326 THE SILENT PRINCESS
useful to have the power of seeing what is happening at a distance ; and that is what I have learnt," replied the second.
' " No, no, my dear comrades," cried the third, " your trades are all very well; but when the pasha hears that I can bring back the dead to life he will know which of us three is to be his son-in-law. But come, there only remain a few hours of the six months he granted us. It is time that we hastened back to the palace."
' " Stop a moment," said the second, " it would be well to know what is going on in the palace." And plucking some small leaves from a tree near by, he muttered some words and made some signs, and laid them on his eyes. In an instant he turned pale, and uttered a cry.
' " What is it ? What is it'?" exclaimed the others ; and, with a shaking voice, he gasped :
'" The princess is lying on her bed, and has barely a few minutes to live. Oh ! can no one save her ? "
' " I can," answered the third, taking a small box from his turban; " this ointment will cure any illness. But how to reach her in time ? "
' " Give it to me," said the first. And he wished himself by the bedside of the princess, which was surrounded by the sultan and his weeping courtiers. Clearly there was not a second to lose, for the princess had grown unconscious, and her face cold. Plunging his ringer into the ointment he touched her eyes, mouth and ears with the paste, and with beating heart awaited the result.
' It was swifter than he supposed. As he looked the colour came back into her cheeks, and she smiled up at her father. The sultan, almost speechless with joy at this sudden change, embraced his daughter tenderly, and then turned to the young man to whom he owed her life:
' " Are you not one of those three whom I sent forth to learn a trade six months ago ? " asked he. And the