THE TRAVELLING COMPANION 59
spiders ; the throne itself was of milk-white glass, and the cushions were little black mice, biting^ each other's tails. Above it was a canopy of pink spider's web, trimmed with the prettiest little green flies, which gleamed like jewels. On the throne sat an old magician, with a crown on his ugly head and a sceptre in his hand. He kissed"the-princess on the forehead, made her sit down beside him on the costly throne, and then the music began. Great black grasshoppers played on jews'-harps, and the owl beat her wings upon her body, because she hadn't a drum. That was a strange concert ! Little black goblins with a Jack-o'-lantern light on their caps danced about in the hall. But no one could see the travelling companion : he had placed himself just behind the throne, and heard and saw everything. The courtiers, who now came in, were very grand and stately ; but he who could see it all knew very well what it all meant. They were nothing more than broomsticks with heads of cabbages on them, which the magician had animated by his power, and to whom he had given embroidered clothes. But that did not matter, for, you see, they were only wanted for show.
After there had been a little dancing, the princess told the magician that she had a new suitor, and therefore she inquired of him what she should think of to ask the suitor when he should come to-morrow to the palace.
' Listen ! ' said the magician, ' I will tell you that : you must choose something very easy, for then he won't think of it. Think of one of your shoes. That he will not guess. Let him have his head cut off : but don't forget, when you come to me to-morrow night, to bring me his eyes, for I'll eat them.'
The princess curtsied very low, and said she would not forget the eyes. The magician opened the mountain, and she flew home again ; but the travelling companion /followed her, and beat hexagain so hard withlthe rod that /she sighed quite deeply about the heavy hail-storm, and hurried as much as she could to get back into the bedroom through the open window. The travelling companion, for his part, flew back to the inn, where John was still asleep, took off his wings, and then lay down upon the bed, for he might well be tired.