SIX SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE. 5
husband, but that whoever lost must lose his head into the bargain. And the leader came forward and said one of his men should run for him.
" Then," said the king, " his life too must be put in pledge, and if he fails, his head and yours too must fall."
When this was quite settled and agreed upon, the leader called the runner, and strapped his second leg on to him.
" Now, look out," said he, " and take care that we win."
It had been agreed that the one who should bring water first from a far distant brook should be accounted winner. Now the king's daughter and the runner each took a pitcher, and they started both at the same time; but in one moment, when the king's daughter had gone but a very little way, the runner was out of sight, for his running was as if the wind rushed by. In a short time he reached the brook, filled his pitcher full of water, and turned back again. About half-way home, however, he was overcome with weariness, and setting down his pitcher, he lay down on the ground to sleep. But in order to awaken soon again by not lying too soft he had taken a horse's skull which lay near and placed it under his head for a pillow. In the meanwhile the king's daughter, who really was a good runner, good enough to beat an ordinary man, had reached the brook, and filled her pitcher, and was' hastening with it back again, when she saw the runner lying asleep.
"The day is mine," said she with much joy, and she emptied his pitcher and hastened on. And now all had been lost but for the huntsman who was standing on the castle wall, and with his keen eyes saw all that happened.
" We must not be outdone by the king's daughter," said he, and he loaded his rifle and took so good an aim that he shot the horse's skull from under the runner's head without doing him any harm. And the runner awoke and jumped up, and saw his pitcher standing empty and the king's daughter far on her way home. But, not losing courage, he ran swiftly to the brook, filled it again with water, and for all that, he got home ten minutes before the king's daughter.
" Look you," said he; " this is the first time I have really stretched my legs; before it was not worth the name of running."
The king was vexed, and his daughter yet more so, that she should be beaten by a discharged common soldier; and