As winter deepened, snow fell upon the land, turning the ground to a cold fluffy blanket. The prince grew wearier and weaker as he gave away more and more wood. As he creaked and groaned, he knew he would not last much longer. He had pondered this moment for a long time, and he knew what he would do. With one final grinding of stone and crunching of wood, he fell, down into the churning icy waters.
As the girl took her usual journey along the snowy road, she found the bridge destroyed, bits of stone and splinters of wood littering the riverbank and floating in the water. As the dismayed girl was wondering how to cross the river she noticed that on the ground, where the wood was normally piled, something lay in the snow. The girl knelt down and picked it up. It was a small wooden heart, ornately carved and polished, a thing of great beauty. It captivated the girl, causing her to forget everything else that could sway her attention. She knew that this gift was from her mysterious benefactor. Overcome, she began to cry, her tears melting the crisp snow.
“The man who made this for me, he will be the one I love,” she uttered aloud. “There can be no other.” She brought the wooden heart to her lips and kissed it.
With a flash of blinding light the heart flew out of the girl’s hands. Startled, she leaped back, falling to the ground. A bright mist surrounded the heart as it lay on the ground, so bright the girl had to close eyes and shield her face. Slowly, the mist began to fade, revealing the body of a young man, clad in green and brown. The girl watched in amazement as he rested on the white ground. As if waking from a deep sleep, his eyes opened and he breathed a deep breath. Frightened, but also curious, the girl crept over to the young man.
“W-who are you?” She stammered. Very slowly, the young man sat up, flakes of snow clinging to his thick brown hair. He looked deep into the girl’s eyes.
“I had a magic spell cast on me years ago, trapping me as the bridge that crossed the river,” he explained, the girl’s jaw dropping with wonder. “I was the one that gave you the wood, I hope it was enough.”
“It was more than enough”, said the girl in awe. “Our fire was always lit and we had so much I sold the extra pieces.” The young man took the girl’s small hand in his.
“The wooden heart I made for you was the last piece of myself I could give. Your kiss must have broken the spell.” He bowed low before her. “I am forever in your service.” The girl blushed.
“You’ve done so much for me, your kindness kept my father and myself warm and happy. I am the one that is in your service. Would you come back to my house and let me make you a meal? That is, if you don’t have anywhere else to go?” The young man turned his piercing blue eyes back across the river, looking towards the city and the palace in the distance, shrouded in snowy fog.
“No,” he said, turning back to the girl with a smile on his face. “It would be an honour.”