Now the brother, who was in service in the King's palace, had taken a portrait of his sister, and he had carried the picture away with him, and every morning and evening he knelt down before it and prayed for his sister, so dearly did he love her.
The other stable-boys had heard him doing this, so they peeped through the key-hole into his room, and saw that he was kneeling there before a picture; so they told everyone that every morning and evening the youth knelt down and prayed to an idol which he had; and at last they went to the King himself, and begged that he too would peep through the key-hole, and see for himself what the youth did. At first the King would not believe this, but after a long, long time, they prevailed with him, and he crept on tip-toe to the door, peeped through, and saw the youth on his knees, with his hands clasped together before a picture which was hanging on the wall.
`Open the door!' cried the King, but the youth did not hear.
So the King called to him again, but the youth was praying so fervently that he did not hear him this time either.
`Open the door, I say!' cried the King again. `It is I! I want to come in.'
So the youth sprang to the door and unlocked it, but in his haste he forgot to hide the picture.
When the King entered and saw it, he stood still as if he were in fetters, and could not stir from the spot, for the picture seemed to him so beautiful.
`There is nowhere on earth so beautiful a woman as this!' said the King.
But the youth told him that she was his sister, and that he had painted her, and that if she was not prettier than the picture she was at all events not uglier.
`Well, if she is as beautiful as that, I will have her for my Queen,' said the King, and he commanded the youth to go home and fetch her without a moment's delay, and to lose no time in coming back. The youth promised to make all the haste he could, and set forth from the King's palace.
When the brother arrived at home to fetch his sister, her stepmother and step-sister would go too.