THE ENCHANTED HOUSE 363
the Indian grew frightened, and prostrating himself before the throne, he said to the king, ' Sire, your Highness must have noticed that the prince, in his impatience, did not allow me to tell him what it was necessary to do in order to return to the place from which he started. I implore you not to punish me for what was not my fault, and not to visit on me any misfortune that may occur.'
' But why,' cried the king in a burst of fear and anger, ' why did you not call him back when you saw him disappearing ?'
' Sire,' replied the Indian, ' the rapidity of his movements took me so by surprise that he was out of hearing before I recovered my speech. But we must hope that he will perceive and turn a second screw, which will have the effect of bringing the horse back to earth.'
' But supposing he does!' answered the king, ' what is to hinder the horse from descending straight into the sea, or dashing him to pieces on the rocks ? '
' Have no fears, your Highness,' said the Indian: ' the horse has the gift of passing over seas, and of carrying his rider wherever he wishes to go.'
' Well, your head shall answer for it,' returned the monarch, ' and if in three months he is not safe back with me, or at any rate does not send me news of his safety, your life shall pay the penalty.' So saying, he ordered his guards to seize the Indian and throw him into prison.
Meanwhile, Prince Firouz Schah had gone gaily up into the air, and for the space of an hour continued to ascend higher and higher, till the very mountains were not distinguishable from the plains. Then he began to think it was time to come down, and took for granted that, in order to do this, it was only needful to turn the screw the reverse way; but, to his surprise and horror, he found that, turn as he might, he did not make the smallest impression. He then remembered that he had never waited to ask how he was to get back to earth again, and understood the danger in which he stood. Luckily, he