roared the king, and ordered the shepherd to be thrown down the deep vault of scythes.
The guards dragged him away to a dark dungeon, in the middle of which was a deep well with sharp scythes all round it. At the bottom of the well was a little light by which one could see if anyone was thrown in whether he had fallen to the bottom.
When the shepherd was dragged to the dungeons he begged the guards to leave him alone a little while that he might look down into the pit of scythes; perhaps he might after all make up his mind to say ‘To your good health’ to the king. So the guards left him alone and he stuck up his long stick near the well, hung his cloak round the stick and put his hat on the top. He also hung his knapsack up inside the cloak so that it might seem to have some body within it. When this was done he called out to the guards and said that he had considered the matter but after all he could not make up his mind to say what the king wished. The guards came in, threw the hat and cloak, knapsack and stick all down the well together, watched to see how they put out the light at the bottom and came away, thinking that now there really was an end of the shepherd. But he had hidden in a dark corner and was laughing to himself all the time.
Quite early next morning came the Lord Chamberlain, carrying a lamp and he nearly fell backwards with surprise when he saw the shepherd alive and well. He brought him to the king, whose fury was greater than ever, but who cried:
‘Well, now you have been near a hundred deaths; will you say: “To your good health”?’
But the shepherd only gave the same answer:
‘I won’t say it till the princess is my wife.’
‘Perhaps after all you may do it for less,’ said the king, who saw that there was no chance of making away with the shepherd; and he ordered the state coach to be got ready, then he made the shepherd get in with him and sit beside him, and ordered the coachman to drive to the silver wood. When they reached it he said: ‘Do you see this silver wood? Well, if you will say, “To your good health,” I will give it to you.’
The shepherd turned hot and cold by turns, but he still persisted:
‘I will not say it till the princess is my wife.’
The king was much vexed; he drove further on till they came to a splendid castle, all of gold, and then he said:
‘Do you see this golden castle? Well, I will give you that too, the silver wood and the golden castle, if only you will say that one thing to me: “To your good health.”’
The shepherd gaped and wondered and was quite dazzled, but he still said:
‘No; I will not say it till I have the princess for my wife.’
This time the king was overwhelmed with grief, and gave orders to drive on to the diamond pond, and there he tried once more.
‘Do you see this diamond pond? I will give you that too, the silver wood and the golden castle and the diamond pond. You shall have them all ― all ― if you will but say: “To your good health!”’
The shepherd had to shut his staring eyes tight not to be dazzled with the brilliant pond, but still he said:
‘No, no; I will not say it till I have the princess for my wife.’
Then the king saw that all his efforts were useless, and that he might as well give in, so he said:
‘Well, well, it’s all the same to me ― I will give you my daughter to wife; but, then, you really and truly must say to me: “To your good health.”’
‘Of course I’ll say it; why should I not say it? It stands to reason that I shall say it then.’
At this the king was more delighted than anyone could have believed. He made it known all through the country that there were to be great rejoicings, as the princess was going to be married. And everyone rejoiced to think that the princess, who had refused so many royal suitors, should have ended by falling in love with the staring-eyed shepherd.
There was such a wedding as had never been seen. Everyone ate and drank and danced. Even the sick were feasted, and quite tiny new-born children had presents given them.
But the greatest merry-making was in the king’s palace; there the best bands played and the best food was cooked; a crowd of people sat down to table, and all was fun and merry-making.