THE THREE TASKS. 549
After this the beautiful castle belonged alone to the maiden, who hardly knew, at first, how to understand such good fortune. But after a while servants came to wait upon her, and they found in the drawers and wardrobes beautiful dresses, in which she could i array herself. There was also a large chest filled with gold and silver, pearls and precious stones, so that she had not a single wish ungratified.
It was not long before the fame of her beauty and riches got known throughout the world, and the maiden had soon plenty of lovers. But she did not care to accept any of them, till at last a prince, the son of a great king, came to see her. He was the first to touch her heart, and she very soon learnt to love him dearly.
One day, as they sat talking under a linden tree in the castle garden, the prince said, very sadly, " My heart's love, I must leave you to get my father's consent to our marriage, but I will not stay away long*"
" Be true to me," said the maiden, as she took a sorrowful farewell of him.
But when the prince reached home, he found that the king, who did not want him to marry this maiden, had invited many beautiful ladies to his court, and for a time the prince forgot his true bride and the wonderful castle.
One day, while he was riding to the hunt on a beautiful horse, an old woman met him, and asked him for alms. As he drew rein to help her, she said, in a low tone, " The maiden weeps for her false lover under the linden tree."
In a moment the power which had changed his heart towards her was at an end. He turned away and rode quickly to the castle in the valley, which the good fairy had built. When he reached the gates, all looked dark and gloomy, and there, under the linden tree, stood his forsaken bride, looking sad and mournful. He alighted quickly from his horse, and, advancing towards her, he exclaimed, " Forgive me, dearest. I am come back, and we will never, never part again."
No sooner had he uttered these words, than the most brilliant lights shone from the castle windows. Around him on the grass glittered innumerable glowworms. On the steps bloomed lovely flowers, and from the rooms came the song of joyous birds, arrayed in plumage of bright and beautiful colours.