'If he is so much richer than I am,' said the king, 'I shall be obliged to refuse. My honour would not permit me to accept his offer.'
'Oh, your Majesty, you must not think that,' replied the fox; 'and do not let the question of a dowry trouble you. The Count Piro would not dream of asking anything but the hand of the princess.'
'Is he really so rich that he can do without a dowry?' asked the king.
'Did I not tell your Majesty that he was richer than you?' answered the fox reproachfully.
'Well, beg him to come here, that we may talk together,' said the king.
So the fox went back to the young man and said: 'I have told the king that you are Count Piro, and have asked his daughter in marriage.'
'Oh, little fox, what have you done?' cried the youth in dismay; 'when the king sees me he will order my head to be cut off.'
'Oh, no, he won't!' replied the fox; 'just do as I tell you.' And he went off to the town, and stopped at the house of the best tailor.
'My master, the Count Piro, begs that you will send him at once the finest coat that you have in your shop,' said the fox, putting on his grandest air, 'and if it fits him I will call and pay for it to-morrow! Indeed, as he is in a great hurry, perhaps it might be as well if I took it round myself.' The tailor was not accustomed to serve counts, and he at once got out all the coats he had ready. The fox chose out a beautiful one of white and silver, bade the tailor tie it up in a parcel, and carrying the string in his teeth, he left the shop, and went to a horse-dealer's, whom he persuaded to send his finest horse round to the cottage, saying that the king had bidden his master to the palace.
Very unwillingly the young man put on the coat and mounted the horse, and rode up to meet the king, with the fox running before him.
'What am I to say to his Majesty, little fox?' he asked anxiously; 'you know that I have never spoken to a king before.'