Presently she came where the merchant's daughter sat alone on the soft sand gazing sorrowfully out over the blue sea-ocean, and she accosted her and said: "What grief hast thou that thy tears can wash away blood ?"
"I grieve,"answered the girl, "because I so long to see the beautiful Finist the Falcon."
Then the Tzar's daughter, being very prideful, tossed her head, saying: "Is that all ? Go to the Palace kitchen, and I will let thee serve there; perchance as payment thou mayest catch a glimpse of him as he dines."
So the merchant's daughter entered the Palace and was given a humble place among the servants, and when Finist the Falcon sat him down to dine, she put the food before him with her own hands. But he, moody and longing for his lost love, sat without raising his eyes and never so much as saw her or guessed her presence.
After dinner, sad and lonely, she went out to the sea-beach and sitting down on the soft sand, took her little silver spindle and began to draw out a thread. And in the cool of the evening the Tzar's daughter, with her attendants, came walking there and seeing that the thread that came from the spindle was of pure gold, said to her: "Maiden, wilt thou sell me that plaything ?"
"If thou wilt buy it at my price,"answered the girl.
"And what is thy price?"asked the Tzar's daughter.
"Let me sit through one night by the side of thy promised husband."said the girl.
Now the Tzar's daughter was cold and deceitful, and desired Finist the Falcon, not because she loved him, but because of his beauty and her own pride. "There can be no harm in that,"she thought, "for I will put in his hair an enchanted pin, by reason of which he will not waken, and with the spindle I can cover myself and my little mother with gold." So she agreed, and that night when Finist the Falcon was asleep, she put in his hair the enchanted pin, brought the girl to his room, and said: "Give me now the spindle, and in return thou mayest sit here til1 daybreak and keep the flies from him."
All night the girl bent over the bed where the handsome youth lay sleeping, and wept bitter tears. "Awake and rise, Finist, my bright Falcon,"she cried. "I have come at last to thee. I have left my little father and my cruel sisters, and I have searched through three times nine lands and a hundred Tzardoms for thee, my beloved!" But Finist slept on and heard nothing, and so the whole long night passed away.
And with the dawn came the Tzar's daughter and sent the girl back to the kitchen, and she took away the enchanted pin so that Finist the Falcon should awaken.
When he came from his chamber, the Tzar's daughter said to him: "Hast thou rested well, and art thou refreshed ?"
He answered: "I slept, but it seemed to me that someone was beside me all night, weeping and lamenting and beseeching me to awaken, yet I could not arouse myself, and because of that my head is heavy."
And she said: "Thou wert but dreaming ! No one has been beside thee !" So Finist the Falcon called for his horse and betook himself to the open steppe a-hunting.
As it happened before, so it befell that day also. Finist the Falcon had no eyes for the girl who waited on him at table, and in the evening, sad and sorrowful, she went out to the blue sea-ocean, and sitting down on the soft sand, took out the golden hammer and the ten diamond nails and began to play with them. A little later the Tzar's daughter, with her maids and attendants, came walking along the beach, and seeing how the hammer drove the nails by itself, coveted the plaything and desired to buy it.
"It shall be thine,"said the girl, "if thou wilt pay me my price."
"And what is the price ?" asked the Tzar's daughter.
"Let me watch a second night beside the bed of thy promised husband."
"So be it,"said the Tzar's daughter; and that night, after Finist the Falcon had fallen asleep, she put into his hair the enchanted pin, so that he could not waken, and brought the girl to his room. "Give me, now, the golden hammer and the diamond nails," she said, "and thou mayest keep the flies from him till day-dawn."
So that night too the merchant's daughter leaned over her beloved through the long dark hours, weeping and crying to him: "Finist my love, my bright Falcon, awake and speak to me ! I have come at last to thee ! I have journeyed to the fiftieth Tzardom of the eightieth land, and have washed the blood from thy shirt with my tears !" But because of the enchanted pin Finist could not waken, and at daybreak the girl was sent back to her place in the kitchen.
When Finist came from his chamber, the Tzar's daughter said: "Hast thou slept soundly, and art thou refreshed ?"
He replied: "I slept, but it seemed to me that one I loved well bent over me, shedding bitter tears and begging me to arise, yet I could not wake. And because of this my own heart is heavy."
And she said: "It was but a dream that today's hunting will make thee speedily forget. No one was near thee while thou didst sleep." So Finist the Falcon called for his horse and rode to the open steppe.
That day the merchant's daughter wept and was exceeding sorrowful, for on the morrow Finist the Falcon was to be wed. "Never again shall I have the love of my bright falcon,"she thought. "Never more, because of my cruel sisters, may I call him to me with the little scarlet flower in my window !"When evening came, however, she dried her tears, sat down for a third time on the soft sand by the blue sea-ocean, and taking out the golden plate, set the diamond ball upon it. That evening also the Tzar's daughter, with her serving-women, came walking on the beach, and as soon as she saw how the little diamond ball was rolling, rolling of itself, she coveted it and said: "Wilt thou sell these also for the same price thou didst ask for thy other playthings ?"
"Thou shalt have them,"answered the merchant's daughter, "for the same price. Let me only sit through this third night by the side of thy promised husband."
"What a fool is this girl !" thought the Tzar's daughter. "Presently I shall have al1 her possessions and Finist the Falcon for my husband into the bargain !" So she assented gladly and when Finist the Falcon fell asleep that night, for the third time she put into his hair the enchanted pin and brought the girl into his room, bidding her give over the golden plate and the diamond ball, and keep the flies from him till daybreak.
Through that long night also the merchant's daughter bent over her loved one, weeping and crying: "Finist, my own dear, my bright falcon with coloured feathers, awake and know me! I have worn through the three pairs of iron shoes, I have broken to pieces the three iron staves, I have gnawed away the three stone church-loaves, all the while searching for thee, my love!" But by reason of the enchanted pin, although he heard through his sleep her crying and lamenting, and his heart grieved because of it, Finist the Falcon could not waken. So at length, when day-dawn was near, the girl said to herself: "though he shall never be mine, yet in the past he loved me, and for that I shall kiss him once before I go away," and she put her arms about his head to kiss him. As she did so, her hand touched the pin in his hair and she drew it out, lest by chance it harm him. Thus the spell of its enchantment was broken, and one of her tears, falling on his face, woke him.
And instantly, as he awoke, he recognized her, and knew that it was her lamenting he had heard through his sleep. She related to him all that had occurred, how her sisters had plotted, how she had journeyed in search of him, and how she had bought of the Tzar's deceitful daughter the three nights by his side in exchange for the silver spindle, the golden hammer and nails, and the diamond ball that rolled of itself. Hearing, Finist the Falcon was angered against the Tzar's daughter whom he had so nearly wed, but the merchant's daughter he kissed on the mouth, and turning into the falcon, set her on his coloured wings and flew to his own Tzardom.
Then he summoned all his princes and nobles and his officers of all ranks and told them the story, asking: "Which of these two am I to wed ? With which can I spend a long life so happily that it will seem a short one: with her who would deceitfully sell my hours for playthings, or with her who sought me over three times nine lands ? Do ye now discuss and decide."
And all cried with one voice: "Thou shouldst leave the seller of thy rest and wed her who did follow thee !"
And so did Finist, the bright falcon with coloured wings.
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