222 THE STORY OF ZOULVISIA
mounted his horse and set out along the road they showed him.
By the light of the moon he presently perceived a splendid palace, but, though he rode twice round it, he could find no door. He was considering what he should do next, when he heard the sound of loud snoring, which seemed to come from his feet. Looking down, he beheld an old man lying at the bottom of a deep pit, just outside the walls, with a lantern by his side.
' Perhaps he may be able to give me some counsel,' thought the king ; and, with some difficulty, he scrambled into the pit and laid his hand on the shoulder of the sleeper.
' Are you a bird or a snake that you can enter here ?' asked the old man, awaking with a start. But the king answered that he was a mere mortal, and that he sought Zoulvisia.
' Zoulvisia ? The world's curse ? ' replied he, gnashing his teeth. ' Out of all the thousands she has slain I am the only one who has escaped, though why she spared me only to condemn me to this living death I cannot guess.'
' Help me if you can,' said the king. And he told the old man his story, to which he listened intently.
' Take heed then to my counsel,' answered the old man. ' Know that every day at sunrise Zoulvisia dresses herself in her jacket of pearls, and mounts the steps of her crystal watch-tower. From there she can see all over her lands, and behold the entrance of either man or demon. If so much as one is detected she utters such fearful cries that those who hear her die of fright. But hide yourself in a cave that lies near the foot of the tower, and plant a forked stick in front of it; then, when she has uttered her third cry, go forth boldly, and look up at the tower. And go without fear, for you will have broken her power.'
Word for word the king did as the old man had