The maid with hair of gold
When his majesty had dined he ordered George to saddle two horses and accompany him for a ride. They were soon off, the master in front, the servant behind.
While crossing a meadow George’s horse began to prance and caper, neighing out these words, “I say, brother, I feel so light and in such good spirits to-day that in one single bound I could leap over those mountains yonder.”
“I could do the same,” answered the king’s horse, “but I carry a feeble old man on my back; he would fall like a log and break his skull.”
“What does that matter to you? So much the better if he should break his head, for then, instead of being ridden by an old man you would probably be mounted by a young one.”
The servant laughed a good deal upon hearing this conversation between the horses, but he took care to do so on the quiet, lest the king should hear him. At that moment his majesty turned round, and, seeing a smile on the man’s face, asked the cause of it.
“Oh nothing, your majesty, only some nonsense that came into my head.”
The king said nothing, and asked no more questions, but he was suspicious, and distrusted both servant and horses; so he hastened back to the palace.
When there he said to George, “Give me some wine, but mind you only pour out enough to fill the glass, for if you put in one drop too much, so that it overflows, I shall certainly order my executioner to cut off your head.”
While he was speaking two birds flew near the window, one chasing the other, who carried three golden hairs in his beak.
“Give them me,” said one, “you know they are mine.”
“Not at all, I picked them up myself.”
“No matter, I saw them fall while the Maid with Locks of Gold was combing out her hair. At least, give me two, then you can keep the third for yourself.”
“No, not a single one.”
Thereupon one of the birds succeeded in seizing the hairs from the other bird’s beak, but in the struggle he let one fall, and it made a sound as if a piece of metal had struck the ground. As for George, he was completely taken off his guard, and the wine overflowed the glass.