That night the golden bird came again, and perched in the linden tree outside of the Prince’s window, and sang:
“I wept over you once,
I wept over you twice,
I wept over you three times.
In the ram’s skin I waited,
And out of the ram’s skin I flew.
Why are you sleeping,
Life of my life?”
But once more the Prince slept through it all, and when morning had come the golden bird was forced to fly away.
Now it chanced that that night some of the folk of the King’s household heard the bird singing, and they told the Prince all about it. So when the third night came, and the false Princess gave the Prince the cup of wine with the sleeping powder in it, he threw the wine over his shoulder, and never touched so much as a drop of it.
That night the bird came for the third time, and sang as it had done before.
But this time the Prince was not sleeping. He jumped out of his bed and ran to the window, and there he saw the bird, and its feathers shone like fire because they were of pure gold. Then he got his magic key and looked through the ring of it, and whom should he see but his own Princess sitting in the linden tree.
Then the Prince called to her, “What shall I do to set you free from this enchantment?”
“Throw your knife over me,” said the Princess.
No sooner said than done. The Prince threw his knife over her, and there she stood in her own true shape. Then the Prince took her to the King, and when the King saw how pretty she was, he skipped and danced till his slippers flew about his ears.
The next morning the old King went to the false Princess, and said, “What should be done to one who would do thus and so?”
[Illustration: The Old King Rejoices at His New Daughter-in-Law.]
To this the false Princess answered, as bold as brass, “Such a one should be thrown into a pit full of toads and snakes.”
“You have spoken for yourself,” said the King; and he would have done just so to her had not the true Princess begged for her so that she was sent back again to tend the geese, for that was what she was fit for.
Then they had the grandest wedding that ever was seen in all of the world. Everybody was asked, and there was enough for all to eat as much as they chose, and to take a little something home to the children beside. If I had been there I would have brought you something.
What is the meaning of all this? Listen, I will tell you something. Once there was a man, and he winnowed a whole peck of chaff, and got only three good solid grains from it, and yet he was glad to have so much. Would you winnow a whole peck of chaff for only three good grains? No? Then you will never know all that is meant by this story.
[Illustration: A Disappointment. This illustrated poem has the two talking to each other by a road.]