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Main > Romanian folktales > Fairy tale "The princess and the fisherman"

The princess and the fisherman

When the third came the princess was terribly frightened, and wherever the dumb man went she followed, beseeching him to say one word to her.

But the fisherman, feeling that she was softening him by her entreaties, fled like a savage that she might not assail him with tears, and pretended his heart was a lump of ice; but she did not cease imploring him a thousand times, so tenderly that it would have softened even a wild beast.

At last the third day also passed, and the fisherman had not even said baa.

Every body wondered over these things. Nothing was talked of in the whole city, except the mute servant at the tavern and the beautiful, charming girl, who, it was supposed, had mistaken the dumb man for some one else, and had now brought herself into trouble.

The next day the gallows was ready, and the whole population gathered around it to witness the end of the affair.

The magistrates were summoned to the place, and, against their will, compelled to execute what was in the agreement.

The executioner came, and called upon the princess to submit to the penalty, since she had not succeeded in fulfilling the obligations she had imposed upon herself; the girl turned once more to the fisherman, and, sobbing bitterly, tried to soften his heart, but in vain. When she saw and understood that no escape was possible, she loosed her hair and let it fall over her shoulders, wailing so piteously that it was enough to make even wood and stone weep for her, and so walked toward the place of execution. All the people, old and young, were weeping around her, yet could not help her.

On reaching the gallows, she once more gazed hopefully at the dumb man, who had come with the crowd, but stood as if he were perfectly unmoved, and said to him:

"My dear husband, save me from death; you know my love for you, do not let me perish so ignominiously. Speak but one word and I shall be delivered." But the man only shrugged his shoulders and glanced backward across the fields.

The executioner stood with the noose in his hand; two assistants led her up the ladder, and the hangman slipped the rope around her neck.

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