The maid with hair of gold
One gourd contained the Water of Life, the other the Water of Death.
George was delighted with his success, and went back on his way to the palace. When nearly out of the forest, he saw a spider’s web hanging between two fir trees, while in the centre was a large spider devouring a fly he had just killed. George sprinkled a few drops of the Water of Death on the spider; it immediately left the fly, which rolled to the ground like a ripe cherry, but on being touched with the Water of Life she began to move, and stretching out first one limb and then another, gradually freed herself from the spider’s web. Then she spread her wings and took flight, having first buzzed these words in the ears of her deliverer: “George, you have assured your own happiness by restoring mine, for without my help you would never have succeeded in recognising the Princess with the Golden Hair when you choose her to-morrow from among her twelve sisters.”
And the fly was right, for though the king, on finding that George had accomplished the third task, agreed to give him his daughter Zlato Vlaska, he yet added that he would have to find her himself.
He then led him to a large room and bade him choose from among the twelve charming girls who sat at a round table. Each wore a kind of linen head-dress that completely hid the upper part of the head, and in such a way that the keenest eye could not discover the colour of the hair.
“Here are my daughters,” said the king, “but only one among them has golden hair. If you find her you may take her with you; but if you make a mistake she will remain with us, and you will have to return empty-handed.”
George felt much embarrassed, not knowing what course to take.
“Buzz, Buzz, come walk round these young girls, and I will tell you which is yours.”
Thus spoke the fly whose life George had saved.
Thus reassured he walked boldly round, pointing at them one after the other and saying, “This one has not the golden hair, nor this one either, nor this….”
Suddenly, having been told by the fly, he cried, “Here we are: this is Zlato Vlaska, even she herself. I take her for my own, she whom I have won, and for whom I have paid the price with many cares. You will not refuse her me this time.”
“Indeed, you have guessed aright,” replied the king.
The princess rose from her seat, and letting fall her head-dress, exposed to full view all the splendour of her wonderful hair, which seemed like a waterfall of golden rays, and covered her from head to foot. The glorious light that shone from it dazzled the young man’s eyes, and he immediately fell in love with her.
The king provided his daughter with gifts worthy of a queen, and she left her father’s palace in a manner befitting a royal bride. The journey back was accomplished without any mishaps.
On their arrival the old king was delighted at the sight of Zlato Vlaska, and danced with joy. Splendid and costly preparations were made for the wedding. His majesty then said to George, “You robbed me of the secret of animal language. For this I intended to have your head cut off and your body thrown to birds of prey. But as you have served me so faithfully and won the princess for my bride I will lessen the punishment—that is, although you will be executed, yet you shall be buried with all the honours worthy of a superior officer.”
So the sentence was carried out, cruelly and unjustly. After the execution the Princess with the Golden Hair begged the king to make her a present of George’s body, and the monarch was so much in love that he could not refuse his intended bride anything.
Zlato Vlaska with her own hands replaced the head on the body, and sprinkled it with the Water of Death. Immediately the separated parts became one again. Upon this she poured the Water of Life, and George returned to life, fresh as a young roebuck, his face radiant with health and youth.