The sun;Or, the three golden hairs of the old man Vsévède
Such is my pleasure.”
The letter was duly delivered, and when the queen had read it, she ordered everything to be prepared for the wedding. Both she and her daughter greatly enjoyed Plavacek’s society, and nothing disturbed the happiness of the newly married pair.
Within a few days the king returned, and on hearing what had taken place was very angry with the queen.
“But you expressly bade me have the wedding before your return. Come, read your letter again, here it is,” said she.
He closely examined the letter; the paper, handwriting, seal—all were undoubtedly his. He then called his son-in-law, and questioned him about his journey. Plavacek hid nothing: he told how he had lost his way, and how he had passed the night in a cottage in the forest.
“What was the old woman like?” asked the king.
From Plavacek’s description the king knew it was the very same who, twenty years before, had foretold the marriage of the princess with the charcoal-burner’s son. After some moments’ thought the king said, “What is done is done. But you will not become my son-in-law so easily. No, i’ faith! As a wedding present you must bring me three golden hairs from the head of Dède-Vsévède.”
In this way he thought to get rid of his son-in-law, whose very presence was distasteful to him. The young fellow took leave of his wife and set off. “I know not which way to go,” said he to himself, “but my godmother the witch will surely help me.”
But he found the way easily enough. He walked on and on and on for a long time over mountain, valley, and river, until he reached the shores of the Black Sea. There he found a boat and boatman.
“May God bless you, old boatman,” said he.
“And you, too, my young traveller. Where are you going?”
“To Dède-Vsévède’s castle for three of his golden hairs.”
“Ah, then you are very welcome. For a long weary while I have been waiting for such a messenger as you. I have been ferrying passengers across for these twenty years, and not one of them has done anything to help me.