62 THE ENCHANTED STAG.
So they went together, and when the king saw it he sent his companion home, and went on alone so quickly that he arrived there before the fawn; and going up to the little door knocked and said softly, " Dear little sister, let me in."
As the door opened, the king stepped in, and in great astonishment saw a maiden more beautiful than he had ever seen in his life standing before him. But how frightened she felt to see instead of her dear little fawn a noble gentleman walk in with a gold crown on his head.
However, he appeared very friendly, and after a little talk he held out his hand to her and said, " Wilt thou go with me to my castle and be my dear wife T
"Ah, yes," replied the maiden, "I would willingly, but I cannot leave my dear fawn, he must go with me wherever I am."
"He shall remain with you as long as you live," replied the king, " and I will never ask you to forsake him."
While they were talking, the fawn came bounding in, looking quite well and happy. Then his sister fastened the string of rushes to his collar, took it in her hand, and led him away from the cottage in the wood to where the king's beautiful horse waited for him.
The king placed the maiden before him on his horse and rode away to his castle, the fawn following by their side. Soon after, their marriage was celebrated with great splendour, and the fawn was taken the greatest care of, and played where he pleased, or roamed about the castle grounds in happiness and safety.
In the meantime the wicked stepmother, who had caused these two young people such misery, supposed that the sister had been devoured by wild beasts, and that the fawn had been hunted to death. Therefore when she heard of their happiness such envy and malice arose in her heart that she could find no rest till she had tried to destroy it
She and her ugly daughter came to the castle when the queen had a little baby, and one of them pretended to be a nurse, and at last got the mother and child into their power.
They shut the queen up in the bath, and tried to suffocate her, and the old woman put her own ugly daughter in the queen's bed that the king might not know she was away.
She would not, however, let him speak to her, but pretended that she must be kept quite quiet