As he grew older he enlarged the hole, and slipped out two or three times every day to play with the little nobles in, the town. No one knew who the tiny boy was, but everybody liked him, and he was so full of funny tricks and antics, so merry and bright, that he was sure to be rewarded by some girdle-cakes, a handful of parched grain, or some sweetmeats. All these things he brought home to his seven mothers, as he loved to call the seven blind Queens, who by his help lived on in their dungeon when all the world thought they had starved to death ages before.
At last, when he was quite a big lad, he one day took his bow and arrow, and went out to seek for game. Coming by chance past the palace where the white hind lived in wicked splendour and magnificence, he saw some pigeons fluttering round the white marble turrets, and, taking good aim, shot one dead. It came tumbling past the very window where the white Queen was sitting; she rose to see what was the matter, and looked out. At the first glance of the handsome young lad standing there bow in hand, she knew by witchcraft that it was the King's son.
She nearly died of envy and spite, determining to destroy the lad without delay; therefore, sending a servant to bring him to her presence, she asked him if he would sell her the pigeon he had just shot.
"No," replied the sturdy lad, "the pigeon is for my seven blind mothers, who live in the noisome dungeon, and who would die if I did not bring them food."
"Poor souls!" cried the cunning white witch; "would you not like to bring them their eyes again? Give me the pigeon, my dear, and I faithfully promise to show you where to find them."
Hearing this, the lad was delighted beyond measure, and gave up the pigeon at once. Whereupon the white Queen told him to seek her mother without delay, and ask for the eyes which she wore as a necklace.
"She will not fail to give them," said the cruel Queen, "if you show her this token on which I have written what I want done."
So saying, she gave the lad a piece of broken potsherd, with these words inscribed on it--" Kill the bearer at once, and sprinkle his blood like water!"
Now, as the son of seven Queens could not read, he took the fatal message cheerfully, and set off to find the white Queen's mother.