This he sprinkled with the Water of Life, upon which the young raven spread its wings and flew off to its family.
The red fox then performed the same operation on the body of the young prince, and with the same happy result, for he rose again perfect in form, and having about him no wound scars. On coming to life again, all he said was, “Dear me! What a pleasant sleep I have had.”
“I believe you,” replied the red fox, “you would have gone on sleeping for ever if I had not awakened you. And what a foolish young man you are: did I not particularly order you not to stop anywhere, but to go straight back to your father’s house?”
He then related all that his brothers had done, and having obtained a peasant’s dress for him, led him to the outskirts of the forest, close to the royal palace, where he left him.
The young prince then entered the palace grounds, unrecognised by the servants, and on representing that he was in need of employment, was appointed stable-boy to the royal stables. Some little time after he heard the grooms lamenting that the Horse with the Golden Mane would eat no food.
“What a pity it is,” said they, “that this splendid steed should starve to death; he droops his head and will take nothing.”
“Give him,” said the disguised prince, “some pea-straw; I bet you anything he will eat that.”
“But do you really think so? Why, our rough draught horses would refuse such coarse food.”
The prince’s only answer was to fetch a bundle of pea-straw, which he put into Zlato-Nrivak’s marble trough: then, passing his hand gently over his neck and mane, he said to him, “Grieve no more, my horse with the golden mane.”
The beautiful creature recognised his master’s voice, and neighing with joy, greedily devoured the pea-straw.
The news was noised about from one end of the palace to the other, and the sick king summoned the boy to his presence.
“I hear you have made Zlato-Nrivak eat,” said his majesty; “do you think you could make my fire-bird sing? Go and examine him closely: he is very sad, he droops his wings, and will neither eat nor drink.