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The Three Dogs

The youth stopped his wagon, and asked them who they were and whence they came. The strangers answered that they were two princes, and had gone forth to search for the three maidens in the mountain. But fortune had not favored them; and now they had to return home more like journeymen than kings' sons. When the youth heard this he felt sorry for the two wanderers, and asked whether they would like to ride with him in his handsome wagon. The princes thanked him profusely for his offer. They drove on together, and came to the kingdom over which the father of the princesses reigned.

Now when the princes learned that the youth had delivered the king's three daughters, a great jealousy took possession of them, and they thought of how badly they had fared in their own venture. And they took counsel together as to how they might get the better of the youth, and win power and glory for themselves. But they hid their evil plot till a favorable opportunity offered for carrying it out. Then they suddenly threw themselves on their comrade, seized him by the throat and strangled him. And then they threatened to kill the princesses if they did not swear to keep silence. And since the king's daughters were in the power of the princes, they did not dare say no. But they felt very sorry for the youth who had given up his life for them, and the youngest princess mourned with all her heart, and all her happiness was at an end.

After this great wrong the princes drove to the royal castle, and one may well imagine how happy the king was to get back his three daughters. In the meantime the poor youth lay like dead off in a gorge in the forest. Yet he was not quite dead, and his faithful dogs lay about him, kept him warm, and licked his wounds. And they did not stop until their master came back to life again. When he was once more well and strong he set out, and after many difficulties came to the royal castle in which the princesses dwelt.

When he came in the whole court was full of joy and merriment, and from the king's hall came the sound of dancing and string music.

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