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The Prince and the Maiden

But alas! How can we find the way out?"

The Prince remembered the peas, which must have sprouted by now, that would lead them both back to the entrance, and he told the maiden of them.

"Wonderful!" she cried. "Now listen. In the corner of the barn behind the black cow, you must split the wood walls. The black cow is sleeping now and you must take care not to wake her. Inside the walls you will see a bright red ball. Bring that to me. Meanwhile, I will do what is needed here."

With one blow of his ax the prince split the barn walls. In an instant the place was filled with light from the red ball. The prince picked up the red ball and, before its brilliant light woke the black cow, wrapped it round with a thick cloth and hid it under his shirt. At the door stood the maiden, holding a little bundle in her arms.

"Where is the ball?" she asked.

"Here," answered he.

"We must lose no time," she went on, and uncovered a tiny bit of the shining ball to light them on their way in the dark night.

As the prince had expected, the peas had taken root and grown into a little hedge, so the two of them were sure to follow the correct path. As they fled, the girl told him that she had once overheard a conversation between the old man and his grandmother, the white horse, saying that she was a king's daughter, whom the old fellow had obtained by cunning from her royal parents. The prince, who knew all about the affair, was silent, though he was glad from his heart that it had fallen to his lot to set her free. So they went on till the day began to dawn.

The old man slept very late that morning. Then he remembered that very soon the couple were to present themselves before him. After waiting and waiting a long time, he grew uneasy and cried loudly, "Man and maid! What has become of you?"

After repeating this many times, he jumped angrily out of bed to go in search of the culprits, but only found an empty house, and beds that had never been slept in.

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