The people obeyed her and went.
Presently a little wave flowed over the stone, and wetted one of the prince’s knees. But he did not mind it much. He began to sing, and the song he sang was this:
“As a world that has no well,
Darkly bright in forest dell;
As a world without the gleam
Of the downward-going stream;
As a world without the glance
Of the ocean’s fair expanse;
As a world where never rain
Glittered on the sunny plain;—
Such, my heart, thy world would be,
If no love did flow in thee.
“As a world without the sound Of the rivulets underground; Or the bubbling of the spring Out of darkness wandering; Or the mighty rush and flowing Of the river’s downward going; Or the music-showers that drop On the outspread beech’s top; Or the ocean’s mighty voice, When his lifted waves rejoice;—Such, my soul, thy world would be, If no love did sing in thee.
“Lady, keep thy world’s delight,
Keep the waters in thy sight
Love hath made me strong to go,
For thy sake, to realms below,
Where the water’s shine and hum
Through the darkness never come.
Let, I pray, one thought of me
Spring, a little well, in thee;
Lest thy loveless soul be found
Like a dry and thirsty ground.”
“Sing again, prince. It makes it less tedious,” said the princess.
But the prince was too much overcome to sing any more, and a long pause followed.
“This is very kind of you, prince,” said the princess at last, quite coolly, as she lay in the boat with her eyes shut.
“I am sorry I can’t return the compliment,” thought the prince, “but you are worth dying for, after all.”
Again a wavelet, and another, and another flowed over the stone, and wetted both the prince’s knees; but he did not speak or move. Two—three—four hours passed in this way, the princess apparently asleep, and the prince very patient. But he was much disappointed in his position, for he had none of the consolation he had hoped for.
At last he could bear it no longer.
“Princess!” said he.
But at the moment up started the princess, crying:
“I’m afloat! I’m afloat!”
And the little boat bumped against the stone.
“Princess!” repeated the prince, encouraged by seeing her wide awake and looking eagerly at the water.
“Well?” said she, without looking round.
“Your papa promised that you should look at me, and you haven’t looked at me once.”
“Did he? Then I suppose I must. But I am so sleepy!”
“Sleep, then, darling, and don’t mind me,” said the poor prince.
“Really, you are very good,” replied the princess. “I think I will go to sleep again.”
“Just give me a glass of wine and a biscuit first,” said the prince, very humbly.
“With all my heart,” said the princess, and yawned as she said it.