"I cannot do that," she answered, "for it was a huntsman with his animals who saved me." But he drew his sword and threatened to kill her, if she refused to do as he commanded, and she was at last forced to promise what he wished. Then he took her back to the palace, and the king did not know what to say or do, so overcome with joy was he to see his beloved daughter, whom he had believed to be devoured by the dragon, still alive. The marshal told him that he it was who had killed the dragon, and had thus delivered both his daughter and the whole kingdom, and he claimed her as his bride, according to the king's promise. The king asked his daughter if what the marshal told him was true.
"Yes," she answered, "it must I suppose be true; but I will not consent to the marriage taking place until a year and a day have passed," for, she thought to herself, during that time I may hear something from my dear huntsman.
All this while the animals continued sleeping beside their dead master. A large humble-bee now came and settled on the nose of the hare, but she brushed it off with her paw and went to sleep again. The bee came a second time, but the hare again brushed it off and continued to sleep. Then the bee came a third time and stung her on the nose, and this awoke her. As soon as she was awake, she woke the fox, and he woke the wolf, and the wolf the bear, and the bear the lion. And when the lion awoke, and saw that the maiden was no longer there and that his master was dead, he gave a terrible roar, and cried, "Who has done this? Bear, why did you not wake me ?" And the bear asked the wolf, "Why did you not wake me?" and the wolf the fox, "Why did you not wake me?" and the fox the hare, "Why did you not wake me?" The poor hare was the only one who could not give an answer, and so the blame rested with her, and the other animals were ready to fall upon her and kill her, but she begged and prayed, and said, " Do not kill me, I will bring our master to life again. I know of a mountain where grows a root, which cures every disease and heals every kind of wound if placed in the person's mouth; the mountain, however, is two hundred leagues from here."
"You must be there and back in four and twenty hours," said the lion, "and must bring the root with you." The hare set off racing, and in four and twenty hours she was back, bringing the root with her. The lion then fixed on his master's head again, and the hare put the root in his mouth, and the head was at once joined on to the body, and the heart began to beat and life returned. The huntsman was very much alarmed when he awoke and found the king's daughter no longer there, and he thought to himself, " She wanted to be rid of me, that is why she went away while I was sleeping." Now the lion in his haste had put on his master's head wrong side before, but the huntsman was so full of trouble thinking on the king's daughter, that he never noticed this until he was about to begin his midday meal. He could not understand why his head should be turned the wrong way, and asked the animals what had befallen him while he was asleep. Then the lion related to him how he and the other animals had been so tired that they had all fallen asleep, and on awaking, had found him dead and his head cut off, and how the hare had fetched the root that brought him to life again, and how he, the lion, had in his haste put the head on the wrong way, but he assured his master that he could soon make it all right again. And with that, he cut off his master's head for the second time, turned it round, and the hare fastened it on figain with the healing root.
Nevertheless the huntsman was very sad at heart, as he travelled about with his animals, and let them dance before the people. Now it came to pass that a year had just elapsed when he found himself once more in the same town in which the king lived, whose daughter he had rescued from the dragon, but this time the town was hung with scarlet.
"What is the meaning of this ?" he asked the innkeeper; "a year ago when I was here the town was everywhere hung with black, why is it decked out to-day with scarlet?"
"It is just a year ago," replied the innkeeper, " that the king's daughter was rescued from the dragon by the marshal, who fought with it and killed it, and to-morrow their marriage is to be celebrated; that is the reason that the town was then full of mourning, but to-day is full of rejoicing."
The day following, which was the one fixed for the marriage, as the hour for the midday meal drew near, the huntsman said to the innkeeper, " Will you believe me if I tell you that I shall eat some of the bread from the king's table in your house to-day ?"
" I will sooner wager a hundred gold pieces that such a thing will not happen," answered the innkeeper. The huntsman accepted the wager, and put down another hundred gold pieces out of his purse. Then he called the hare and said to her, " Go, my dear little nimble one, and fetch me some of the bread that the king himself eats."
The hare was the least important of the animals, and could not therefore ask one of the others to take her place, so she had to make use of her own legs and do the business herself. " Ah ! " she thought with a shudder, " when I go jumping along the streets all by myself, the butchers' dogs will be after me."
It happened as she had anticipated, for the dogs ran after her, and wanted to tear her pretty coat; but she gave a leap—you know how they do it—and hid herself in a sentry-box, unseen by the soldier on guard; so when the dogs followed her up to try and get her out, he did not see the joke of it, and drove them all off, crying and howling, with the butt end of his rifle.
As soon as the hare saw that the coast was clear, she sprang towards the castle, and went straight to where the king's daughter was sitting, crept under her chair and scratched her foot. " Will you go away," said the king's daughter, thinking it was her dog. The hare scratched again, and again, thinking it was her dog, she said, " Will you go away." The hare, however, did not let this turn her from her purpose, and she scratched a third time, and this time the king's daughter looked down and saw the hare and recognized her by her collar. Then she took her up in her arms and carried her to her own room, and said, " What is it you want, dear hare ?" She answered, "My master, who killed the dragon, is here and has sent me to ask for one of the loaves, such as the king himself eats." The king's daughter was delighted to hear this, and sent and ordered the baker to bring one of the king's loaves. "But," said the little hare, "the baker must carry me back, so that the butchers' dogs may not get at me." So the baker carried her to the door of the inn, where he set her down on her hind legs, and she then took the bread in her front paws and carried it to her master.