The Prince & His Three Fates
Tell me, I pray you, what is the matter?"
So the prince told her the whole story, and of the impossible task given him by the crocodile.
"How can a sand hole remain full of water?" asked he. "Of course it will all run through. The crocodile called it a 'chance' , but he might as well have dragged me into the river right then and there. Truly, I cannot escape him."
"Oh, if that is all," cried the princess, "I can set you free myself, for my fairy godmother taught me to know the use of plants and in the desert not far from here there grows a little four-leafed herb which can keep water in a pit for a whole year. I will go in search of it at dawn, and you can begin to dig the hole so that it's ready on my return."
To comfort her husband, the princess had spoken lightly and gaily; but she knew very well in her heart that she had no light task before her.
It was still starlight when she left the palace on a snow-white donkey, and rode away from the Nile River straight to the west. For some time she could see nothing before her but a flat waste of sand, which became hotter and hotter as the sun rose higher and higher. Then a dreadful thirst seized her and the donkey, but there was no stream to quench it, and if there had been she would hardly have had time to stop, for she still had far to go, and must be back before evening, or else the crocodile might declare that the prince had not fulfilled his conditions. So she spoke cheering words to her donkey, who brayed in reply, and the two pushed steadily on.
Oh! how glad they both were when they caught sight of a tall rock in the distance, which cast a gloriously cool shadow. Though the donkey was content to rest, the princess could not, for the plant, as she knew, grew on the very top of the rock, and a wide chasm ran round the foot of it. Luckily she had brought a rope with her, and making a noose at one end, she flung it across the chasm with all her might.