88 THE GRATEFUL PRINCE
my own poor head.' The old man got up from his seat and went away.
That night, when the prince went to his master to hear what his next day's work was to be, the old man said: ' I have a little hay-stack out in the meadow which must be brought in to dry. To-morrow you will have to stack it all in the shed, and, as you value your life, be careful not to leave the smallest strand behind.' The prince was overjoyed to hear he had nothing worse to do.
'To carry a little hay-rick requires no great skill,' thought he, ' and it will give me no trouble, for the horse will have to draw it in. I am certainly not going to spare the old grandmother.'
By-and-by the maiden stole up to ask what task he had for the next day.
The young man laughed, and said: ' It appears that I have got to learn all kinds of farmer's work. To-morrow I have to carry a hay-rick, and leave not a stalk in the meadow, and that is my whole day's work!'
' Oh, you unlucky creature !' cried she; ' and how do you think you are to do it. If you had all the men in the world to help you, you could not clear off this one little hay-rick in a week. The instant you have thrown down the hay at the top, it will take root again from below. But listen to what I say. You must steal out at daybreak to-morrow and brins: out the white horse and some good strong ropes. Then get on the hay-stack, put the ropes round it, and harness the horse to the ropes. When you are ready, climb up the hay-stack and begin to count one, two, three. The horse will ask you what you are counting, and you must be sure to answer what I whisper to you.'
So the maiden whispered something in his ear, and left the room. And the prince knew nothing better to do than to get into bed.
He slept soundly, and it was still almost dark when he