“I know more than that,” croaked the second raven, “Even if the horse is slain, the young king will still not keep his bride for when the two of them enter the palace together they will find a ready-made wedding shirt in a cupboard, which looks as though it were woven of gold and silver but is really made of nothing but sulphur and tar. When the king puts it on it will burn him to his marrow and bones.”
“Is there no escape from this fate?” croaked the third raven.
“Oh, yes!” the second raven croaked back, “If someone seizes the shirt with gloved hands and throws it into the fire, letting it burn to ash, then the young king will live. But what’s the good? Anyone knowing this and relating it will have a third of their body turned into stone, from the knees to the heart.”
Then the third raven started croaking, “I know yet more: though the bridal shirt too be burnt, the king hasn’t even then secured his bride, for when the dance is held after the wedding, and the young Queen is dancing, she will suddenly grow deadly white, and drop down like one dead, and unless there is one to lift her up and draw three drops of blood from her right side, and spit them out again, she will die.”
“Is this likely?” croaked the first raven.
“Hardly,” croaked back the third, “For if anyone who knows this betrays it, they will be turned into stone from the heart to the crown of their head.”
The ravens flew off from over the top-mast of the ship, still croaking.
Trusty John who had taken in their ‘discourse’ was deeply troubled for he could think of no way of saving his master without destroying himself.
After some deliberation in his heart, he thought, ‘I will stand by my master, though it shall be my ruin.’