266 PRINCE AND PRINCESS IN THE FOREST
When the princess was no longer before his eyes, the prince recollected why he had entered the forest, and made all the haste he could back to the robbers' home.
The robber-chief could smell the apples from afar, for he had a nose like an ogre, and he said to the queen :
' That is a strange fellow! If he had gone into the forest the wild beasts must have eaten him unless he has a powerful charm to protect him. If that is so we must get it away from him.'
' No, he has nothing,' answered the queen, who was quite fascinated by the robber.
But the robber did not believe her.
' We must think of a way to get it,' he said. ' when he comes in say you are well again, and have some food ready for him. Then, whilst he is eating, tell him you dreamed that he was attacked by wild beasts, and ask him how he managed to escape from them. After he has told you I can easily find a way to take his charm from him.'
Shortly after the prince came in.
' How are you, mother! ' he said gaily. ' Here are your apples. Now you will soon be well again, and ready to come away with me.'
' Oh, I am better already,' she said. ' And see, your dinner is all hot for you; eat it up, and then we will start.'
Whilst he was eating she said to him : ' I had a horrible dream while you were away. I saw you in a forest full of wild animals, and they were running round you and growling fiercely. How did you manage to escape from them'?'
' Oh, it was only a dream !' laughed the prince.
' But my dreams are always true,' said his mother. ' Tell me how it was.'
The prince wondered for some time whether he should tell her or not, but at last he decided to let her into the secret.