116 SAMBA THE COWARD
his head in surprise and terror. ' Can you possibly imagine that I should agree to anything so useless and painful ? Why, I might as well have gone to fight myself! '
' Ah, I ought to have known better, indeed,' answered the princess, in a voice that seemed to come from a long way off; but, quick as thought, the moment Samba turned his back she pierced one of his bare legs with a spear.
He gave a loud scream and staggered backwards, from astonishment, much more than from pain. But before he could speak his wife had left the room and had gone to seek the medicine man of the palace.
' My husband has been wounded,' said she, when she had found him, ' come and tend him with speed, for he is faint from loss of blood.' And she took care that more than one person heard her words, so that all that day the people pressed up to the gate of the palace, asking for news of their brave champion.
' You see,' observed the king's eldest sons, who had visited the room where Samba lay groaning, ' you see, 0, wise young brother, that we were right and you were wrong about Samba, and that he really did go into the battle.' But the boy answered nothing, and only shook his head doubtfully.
It was only two days later that the Moors appeared for the third time, and though the herds had been tethered in a new and safer place, they were promptly carried off as before. ' For,' said the Moors to each other, ' the tribe will never think of our coming back so soon when they have beaten us so badly.'
When the drum sounded to assemble all the fighting men, the princess rose and sought her husband.
' Samba,' cried she, ' my wound is worse than I thought. I can scarcely walk, and could not mount my horse without help. For to-day, then, I cannot do your work, so you must go instead of me.'