THE CUP OF WATER
The young King of a country is hunting on a day with a young Knight, his friend; when, feeling thirsty, he stops at a Forester's cottage, and the Forester's daughter brings him a cup of water to drink. Both of them are equally enamoured at once of her unequalled beauty. The King, however, has been affianced from boyhood to a Princess, worthy of all love, and whom he has always believed he loved until
undeceived by his new absorbing passion; but the Knight, resolved to sacrifice all other considerations to his love, goes again to the Forester's cottage and asks his daughter's hand. He finds that the girl has fixed her thoughts on the King, whose rank she does not know. On hearing it she tells her suitor humbly that she must die if such be her fate, but cannot love another. The Knight goes to the King to tell him all and beg his help; and the two friends then come to an explanation. Ultimately the King goes to the girl and pleads his friend's cause, not disguising his own passion, but saying that as he sacrifices himself to honour, so should she, at his prayer, accept a noble man whom he loves better than all men and whom she will love too. This she does at last; and the King makes his friend an Earl and gives him a grant of the forest and surrounding country as a marriage gift, with the annexed condition, that the Earl's
wife shall bring the King a cup of water at the same spot on every anniversary of their first meeting when he rides a-hunting with her husband. At no other time will he see her, loving her too much. He weds the Princess, and thus two years pass, the condition being always fulfilled. But before the third anniversary the lady dies in childbirth, leaving a daughter. The King's life wears on, and still he and his friend pursue their practice of hunting on that day, for sixteen years. When the anniversary comes round for the sixteenth time since the lady's death, the Earl tells his daughter, who has grown to her mother's perfect likeness (but whom the King has never
seen), to meet them on the old spot with the cup of water, as her mother first did when of the same age. The King, on seeing her, is deeply moved; but on her being presented to him by the Earl, he is about to take the cup from her hand, when he is aware of a second figure in her exact likeness, but dressed in peasant's clothes, who steps to her side as he bends from his horse to take the cup, looks in his face with solemn words of love and welcome, and kisses him on the mouth. He falls forward on his horse's neck, and is lifted up dead.
Short story by Rossetti
According to]. W. Mackail, Life of William Morris) OUP ed. 1950, i, 140, it was Rossctti and Edward Burne-Jones who first met Jane Burden. Lady Burne-Jones, in her Memorials of Edward Burne-fones, 1904. i, 168, states that Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Arthur Hughes and William Morris were all at the theatre together when the meeting took place.
Like the story did Rossetti encourage Jane to marry William, as he felt he couldn't abandon Lizzie ?