"Rely upon me, for I see I must finish this business for thee." So they all three went on together to seek the divine Craiessa.
When they drew nigh to the land of the divine Craiessa they halted in the midst of a vast forest, where they could see the Craiessa's dazzling palace, and it was agreed that Boy-Beautiful and his servant should await the return of the wolf by the trunk of a large tree. The proud palace of the divine Craiessa was so grand and beautiful, and the style and arrangement thereof so goodly, that the wolf could scarce take his eyes therefrom. But when he came up to the palace he did what he could, and crept furtively into the garden.
And what do you think he saw there? Not a single fruit-tree was any longer green. The stems, branches, and twigs stood there as if some one had stripped them naked. The fallen leaves had turned the ground into a crackling carpet. Only a single rose-bush was still covered with leaves and full of buds, some wide open and some half closed. To reach this rose-bush the wolf had to tread very gingerly on the tips of his toes, so as not to make the carpet of dry leaves crackle beneath him; and so he hid himself behind this leafy bush. As now he stood there on the watch, the door of the dazzling palace was opened, and forth came the divine Craiessa, attended by four-and-twenty of her slaves, to take a walk in the garden.
When the wolf beheld her he was very near forgetting what he came for and coming out of his lair, though he restrained himself; for she was so lovely that the like of her never had been and never will be seen on the face of the whole earth. Her hair was of nothing less than pure gold, and reached from top to toe. Her long and silken eyelashes seemed almost to put out her eyes. When she looked at you with those large sloe-black eyes of hers, you felt sick with love. She had those beautifully-arched eyebrows which look as if they had been traced with compasses, and her skin was whiter than the froth of milk fresh from the udder.
After taking two or three turns round the garden with her slaves behind her, she came to the rose-bush and plucked one or two flowers, whereupon the wolf who was concealed in the bush darted out, took her in his front paws, and sped down the road. Her servants scattered like a bevy of young partridges, and in an instant the wolf was there, and put her, all senseless as she was, in the arms of Boy-Beautiful. When he saw her he changed colour, but the wolf reminded him that he was a warrior and he came to himself again. Many Emperors had tried to steal her, but they had all been repulsed.
Boy-Beautiful had compassion upon her, and he now made up his mind that nobody else should have her.
When the divine Craiessa awoke from her swoon and found herself in the arms of Boy-Beautiful, she said: "If thou art the wolf that hath stolen me away, I'll be thine." Boy-Beautiful replied: "Mine thou shalt be till death do us part."
So they made a compact of it, and they told each other their stories.
When the wolf saw the tenderness that had grown up between them he said: "Leave everything to me, and your desires shall be fulfilled!" Then they set out to return from whence they had just come, and, while they were on the road, the wolf turned three somersaults and made himself exactly like the divine Craiessa, for you must know that this wolf was a magician.
Then they arranged among themselves that the faithful servant of Boy-Beautiful should stand by the trunk of a great tree in the forest till Boy-Beautiful returned with the steed. So on reaching the court of the Emperor who had the steed, Boy-Beautiful gave him the made-up divine Craiessa, and when the Emperor saw her his heart died away within him, and he felt a love for her which told in words would be foolishness.
"Thy merits, Boy-Beautiful," said the Emperor, "have saved thee this time also from a shameful death, and now I'll pay thee for this by giving thee the steed." Then Boy-Beautiful put his hand on the steed and leaped into the jewelled saddle, and, reaching the tree, placed the divine Craiessa in front of him and galloped across the boundaries of that empire.
And now the Emperor called together all his counsellors and went to the cathedral to be married to the divine Craiessa. When they got to the door of the cathedral, the pretended Craiessa turned a somersault three times and became a wolf again, which, gnashing its teeth, rushed straight at the Emperor's retinue, who were stupefied with terror when they saw it. On coming to themselves a little, they gave chase with hue-and-cry: but the wolf, take my word for it! took such long strides that not one of them could come near him, and joining Boy-Beautiful and his friends went along with them. When they drew nigh to the court of the Emperor with the bird, they played him the same trick they had played on the Emperor with the horse. The wolf changed himself into the horse, and was given to the Emperor, who could not contain himself for joy at the sight of it.
After entertaining Boy-Beautiful with great honour, the Emperor said to him: "Boy-Beautiful, thou hast escaped a shameful death. I will keep my imperial word and my blessing shall always follow thee." Then he commanded them to give him the bird in the golden cage, and Boy-Beautiful took it, wished him good-day, and departed. Arriving in the wood where he had left the divine Craiessa, his horse, and his faithful servant, he set off with them for the court of his father.
But the Emperor who had received the horse commanded that his whole host and all the grandees of his empire should assemble in the plain to see him mount his richly-caparisoned goodly steed. And when the soldiers saw him they all cried: "Long live the Emperor who hath won such a goodly steed, and long live the steed that doth the Emperor so much honour!"
And, indeed, there was the Emperor mounting on the back of the horse, but no sooner did it put its foot to the ground than it flew right away. They all set off in pursuit, but there was never the slightest chance of any of them catching it, for it left them far behind from the first. When it had got a good way ahead the pretended horse threw the Emperor to the ground, turned head over heels three times and became a wolf, and set off again in full flight, and ran and ran till it overtook Boy-Beautiful. Then said the wolf to him: "I have now fulfilled all thy demands. Look to thyself better in future, and strive not after things beyond thy power, or it will not go well with thee." Then their roads parted, and each of them went his own way.
When he arrived at the empire of his father the old Emperor came out to meet his youngest son with small and great as he had agreed. Great was the public joy when they saw him with a consort the like of whom is no longer to be found on the face of the earth, and with a steed the excellence whereof lives only in the tales of the aged. When he got home Boy-Beautiful ordered a splendid stable to be made for his good steed, and put the bird-cage in the terrace of the garden. Then his father prepared for the wedding, and after not many days Boy-Beautiful and the divine Craiessa were married; the tables were spread for good and bad, and they made merry for three days and three nights. After that they lived in perfect happiness, for Boy-Beautiful had now nothing more to desire. And they are living to this day, if they have not died in the meantime.
And now I'll mount my steed again and say an "Our Father" before I go.