276 ASMUND AND SIGNY
and other ornaments, and arranging them in the pretty little rooms inside the trees.
Unfortunately sadder days were to come. A war with another country broke out, and the king had to lead his army against their enemy. During his absence the queen fell ill, and after lingering for some time she died, to the great grief of her children. They made up their minds to live altogether for a time in their trees, and for this purpose they had provisions enough stored up inside to last them a year.
Now, I must tell you, in another country a long way off, there reigned a king who had an only son named Eing. Prince King had heard so much about the beauty and goodness of Princess Signy that he determined to marry her if possible. So he begged his father to let him have a ship for the voyage, set sail with a favourable wind, and after a time landed in the country where Signy lived.
The prince lost no time in setting out for the royal palace, and on his way there he met such a wonderfully lovely woman that he felt he had never seen such beauty before in all his life. He stopped her and at once asked who she was.
' I am Signy, the king's daughter,' was the reply.
Then the prince inquired wiry she was wandering about all by herself, and she told him that since her mother's death she was so sad that whilst her father was away she preferred being alone.
Eing was quite deceived by her, and never guessed that she was not Princess Signy at all, but a strong, gigantic, wicked witch bent on deceiving him under a beautiful shape. He confided to her that he had travelled all the way from his own country for her sake, having fallen in love with the accounts he had heard of her beauty, and he then and there asked her to be his wife.
The witch listened to all he said and, much pleased,