This time the king plotted her death by drowning. He had a box made for her, put her in it, and threw her into the sea with his own hand.
"I refuse to wed any girl brought up in a woodcutter's hut," he raged. "I'll escape that fate."
Nevertheless he could not escape the memory of the strange voice which had said:
"Here in this hut is born to-night
The maiden of your fate:
You can't escape your lot, young king;
Your fate for you will wait.
'Tis fate—'tis fate—'tis fate."
It was most annoying to remember it.
It happened soon after that a ship encountered the box floating upon the sea. The sailors rescued it and opened it with interest. Inside they were surprised to find a pretty little dark-eyed girl with a bright red bonnet on her head. She could not tell them where she had come from but she said her name was Maria-of-the-forest.
When the sailors arrived in their own country they told the story of finding the child and the king asked to see her. He and the queen were so pleased with her lovely face and gentle manners that they received her into the royal palace. She was brought up as a lady-of-waiting to their own little daughter of about the same age.
When, after a dozen years, the princess was wedded, all the kings of near-by countries were invited to the marriage feast. The king who had been lost in the forest came with the others. At the feast there was no one more beautiful than Maria-of-the-forest. The king danced with her.
"Who is the girl?" was his eager question.
"She has been reared in the royal palace as if she were in truth the sister of the bride," was the reply.
The king fell in love with the beautiful maid and gave her a ring. The page, however, was suspicious when he heard her name. He lost no time in making inquiries about her. What he found out made him very sure that she was in truth the daughter of the charcoal burner. He reported his suspicions to the king.
"Never mind," said the king. "I'll wed the maid anyway. One can't escape from one's fate.