262 PRINCE AND PRINCESS IN THE FOREST
' What do you want, little dog ? ' asked the prince, stooping down to pat his soft black head.
The dog ran to a hole that was in the hill and sat there looking out, as much as to say: 'Come along in with me.'
' I may as well go and see what is in there,' thought the prince, and he went over to the hill. But the hole was so small that he could not get through it, so he thrust his sword into it, and immediately it became larger.
' Ha, ha! ' he chuckled ; 'it's worth something to have a sword like that.' And he bent down and crept through the hole.
The first thing he beheld, when he entered a room at the very end of a dark passage, was a beautiful princess, who was bound by an iron chain to an iron pillar.
' What evil fate brought you here ?' he asked in surprise ; and the lady answered :
' It isn't much use for me to tell you lest my lot becomes yours.'
' I am not afraid of that. Tell me who you are and what has brought you here,' begged the prince.
' My story is not long,' she said, smiling sadly. ' I am a princess from Arabia, and twelve robbers who dwell in this place are fighting among themselves as to which shall have me to wife.'
' Shall I save you ?' asked the prince. And she answered:
' Yes ; but you can't do it. To begin with, how could you break the chain I am bound with ?'
' Oh, that's easy enough,' said he, taking out his sword ; and directly it touched the chain the links fell apart and the princess was free.
' Come !' said the prince, taking her hand. But she drew back.
' No, I dare not! ' she cried. ' If we should meet the robbers in the passage they would kill us both.'