THE PRINCESS BELLA-FLOR 287
'We never waste time when we are helping others,' answered the horse. And soon the little fish was swimming happily away.
A little while after they reached a castle, which was built in the middle of a very thick wood, and right in front was the Princess Bella-Flor feeding her hens.
'Now listen,' said the horse. 'I am going to give all sorts of little hops and skips, which will amuse the Princess Bella-Flor. Then she will tell you that she would like to ride a little way, and you must help her to mount. When she is seated I shall begin to neigh and kick, and you must say that I have never carried a woman before, and that you had better get up behind so as to be able to manage me. Once on my back we will go like wind to the king's palace.'
Jose did exactly as the horse told him, and everything fell out as the animal prophesied; so that it was not until they were galloping breathlessly toward the palace that the princess knew that she was taken captive. She said nothing, however, but quietly opened her apron which contained the bran for the chickens, and in a moment it lay scattered on the ground.
'Oh, I have let fall my bran!' cried she; 'please get down and pick it up for me.' But Jose only answered:
'We shall find plenty of bran where we are going.' And the horse galloped on.
They were now passing through a forest, and the princess took out her handkerchief and threw it upwards, so that it stuck in one of the topmost branches of a tree.
'Dear me; how stupid! I have let my handkerchief blow away,' said she. 'Will you climb up and get it for me?' But Jose answered:
'We shall find plenty of handkerchiefs where we are going.' And the horse galloped or*.
After the wood they reached a river, and the princess