THE WATER OF LIFE.
"No," replied the father; "the risk is too great. I would rather die than allow you to incur such danger."
But the prince begged so hard that at last the king unwillingly consented. The prince thought, " If I bring this water I shall be my father's favourite son, and inherit his kingdom."
In a very short time he was able to start on his journey, and after riding for some distance he at last saw in the road a dwarf who stopped him, and cried, "Where are you riding in such haste?"
"Stupid little pigmy !" replied the prince, proudly. "Where I am going is not for you to know f and away he rode. He had, however, made the little man in a rage ; and he uttered a bad wish against the king's proud son.
He continued his journey, and came at last to a pass between two mountains; but as he rode on it appeared as if the mountains were closing together; and at last the way became so narrow that his horse could not possibly proceed a step either backwards or forwards, neither could he dismount from the saddle; so that he found himself a prisoner enclosed in the mountains.
The sick king anxiously expected his son day after day, but he did not return. Then the second son begged to be allowed to seek this wonderful remedy; and he also thought selfishly, "If my brother is dead, the kingdom will belong to me."
The king was as unwilling as before to let his son go; but he gave way at last; and the prince started and travelled by the same road which his brother had taken.
After a while, he too met the dwarf, who stopped him, and asked him where he was going in such haste. " You want to know, I dare say." said he ; " but, my little mannikin, I shan't tell you." And he rode away as he spoke.
The dwarf again threw over the prince the sorcerer's spell, and he rode away, as his brother had, down to the mountain pass, where he quickly found himself enclosed on all sides and unable to move backwards or forwards; and this is how it often happens to those who boast of their high courage.
As the second son also remained away, the youngest entreated his father to let him go and fetch the healing water, and the king was at last obliged to consent. He also was met by the dwarf with the question : " Where are you riding in such haste ?"