A LOST PARADISE
not even a chair, so he pretended to be in too great a hurry to see anything around him, and only said ' You must not let me disturb you, I have no time to stay, but you seemed to be in trouble. Tell me; are you very unhappy ? '
' Oh, my lord, we can find no work and have eaten nothing for two days!' answered she. ' Nothing remains for us but to die of hunger.'
' No, no, you shan't do that,' cried the king, ' or if you do, it will be your own fault. You shall come with me into my palace, and you will feel as if you were in Paradise, I promise you. In return, I only ask one thing of you, that you shall obey my orders exactly.'
The charcoal-burner and his wife both stared at him for a moment, as if they could hardly believe their ears ; and, indeed, it was not to be wondered at! Then they found their tongues, and exclaimed together :
' Oh, yes, yes, my lord ! we will do every tiling you tell us. How could we be so ungrateful as to disobey you, when you are so kind ? '
The king smiled, and his eyes twinkled.
' Well, let us start at once,' said he. ' Lock your door, and put the key in your pocket.'
The woman looked as if she thought this was needless, seeing it was quite, quite certain they would never come back. But she dared not say so, and did as the king told her.
After walking through the forest for a couple of miles, they all three reached the palace, and by the king's orders servants led the charcoal-burner and his wife into rooms filled with beautiful things such as they had never even dreamed of. First they bathed in green marble baths where the water looked like the sea, and then they put on silken clothes that felt soft and pleasant. When they were ready, one of the king's special servants entered, and took them into a small hall, where dinner