'You are getting careless,' said the princess; 'I shall go and talk to them myself.'
Niels knew the princess again as soon as she entered the room, and was greatly alarmed, for he immediately supposed that all this was a device to discover the person who had run away with the sword, the slipper and the half of the handkerchief, and that it would fare badly with him if he were discovered. So he told his story much the same as the others did (Niels was not very particular), and thought he had escaped all further trouble, when Rasmus put in his word. 'You've forgotten something, Niels,' he said; 'you remember you found a sword near here that night I shot the stag.'
'Where is the sword?' said the princess.
'I know,' said the steward, 'I saw where he laid it down when they came in;' and off he went to fetch it, while Niels wondered whether he could make his escape in the meantime. Before he had made up his mind, however, the steward was back with the sword, which the princess recognised at once.
'Where did you get this?' she said to Niels.
Niels was silent, and wondered what the usual penalty was for a poor sheep-farmer's son who was so unfortunate as to deliver a princess and carry off things from her bed-room.
'See what else he has about him,' said the princess to the steward, and Niels had to submit to be searched: out of one pocket came a gold-embroidered slipper, and out of another the half of a gold-hemmed handkerchief.
'That is enough,' said the princess; 'now we needn't ask any more questions. Send for my father the king at once.'
'Please let me go,' said Niels; 'I did you as much good as harm, at any rate.'
'Why, who said anything about doing harm?' said the princess. 'You must stay here till my father comes.'