sun didn't shine into the hall. But then the others whispered to the king again, and he answered that the lad should have her, of course; he had never thought of anything else; but first of all he must get as grand a horse for the bride to ride on to church as the bridegroom had himself.
The lad said the king hadn't spoken a word about this before, and that he thought he had now fairly earned the Princess; but the king held to his own; and more, if the lad couldn't do that he should lose his life; that was what the king said. So the lad went down to the stable in doleful dumps, as you may well fancy, and there he told Dapplegrim all about it; how the king had laid that task upon him, to find the bride as good a horse as the bridegroom had himself, else he would lose his life.
"But that's not so easy," he said, "for your match isn't to be found in the wide world."
"Oh, yes, I have a match," said Dapplegrim; "but he lives a long way from here, and rules over a great country. Still, we'll try. And now you must go up to the king and ask for new shoes for me, ten pounds of iron and twelve pounds of steel; and two smiths, one to hammer and one to hold; and mind you see that the points and ends of those shoes are sharp; and twelve sacks of rye, and twelve sacks of barley, and twelve roasted oxen we must have with us; and mind, we must have the twelve ox-hides, with twelve hundred spikes driven into each; and, let me see, a big tar-barrel—that's all we want."
So the lad went up to the king and asked for all that Dapplegrim required, and the king again thought he couldn't say nay, for shame's sake, and so the lad got all he wanted.
Well, he jumped up on Dapplegrim's back, and rode away from the palace, and when he had ridden far over hill and heath, Dapple asked:
"Do you hear anything?"
"Yes, I hear an awful hissing and rustling up in the air," said the lad; "I think I'm getting afraid."
"That's all the wild birds that fly through the wood. They are sent to stop us; but just cut a hole in the corn sacks, and then they'll have so much to do with the corn, they'll forget us, quite."
Yes, the lad did that; he cut holes in the corn sacks, so that the rye and the barley ran out on all sides. Then all the wild birds came flying round them so thick that the sunbeams grew dark, but as soon as they saw the corn they couldn't keep to their purpose, but flew down and began to pick and scratch at the rye and barley; and after that they began to fight amongst themselves. As for Dapplegrim and the lad, they forgot all about them, and did them no harm.
So the lad rode on and on—far, far over mountain and dale, over sand-hills and moor. Then Dapplegrim began to prick up his ears again, and at last he asked the lad if he heard anything.
"Yes, now I hear such an ugly rushing and howling in the wood all round, it makes me quite afraid."
"Ah!" said Dapplegrim, "that's all the wild beasts that range through the wood, and they're sent out to stop us. But just cast out the twelve carcasses of the oxen; that will give them enough to do, and so they'll forget us outright."
Yes, the lad cast out the carcasses, and then all the wild beasts in the wood—bears and wolves and lions—came after them. But when they saw the carcasses, they began to fight for them amongst themselves, till blood flowed in streams; but Dap