THE BLACK THIEF AND KNIGHT OF THE GLEN 59
and the Thief of Sloan attempted the Steed of Bells in order to carry him away, but before they could reach the stables the steed neighed most terribly and shook himself so, and the bells rung with such noise, that the knight and all his men were up in a moment.
The Black Thief and the King's sons thought to make their escape, but they were suddenly surrounded by the knight's guards and taken prisoners; where they were brought into that dismal part of the palace where the knight kept a furnace always boiling, in which he threw all offenders that ever came in his way, which in a few moments would entirely consume them.
' Audacious villains!' says the Knight of the Glen, ' how dare you attempt so bold an action as to steal my steed ? See, now, the reward of your folly; for your greater punishment I will not boil you all together, but one after the other, so that he that survives may witness the dire afflictions of his unfortunate companions.'
So saying he ordered his servants to stir up the fire : ' We will boil the eldest-looking of these young men first,' said he, 'and so on to the last, which will be this old champion with the black cap. He seems to be the captain, and looks as if he had come through many toils.'
' I was as near death once as the prince is yet,' says the Black Thief, ' and escaped; and so will he too.'
' No, you never were,' said the knight; ' for he is within two or three mmutes of his latter end.'
' But,' says the Black Thief, ' I was within one moment of my death, and I am here yet.'
' How was that ? ' says the knight; ' I would be glad to hear it, for it seems impossible.'
' If you think, sir knight,' says the Black Thief, ' that the danger I was in surpasses that of this young man, will you pardon him his crime ?'
' I will,' says the knight, ' so go on with your story.'
' I was, sir,' says he, ' a very wild boy in my youth, and came through many distresses; once in particular, as I was on my rambling, I was benighted and could find no lodging. At length I came to an old kiln, and being much fatigued I went up and lay on the ribs. I had not been long there when I saw three witches coming in with three bags of gold. Each put their bags of gold under their heads, as if to sleep. I heard one of them say to the other that if the Black Thief came on them while they slept, he would not leave them a penny. I found by their discourse that