476 THE IRON CHEST.
swoon, for this was his only daughter. So, after some reflection, he decided to send for the miller's daughter, and take her to the place instead of his own. When she came to the castle, he led her out into the wood, gave her a knife, and told her to scrape a hole in the iron chest. She scraped away at one spot for a whole day and night, but not the slightest hole could she make.
At daybreak, a voice came from within the chest, and said: "Is not the day breaking ?"
" Yes." she replied, " I believe it is, for I can hear the click of my father's mill."
"What! are you a miller's daughter?" cried the voice: "then go back at once and send the king's daughter here."
She went immediately to the castle, and told the old king that whoever was shut up in the iron chest would not have her there, but wanted the king's daughter.
The good king was still more alarmed at this, and his daughter wept. However, this time they thought of the swineherd's daughter, who was even still more beautiful than the miller's daughter. She was sent for, and the king promised her a piece of gold, if she would go into the forest, and scrape the iron chest instead of the princess.
She readily agreed to go; but after working for many hours till daybreak without any result, the voice said, " Is it not morning?"
" Yes," she replied; " it must be, for I hear my father blowing his horn."
"What! are you a swineherd's daughter?" said the voice;' "then go away directly and send the princess; and tell her that if she does not come back here as she promised, the whole of her father's kingdom will be destroyed, and the castle thrown down till not one stone remains upon another."
When the princess heard this she began to weep; but there was nothing else to be done. She knew she must keep to her promise. She, therefore, took leave of her father; and, with a knife in her hand, went away into the forest where the iron chest stood.
As soon as she arrived she began at once to scrape away with all her might; and in less than two hours she had succeeded in making a small hole. Through this hole she peeped in; and to her great surprise saw a handsome young man whose dress glittered with gold and precious stones.