THE MERMAID AND THE BOY 179
spoke he put his hand into his breast, and seizing the hair wished himself a bee, and flew straight into the pocket of the princess. The mermaid looked in vain for him, and floated all night upon the sea; but he never came back, and never more did he gladden her eyes. But the princess felt that something strange was about her, though she knew not what, and returned quickly to the palace, where the young man at once resumed his own shape. Oh, what joy filled her heart at the sight of him ! But there was no time to be lost, and she led him right into the hall, where the king and his nobles were still sitting at the feast. ' Here is a man who boasts that he can do wonderful tricks,' said she, ' better even than the Eed Knight's ! That cannot be true, of course ; but it might be well to give this impostor a lesson. He pretends, for instance, that he can turn himself into a lion ; but that I do not believe. I know that you have studied the art of magic,' she went on, turning to the Eed Knight, ' so suppose you just show him how it is done, and bring shame upon him.'
Now the Eed Knight had never opened a book of magic in his life; but he was accustomed to think that he could do everything better than other people without any teaching at all. So he turned and twisted himself about, and bellowed and made faces; but he did not become a lion for all that.
' Well, perhaps it is very difficult to change into a lion. Make yourself a bear,' said the princess. But the Eed Knight found it no easier to become a bear than a lion.
' Try a bee,' suggested she. ' I have always read that anyone who can do magic at all can do that.' And the old knight buzzed and hummed, but he remained a man and not a bee.
' Now it is your turn,' said the princess to the youth. ' Let us see if you can change yourself into a lion.' And in a moment such a fierce creature stood before them, that