She got the wine and the biscuit, however, and leaning over the side of the boat towards him, was compelled to look at him.
“Why, prince,” she said, “you don’t look well! Are you sure you don’t mind it?”
“Not a bit,” answered he, feeling very faint indeed. “Only I shall die before it is of any use to you, unless I have something to eat,”
“There, then,” said she, holding out the wine to him.
“Ah! you must feed me. I dare not move my hands. The water would run away directly.”
“Good gracious!” said the princess; and she began at once to feed him with bits of biscuit and sips of wine.
As she fed him, he contrived to kiss the tips of her fingers now and then. She did not seem to mind it, one way or the other. But the prince felt better.
“Now, for your own sake, princess,” said he, “I cannot let you go to sleep. You must sit and look at me, else I shall not be able to keep up.”
“Well, I will do anything to oblige you,” answered she, with condescension; and, sitting down, she did look at him, and kept looking at him with wonderful steadiness, considering all things.
The sun went down, and the moon rose, and, gush after gush, the waters were rising up the prince’s body. They were up to his waist now.
“Why can’t we go and have a swim?” said the princess. “There seems to be water enough just about here.”
“I shall never swim more,” said the prince.
“Oh, I forgot,” said the princess, and was silent.
So the water grew and grew, and rose up and up on the prince. And the princess sat and looked at him. She fed him now and then. The night wore on. The waters rose and rose. The moon rose likewise higher and higher, and shone full on the face of the dying prince. The water was up to his neck.
“Will you kiss me, princess?” said he, feebly. The nonchalance was all gone now.
“Yes, I will,” answered the princess, and kissed him with a long, sweet, cold kiss.
“Now,” said he, with a sigh of content, “I die happy.”
He did not speak again. The princess gave him some wine for the last time: he was past eating. Then she sat down again, and looked at him. The water rose and rose. It touched his chin. It touched his lower lip. It touched between his lips. He shut them hard to keep it out. The princess began to feel strange. It touched his upper lip. He breathed through his nostrils. The princess looked wild. It covered his nostrils. Her eyes looked scared, and shone strange in the moonlight. His head fell back; the water closed over it, and the bubbles of his last breath bubbled up through the water. The princess gave a shriek, and sprang into the lake.
She laid hold first of one leg, and then of the other, and pulled and tugged, but she could not move either. She stopped to take breath, and that made her think that he could not get any breath. She was frantic. She got hold of him, and held his head above the water, which was possible now his hands were no longer on the hole. But it was of no use, for he was past breathing.