HE PRINCESS THOUGHT she must be dreaming when she saw the ring, but she set Avenant another task.
"Not far from here there is a prince named Galifron," said she; "he wishes to marry me, and threatens to ravish my kingdom if I refuse; but how can I accept him? He is a giant, taller than my highest tower, he eats a man as a monkey would eat a chestnut, and when he speaks, his voice is so loud that it deafens those who hear him. He will not take my refusal, but kills my subjects. You must fight and bring me his head."
"Well, madam," replied Avenant, "I will fight Galifron; I expect I shall be killed, but I shall die a brave man." And, taking Cabriole, Avenant set out for Galifron's country, asking news of the giant as he went along, and the more he heard the more he feared him, but Cabriole reassured him. "My dear master," said the little dog, "while you are fighting him I will bite his legs, then he will stoop to chase me, and you will kill him." Avenant admired the bravery of the little dog, but he knew his help would not be sufficient.
Presently they perceived how the roads were covered with the bones of the men that Galifron had eaten, and soon they saw the giant coming towards them through a wood. His head was higher than the highest trees, and he sang in a terrific voice:
"Where are the children small, so small,
With my teeth I will crush them all,
On so many would I feed, feed, feed.
The whole world can't supply my need."
Using the same tune, Avenant began to sing:
"Look down, here is Avenant beneath, beneath
He will draw from your head, the teeth, the teeth
Although he is not very big, 'tis true,
He is able to fight with such as you."
The giant put himself into a terrible passion, and would have killed Avenant with one blow, only a raven from above flew at his head, and pecked him straight in the eyes, so violently that he was blinded. He began striking out on all sides, but Avenant avoided his blows, and with his sword pierced him so many times that at last he fell to the ground. Then Avenant cut off his head, and the raven, who had perched on a tree, said,
"I have not forgotten how you rescued me from the eagle; I promised to repay you, I think I have done so to-day."
"I owe everything to you, Mr. Raven," responded Avenant, as, holding Galifron's head, he rode off.
When he entered the town, crowds followed him crying, "Here is the brave Avenant who has slain the monster."
Avenant advanced to the Princess, and said, "Madam, your enemy is dead. I hope you will no more refuse the King, my master."
"Although it is so," answered the Princess, "I shall refuse him unless you will bring me some water from the Grotto of Darkness. At the entrance there are two dragons, with fire in their eyes and mouths; inside the grotto there is a deep pit into which you must descend, it is full of toads, scorpions, and serpents. At the bottom of this pit there is a little cave where flows the fountain of beauty and health. Positively I must possess the water; all who wash in it, if they are beautiful, continue so always, if they are ugly they become beautiful; if they are young they remain young, if they are old they regain their youth. You cannot wonder, Avenant, that I will not leave my kingdom without taking it with me."
So once more Avenant and Cabriole set out; they journeyed on until they came to a rock, black as ink, from which smoke was issuing, and a moment later there appeared one of the dragons belching forth fire from his eyes and mouth. He was a frightful looking creature with a green and yellow body, and his tail was so long that it went into a hundred curves. Avenant saw all this, but resolved to die, he drew his sword, and, carrying the flask the Princess had given to him to hold the water, he said to Cabriole:
"My days are ended, I can never obtain that water the dragons are guarding; when I am dead, fill this flask with my blood and carry it to the Princess, that she may know what it has cost me, then go to the King, my master, and tell him of my misfortune."
As he was speaking, a voice called, "Avenant, Avenant," and looking around he saw an owl. "You saved my life from the fowlers," said the owl. "I promised to repay you, the time has now come. Give me your flask. I will bring you the water of beauty."
And carrying the flask, the owl entered the grotto, unhindered, returning in less than a quarter of an hour with it full to the brim. Avenant thanked the owl heartily, and joyously started for the town, where he presented the flask to the Princess, who immediately gave orders to prepare for her departure.
But as she considered Avenant altogether charming, before she set out, she several times said to him: "If you wish, we need not go, for I will make you king of my country." But Avenant made reply:
"I would not displease my master for all the kingdoms of earth, although your beauty I consider greater than that of the sun."
Thus they arrived at the King's capital, and the wedding took place amidst great rejoicings; but Princess Goldenhair, who loved Avenant from the depths of her heart, was not happy unless she could see him, and was for ever singing his praises. "I should not have come, had it not been for Avenant," she told the King, "you ought to be very much obliged to him." Then the envious courtiers counselled the King, and Avenant was cast once more into the tower, chained hand and foot. When Princess Goldenhair heard of this imprisonment, she fell on her knees before the King, and begged for Avenant's release; but he would not heed her, so that she became saddened and would speak no more.
Then the King thought: "Maybe I am not handsome enough to please her!" so he determined to wash his face in the water of beauty.
Now it had happened that a chamber-maid had broken the flask containing this wonderful water, so that it was all spilled; then, without saying anything to anyone, she had replaced it by a similar flask taken from the King's apartment, but the liquid in this flask was really that which was used when the princes or great lords were condemned to death, for, instead of being beheaded, their faces were washed with this water and they fell asleep and did not wake again. And so the King using this water one evening, thinking it to be the beauty water, and hoping and expecting to be made more handsome, went to sleep and awoke no more. Upon hearing what had occurred, Cabriole at once went and told Avenant, who asked him to go to the Princess Goldenhair and beseech her to remember the poor prisoner. When the Princess received this message, she went straight to the tower, and, with her own hands, struck off the chains that bound Avenant, and placing a crown of gold upon his head, and a royal mantle upon his shoulders, said: "Come, dear Avenant, I will make you King, and take you for my husband." Then there was a grand wedding, and Princess Goldenhair and Avenant, with Cabriole, lived long, all of them happy and contented.