150 THE GARDEN OF PARADISE
fainting. Then he heard a strange rushing, and saw before him a great illuminated cave. In the midst of it burned a fire, so large that a stag might have been roasted at it. And this was in fact being done. A glorious deer had been stuck, horns and all, upon a spit, and was turning slowly between two felled pine trunks. An elderly woman, large and strongly built, looking like a disguised man, sat by the fire, into which she threw one piece of wood after another.
' Come nearer ! ' said she. ' Sit down by the fire and dry your clothes.'
' There 's a great draught here ! ' said the Prince ; and he sat down on the ground.
6 That will be worse when my sons come home,' replied the woman. ' You are here in the Cavern of the Winds, and my sons are the four winds of the world : can you understand that ? '
' Where are your sons ? ' asked the Prince.
' It's difficult to answer when stupid questions are asked,' said the woman. ' My sons do business on their own account. They play at shuttlecock with the clouds up yonder in the great hall.5
And she pointed upwards.
6 Oh, indeed ! ' said the Prince. ' But you speak rather gruffly, by the way, and are not so mild as the women I generally see about me.'
* Yes, they have most likely nothing else to do ! I.must be hard, if I want to keep my sons in order ; but I can do it, though they are obstinate fellows. Do you see the four sacks hanging there by the wall ? They are just as frightened of those as you used to be of the rod stuck behind the mirror. I can bend the lads together, I tell you, and then I pop them into the bag : we don't make any ceremony. There they sit, and may not wander about again until I think fit to allow them. But here comes one of them ! '
It was the North Wind, who rushed in with piercing cold ; great hailstones skipped about on the floor, and snowflakes fluttered about. He was dressed in a jacket and trousers of bear-skin ; a cap of seal-skin was drawn down over his ears ; long icicles hung on his beard, and one hailstone after another rolled from the collar of his jacket.