Once up on a time there was a beautiful princess. Her father, the king, died when she was a little child. The queen, her mother, brought her up with loving care. When the princess grew up, she wanted to marry a prince who lived in a far-away country.

So she packed all her pretty dresses. The queen gave her some wonderful presents. One of the presents was a white horse that could talk. The princess liked this present very much.

When the time came to say goodbyes, the queen cut off a lock of her hair. She gave it to princess and said, ``Take this, my child! It is a charm that will keep you safe from all harm.

The real princess put it carefully into the top of her dress. Then the princess set off on her long journey. Her maid also went with her. The princess rode on her white horse. The maid rode on another horse.

After going some distance, the princess felt very thirsty. ``O my maid,’’ she said, ``please fetch me some water from the river.

``Fetch it your self!’’ said the maid very rudely. ``Why should I take orders from you?’’

The cruel maid was very jealous of the princess.

The princess did not want to quarrel. She got down her horse and went to the river –bank. She knelt down to reach the water. The lock of hair fell out of her dress and floated away down the river.

``Alas!’’ said the princess. ``I have lost the charm my mother gave me!’’

But the maid was pleased. The charm was lost and now the princess was in her power!

``Take off your fine clothes,’’ she said in a cruel way,’’ and give them to me. You can wear these old rags.’’ The helpless princess had to do as the cruel maid desired.

Now the maid rode on the white horse. She was wearing the fine dress of the princess. The real princess was in rags. She rode on the maid’s horse.

At last they reached the prince’s palace.

``I will kill you if you tell anybody who you are,’’ aid the maid. The poor princess was so frightened that she promised not to tell anyone about it.

The prince came out of is place to welcome them. He took the maid for the princess for she was wearing very fine clothes. But he asked, ``who is this lovely girl in rags?’’

``just a beggar’’ replied the maid. ``I met her on the way and took pity on her. Would you give her some work to do in your palace?’’

``Oh, yes!’’ said the prince. ``She can work in the kitchen with other servants’’.

So the real princess was sent to work in the kitchen. When the other servants saw her, they said, ``She is as beautiful as a princess!’’ and hey were very kind to her.

The next day, the wicked maid said to the prince, ``Will you do one thing for me?’’

``What is that?’’ asked the prince.

`` I do not like my white horse,’’ she said. ``It behaved very badly on the way. Have it killed.’’

The prince ordered a servant to take the horse away and kill it.

That night the prince gave a great feast at his palace. Everybody was invited. The wicked maid sat with the prince at one end of the long table. After the guests had eaten, the prince got up told a story. It was the story of servant who had pretended to be his master.

``How would you punish such a man?’’ the prince asked the false princess.

``I would take away all his fine clothes,’’ she replied, ``and put him in a drum. Then I would have two horses to drag that drum through the streets. And then I would throw him out of the town.’’

``What a good idea!!’’ said the prince. ``and that shall be your punishment. The white horse has told us all the truth about you.’’

So the wicked maid was turned out of the town. Nothing was heard of her again.

The prince married the real princess. Together they ruled the kingdom and lived a happy life.



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