342 THE WHITE SLIPPER
what was the matter, ' the noise you heard was caused by a young man from the town, who has had the impudence to come here to ask if he may measure your majesty's foot, so as to make you another slipper in place of the lost one.'
'And what have you done to the youth?' said the king.
'The servants pushed him out of the palace, and added a few blows to teach him not to be insolent,' replied the man.
' Then they did very ill,' answered the king, with a frown. 'He came here from kindness, and there was no reason to maltreat him.'
'Oh, my lord, he had the audacity to wish to touch your majesty's sacred person — he, good-for-nothing boy, a mere shoemaker's apprentice, perhaps! And even if he could make shoes to perfection they would be no use without the healing balsam.'
The king remained silent for a few moments, then he said:
'Never mind. Go and fetch the youth and bring him to me. I would gladly try any remedy that may relieve my pain.'
So, soon afterwards, the youth, who had not gone far from the palace, was caught and ushered into the king's presence.
He was tall and handsome and, though he professed to make shoes, his manners were good and modest, and he bowed low as he begged the king not only to allow him to take the measure of his foot, but also to suffer him to place a healing plaster over the wound.
Balancin was pleased with the young man's voice and appearance, and thought that he looked as if he knew what he was doing. So he stretched out his bad foot which the youth examined with great attention, and then gently laid on the plaster.
Very shortly the ointment began to soothe the sharp