THE MAGIC BOOK
As she did so the hill-man lost his power over Hans — for of course you understand that it was he who had been the dog, the cow, the horse and the dove.
'Well, that is really strange,' said the princess. 'It fits me as though it had been made for me!'
Just at that moment up came the king.
'Look what I have found!' cried his daughter.
'Well, that is not worth much, my dear,' said he. 'Besides, you have rings enough, I should think.'
'Never mind, I like it,' replied the princess.
But as soon as she was alone, to her amazement, the ring suddenly left her finger and became a man. You can imagine how frightened she was, as, indeed, anybody would have been; but in an instant the man became a ring again, and then turned back into a man, and so it went on for some time until she began to get used to these sudden changes.
'I am sorry I frightened you,' said Hans, when he thought he could safely speak to the princess without making her scream. 'I took refuge with you because the old hill-man, whom I have offended, was trying to kill me, and here I am safe.'
'You had better stay here then,' said the princess. So Hans stayed, and he and she became good friends; though, of course, he only became a man when no one else was present.
This was all very well; but, one day, as they were talking together, the king happened to enter the room, and although Hans quickly changed himself into a ring again it was too late.
The king was terribly angry.
'So this is why you have refused to marry all the kings and princes who have sought your hand?' he cried.
And, without waiting for her to speak, he commanded that his daughter should be walled up in the summer-house and starved to death with her lover.
That evening the poor princess, still wearing her