248 THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
three times flapped its mighty wings it ottered distinctly in Prince Vivien's own language the words:
"Prince, your only chance of happiness depends upon that which is most opposed to your own nature.,,
Then the curtain fell before it once more, and the prince, after many ceremonies, was presented with a raven, which perched upon his wrist, and was conducted slowly back to the iron gate. Here the raven left him and he was handed over once more to the care of the first band of slaves, while a large bat flickered down and settled upon his head of its own accord, and so he was taken back to the marble bath and had to go through the whole process again, only this time he began in deep water, which receded daily inch by inch.
When this was over the slaves escorted him to the outer gate and took leave of him with every mark of esteem and politeness, to which it is to be feared he responded but indifferently, since the gate was no sooner opened than he took to his heels and fled away with all his might, his one idea being to put as much space as possible between himself and the dreary place into which he had ventured so rashly, just to consult a tedious oracle who, after all, had told him nothing. He actually reflected for about five seconds on his folly, and came "to the conclusion that it might sometimes be advisable to think before one acted.
After wandering about for several days until he was weary and hungry, he at last succeeded in finding a way out of the forest, and soon came to a wide and rapid river, which he followed, hoping to find some means of crossing it, and it happened that as the sun rose the next morning he saw something of a dazzling whiteness moored out in the middle of the stream. Upon looking more attentively at it he found that it was one of the prettiest little ships he had ever seen, and the boat that belonged to it was made fast to the bank quite close to him.
The prince was immediately seized with the most arden desire to go on board the ship, and shouted loudly to attract the notice of her crew, but no one answered. So he sprang into the little boat and rowed awav without finding it at all hard work, for the boat was made all of white paper and was as light as a rose-leaf. The ship was made of white paper too, as the prince presently discovered when he reached it. He found not a soul on