272 PRINCE AND PRINCESS IN THE FOREST
' I'll join you, if I may,' said the prince. And they answered: 'The more the merrier.'
Then the prince went with them, and they all journeyed on until they met an old troll.
' Where are you going, my masters?' asked the troll.
' To seek service,' they told him.
' Then come and serve me,' he said ; ' there will be plenty to eat and drink, and not much work to do, and if, at the end of a year, you can answer three questions, I'll give you each a sack of gold. Otherwise you must be turned into beasts.'
The youths thought this sounded easy enough, so they went home with the troll to his castle.
' You will find all that you wrant here,' he said ; ' and all you need do is to take care of the house, for I am going away, and shall only return when the year is over.'
Then he went away, and the young men, left to themselves, had a fine time of it; for they did no work, and only amused themselves with singing and drinking. Every day they found the table laid with good things to eat and drink, and when they had finished, the plates and dishes were cleared away by invisible hands. Only the prince, who was sad for his lost princess, ate and drank sparingly, and worked hard keeping the house in order.
One day, as he sat in his own room, he heard the voice of the old troll beneath his window talking to another troll.
' To-morrow,' said he, ' the year is up.'
' And what questions will you ask ?' inquired the other.
' First I shall ask how long they have been here— they don't know, the young fools ! Secondly I shall ask what shines on the roof of the castle.'
' And what is that ? '
' The lamp that was stolen by me from the princess as she slept in the garden.'