When the feast was finished, the princess picked the head up by the hair and took it to her chambers. She sat on her white bed and held Heer Halewijn’s head on her lap.
“What am I supposed to do with you?” she asked.
“You could let me go,” Heer Halewijn said. His voice rasped; on the banquet table, they had made him sing in the late hours of the night, without a drop of water or wine to slake his thirst.
“I was not asking you,” the princess said. She tugged at his long locks in reproof.
He winced, but said nothing.
The princess ignored him. Her gaze wandered to the window. The moon was full; its light turned the fruit trees in the garden into tall, foreboding shadows.
She said, “I know what I will do with you.”
In the garden, the princess took a shovel and dug a pit, a couple feet deep, beneath her window. Then, she went back to her room and fetched Heer Halewjin’s head.
When he saw the pit that she had prepared, he blanched.
“No,” Heer Halewijn said. “Not that.”
“Would you prefer I hang you from a tree instead?” the princess asked dryly.
“Do what you like with me,” the head said. “But do not bury me alive.”
“You are dead,” the princess said. “And I do not listen to killers.”
She placed him into the pit, face-up, and shoveled the dirt back in. The dirt scattered across Heer Halewijn’s face and his hair, and then into his mouth when he made the mistake of trying to speak or scream.
Soon, he was buried entirely; the princess stood in front of a patch of earth that looked just like the ground around it, save that it had been recently disturbed.
In the morning, a green shoot grew from the patch of earth. A day later, the shoot was a sapling, spring-green leaves unfurling on its branches.
On the third day, it was ten feet tall, blooming with white flowers that filled the air with an intoxicating sweetness.
On the fourth day, the tree hung with ripe, red apples. The princess, descending from her quarters, plucked one from a branch and took a bite.