28b THE PRINCESS BELLA-FLOR
slipped a ring off her finger and let it roll into the water.
'How careless of me,' gasped she, beginning to sob. 'I have lost my favourite ring; do stop for a moment and look if you can see it.' But Jose answered:
'You will find plenty of rings where you are going.' And the horse galloped on.
At last they entered the palace gates, and the king's heart bounded with joy at beholding his beloved Bella-Flor. But the princess brushed him aside as if he had been a fly, and locked herself into the nearest room, which she would not open for all his entreaties.
'Bring me the three things I lost on the way, and perhaps I may think about it,' was all she would say. And, in despair, the king was driven to take counsel of Jose.
'There is no remedy that I can see,' said his majesty, 'but that you, who know where they are, should go and bring them back. And if you return without them I will have you drowned.'
Poor Jose was much troubled at these words. He thought that he had done all that was required of him, and that his life was safe. However, he bowed low, and went out to consult his friend the horse.
'Do not vex yourself,' said the horse, when he had heard the story; 'jump up, and we will go back and look for the things.' And Jose mounted at once.
They rode on till they came to the ant-hill, and then the horse asked:
'Would you like to have the bran?'
'What is the use of liking?' answered Jose.
'Well, call the ants, and tell them to fetch it for you; and, if some of it has been scattered by the wind, to bring in its stead the grains that were in the cakes you gave them.' Jose* listened in surprise. He did not much believe in the horse's plan; but he could not think of anything better, so he called to the ants, and bade them collect the bran as fast as they could.