28 URASCHIMATARO AND THE TURTLE
talked so much of him to the princess that she had expressed a wish to see him, went at once to make known his arrival. And directly the princess beheld him her heart was set on him, and she begged him to stay with her, and in return promised that he should never grow old, neither should his beauty fade. ' Is not that reward enough? ' she asked, smiling, looking all the while as fair as the sun itself. And Uraschimataro said ' Yes,' and so he stayed there. For how long? That he only knew later.
His life passed by, and each hour seemed happier than the last, when one day there rushed over him a terrible longing to see his parents. He fought against it hard, knowing how it would grieve the princess, but it grew on him stronger and stronger, till at length he became so sad that the princess inquired what was wrong. Then he told her of the longing he had to visit his old home, and that he must see his parents once more. The princess was almost frozen with horror, and implored him to stay with her, or something dreadful would be sure to happen. ' You will never come back, and we shall meet again no more,' she moaned bitterly. But Uraschimataro stood firm and repeated, ' Only this once will I leave you, and then will I return to your side for ever.' Sadly the princess shook her head, but she answered slowly, ' One way there is to bring you safely back, but I fear you will never agree to the conditions of the bargain.'
' I will do anything that will bring me back to you,' exclaimed Uraschimataro, looking at her tenderly, but the princess was silent: she knew too well that when he left her she would see his face no more. Then she took from a shelf a tiny golden box, and gave it to Uraschimataro, praying him to keep it carefully, and above all things never to open it. ' If you can do this,' she said as she bade him farewell, 'your friend the turtle will meet you at the shore, and will carry you back to me.'