496 THE WATER OF LIFE.
approached the castle by another road was a stranger and unknown to her.
The year was drawing to a close, and the eldest brother thought he would be beforehand with the king's daughter, who had been freed from enchantment by his brother, and declare himself her deliverer; and by this deceit obtain her for a wife, and her kingdom also.
So he rode away, but as he approached the castle, and saw the glittering golden road, he thought to himself, " It would be a thousand pities to ride over such a beautiful road f so he turned aside, and rode to the castle another way.
When he appeared, however, before the door, the people of the court told him he would not be admitted, as he was not known to the princess, so he was obliged to ride home again. Thereupon the second brother thought he would try; but when he came to the golden path, and the horse was about to place his foot upon it, he drew him quickly back, thinking, as his brother had done, that it was a pity to ride on such a beautiful road. So he approached the castle gate another way; but he was refused admittance, and obliged to ride away, for the people told him he was not the right person.
By this time a year had quite passed, and the third son determined to leave his forest home, and proceed to the castle where his betrothed lived, and with her forget his trouble.
So he set out on horseback, and, on approaching the castle, his thoughts were so absorbed in thinking of the love of the princess, and wishing to be with her, that he never noticed the golden road, but rode his horse right over it, up to the gate.
It was opened to him immediately, and the princess came out herself, and received him joyfully, and told him he was her deliverer, and the master of her whole kingdom, and soon after the marriage was performed amid great splendour and rejoicing. At length, he told the young queen how his father had sent him away and discarded him.
She immediately rode over to the old king, and told him all; and how his elder sons had deceived and betrayed him, and made him keep silence by threats. The king wished to punish his eldest sons, but they had already sailed across the sa, heping to reach another country, out of the way of justice j the ship was wrecked, and they were never heard of after.