312 THE SIMPLETON
' If that's the case,' said Moscione, ' you are a clever fellow; but I should like- some proof of your strength.'
Then Strong-Back loaded himself with great boulders of rock and trunks of trees, so that a hundred waggons could not have taken away all that he carried on his back.
When Moscione saw this he prevailed on Strong-Back to join his troop, and they all continued their journey till they came to a country called Flower Vale. Here there reigned a king whose only daughter ran as quickly as the wind, and so lightly that she could run over a field of young oats without bending a single blade. The king had given out a proclamation that anyone who could beat the princess in a race should have her for a wife, but that all who failed in the competition should lose tlieir head.
As soon as Moscione heard of the Royal Proclamation, he hastened to the king and challenged the princess to race with him. But on the morning appointed for the trial he sent word to the king that he was not feeling well, and that as he could not run himself he would supply someone to take his place.
' It's just the same to me,' said Canetella, the princess ; ' let anyone come forward that likes, T am quite prepared to meet him.'
At the time appointed for the race the whole place was crowded with people anxious to see the contest, and, punctual to the moment, Quick-as-Thought, and Canetella dressed in a short skirt am] very lightly shod, appeared at the starting-point.
Then a silver trumpet sounded, and the two rivals started on their race, looking for all the world like a greyhound chasing a hare.
But Quick-as-Thought, true to his name, outran the princess, and when the goal was reached the people all clapped their hands and shouted, ' Long live the stranger! '