THE YOUNG COUNTS REWARD. 523
The count quickly descended from the tree, and followed her with hasty strides. He had not gone far when he saw in the dim light two figures crossing the meadow, and knew it was the king and queen. They had seen the light in the distance shining from the window of the old woman's cottage, and were hastening towards it. The count overtook them, and described the wonderful sight he had seen at the fountain, and they did not doubt for a moment that the beautiful maiden was their own lost daughter.
Full of joyful hope, they hastened their steps, and soon arrived at the cottage. Outside they found the geese in a row, standing on one leg, and fast asleep, with their heads behind their wings, but none of them stirred.
They approached, and, looking through the window, saw the old woman seated quietly at her spinning, with her head bent over her work, so that she did not see them. The room, and everything in it, was as clean and neat as if the spirits of the mist had dwelt there, whose feet are never soiled by earth's dust. Their daughter, however, was not to be seen, so after looking for .some time, they at last took courage, and tapped at the window/
It seemed really as if the old woman expected them, for she rose up and cried in a friendly voice : "You may come in ; I know who you are !" As they entered the room, she said : " You might have been spared this long journey if you had not sent away your dear and sweet-tempered child unjustly. However, she has met with no injury, for three long years she has tended the geese; but she has learnt nothing wicked—her heart is still pure. You have been punished by the anxiety about her in which you have lived ever since you sent her away."
Then she stepped up to the chamber door, and said: "Come out, my daughter."
The room door opened, and the king's daughter came forth in her silken robe, with her long golden hair hanging round ner like a veil, and her brilliant eyes cast down. It was as if an angel had descended from the skies !
On seeing her father and mother, she ran towards them, threw herself in their arms, and kissed them, while nothing could check their tears of joy. The young count stood by, but when the young princess raised her eyes and saw him, uer delicate cheeks became red with blushes, like a moss rose, and she hardly knew why.