When the old hag had departed, the daughter of the Emperor took care to carefully conceal the piece of rope, but in the middle of the night she softly arose so that he shouldn't hear her, and holding her very breath, tied the string round her husband's left leg, but when she tied the knot - r-rch! - the string broke, for it was rotten, and instantly her husband started up.
"Unhappy woman!" cried he, "what hast thou done? But three days more and I should have been free of this vile spell, but now who knows how long I may have to carry this vile bestial skin! And know, moreover, that thy hand can never touch me again till thou hast worn out three pairs of iron sandals, and worn down three staves of steel, seeking me all over the wide world, for now I must depart."
And with these words he disappeared.
The poor daughter of the Emperor, when she found herself all alone, began to cry and sob as if her heart would break. She cursed the vile witch with fire and sword, but all in vain, and when at last she saw that all her cursing and moaning did no good, she got up and went whithersoever the mercy of God and the desire of her husband might lead her.
At the first city she arrived at she bade them make her three pairs of iron sandals and three staves of steel, made provision for her journey, and set off to seek her husband.
She went on and on, past nine kingdoms and nine seas, she passed through vast forests where the tree-stumps were like barrels, she got black and blue from stumbling over the trunks of fallen trees, yet often as she fell, she always got up again and resumed her way; the branches of the trees struck her in the face, the briars tore her hands, yet on and on she went without so much as looking back once. At last, weary with her journey and her burden, bowed down with grief and yet with hope in her heart, she came to a little house. And who should be living there but the Holy Moon.
The damsel knocked at the door and begged them to let her come in and rest a little, especially as she was about to become a mother.
The mother of the Holy Moon had compassion on her and her afflictions, so she let her come inside and took good care of her. Then she asked her: "How is it that thou, a creature of another race, hast managed to come so far as this?"
Then the poor daughter of the Emperor told her everything that had happened to her, and wound up by saying: "I praise and thank God first of all for directing my footsteps even to this place, and I thank Him in the second place because He allows not my child to perish at the hour of its birth. And now I beg thee to tell me whether thy daughter, the Holy Moon, hath seen my husband anywhere?"
"That I cannot tell thee, my dear," replied the mother of the Holy Moon; "but if thou dost go on thy way towards the east till thou comest to the house of the Holy Sun, maybe he will be able to tell thee somewhat."
Then she gave her a roast fowl to eat, and told her to be very careful not to lose one of the bones, as they would be very useful to her.
The daughter of the Emperor thanked the mother of the Moon for her hospitality and kind words, and after throwing away the pair of iron sandals which she had worn out, she put on another pair, placed the fowl's bones in her bosom, took her child on her arm, and a second staff of steel in her hand, and took to the road again.
She went on and on through nothing but plains of sand, and the way was so bad that she glided one step backwards for every two steps she went forwards. On and on she struggled till at last she left these plains behind her; and now she got amongst high mountains, steep and rugged, and crawled from rock to rock and from crag to crag. Whenever she came to a little plot of level ground she stopped and rested a little, and reflected that now she was a little nearer her husband than she was before, and then she went on her way again. The sides of the mountains were of hard-pointed flints, which bruised and cut her feet, knees, and sides till they were covered with blood; for you must know that these mountains were so high that they reached beyond the clouds. There were precipices in the way too that she could only pass by going down on her hands and knees and guiding herself with her staff.
At last, quite overcome by fatigue, she came to a palace.
Here lived the Sun.
She knocked at the door and begged them to take her in.
The mother of the Sun received her, and was amazed to see a creature of another race in those regions, and full of compassion when she heard what had befallen her. Then, when she had promised to ask her son about the damsel's husband, she hid her in the cellar, that the Sun might not perceive her when he came home in the evening, for he always came back in a bad temper.
Next day the daughter of the Emperor was afraid she would be found out, as the Sun said he smelt a creature from another world. But his mother soothed him with soft words, and told him that it was pears that he smelt. The daughter of the Emperor took courage when she saw how well she was treated, and said:
"Tell me now, how can the Sun be ever vexed, seeing that he is so beauteous, and doeth so much good to mortals? "
"I'll tell thee," replied the mother of the Sun. "In the morning he stands in the gate of Heaven, and then he is merry, so merry, and smiles upon the whole world. But at mid-day he is full of disgust, inasmuch as he sees all the follies of men, and so his wrath burns and he gets hotter and hotter; while in the evening he is vexed and sorrowful because he stands in the gate of Hades, for that is the usual way by which he comes home."
She told her besides that she had asked about her husband, and her son had replied that he knew not anything about him, as he was living in the midst of a vast and dense forest, so that his beams could not pierce through the thick foliage; the only thing to do was to go and ask the Wind about it. Then she also gave her a roast fowl, and told her to take great care of the bones.