THE WHITE CAT
he believed that it was impossible to find what the King demanded. The White Cat looked serious, and said she must think what was to be done, but that, luckily, there were some cats in the castle who could spin very well, and if anybody could manage it they could, and she would set them the task herself.
And then the hands appeared carrying torches, and conducted the Prince and the White Cat to a long gallery which overlooked the river, from the windows of which they saw a magnificent display of fireworks of all sorts; after which they had supper, which the Prince liked even better than the fireworks, for it was very late, and he was hungry after his long ride. And so the days passed quickly as before; it was impossible to feel dull with the White Cat, and she had quite a talent for inventing new amusements— indeed, she was cleverer than a cat has any right to be. But when the Prince asked her how it was that she was so wise, she only said:
' King's son, do not ask me ; guess what you please. I may not tell you anything.'
The Prince was so happy that he did not trouble himself at all about the time, but presently the White Cat told him that the year was gone, and that he need not be at all anxious about the piece of muslin, as they had made it very well.
' This time,' she added, ' I can give you a suitable escort;' and on looking out into the courtyard the Prince saw a superb chariot of burnished gold, enamelled in flame colour with a thousand different devices. It was drawn by twelve snow-white horses, harnessed four abreast; their trappings were of flame-coloured velvet, embroidered with diamonds. A hundred chariots followed, eacli drawn by eight horses, and filled with officers in splendid uniforms, and a thousand guards surrounded the procession. ' Go ! ' said the White Cat, ' and when you appear before the King in such state he surely will not refuse you the crown which you deserve. Take this walnut, but do not open it until you are before him, then you will find in it the piece of stuff you asked me for.'
' Lovely Blanchette,' said the Prince, ' how can I thank you properly for all your kindness to me ? Only tell me that you wish it, and I will give up for ever all thought of being king, and will stay here with you always.'
' King's son,' she replied, ' it shows the goodness of your heart that you should care so much for a little white cat, who is good for nothing but to catch mice; but you must not stay.'