274 THE BEAR
at the bottom of the plate. In a moment he recognised it, and was dumb with surprise.
Then he saw the bear standing beside him, looking at him with gentle, beseeching eyes, and something in the eyes of the bear made him say : ' Take off that skin, some mystery is hidden beneath it.'
And the bear's skin dropped off, and'the beautiful girl stood before him, in the dress woven out of the starlight, and he saw that she was the stranger with whom he had fallen so deeply in love. And now she appeared to him a thousand times more beautiful than ever, and he led her to his mother. And the princess told them her story, and how she had been kept shut up by her father in his palace, and how she had wearied of her imprisonment. And the prince's mother loved her, and rejoiced that her son should have so good and beautiful a wife.
So they were married, and lived happily for many years, and reigned wisely over their kingdom.