The Six Friends
The Khan was delighted with the young woman's beauty and charm and paid not the slightest heed to her tears or pleadings to be allowed to return to her husband. She was made head of the royal servants, and was set up to live in the palace within constant call of the Khan.
There seemed to be no possible hope of escape. Days passed by. Her sorrow and longing for her husband became ever greater instead of less, until she began to grow pale and thin, and those about her feared she would soon sicken and die. The Khan, too, noticed the change in her. He tried every means in his power to cheer her, but all in vain. At last he grew angry.
"It's all the fault of that husband of hers!" he cried. "He's the one who is making my most beautiful servant look so sickly and plain. Well! I know how to take care of that!
Calling the court executioner, he whispered a few words in his ear.
"There now!", he said later to the damsel after the executioner had left, "when you know that your husband is dead and there is no use in wishing for him any longer, then perhaps you will forget him and learn to smile again."
In vain did the poor girl plead with the monarch for her husband's life! But the more she wept and begged, the angrier and more determined he became.
So the executioner set out with a number of soldiers. Finding the log hut in the woods, he dragged the prince's son away and took him to a meadow where there was a dry, deserted well. Down into the well the poor lad was thrown, and a great rock was rolled over the opening. There in the darkness he laid down to die, with no hope of rescue and no desire for life, anyway, if he could not live it with his dear and beautiful wife.
Now it happened that the very next day was the year-and-a-day on which the six friends had agreed to meet by the little round pond with the six streams running into it. True to their promise, the other five gathered together and awaited the arrival of the prince's son.