Meanwhile, the princess, locked in her room, wept bitter tears for all that she had lost and for the love she could never have. And every time she wept, she wept into a little silver bowl until it was full to the brim with tears. Somehow, keeping her tears made her sorrow feel more worth while and, in her broken little mind somehow justified all her bitterness. And when the little silver bowl was filled, she found another container for her tears—this one of blue and white ceramics. It too she filled with wet sorrow. A third container she filled before she came out of her room. The third was vase made of bright green glass.
When she finally emerged from her room, she knew now how long a time had past, but her hair had grown a few inches longer and she had become very pale and silent. She ordered lids to be made for her three containers of tears and arrayed herself all in black. Her family and the court were overjoyed to see her, but filled with sorrow at her sad state.
So her father and mother set about to make her happy again. They bought her all sorts of exotic and amazing things: a tiny little dog that could fit in the palm of her hand, a carriage gilded in gold and lined with pearls, a parrot that could actually talk. When none of this cheered her, they took her on a journey to a beautiful house in the mountains. But still she remained silent and somber and refused to wear anything but black.
Far away in his comfortable home, the Rambling Man heard of the princess’s sorrow and his heart was troubled. He did not know what he could do for the princess but he knew that he had to try. So he gathered his lute and his walking stick and kissed his wife goodbye and set out for the land where the princess lived.
But when he arrived she was gone. Her mother had taken her away on a trip again to try and cheer her. This time they had set out across the sea for a distant land that was strange and wonderful and that her parents hoped would distract her from her grief. But the royal mother and princess had been gone for a very long time and the king had heard no word from them. He was nearly frantic with worry—sure that their ship had been taken by pirates. He had sent out all his ships looking for them, and written letters to everyone he knew, pleading with them to help him find his daughter and wife, but nothing had worked.
In his desperation to see loved ones again, he had brought into the house a very old woman who was said to be able to work magic. He hoped that there might be some way to call his wife and daughter back to him magically. When the old, ragged woman arrived, she requested in her harsh voice to be brought to the princess’s room. After rooting around for a bit, she came across the three containers of tears. She opened each lid and sniffed. The king, who was watching her warily, asked her what they were, but she only smiled and nodded. Then she began to mumble over the containers. After some time, she turned to the king and said:
“The man who washes his hands in the silver bowl will find your princess. The man who drinks the tears from the blue and white bowl will bring her back. And the man who places flowers in the vase will win her heart and return her joy.”
By the time the old witch had finished speaking, the king had decided that he didn’t like her and didn’t trust her. So after giving her a few coins he threw her out of his palace. He then re-sealed the three vessels of tears and closed them back up in the closet and sought more normal ways to save his beloved princess. This happened a while before the Rambling Man arrived.