The sun;Or, the three golden hairs of the old man Vsévède
“Confide this child to me,” said the king, “I will look after it. He shall be well provided for. You shall be given a sum of money large enough to keep you without having to burn charcoal.”
The poor man gladly agreed, and the king went away promising to send some one for the child. The queen and courtiers thought it would be an agreeable surprise for the king to hear that a charming little princess had been born on the night he was away. But instead of being pleased he frowned, and calling one of his servants, said to him, “Go to the charcoal-burner’s cottage in the forest, and give the man this purse in exchange for a new-born infant. On your way back drown the child. See well that he is drowned, for if he should in any way escape, you yourself shall suffer in his place.”
The servant was given the child in a basket, and on reaching the centre of a narrow bridge that stretched across a wide and deep river, he threw both basket and baby into the water.
“A prosperous journey to you, Mr. Son-in-Law,” said the king, on hearing the servant’s story: for he fully believed the child was drowned. But it was far from being the case; the little one was floating happily along in its basket cradle, and slumbering as sweetly as if his mother had sung him to sleep. Now it happened that a fisherman, who was mending his nets before his cottage door, saw the basket floating down the river. He jumped at once into his boat, picked it up, and ran to tell his wife the good news.
“Look,” said he, “you have always longed for a son; here is a beautiful little boy the river has sent us.”
The woman was delighted, and took the infant and loved it as her own child. They named him Plavacek (the floater), because he had come to them floating on the water.
The river flowed on. Years passed away. The little baby grew into a handsome youth; in all the villages round there were none to compare with him. Now it happened that one summer day the king was riding unattended. And the heat being very great he reined in his horse before the fisherman’s door to ask for a drink of water.