90 THE COMB AND THE COLLAR
before who would be able to unlock the collar they were instantly convinced. The prince glanced at her, but said nothing, and, signing to one of the ambassadors, he ordered him to make trial of the comb. One by one each man present did his best to remove it from its case, and one by one each was forced to own himself beaten. At length only the prince remained, but as he was the judge he must wait till the last.
After the men had finished, the ladies of the court had the collar presented to them according to rank, but none could even turn the key. Finally it was handed to the queen, who managed to open it a little way. Her heart beat with triumph, but immediately it closed again with a snap, and she sank back, fainting from disappointment.
By this time there were only left the prince and his sister; and no sooner did he touch the case than it opened of itself, while the lock of the collar yielded directly the princess took hold of the key. Cries of delight rose from the courtiers and attendants ; but these were interrupted by a whirlwind accompanied by thick darkness, and followed by an earthquake.
When all was calm again, and the sun shining, the prince and princess had disappeared.
Although the king's son and daughter were the only persons who had vanished in the storm, unluckily they had been carried off in opposite directions. The rapid motion through the air deprived the princess of her senses, which she nearly lost a second time, from fright, when she was set down alone in the middle of a thick forest. She ran wildly about, calling to her brother to come to her aid ; but her cries only attracted the attention of some hungry wolves, who sprung towards her with their jaws gaping and their red tongues hanging out. Falling on her knees, she covered her face with one hand, unconsciously grasping the collar with the other, and awaited her doom. Already she could feel their hot breath on