fallen, and those who remained were too weak to attack the enemy.
Then the young knight rode into the field with his troop of steel-clad warriors, drove like a storm over the enemy, and overpowered all resistance. Those who remained took to flight; but he rode after them, and he and his soldiers put them to total rout. Instead, however, of going to the king to claim the honour of this victory, he turned and led his troop back to the wood, and called for Iron Hans.
" What do you wish for now?" said the wild man, when he appeared.
"Take back your horse and your warriors, and give me my three-legged nag again." His wish was complied with, and he rode home on his three-legged horse.
Meanwhile, the king returned to the castle, and his daughter came to him and congratulated him on his good fortune.
"It is not my victory at all," he said, " but owing to a strange knight who came to our help with steel-clad warriors."
The princess wanted to know who this strange knight was, but the king could not satisfy her. He told her that he and his soldiers had followed the flying enemy, and had not been seen since. The princess also enquired of the gardener where his garden assistant was gone.
The gardener laughed, and said : " He has been away, and returned again on his three-legged horse, and the other servants have been jeering and laughing at him, and crying out, 'Here comes our Hunkypuns back again !' And they asked which hedge he hid behind while the battle was going on; and his was a strange reply. He said he had done better than any of them, and that the victory would not have been won without him ! And at this they laughed more than ever."
The king told his daughter a few days after that he intended to celebrate the victory in a festival which should last three days. "And you shall have a golden apple to throw among the visitors," he said, "and perhaps this unknown warrior may be there."
As soon as the invitations were sent out, the young man went into the forest, and called Iron Hans.
" What do you wish for now ?" he asked.
" I want to be the fortunate one at the feast, and to catch the golden apple when the princess throws it."