82 THE GRATEFUL PRINCE
hair stood up like bristles, and a cold chill was creeping down his spine, when at last — oh, ecstasy! — a faint noise broke on his straining ears, and this life of shadows suddenly became real. It sounded as if a troop of horses were ploughing their way over a moor.
Then the greybeard opened his mouth, and said: ' The kettle is boiling; we are expected at home.'
They walked on a little further, till the prince thought he heard the grinding of a saw-mill, as if dozens of saws wrere working together, but his guide observed, ' The grandmother is sleeping soundly; listen how she snores.'
When they had climbed a hill which lay before them the prince saw in the distance the house of his master, but it was so surrounded with buildings of all kinds that the place looked more like a village or even a small town. They reached it at last, and found an empty kennel standing in front of the gate. ' Creep inside this,' said the master, ' and wait while I go in and see my grandmother. Like all very old people, she is very obstinate, and cannot bear fresh faces about her.'
The prince crept tremblingly into the kennel, and began to regret the daring which had brought him into this scrape.
By-and-by the master came back, and called him from his hiding-place. Something had put out his temper, for with a frown he said, ' Watch carefully our ways in the house, and beware of making any mistake, or it will go ill with you. Keep your eyes and ears open, and your mouth shut, obey without questions. Be grateful if you will, but never speak unless you are spoken to.'
When the prince stepped over the threshold he caught sight of a maiden of wonderful beauty, with brown eyes and fair curly hair. ' Well! ' the young man said to himself, ' if the old fellow has many daughters like that I should not mind being his son-in-law. This one is just what I admire '; and he watched her lay the table, bring in the food, and take her seat by the fire as if she had