284 THE PRINCESS BELLA-FLOR
Jose* still felt so bewildered with the mission that the king had given him that he forgot to be astonished at hearing a horse talk. Mechanically he laid his hand on the bridle and led the white horse out of the stable. He was about to mount on his back, when the animal spoke again:
'Pick up those three loaves of bread which you see there, and put them in your pocket.'
Jose did as he was told, and being in a great hurry to get away, asked no questions, but swung himself into the saddle.
They rode far without meeting any adventures, but at length they came to an ant-hill, and the horse stopped.
'Crumble those three loaves for the ants,' he said. But Jose" hesitated.
'Why, we may want them ourselves!' answered he.
'Never mind that; give them to the ants all the same. Do not lose any chance of helping others.' And when the loaves lay in crumbs on the road, the horse galloped on.
By-and-by they entered a rocky pass between two mountains, and here they saw an eagle which had been caught in a hunter's net.
'Get down and cut the meshes of that net, and set the poor bird free,' said the horse.
'But it will take so long,' objected Jose", 'and we may miss the princess.'
'Never mind that; do not miss a chance of helping others,' answered the horse. And when the meshes were cut, and the eagle was free, the horse galloped on.
They had ridden many miles, and at last they came to a river, where they beheld a little fish lying gasping on the sand, and the horse said:
' Do you see that little fish ? it will die if you do not put it back in the water.'
'But, really, we shall never find the Princess Bella-Flor, if we waste our time like this!' cried Jose*.