The maid with hair of gold
But beware of one thing: when in the palace do not make a mistake as to which is the princess, for there are twelve of them, but only Zlato Vlaska has hair of gold.”
When George reached the island he lost no time in making his way to the palace, and demanded from the king the hand of his daughter, Princess Zlato Vlaska, in marriage to the king his master.
“I will grant the request with pleasure,” said his majesty, “but only on one condition, namely, that you perform certain tasks which I will set you. These will be three in number, and must be done in three days, just as I order you. For the present you had better rest and refresh yourself after your journey.”
On the next day the king said, “My daughter, the Maid with the Golden Hair, had a string of fine pearls, and the thread having broken, the pearls were scattered far and wide among the long grass of this field. Go and pick up every one of the pearls, for they must all be found.”
George went into the meadow, which was of great length and stretched away far out of sight. He went down on his knees and hunted between the tufts of grass and bramble from morning until noon, but not a single pearl could he find.
“Ah, if I only had my good little ants here,” he cried, “they would be able to help me.”
“Here we are, young man, at your service,” answered the ants, suddenly appearing. Then they all ran round him, crying out, “What is the matter? What do you want?”
“I have to find all the pearls lost in this field, and cannot see a single one: can you help me?”
“Wait a little, we will soon get them for you.”
He had not to wait very long, for they brought him a heap of pearls, and all he had to do was to thread them on the string. Just as he was about to make a knot he saw a lame ant coming slowly towards him, for one of her feet had been burned in the bush fire.
“Wait a moment, George,” she called out; “do not tie the knot before threading this last pearl I am bringing you.”
When George took his pearls to the king, his majesty first counted them to make sure they were all there, and then said, “You have done very well in this test, to-morrow I will give you another.