THE PRINCESS IN DISGUISE. 265
that she was a poor child, and knew nothing of the golden spinning-wheel.
At the king's third festival, every thing happened as before. But the cook said : "I will let you go and see the dancing-room this time, Roughskin, but I believe you are a witch, for although the soup is good, and the king says it is better than I can make it, there is always something dropped into it which I cannot understand." Roughskin did not stop to listen; she ran quickly to her little stable, washed off the nut-stains, and this time dressed herself in the dress that glittered like the stars. When the king came as before to receive her in the hall, he thought he had never seen such a beautiful woman in his life. While they were dancing, he contrived, without being noticed by the maiden, to slip a gold ring on her finger, and he had given orders that the dancing should continue longer than usual. When it ended, he wanted to hold her hand still, but she pulled it away, and sprang so quickly among the people, that she vanished from his eyes.
She ran out of breath to her stable under the steps, for she knew that she had remained longer away than half-an-hour, and there was not time to take off her dress, so she threw on her fur cloak over it, and in her haste she did not make her face black enough, nor hide her golden hair properly, her hands also remained white. However, when she entered the kitchen the cook was still away, so she prepared the king's soup, and dropped into it the golden hook.
The king, when he found another trinket in his soup, sent immediately for Roughskin, and as she entered the room he saw the ring on her white finger which he had placed there. Instantly he seized her hand and held her fast, but in her struggles to get free, the fur mantle opened and the star-glittering dress was plainly seen. The king caught the mantle and tore it off, and as he did so her golden hair fell over her shoulders, and she stood before him in her full splendour, and felt that she could no longer conceal who she was. Then she wiped the soot and stains from her face, and was beautiful to the eyes of the king as any woman upon earth.
"You shall be my dear bride." said the king, "and we will never be parted again, although I know not who you are."
Then she told him her past history, and all that had happened