THE TRAVELLING COMPANION 51
pointing straight before them. ' Those are terribly thick clouds.'
1 No,' replied his travelling companion, ' those are not clouds, they are mountains—the great glorious mountains, on which one gets quite up over the clouds, and into the free air. Believe me, it is delicious ! To-morrow we shall certainly be far out into the world.'
But that was not so near as it looked ; they had to walk for a whole day before they came to the mountains, where the black woods grew straight up towards heaven, and there were stones almost as big as a whole town. It might certainly be hard work to get quite across them, and for that reason John and his comrade went into the inn to rest themselves well, and gather strength for the morrow's journey.
Down in the great common room in the inn many guests were assembled, for a man was there exhibiting a puppet-show. He had just put up his little theatre, and the people were sitting round to see the play. Quite in front a fat old butcher had taken his seat in the very best place ; his great bulldog, who looked very much inclined to bite, sat at his side, and made big eyes, as all the rest were doing.
Now the play began ; and it was a very nice play, with a king and a queen in it; they sat upon a velvet throne, and had gold crowns on their heads and long trains to their cloaks, for their means admitted of that. The prettiest of wooden dolls with glass eyes and great moustaches stood at all the doors, and opened and shut them so that fresh air might come into the room. It was a very pleasant play, and not at all mournful. But—goodness knows what the big bulldog can have been thinking of !—just as the queen stood up and was walking across the boards, as the fat butcher did not hold him, he made a spring upon the stage, and seized the queen round her slender waist so that it cracked again. It was quite terrible !
The poor man who managed the play was very much frightened and quite sorrowful about his queen, for she was the daintiest little doll he possessed, and now the ugly bulldog had bitten off her head. But afterwards, when the people went away, the stranger said that he would put her to rights again ; and then he brought out his little jar,