86 THE GRATEFUL PRINCE
The white horse sighed deeply when it heard this, and made up its mind to be content with what it had eaten.
The youth next began to clean out the stall, and the horse knew it had found a master; and by mid-day there was still fodder in the manger, and the place was as clean as a new pin. He had barely finished when in walked the old man, who stood astonished at the door.
' Is it really you who have been clever enough to do that?' he asked. ' Or has some one else given you a hint? '
'Oh, I have had no help,' replied the prince, ' except what my poor weak head could give me.'
The old man frowned, and went away, and the prince rejoiced that everything had turned out so well.
In the evening his master said, ' To-morrow I have no special task to set you, but as the girl has a great deal to do in the house you must milk the black cow for her. But take care you milk her dry, or it may be the worse for you.'
' Well,' thought the prince as he went away, ' unless there is some trick behind, this does not sound very hard. I have never milked a cow before, but I have good strong fingers.'
He was very sleepy, and was just going toward his room, when the maiden came to him and asked: ' What is your task to-morrow ? '
'I am to help you,' he answered, 'and have nothing to do all day, except to milk the black cow dry.'
' Oh, you are unlucky,' cried she. ' If you were to try from morning till night you couldn't do it. There is only one way of escaping the danger, and that is, when you go to milk her, take with you a pan of burning coals and a pair of tongs. Place the pan on the floor of the stall, and the tongs on the fire, and blow with all your might, till the coals burn brightly. The black cow will ask you what is the meaning of all this, and you must answer what I will whisper to you.' And she stood on tip-toe and whispered something in his ear, and then went away.