So it came that the girl grew up in the castle, and her mother was a good queen to the people. In fact, Dara loved the people so that she would walk among them with her young daughter to greet them, peasant and duke alike, for she knew the sorrows of poverty. She hardly fancied the palace ways and much preferred simple living, which greatly perplexed her new husband. He doted on Dara and her daughter relentlessly, gave her anything a woman could want in the world. But as the girl aged, she grew fonder of the peasant folk, as her mother was, than of the noblemen and royals and the king’s heart grew very worried and wicked.
In his court behind the throne was kept a large looking glass, who, by command of royal blood, would issue any truth (It was kept there for difficult judgements to be made correctly, for it could tell whether a person lied or where a stolen thing was hid and could guess the answer to any riddle. The King could demand a moment alone to think and duck behind his throne to ask wisdom of his mirror. For this, Ryan was known as King Ryan the Wise, but it was truly his trusted mirror that held such knowledge). One day, when Eirawen was seven years of age, he asked the mirror which prince she fancied best. The King expected that she would choose Prince Brenden of Layathal, where she had been born, but to his surprise the mirror answered thus:
“Be it not wise to ask me so soon,
I tell thee, her heart does love the young Brune”
The King was perplexed and asked the glass again, “Is it certain, oh Glass, that fair Eirawen does not love Prince Brenden?” and so the mirror answered again,
“Not Brenden or Robin, or Prince any way
Eirawen loves but a farm boy I say”
And this was true, for the mirror could not lie, and Brune was surely a shepherd boy, living on a poor farm. The King knew not what to do, for he did not understand that, though a girl may love one at seven years, she is likely to change her mind over time.
And here we see where his heart became wicked. For then, the man asked his huntsman to take Brune with him the next season and shoot the boy through the heart with an arrow. After this, the hunter was to bring the heart back for the King as evidence.
The poor huntsman agreed, but having brought the young boy, only eleven years old, he could not bring himself to shoot. So he told the boy of the King’s evil plan, though he knew not why the King had decreed it, and had him run into the woods, expecting he’d soon be eaten by a wild animal.
The boy ran all that day, for they had set out early morning, and was very frightened by the thick trees and the dark shadows all around. Finally, after he was sure he could run no more, he came to an opening in the trees and saw a tiny home.
He knocked at the door and waited a long while before realizing it had no lock. Being very tired and still afraid of the wood, he decided to enter. Brune saw six small plates laid on a little table, with a small cup of wine beside each and a childish stool at each place. On each plate was a good serving of meat and bread, and Brune was very hungry and thirsty after running all day without food or water. He resolved to eat only a bite from each plate, so as not to empty any one, and drink only a sip from each cup. But after this, as the long day and the wine might affect any poor farmer’s boy, he became very tired and lay to sleep on the first bed he found, which seemed to be the perfect size.
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