"If it is so," rejoined the cunning gipsy, "I myself will also go to the palace with you".
The young man was glad to have company on the road, and so he and the gipsy travelled on together until they came to the residence of the king.
When they came to the palace they found a large number of people who had come to "try their luck," and guess what birth-marks the princess had. But it was lost time, for every one of them, after going past the king and guessing "by good luck" at the marks of the princess, was obliged to go away, having lost his time and gained nothing. At length the turn came for the young shepherd to pass before the king, and the gipsy kept close to him to hear what he would say.
So the youth stepped before the king and said, "The princess has a star on each shoulder, and a crescent on the throat------"
"He drove the cow to the hut where he had passed the night".
At this moment the gipsy shouted loudly, "Look there! that is just what I was going to say!"
"Be quiet!" said the young shepherd; "or, if you really know what other marks she has, speak out".
"No, no!" cried the gipsy, "go on, go on! When you have done, I will speak what I know!"
Then the youth turned again to the king and continued, "The princess has the mark of a sun on her bosom------"
"That is exactly what I was going to say!" cried the gipsy, coming up quickly; "she has the mark of a sun on her breast".
Now the king was exceeding surprised, and confessed to his counsellors that the young shepherd had really guessed the truth. But as neither the king nor the counsellors at all liked the idea of the princess marrying a poor shepherd, they consulted how they could get rid of him without giving the lie to the king's proclamation. At length it was decided that his Majesty should say, "As both the shepherd and the gipsy have guessed the princess's birth-marks, I cannot justly decide which of them should marry her. But I will give to each of them seventy piasters, and they must both go and trade with this money for a year. At the end of the year, that one which brings back the most money shall have the princess for his wife".
The young shepherd and the gipsy, having received the money, went off in opposite directions to seek their fortunes.
After having travelled about some time, like a fly without a head, not knowing where - the shepherd stopped one night to rest in the hut of an old woman, who was even poorer than his own mother.
As he sat with the old woman in the hut that evening, the lad thought he might just as well ask her advice as to the best way to invest his capital of seventy piasters, so he said: "I have seventy piasters to trade with, can you tell me some good way in which I may employ them profitably?"
The old woman considered the matter for some time before she answered, and then said, "To-morrow is market-day in the next city; go there yourself, and when a man brings a very poor cow for sale, go up and try to buy it. The cow will be of many different colours, but very thin and ill fed, but you must buy her at whatever price the man asks for her. When you have bought her, bring her here at once".
The young man agreed to follow the old woman's counsel, and so next day he went to the city and really found there a man who had brought a poor, but variously coloured, cow to sell. Many people wished to buy the cow, but the young man outbid them all, and at length offered all his seventy piasters for her. So he got the cow, and drove it to the hut where he had passed the night. When the old woman came out to see who was coming, he called out to her, "Now, my old mother, I have bought the cow, and what shall we do with her? She has cost me all my capital!"
The old woman answered at once, "Kill the cow, my son, and cut it in pieces".
"But how will that bring me back my money with profit?" asked the young shepherd, hesitating whether he should follow her advice or no.
"Don't be afraid, my son, but do as I say," returned the old woman. Accordingly he did as she advised him, killed the cow and cut her into pieces. This done, he asked again, "And now, what shall I do?" The old woman said quietly, "Well, now we will eat the meat, and the suet we will melt down and put into a pot to keep for some other occasion".
The shepherd did not at all like this proposal, for he could not see what return he could hope to get for such an investment of his capital. However, he thought within himself, "Well, since I have been foolish enough to follow her counsel on the two former occasions, I may as well follow it also this third time." So he remained with the old woman many days, until the last piece of meat had been eaten up. When, however, he thought over all that had happened, he grew very sad, and, seeing no sign of anything better, said one morning to the old woman reproachfully, "Now you see by following your counsel I have spent all the king's money, and am now a ruined man!"
"Don't be afraid, my son," said the old woman; "you can now take that pot of suet with you and go to the black world, where all the people are black as chimneypots, and there you can sell for a good deal of money your suet, for it has the power to make the black skin white".
The poor shepherd was very glad at hearing this, and next morning took the pot of suet on his shoulder and started on his journey. After he had travelled many, many days, he came to a strange-looking country, and, going a little farther, he saw a man who was quite black, just as the old woman had said - as black as a chimneypot. He was immediately going to offer to sell some of his fat to the black man, when the latter, frightened at the sight of a white man, ran away. Many other black men who saw him did the same, but after a while, when they saw that he went on quietly carrying his pot on his shoulder, they took courage, and came to him one by one, until at last quite a large crowd had gathered about him. At length, one of them ventured to say to him, "You strange-looking man, tell us who you are, and where you come from, and why did you come here?" The shepherd answered, "I am a white man from a white world, and I come to bring you some fat which will make you also white - that is, of course, if you choose to buy it from me and pay me for it well".