466 THE THREE FEATHERS.
But when the king saw Simple's splendid ring, he said at once, " The kingdom belongs to my youngest son."
His brothers, however, were not yet inclined to submit to the decision; they begged their father to make a third condition, and at last, he promised that he would give the kingdom to the son who brought home the most beautiful woman to be his wife.
They all were again guided by blowing the feathers, and the two elder took the roads pointed out to them. But Simple, without hesitation, went at once to the frog, and said, " This time I am to take home the most beautiful woman."
"Hey-day !" said the frog, "I have not one by me at present; but you shall have one soon." So she gave him a carrot, which had been hollowed out, and to which six mice were harnessed.
Simple took it quite sorrowfully, and said, " What am I to do with this?"
" Seat one of my little frogs in it," she said.
The youth, on this, caught one up at a venture, and seated it in the carrot No sooner had he done so, than it became a most beautiful young lady ; the carrot was turned into a gilded coach; and the mice were changed to prancing horses.
He kissed the maiden, seated himself in the carriage with her, drove away to the castle, and led her to the king.
Meanwhile his brothers had proved more silly than he; not forgetting the beautiful carpet and the ring, they still thought it was impossible for Simple to find a beautiful woman also. They therefore took no more trouble than before, and merely chose the handsomest peasant maidens they could find, to bring to their father.
When the king saw the beautiful maiden his youngest son had brought, he said, "The kingdom must now belong to my youngest son after my death."
But the eldest brothers deafened the king's ears anew with their cries, "We cannot consent to let our stupid brother be king; give us one more trial. Let a ring be hung in the hall, and let each woman spring through it" For they thought the peasant maidens would easily manage to do this, because they were strong, and that the delicate lady would, no doubt, kill herself. To this trial the old king consented.
The peasaat maidens jumped first; but they were so heavy and