80 THE KING OF THE WATERFALLS
behind, till in the dark of the night he reached the castle of the king of the oak windows.
' We are at the end of the journey,' said the horse, ' and you will find the Sword of Light in the king's own chamber. If it comes to you without scrape or sound, the token is a good one. At this hour the king is eating his supper, and the room is empty, so none will see you. The sword has a knob at the end, and take heed that when you grasp it, you draw it softly out of its sheath. Now go ! I will be under the window.'
Stealthily the young man crept along the passage, pausing now and then to make sure that no man was following him, and entered the king's chamber. A strange white line of light told him where the sword was, and crossing the room on tiptoe, he seized the knob, and drew it slowly out of the sheath. The king could hardly breathe with excitement lest it should make some noise, and bring all the people in the castle running to see what was the matter. But the sword slid swiftly and silently along the case till only the point was left touching it. Then a low sound was heard, as of the edge of a knife touching a silver plate, and the king was so startled that he nearly dropped the knob.
' Quick! quick ! ' cried the horse, and the king scrambled hastily through the small window, and leapt into the saddle.
' He has heard and he will follow,' said the horse ; ' but we have a good start.' And on they sped, on and on, leaving the winds behind them.
At length the horse slackened its pace. ' Look and see who is behind you,' it said; and the young man looked.
' I see a swarm of brown horses racing madly after us,' he answered.
' We are swifter than those,' said the horse, and flew on again.
' Look again, 0 king ! Is anyone coming now ? '