THE BRONZE RING
'Under the cushion in the Princess's room.'
The slave went back to her mistress.
' The old madman will take neither gold nor silver,' said she.
' What does he want then ? '
' A bronze ring that is hidden under a cushion.'
' Find the ring and give it to him,' said the Princess.
And at last the slave found the bronze ring, which the captain of the golden ship had accidentally left behind, and carried it to the Jew, who made off with it instantly.
Hardly had he reached his own house when, taking the ring, he said, 'Bronze ring, obey thy master. I desire that the golden ship shall turn to black wood, and the crew to hideous negroes; that St. Nicholas shall leave the helm, and that the only cargo shall be black cats.'
And the genii of the bronze ring obeyed him.
Finding himself upon the sea in this miserable condition, the young captain understood that some one must have stolen the bronze ring from him, and he lamented his misfortune loudly; but that did him no good.
' Alas!' he said to himself, ' whoever has taken my ring has probably taken my dear wife also. "What good will it do me to go back to my own country ?' And he sailed about from island to island, and from shore to shore, believing that wherever he went everybody was laughing at him, and very soon his poverty was so great that he and his crew and the poor black cats had nothing to eat but herbs and roots. After wandering about a long time he reached an island inhabited by mice. The captain landed upon the shore and began to explore the country. There were mice everywhere, and nothing but mice. Some of the black cats had followed him, and, not having been fed for several days, they were fearfully hungry, and made terrible havoc among the mice.
Then the queen of the piice held a council.
' These cats will eat every one of us,' she said, ' if the captain of the ship does not shut the ferocious animals up. Let us send a deputation to him of the bravest among us.'
Several mice offered themselves for tins mission and set out to find the young captain.
' Captain,' said they, ' go away quickly from our island, or we shall perish, every mouse of us.'
'Willingly,' replied the young captain, 'upon one condition. That is that you shall first bring me back a bronze ring which