THE GRATEFUL PRINCE 91
the most friendly manner, and, to his surprise, his master exclaimed, ' I am very well satisfied with you. Come to me at dawn and bring the maiden with you. I know you have long loved each other, and I wish to make you man and wife.'
The young man nearly jumped into the air for joy, but, remembering the rules of the house, he managed to keep still. When he told the maiden, he saw to his astonishment that she had become as white as a sheet, and she was quite dumb.
' The old man has found out who was your counsellor,' she said when she could speak, ' and he means to destroy us both. We must escape somehow, or else we shall be lost. Take an axe, and cut off the head of the calf with one blow. With a second, split its head in two, and in its brain you will see a bright red ball. Bring that to me. Meanwhile, I will do what is needful here.'
And the prince thought to himself, ' Better kill the calf than be killed ourselves. If we can once escape, we will go back home. The peas which I strewed about must have sprouted, so that we shall not miss the way.'
Then he went into the stall, and with one blow of the axe killed the calf, and with the second split its brain. In an instant the place was filled with light, as the red ball fell from the brain of the calf. The prince picked it up, and, wrapping it round with a thick cloth, hid it in his bosom. Mercifully, the cow slept through it all, or by her cries she would have awakened the master.
He looked round, and at the door stood the maiden, holding a little bundle in her arms.
' Where is the ball? ' she asked.
' Here,' answered he.
'We must lose no time in escaping,' she went on, and uncovered a tiny bit of the shining ball, to light them on their way.
As the prince had expected, the peas had taken root, and grown into a little hedge, so that they were sure they