Whether in pity for the youth,
The headsman would not rightly ply
The weapon, or the gods in truth
Had ordered that he should not die,
Soon to the king there came report
The sword would not destroy his son,
The council held thereon was short,
The king's look frightened every one.
"There is a spell against cold steel
Which known, the steel can work no harm,
Some sycophant with baneful zeal
Hath taught this foolish boy the charm.
It would be wise, O king, to deal
Some other way, or else I fear
Much damage to the common weal."
Thus spake the wily-tongued vizier.
Dark frowned the king.—"Enough of this,—
Death, instant death, is my command!
Go throw him down some precipice,
Or bury him alive in sand."
With terror dumb, from that wide hall
Departed all the courtier band,
But not one man amongst them all
Dared raise against the prince his hand.