298 LAUGHING EYE AND WEEPING EYE
Take the wooden pole, and you will be able to reach the apple.'
Master Simpleton listened carefully to all that was told him, and after crossing the garden, and escaping as before from the men who were watching it, soon arrived at the apple-tree. But he was so dazzled by the sight of the beautiful golden fruit, that he quite forgot all that the fox had said. He seized the golden pole, and struck the branch a sounding blow. The guards at once awoke, and conducted him to their master. Then the simpleton had to tell his story.
' I will give you the golden apple,' said the owner of the garden, ' if you will bring me in exchange a horse which can go round the world in four-and-twenty hours.' And the young man departed, and went to find the fox.
This time the fox was really angry, and no wonder.
' If you had listened to me, you would have been home with your father by this time. However I am willing to help you once more. Go into the forest, and you will find the horse with two halters round his neck. One is of gold, the other of hemp. Lead him by the hempen halter, or else the horse will begin to neigh, and will waken the guards. Then all is over with you.'
So Master Simpleton searched till he found the horse, and was struck dumb at its beauty.
' What!' he said to himself, ' put the hempen halter on an animal like that? Not I, indeed ! '
Then the horse neighed loudly ; the guards seized our young friend and conducted him before their master.
' I will give you the golden horse,' said he, ' if you will bring me in exchange a golden maiden who has never yet seen either sun or moon.'
' But if I am to bring you the golden maiden you must lend me first the golden steed with which to seek for her.'
' Ah,' replied the owner of the golden horse, ' but who will undertake that you will ever come back?'