58 THE TRAVELLING COMPANION
John had drunk two glasses, he became so sleepy that he found it impossible to keep his eyes open, and he sank into a deep sleep. The travelling companion lifted him very gently from his chair, and laid him in the bed ; and when it grew to be dark night, he took the two great wings which he had cut off the swan, and bound them to his own shoulders. Then he put in his pocket the longest of the rods he had received from the old woman who had fallen and broken her leg ; and he opened the window and flew away over the town, straight towards the palace, where he seated himself in a corner under the window which looked into the bedroom of the princess.
All was quiet in the whole town. Now the clock struck a quarter to twelve, the window was opened, and the princess came out in a long white cloak, and with black wings, and flew away across the town to a great mountain. But the travelling companion made himself invisible, so that she could not see him at all, and flew behind her, and whipped the princess with his rod, so that the blood actually came wherever he struck. Oh, that was a voyage through the air ! The wind caught her cloak, so that it spread out on all sides like a great sail, and the moon shone through it.
1 How it hails ! how it hails ! ' said the princess at every blow she got from the rod ; and it served her right. At last she arrived at the mountain, and knocked there. There was a rolling like thunder, as the mountain opened, and the princess went in. The travelling companion followed her, for no one could see him—he was invisible. They went through a great long passage, where the walls shone in quite a peculiar way : there were more than a thousand glowing spiders running up and down the walls and gleaming like fire. Then they came into a great hall built of silver and gold ; flowers as big as sunflowers, red and blue, shone on the walls ; but no one could pluck these flowers, for the stems were ugly poisonous snakes, and the flowers were streams of fire pouring out of their mouths. The whole ceiling was covered with shining glowworms and sky-blue bats, flapping their thin wings. It looked quite terrific ! In the middle of the floor was a throne, carried by four skeleton horses, with harness of fiery red