228 THE GOLDEN LION
through to find you!' The princess jumped out of bed screaming, 'The lion! the lion !' but her friends thought it was a nightmare, and did not trouble themselves to get up.
' O lovely princess! ' continued the voice, ' fear nothing! I am the son of a rich merchant, and desire above all things to have you for my wife. And in order to get to you I have hidden myself in this golden lion.'
'What use is that?' she asked. 'For if you cannot pick me out from among my companions you will still lose your head.'
' I look to you to help me,' he said. ' I have done so much for you that you might do this one thing for me.'
' Then listen to me. On the eighth day I will tie a
white sash round my waist, and by that you will know
The next morning the king came very earl}' to fetch
the lion, as the old woman was already at the palace
asking for it. When they were safe from view she let
the young man out, and he returned to the king and told
him that he wished to find the princess.
' Very good,' said the king, who by this time was almost tired of repeating the same words; ' but if you fail your head will be the forfeit.'
So the youth quietly remained in the castle, eating and looking at all the beautiful things around him, and every now and then pretending to be searching busily in all the closets and corners. On the eighth day he entered the room where the king was sitting. ' Take up the floor in this place,' he said. The king gave a cry, but stopped himself, and asked, ' What do you want the floor up for? There is nothing there.'
But as all his courtiers were watching him he did not like to make any more objections, and ordered the floor to be taken up, as the young man desired. The youth then went straight down the staircase till he reached the door; then he turned and demanded that the