HERE WAS ONCE a King's daughter who was the most beautiful thing in the world, and as her hair was fair and reached to her feet she was called the Princess Goldenhair.
|AN AMBASSADOR WAS SENT TO BRING THE PRINCESS TO THE KING.
A handsome young King in the neighbourhood, although he had never seen this Princess, fell so deeply in love with her from what he had heard, that he could neither eat nor sleep.
So an ambassador was sent with a magnificent chariot, more than a hundred horses, and fifty pages, to bring the Princess to the King, and great preparations were made for her reception.
But whether the Princess Goldenhair was in an ill humour when the ambassador arrived at her Court, or whatever was the reason, certain it is that she sent a message to the young King thanking him but saying that she did not wish to marry.
When the King heard of her refusal he wept like a child.
Now at his Court there was a young man called Avenant. He was as beautiful as the sun, and a more finely made fellow than any in the kingdom; everybody loved him except a few envious people, who were angry because the King favoured and confided in him, and in the presence of these, one day, Avenant incautiously remarked,
"If the King had sent me to fetch the Princess Goldenhair, I am certain she would have come," and these words were repeated to the King in such a manner that they made him very angry, and he ordered Avenant to be shut up in a high tower, to die of hunger.
In this sad plight, Avenant exclaimed one day, "How have I offended his Majesty? He has no more faithful subject than I."
The King who happened to be passing by the tower, heard this; he called for Avenant to be brought forth who, throwing himself on his knees, begged to know in what way he had offended his royal master.
"You mocked me," said the King, "you said that you would have succeeded with the Princess Goldenhair where I have failed."
"It is true, sir," replied Avenant, "I did say so, for I would have represented your noble qualities in such a way, that she could not help being persuaded."
The King was convinced of the young man's sincerity, and with a letter of introduction, Avenant set out for the Court of the goldenhaired beauty, riding alone, according to his wish, and thinking as he went how he best could woo the Princess for his beloved master.
One day, alighting from his horse to write down some suitable words that had come into his mind, he saw a golden carp who, leaping from the water to catch flies, had thrown herself upon the river bank, and was now nearly dead.
Avenant pitied the poor thing, and put her carefully back into the water. Recovering directly, the carp dived to the bottom, but returning to the edge of the river, said,
"Avenant, I thank you; you have saved my life, I will repay you;" then she swam off leaving the young man in great astonishment.
Another day as Avenant journeyed he noticed a raven who was pursued by an eagle. "What right has that eagle to persecute the raven? thought Avenant, and he drew his bow and shot the fierce bird. The raven perched on a bough and cried.
"Avenant you have saved my life, I will not be ungrateful, I will repay you."
Not long after this, Avenant found an owl caught in a snare, he cut the strings, and freed the trembling captive. "Avenant," said the owl, "you have saved my life, I will repay you."
These three adventures were the most important that befell Avenant, and he went on his way, shortly before he arrived at his destination purchasing a beautiful little dog named Cabriole.
When Avenant reached the Palace of the Princess Goldenhair, and saw the Princess seated upon her throne, she looked so lovely that at first all his fine speeches forsook him, and he could not utter a word; however, taking courage, he addressed her in exquisitely chosen language, begging her to become the King's bride.
To this the Princess replied most graciously, saying that his petition moved her more than any other could do, "but know," she added, "as I was walking by the river a month ago, as I took off my glove, a ring, that I greatly value, fell into the water, and I have vowed that I will not heed any proposal of marriage, except from the ambassador who brings me back my ring."
Sad at heart Avenant left the Palace, but his little dog, Cabriole, said, "My dear master, do not despair, you are too good to be unhappy. Early to-morrow morning let us go to the river-side." Avenant patted him, but did not answer, and, still sad, fell asleep.
As soon as it was day, Cabriole awoke him saying, "Dress yourself, my master, and come out."
They wandered down to the river, and there Avenant heard a voice calling him, and what should he see but the golden carp, with the Princess's ring in her mouth. "Take it, dear Avenant," said she, "I promised to repay you for saving my life, and now I can fulfil my promise."
Thanking her a thousand times, Avenant, going at once to the Palace, said, "Princess, your command is fulfilled; may it please you to receive the King, my master, as your husband."