The sun;Or, the three golden hairs of the old man Vsévède
Plavacek brought the water. The king looked at him attentively, then turning to the fisherman, said, “That is a good-looking lad; is he your son?”
“He is and he isn’t,” replied the fisherman. “I found him, when he was quite a tiny baby, floating down the stream in a basket. So we adopted him and brought him up as our own son.”
The king turned as pale as death, for he guessed that he was the same child he had ordered to be drowned. Then recovering himself he got down from his horse and said: “I want a trusty messenger to take a letter to the palace, could you send him with it?”
“With pleasure! Your majesty may be sure of its safe delivery.”
Thereupon the king wrote to the queen as follows—
“The man who brings you this letter is the most dangerous of all my enemies. Have his head cut off at once; no delay, no pity, he must be executed before my return. Such is my will and pleasure.”
This he carefully folded and sealed with the royal seal.
Plavacek took the letter and set off immediately. But the forest through which he had to pass was so large, and the trees so thick, that he missed the path and was overtaken by the darkness before the journey was nearly over. In the midst of his trouble he met an old woman who said, “Where are you going, Plavacek? Where are you going?”
“I am the bearer of a letter from the king to the queen, but have missed the path to the palace. Could you, good mother, put me on the right road?”
“Impossible to-day, my child; it is getting dark, and you would not have time to get there. Stay with me to-night. You will not be with strangers, for I am your godmother.”
Plavacek agreed. Thereupon they entered a pretty little cottage that seemed suddenly to sink into the earth. Now while he slept the old woman changed his letter for another, which ran thus:—
“Immediately upon the receipt of this letter introduce the bearer to the princess our daughter. I have chosen this young man for my son-in-law, and it is my wish they should be married before my return to the palace.