THE CLEVER CAT
want to give me a present — and to-morrow is my birthday — there is one thing that I wish for very much.'
'And what is that? Of course you shall have it directly!' he asked eagerly.
'It is that bright stone which fell out of the folds of your turban a few days ago,' she answered, playing with his finger; 'the little stone with all those funny marks upon it. I never saw any stone like it before.'
The young man did not answer at first; then he said, slowly:
'I have promised, and therefore I must perform. But will you swear never to part from it, and to keep it safely about you always? More I cannot tell you, but I beg you earnestly to take heed to this.'
The princess was a little startled by his manner, and began to be sorry that she had ever listened to the Jew. But she did not like to draw back, and pretended to be immensely delighted at her new toy, and kissed and thanked her husband for it.
'After all I needn't give it to the Jew,' thought she as she dropped to sleep.
Unluckily the next morning the young man went hunting again, and the Jew, who was watching, knew this, and did not come till much later than before. At the moment that he knocked at the door of the palace the princess had tired of all her employments, and her attendants were at their wits' end how to amuse her, when a tall negro dressed in scarlet came to announce that the Jew was below, and desired to know if the princess would speak with him.
'Bring him hither at once!' cried she, springing up from her cushions, and forgetting all her resolves of the previous night. In another moment she was bending with rapture over the glittering gems.
'Have you got it?' asked the Jew in a whisper, for the princess's ladies were standing as near as they dared to catch a glimpse of the beautiful jewels.