THE KNIGHTS OF THE FISH 345
is standing under a tree, a mile away, waiting for the dragon.'
This time the Knight of the Fish did not stop to hear more, but ran off as fast as he could, and found the princess bathed in tears, and trembling from head to foot.
She turned as she heard the sound of his sword, and removed her handkerchief from his eyes.
' Fly,' she cried; ' fly while you have yet time, before that monster sees you.'
She said it, and she meant it; yet, when he had turned his back, she felt more forsaken than before. But in reality it was not more than a few minutes before he came back, galloping furiously on a horse he had borrowed, and carrying a huge mirror across its neck.
' I am in time, then,' he cried, dismounting very carefully, and placing the mirror against the trunk of a tree.
' Give me your veil,' he said hastily to the princess. And when she had unwound it from her head he covered the mirror with it.
' The moment the dragon comes near you, you must tear off the veil,' cried he ; ' and be sure you hide behind the mirror. Have no fear; I shall be at hand.'
He and his horse had scarcely found shelter amongst some rocks, when the flap of the dragon's wings could be plainly heard. He tossed his head with delight at the sight of her, and approached slowly to the place where she stood, a little in front of the mirror. Then, still looking the monster steadily in the face, she passed one hand behind her back and snatched off the veil, stepping swiftly behind the tree as she did so.
The princess had not known, when she obeyed the orders of the Knight of the Fish, what she expected to happen. Would the dragon with snaky locks be turned to stone, she wondered, like the dragon in an old story her nurse had told her; or would some fiery spark dart from the heart of the mirror, and strike him dead ? Neither of these