THE GARDEN OF PARADISE 151
' Do not go so near the fire directly,' said the Prince, ' you might get your hands and face frost-bitten.'
I Frost-bitten ? ' repeated the North Wind, and he laughed aloud. ' Cold is exactly what rejoices me most ! But what kind of little tailor art thou ? How did you find your way into the Cavern of the Winds ? '
' He is my guest,' interposed the old woman, ' and if you're not satisfied with this explanation you may go into the sack : do you understand me ? '
You see, that was the right way ; and now the North Wind told whence he came and where he had been for almost a month.
II come from the Polar Sea,' said he ; 'I have been in the bear's icy land with the Russian walrus hunters. I sat and slept on the helm when they sailed out from the North Cape, and when I awoke now and then, the storm-bird flew round my legs. That's a comical bird ! He gives a sharp clap with his wings, and then holds them quite still and shoots along in full career.'
' Don't be too long-winded,' said the mother of the Winds. ' And so you came to the Bear's Island ? '
' It is very beautiful there ! There 's a floor for dancing on, as flat as a plate. Half-thawed snow, with a little moss, sharp stones, and skeletons of walruses and polar bears lay around, they looked like gigantic arms and legs of a rusty green colour. One would have thought the sun had never shone there. I blew a little upon the mist, so that one could see the hut: it was a house built of wreck-wood and covered with walrus-skins—the fleshy side turned outwards. It was full of green and red, and on the roof sat a live polar bear who was growling. I went to the shore to look after birds' nests, and saw the unfledged nestlings screaming and opening their beaks ; then I blew down into their thousand throats, and taught them to shut their mouths. Farther on the huge walruses were splashing like great maggots with pigs' heads and teeth an ell long ! '
' You tell your story well, my son,' said the old lady. ' My mouth waters when I hear you ! '
' Then the hunting began ! The harpoon was hurled into the walrus's breast, so that a smoking stream of blood spurted like a fountain over the ice. When I thought of