The Prince & His Three Fates
The first time it slid back slowly into the ditch, and she had to draw it up, and throw it again, but at length the noose caught on something, the princess could not see what, and had to trust her whole weight to the rope, which might snap and let her fall deep down among the rocks. And in that case her death was as certain as that of her husband.
The heart of the poor princess was filled with despair. Yet bit by bit, with torn and bleeding hands, she gained the top. There such a violent wind was blowing that she was almost blinded with dust, and was obliged to throw herself upon the ground, and feel about after the precious herb.
It was a plant, that was clear; but the right one? See she could not, for the wind was blowing more fiercely than ever, so she lay where she was and counted the leaves. One, two, three -- yes! yes! there were four! And plucking a leaf she held it safe in her hand while she turned, almost stunned by the wind, to go down the rock.
She slid down the rock, jumped over the chasm with her rope as she had done before, and set off with her donkey, who brayed joyfully at her return.
On the bank of the Nile River, the donkey halted, and the princess rushed up to the prince. He was standing by the pit he had dug in the dry sand, with a huge water pot beside it. A little way off the crocodile lay blinking in the sun, with his sharp teeth and whity-yellow jaws wide open.
At a signal from the princess the prince poured the water into the hole, and the moment it reached the brim the princess flung in the four-leafed plant. For half an hour they stood with their eyes rooted to the spot, but the hole remained as full as at the beginning, with the little green leaf floating on the top. Then the prince turned with a shout of triumph, and the crocodile sulkily plunged into the river.
The prince had escaped forever the second of his three fates! He stood there looking after the crocodile and rejoicing that he was free, when suddenly he was startled by a wild duck which flew past them.
How the Cannibals drove the People from Insofan Mountain to the Cross River (Ikom)
Category: Nigerian folktales
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