80 THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
The princess, who realized the consequences of such audacity, entreated me not to touch the talisman. ' If you do, it will be the ruin of both of us,' said she; ' I know genii much better than you.' But the wine I had drunk had confused my brain; I gave one kick to the talisman, and it fell into a thousand pieces.
Hardly had my foot touched the talisman when the air became as dark as night, a fearful noise was heard, and the palace shook to its very foundations. In an instant I was sobered, and understood what I had done. ' Princess ! ' I cried, i what is happening ? '
' Alas!' she exclaimed, forgetting all her own terrors in anxiety for me, ' fly, or you are lost.'
I followed her advice and dashed up the staircase, leaving my hatchet behind me. But I was too late. The palace opened and the genius appeared, who, turning angrily to the princess, asked indignantly,
' What is the matter, that you have sent for me like this?'
' A pain in my heart,' she replied hastily, 'obliged me to seek the aid of this little bottle. Feeling faint, I slipped and fell against the talisman, which broke. That is really all.'
' You are an impudent liar! ' cried the genius. ' How did this hatchet and those shoes get here ?'
' I never saw them before,' she answered, ' and you came in such a hurry that you may have picked them up on the road without knowing it.' To this the genius only replied by insults and blows. I could hear the shrieks and groans of the princess, and having by this time taken off my rich garments and put on those in which I had arrived the previous day, I lifted the trap, found myself once more in the forest, and returned to my friend the tailor, with a light load of wood and a heart full of shame and sorrow.
The tailor, who had been uneasy at my long absence, was delighted to see me; but I kept silence about my