THE MASTER-MAID 123
' Oh ! not very dangerous work, I fancy,' said the King's son. ' I have only to go up the mountain-side after his horse.'
' Well, how do you mean to set about it ? ' asked the Master-maid.
' Oh ! there is no great art in riding a horse home,' said the King's son. ' I think I must have ridden friskier horses before now.'
' Yes, but it is not so easy a thing as you think to ride the horse home,' said the Master-maid; ' but I will teach you what to do. When you go near it, fire will burst out of its nostrils like flames from a pine torch : but be very careful, and take the bridle which is hanging by the door there, and fling the bit straight into its jaws, and then it will become so tame that you will be able to do what you like with it.' He said he would bear this in mind, and then he again sat in there the whole day by the Master-maid, and they chatted and talked of one thing and another, but the first thing and the last now was, how happy and delightful it would be if they could but marry each other, and get safely away from the giant ; and the Prince would have forgotten both the mountain-side and the horse if the Master-maid had not reminded him of them as evening drew near, and said that now it would be better if he went to fetch the horse before the giant came. So he did this, and took the bridle which was hanging on a crook, and strode up the mountain-side, and it was not long before he met with the horse, and fire and red flames streamed forth out of its nostrils. But the youth carefully watched his opportunity, and just as it was rushing at him with open jaws he threw the bit straight into its mouth, and the horse stood as quiet as a young lamb, and there was no difficulty at all in getting it home to the stable. Then the Prince went back into his room again, and began to hum and to sing.
Towards evening the giant came home. ' Have you fetched the horse back from the mountain-side ? ' he asked.
' That I have, master ; it was an amusing horse to ride, but I rode him straight home, and put him in the stable too,' said the Prince.
' I will see about that,' said the giant, and went out to the stable, but the horse was standing there just as the Prince had said. ' You have certainly been talking with my Master-maid, for you never got that out of your own head,' said the giant again.
' Yesterday, master, you talked about this Master-maid, and today you are talking about her ; ah ! heaven bless you, master, why will you not show me the thing ? for it would be a real pleasure to me to see it,' said the Prince, who again pretended to be sill}' and stupid.