THE GRATEFUL PRINCE 89
got up and proceeded to carry out the instructions given him by the girl. First he chose some stout ropes, and then he led the horse out of the stable and rode it to the hay-stack, which was made up of fifty cartloads, so that it could hardly be called ' a little one.' The prince did all that the maiden had told him, and when at last he was seated on top of the rick, and had counted up to twenty, he heard the horse ask in amazement: ' What are you counting up there, my son?'
' Oh, nothing,' said he, 'I was just amusing myself with counting the packs of wolves in the forest, but there are really so many of them that I don't think I should ever be done.'
The word ' wolf ' was hardly out of his mouth than the white horse was off like the wind, so that in the twinkling of an eye it had reached the shed, dragging the hay-stack behind it. The master was dumb with surprise as he came in after breakfast and found his man's day':; work quite clone.
' Was it really you who were so clever?' asked he. 'Or did some one give you good advice?'
' ' Oh, I have only myself to take counsel with,' said the prince, and the old man went away, shaking his head.
Late in the evening the prince went to his master to learn what he was to do next day.
' To-morrow,' said the old man, ' you must bring the white-headed calf to the meadow, and, as you value your life, take care it does not escape from you.'
The prince answered nothing, but thought, ' Well, most peasants of nineteen have got a whole herd to look after, so surely I can manage one.' And he went towards his room, where the maiden met him.
' To-morrow I have got an idiot's work,' said he; ' nothing but to take the white-headed calf to the meadow.'
' Oh, you unlucky being !' sighed she. ' Do you know