The king of a great land died, and left his queen to take care of their only child. This child was a daughter, who was very beautiful, and her mother loved her dearly and was very kind to her. When she grew up, she was betrothed to a prince who lived a great way off; and as the time drew near for her to be married, she got ready to set off on her journey to his country. The queen, her mother, packed up a great many costly things—jewels, gold and silver trinkets, fine dresses, and, in short, everything that became a royal bride. She gave her a waiting-maid to ride with her and give her into the bridegroom's hands, and each had a horse for the journey. The princess' horse was called Falada, and could speak.
When the time came for them to set out, the aged mother went into the princess's bedchamber, took a knife, and having cut her finger till it bled, let three drops of the blood fall upon a handkerchief, and gave it to the princess, saying—
"Take care of it, dear child, for it is a charm that may be of use to you on the road."
They all took a sorrowful leave of the princess, and she put the handkerchief into her bosom, got upon her horse, and set off on her journey to her bridegroom's kingdom.
One day as they were riding along by a brook, the princess began to feel very thirsty, and said to her maid—
"Pray get down, and fetch me some water in my golden cup out of yonder brook, for I want to drink."
"Nay," said the maid, "if you are thirsty, get off yourself and stoop down by the water and drink. I shall not be your waiting-maid any longer."
The princess got down, and knelt over the brook and drank, for she was frightened, and dared not bring out her cup; and she wept, and said—
"Alas! what will become of me?"
The three drops of blood answered her, and said—
"Alas, alas! if thy mother knew it, Sadly, sadly, would she rue it."
The princess was very gentle and meek, so she said nothing to her maid's ill-behaviour, but got upon her horse again.
They all rode further on their journey, till the day grew so warm and the sun so scorching that the bride began to feel very thirsty again; and at last, when they came to a river, she forgot her maid's rude speech, and said—
"Pray get down, and fetch me some water to drink in my cup.