96 THE GRATEFUL PRINCE
about like a midge. The next moment a crowd of goblins rushed up, and looked about in search of something strange, for neither a rose bush nor anything else was to be seen. But they had hardly turned their backs to go home empty-handed when the prince and the maiden stood on the earth again.
' We must make all the haste we can,' said she, ' before the old man himself comes to seek us, for he will know us under any disguise.'
They ran on till they reached such a dark part of the forest that, if it had not been for the light shed by the ball, they could not have made their way at all. Worn out and breathless, they came at length to a large stone, and here the ball began to move restlessly. The maiden, seeing this, exclaimed :
' Listen to me, my ball, my ball. Roll the stone quickly to one side, That we may find a door.'
And in a moment the stone had rolled away, and they had passed through the door to the world again.
' Now we are safe,' cried she. ' Here the old wizard has no more power over us, and we can guard ourselves from his spells. But, my friend, we have to part! You will return to your parents, and I must go in search of mine.'
' No! no!' exclaimed the prince. ' I will never part from you. You must come with me and be my wife. We have gone through many troubles together, and now we will share our joys.' The maiden resisted his words for some time, but at last she went with him.
In the forest they met a woodcutter, who told them that in the palace, as well as in all the land, there had been great sorrow over the loss of the prince, and many years had now passed away during which they had found no traces of him. So, by the help of the magic ball, the maiden managed that he should put on the same clothes