After they had walked a while, they came to a little hut, lying deep in the dark forest. By then the king’s daughter was very thirsty, and wanted to go into the little hut with her step-sister, in order to get a drink of water. But the queen’s daughter was much annoyed and said: “Is it not enough for me to be running around here in the wilderness with you? Now you even want me, who am a princess, to enter that wretched little hut. No, I will not step a foot over the threshold! If you want to go in, why go in alone!” The king’s daughter lost no time; but did as her step-sister advised, and stepped into the little hut. When she entered she saw an old woman sitting there on a bench, so enfeebled by age that her head shook. The princess spoke to her in her usual friendly way: “Good evening, motherkin. May I ask you for a drink of water?” “You are heartily welcome to it,” said the old woman. “Who may you be, that step beneath my lowly roof and greet me in so winning a way?” The king’s daughter told her who she was, and that she had gone out to relieve her heart, in order to forget her great grief. “And what may your great grief be?” asked the old woman. “No doubt it is my fate to grieve,” said the princess, “and I can never be happy again. I have lost my only love, and God alone knows whether I shall ever see him again.” And she also told her why it was, and the tears ran down her cheeks in streams, so that any one would have felt sorry for her. When she had ended the old woman said: “You did well in confiding your sorrow to me. I have lived long and may be able to give you a bit of good advice. When you leave here you will see a lily growing from the ground. This lily is not like other lilies, however, but has many strange virtues. Run quickly over to it, and pick it. If you can do that then you need not worry, for then one will appear who will tell you what to do.” Then they parted and the king’s daughter thanked her and went her way; while the old woman sat on the bench and wagged her head. But the queen’s daughter had been standing without the hut the entire time, vexing herself, and grumbling because the king’s daughter had taken so long.
So when the latter stepped out, she had to listen to all sorts of abuse from her step-sister, as was to be expected. Yet she paid no attention to her, and thought only of how she might find the flower of which the old woman had spoken. They went through the forest, and suddenly she saw a beautiful white lily growing in their very path. She was much pleased and ran up at once to pick it; but that very moment it disappeared and reappeared somewhat further away.
The king’s daughter was now filled with eagerness, no longer listened to her step-sister’s calls, and kept right on running; yet each time when she stooped to pick the lily, it suddenly disappeared and reappeared somewhat further away. Thus it went for some time, and the princess was drawn further and further into the deep forest. But the lily continued to stand, and disappear and move further away, and each time the flower seemed larger and more beautiful than before. At length the princess came to a high hill, and as she looked toward its summit, there stood the lily high on the naked rock, glittering as white and radiant as the brightest star. The king’s daughter now began to climb the hill, and in her eagerness she paid no attention to stones nor steepness. And when at last she reached the summit of the hill, lo and behold! the lily no longer evaded her grasp; but remained where it was, and the princess stooped and picked it and hid it in her bosom, and so heartfelt was her happiness that she forgot her step-sisters and everything else in the world.
-read more in The Swedish Fairy Book-
Illustration: Walter Crane