Once again, the years passed on, as they have a habit of doing. The young man stayed with the girl and her father, working as a carpenter and woodcutter. His years living as a bridge had endowed him with a knowledge and love of working with wood and trees, allowing him to craft the most beautiful objects. Some people told stories that he could talk to the tree nymphs in the forest, asking them for their wood, and only taking when they allowed.
After patching up the girl's rickety and broken house the young man returned to the river and built a new bridge where he had once been imprisoned. He would sometimes go back to the water’s edge and look into the distance across the plains, travellers wondering why his piercing gaze was so steadfastly fixed on the royal palace. He provided for the girl and her father without asking for anything in return other than a room in their house and a place at their table.
As the girl and the young man got to know each other it was obvious to all the villagers that they were destined for one another, and very soon the young man announced that they were engaged to be married. The wedding was held in a leafy forest glade, and fairies flew amongst the trees, showering the delighted guests with sparkling dust that brought good fortune. The young man built a sturdy timber house for his wife and himself to live in, where they raised three children, two boys and a girl.
Time continued its unending march, the girl’s father died, and young couple became an old couple, grey and wizened, but still full of love. They never revealed the secret of the their meeting, treasuring the tale in their hearts. But somewhere, as children are tucked up in their beds, the story of a prince and a bridge may drift in the window, coaxing them into sweet sleep, and a happy ending.