THE GOLDEN LION
was made the old woman hid the youth in it, and brought it to the king, who was so delighted with it that he wanted to buy it. But she replied, ' It does not belong to me, and my master will not part from it at any price.'
' At any rate, leave it with me for a few days,' said he; ' I should like to show it to my daughter.' *
'Yes, I can do that,' answered the old woman; 'but to-morrow I must have it back again.' And she went away.
The king watched her till she was quite out of sight, so as to make sure that she was not spying upon him ; then he took the golden lion into his room and lifted some loose boards from the floor. Below the floor there was a staircase, which he went down till he reached a door at the foot. This he unlocked, and found himself in a narrow passage closed by another door, which he also opened. The young man, hidden in the golden lion, kept count of everything, and marked that there were in all seven doors. After they had all been unlocked the king entered a lovely hall, where the princess was amusing herself with eleven friends. All twelve girls wore the same clothes, and were as like each other as two peas.
w What bad luck ! ' thought the youth. ' Even supposing that I managed to find my way here again, I don't see how I could ever tell which was the princess.'
And he stared hard at the princess as she clapped her hands with joy and ran up to them, crying, ' Oh, do let us keep that delicious beast for to-night; it will make such a nice plaything.'
The king did not stay long, and when he left he handed over the lion to the maidens, who amused themselves with it for some time, till they got sleepy, and thought it was time to go to bed. But the princess took the lion into her own room and laid it on the floor.
She was just beginning to doze when she heard a voice quite close to her, which made her jump. 'O lovely princess, if you only knew what I have gone