THE MERMAID AND THE BOY 169
All through the day he walked, watching with interest the strange birds and animals that darted across his path in the forest or peeped at him from behind a bush. But as evening drew on he became tired, and looked about as he walked for some place where he could sleep. At length he reached a soft mossy bank under a tree, and was just about to stretch himself out on it, when a fearful roar made him start and tremble all over. In another moment something passed swiftly through the air and a lion stood before him.
' What are you doing here ? ' asked the lion, his eyes glaring fiercely at the boy.
' I am flying from the mermaid,' the prince answered, in a quaking voice.
' Give me some food then,' said the lion, ' it is past my supper time, and I am very hungry.'
The boy was so thankful that the lion did not want to eat him, that he gladly picked up his knapsack which lay on the ground, and held out some bread and a flask of wine.
' I feel better now,' said the lion when he had done, ' so now I shall go to sleep on this nice soft moss, and if you like you can lie down beside me.' So the boy and the lion slept soundly side by side, till the sun rose.
' I must be off now,' remarked the lion, shaking the boy as he spoke ; ' but cut off the tip of my ear, and keep it carefully, and if you are in any danger just wish yourself a lion and you will become one on the spot. One good turn deserves another, you know.'
The prince thanked him for his kindness, and did as he was bid, and the two then bade each other farewell.
' I wonder how it feels to be a lion,' thought the boy, after he had gone a little way; and he took out the tip of the ear from the breast of his jacket and wished with all his might. In an instant his head had swollen to several times its usual size, and his neck seemed very hot and heavy ; and, somehow, his hands became paws, and his