380 THE SHADOW
* How !' said the Princess, ' can I really have been cured ? This is the best bathing-place in existence ; water has wonderful power nowadays. But I'm not going away from here yet, for now it begins to be amusing. The stranger— pleases me remarkably well. I only hope his beard won't grow, for if it does he'll go away.'
That evening the Princess and the Shadow danced together in the great ball-room. She was light, but he was still lighter; never had she seen such a dancer. She told him from what country she came, and he knew the country —he had been there, but just when she had been absent. He had looked through the windows of her castle, from below as well as from above ; he had learned many circumstances, and could therefore make allusions, and give replies to the Princess, at which she marvelled greatly. She thought he must be the cleverest man in all the world, and was inspired with great respect for all his knowledge. And when she danced with him again, she fell in love with him, and the Shadow noticed that particularly, for she looked him almost through and through with her eyes. They danced together once more, and she was nearly telling him, but she was discreet: she thought of her country, and her kingdom, and of the many people over whom she was to rule.
* He is a clever man,' she said to herself, ( and that is well, and he dances capitally, and that is well too ; but has he well-grounded knowledge ? That is just as important, and he must be examined.'
And she immediately put such a difficult question to him, that she could not have answered it herself ; and the Shadow made a wry face.
' You cannot answer me that,' said the Princess.
' I learned that in my childhood,' replied the Shadow, ' and I believe my very shadow, standing yonder by the door, could answer it.'
' Your shadow ! ' cried the Princess : * that would be very remarkable.'
' I do not assert as quite certain that he can do so,' said the Shadow, ' but I am almost inclined to believo it, he has now accompanied me and listened for so many years. But your Royal Highness will allow me to remind