The broad man, the tall man and the man with eyes of flame
Matthias had hardly awakened out of his sleep.
Next morning and the morning after the king was greatly astonished to find his daughter sitting by the prince’s side, but he was obliged to keep silent and accept facts as they were, at the same time entertaining his guests royally. At the approach of the third night he spoke with his daughter, and begged her to practise all the magic of which she was capable, and to act in such a way as to free him from the presence of intruders of whom he knew neither the rank nor the fortune.
As for Matthias, he used every means in his power to bring about a happy ending to such a hitherto successful undertaking. Before entering the princess’s apartments he took his comrades aside and said, “There is but one more stroke of luck, dear friends, and then we have succeeded. If we fail, do not forget that our four heads will roll on the scaffold.”
“Come along,” replied the three; “never fear, we shall be able to keep good watch.”
When they came into the princess’s room they hastened to take up their positions, and Matthias sat down facing the lady. He would have much preferred to remain with her without being obliged to keep watch all the time for fear of losing her for ever. Resolving not to sleep this time, he said to himself, “Now I will keep watch upon you, but when you are my wife I will rest.”
At midnight, when sleep was beginning to overpower her watchers, the princess kept silence, and, stretching herself on the couch, shut her beautiful eyes as if she were really asleep.
Matthias, his elbows on the table, his chin in the palms of his hand, his eyes fixed upon her, admired her silently. But as sleep closes even the eyes of the eagle, so it shut those of the prince and his companions.
The princess, who all this time had been watching them narrowly and only waiting for this moment, got up from her seat, and changing herself into a little fly, flew out of the window. Once free, she again changed herself into a fish, and falling into the palace well, plunged and hid herself in the depths of the water.