566 PRINCESS MALEEN.
through, and the Princess Maleen quickly followed her. Yet, now that they were free, they knew not which way to wend their steps, for an enemy had evidently destroyed the whole country, driven away the king, and slain all the inhabitants. They wandered on for some time, in hopes of reaching another country; but they found neither a shelter nor a human being to offer them a bit of bread; and so great was their hunger that they were glad to eat stingkig-nettle stalks to quench it.
After wandering about for a long time, they came at last to another land, and there they begged to be taken as servants, but wherever they knocked they were refused, and no one would pity them. At last they arrived at a large town, and went at once to the king's court. But even here they were told to go away, till the cook said she would take one of them to help her in the kitchen, so the Princess Maleen remained to become a second Cinderella.
What was her surprise to find, after a time, that the king in whose castle she now worked as a servant, was the father of her former lover, and that he had chosen for his son another bride, who was ugly in countenance and wicked at heart. The marriage was to take place very soon, as the prince was already betrothed to the ugly maiden.
But she hid her great ugliness from every eye, and shut herself up in her own room, only allowing the kitchen-maid to see her, so the Princess Maleen had to wait upon the ugly bride of her own lover.
The day arrived at last, in which the bridegroom was to go with his bride to church; but she was so ashamed of her ugliness, and so afraid that the people in the street would point at her, and make fun of her, that she sent for Maleen, and said to her : " I have had a great misfortune, and sprained my foot, therefore I cannot go out into the town to-day; but if you will put on the bridal dress, and take my place, it will be a great honour for you, beyond what you ought to expect."
But the Princess Maleen replied : " I wish for no honour that does not rightly belong to me P
The bride then offered her gold, but it was all in vain, she still refused to go.
At last, the ugly maiden got angry, and said : " If you will not obey me, it shall cost you your life, for I have only to say the word, and your head will lie at my feet P