" I am your real bride," she said, " the one whom the king, your father, chose for you ; but as I feared the people might mock me to-day, I told the kitchen-maid to dress in my clothes, and be proxy for me at the church."
"Where is that maiden ?" he said ; "I must see her. Go and fetch her here !"
" This shall cost her her life," she thought, as she went out in a great rage, and said to the servants : " That kitchen girl is an impostor. Take her out into the court, and cut off her head !"
The servants caught hold of her, and would have dragged her away; but she screamed so loud for help, that the prince heard her voice. He hastened out of his chamber, and ordered that the maiden should be instantly set free. When she came into the light of the lamps, he noticed on her neck the sparkle of the gold ornament he had given her.
" This is the right bride," he said, " who went with me to the church," and he led her away as he spoke.
When they were alone, he said to her : " On the road to church you mentioned the name of the Princess Maleen, who was once my own beloved bride. If I thought it possible, I should say she now stood before me, for you resemble her in every way."
" I am the Princess Maleen," she said. " I was shut up for seven years in a dark tower. I have suffered hunger and thirst, and sorrow and poverty, and I came to this castle to earn my bread by service. While here I found it was your home, and that you were going to marry another ; and I should have remained silent always if your bride had not sent me with you to the church. It was I whom you married to-day at the altar, and I am your real bride ; and, if you still love me, it will be sunshine indeed after all the dark days that are past."
" I do still love you," he said, as he took her in his arms and kissed her.
The next day the ugly bride was sent home to her father's house, and from that moment the Princess Maleen and her husband lived in great happiness for the rest of their lives.
The tower in which the princess was enclosed is still standing, and the children play round it, and sometimes in whispers tell each other the story of Princess Maleen.