66 A LOST PARADISE
chairs and vases in their efforts to catch the mouse and put it back in the tureen. In the middle of all the noise the door opened, and the mouse ran out between the feet of the king. In one instant both the man and his wife were hiding under the table, and to all appearance the room was empty.
' You may as wTell come out,' said the king, ' and hear what I have to say.'
' I know what it is,' answered the charcoal-burner, hanging his head. ' The mouse has escaped.'
' A guard of soldiers will take you back to your hut,' said the king. ' Your wife has the key.'
' Weren't they silly ? ' cried the grandchildren of the charcoal-burners when they heard the story. ' How we wish that we had had the chance ! We should never have wanted to know what was in the soup-tureen ! '
From 'Litterature Orale de 1'Auvergne,' par Paul Sebillot.