226 THE SISTER OF THE SUN
' I shall marry him to-morrow,' ended she ; and ordered the preparations to be set on foot at once.
When the next day came, however, the bridegroom's father informed the princess that, by the law of the land, the marriage must take place in the presence of the king; but he hoped his majesty would not long delay his arrival. An hour or two passed, and everyone was waiting and watching, when at last the sound of trumpets was heard and a grand procession was seen marching up the street. A chair covered with velvet had been made ready for the king, and he took his seat upon it, and, looking round upon the assembled company, he said :
' I have no wish to forbid this marriage ; but, before I can allow it to be celebrated, the bridegroom must prove himself worthy of such a bride by fulfilling three tasks. And the first is that in a single day he must cut down every tree in an entire forest.'
The youth stood aghast at the king's words. He had never cut down a tree in his life, and had not the least
idea how to begin. And as for a whole forest-----! But
the princess saw what was passing in his mind, and whispered to him :
' Don't be afraid. In my ship you will find an axe, which you must carry off to the forest. When you have cut down one tree with it just say : " So let the forest fall," and in an instant all the trees will be on the ground. But pick up three chips of the tree you have felled, and put them in your pocket.'
And the young man did exactly as he was bid, and soon returned with the three chips safe in his coat.
The following morning the princess declared that she had been thinking about the matter, and that, as she was not a subject of the king, she saw no reason why she should be bound by his laws ; and she meant to be married that very day. But the bridegroom's father told her that it was all very well for her to talk like that, but it was quite different for his son, who would pay with his head for