THE WHITE SLIPPER 343
pain, and the king, whose confidence increased every moment, begged the young man to tell him his name.
'I have no parents; they died when I was six, sire,' replied the youth, modestly. 'Everyone in the town calls me Gilguerillo,1 because, when I was little, I went singing through the world in spite of my misfortunes. Luckily for me I was born happy.'
'And you really think you can cure me?' asked the king.
'Completely, my lord,' answered Gilguerillo.
'And how long do you think it will take?'
'It is not an easy task; but I will try to finish it in a fortnight,' replied the youth.
A fortnight seemed to the king a long time to make one slipper. But he only said:
'Do you need anything to help you?'
'Only a good horse, if your majesty will be kind enough to give me one,' answered Gilguerillo. And the reply was so unexpected that the courtiers could hardly restrain their smiles, while the king stared silently.
'You shall have the horse,' he said at last, 'and I shall expect you back in a fortnight. If you fulfil your promise you know your reward; if not, I will have you flogged for your impudence.'
Gilguerillo bowed, and turned to leave the palace, followed by the jeers and scoffs of everyone he met. But he paid no heed, for he had got what he wanted.
He waited in front of the gates till a magnificent horse was led up to him, and vaulting into the saddle with an ease which rather surprised the attendant, rode quickly out of the town amidst the jests of the assembled crowd, who had heard of his audacious proposal. And while he is on his way let us pause for a moment and tell who he is.
Both father and mother had died before the boy was «ix years old; and he had lived for many years with his