THE COMB AND THE COLLAR 101
the precious thing, and snatching it from the hand of the man she placed it round the neck of the fox. All present held their breath as they watched what was happening ; and what did happen was that his legs grew longer and longer, and his nose grew shorter and shorter. The fox was gone, and in his stead there lay Perarthrites, in a coat of thick white fur.
But though the prince of Lombardy was rejoiced to see his friend and cousin again, his heart still bled for the beautiful lady who had vanished so mysteriously. His face was so troubled that the governor of the island marked it, and asked what was the matter. ' Oh ! help me, if you can,' cried the prince. ' The thought of the sufferings that the enchanted nymph may be undergoing tortures me !'
' They are far worse than you can imagine,' gravely replied the governor ; ' but if you still possess your comb, you may yet relieve her of them. Ah! that is well,' he continued, as the prince quickly drew the comb from its case. ' Now follow me.'
Not only the prince, but every one else followed ; and the governor led them down a long gallery to a heavy iron door, which flew open at its own accord. But what a sight met the prince's eyes! The lady whom he had last beheld in peerless beauty was sitting in a chair wrapped in flames, which were twisting like hair about her head. Her face was swollen and red; her mouth was open as if gasping for breath. Only her arms and neck were as lovely as ever in their whiteness.
' This is your doing,' said the governor to the prince ; ' you brought her to this when you burnt the crocodile's skin. Now try if, by combing, you can soothe her agony.'
At the first touch of the comb the flames became suddenly extinguished ; at the second, the look of pain vanished from the face, and it shrank into its usual size ; at the third, she rose from the chair, lovelier than she