THE GRATEFUL PRINCE 93
At last he grew a little uneasy, and cried loudly, ' Man and maid! what has become of you ?'
After repeating this many times, he became quite frightened, but, call as he would, neither man nor maid appeared. At last he jumped angrily out of bed to go in search of the culprits, but only found an empty house, and beds that had never been slept in. Then he went straight to the stable, where the sight of the dead calf told him all. Swearing loudly, he opened the door of the third stall quickly, and cried to his goblin servants to go and chase the fugitives. ' Bring them to me, however you may find them, for have them I must!' he said. So spake the old man, and the servants fled like the wind.
The runaways were crossing a great plain, when the maiden stopped. 'Something has happened!' she said. ' The ball moves in my hand, and I'm sure we are being followed!' and behind them they saw a black cloud flying before the wind. Then the maiden turned the ball thrice in her hand, and cried,
'Listen to me, my ball, my ball. Be quick and change me into a brook, And my lover into a little fish.'
And in an instant there was a brook with a fish swimming in it. The goblins arrived just after, but, seeing nobody, waited for a little, then hurried home, leaving the brook and the fish undisturbed. When they were quite out of sight, the brook and the fish returned to their usual shapes and proceeded on their journey.
When the goblins, tired and with empty hands, returned, their master inquired what they had seen, and if nothing strange had befallen them.
' Nothing,' said they; ' the plain was quite empty, save for a brook and a fish swimming in it.'
'Idiots!' roared the master; 'of course it was they!' And dashing open the door of the fifth stall, he told the goblins inside that they must go and drink up the brook,