THE FAIRY OF THE DAWN 187
his mouth grew parched. And standing among the flowers were lovely maidens who called to him in soft voices, till he had to shut his eyes against their spells.
' Come, my hero, come and rest; the heat will kill you,' said they.
Petru shook his head and said nothing, for he had lost the power of speech.
Long he rode in this awful state, how long none can tell. Suddenly the heat seemed to become less, and, in the distance, he saw a little hut on a hill. This was the dwelling of the Goddess of Thunder, and when he drew rein at her door the goddess herself came out to meet him.
She welcomed him, and kindly invited him in, and bade him tell her all his adventures. So Petru told her all that had happened to him, and why he was there, and then took farewell of her, as he had no time to lose. ' For,' he said, ' who knows how far the Fairy of the Dawn may yet be ? '
' Stay for one moment, for I have a word of advice to give you. You are about to enter the kingdom of Venus;1 go and tell her, as a message from me, that I hope she will not tempt you to delay. On your way back, come to me again, and I will give you something that may be of use to you.'
So Petru mounted his horse, and had hardly ridden three steps when he found himself in a new country. Here it was neither hot nor cold, but the air was warm and soft like spring, though the way ran through a heath covered with sand and thistles.
' What can that be? ' asked Petru, when he saw along, long way off, at the very end of the heath, something resembling a house.
' That is the house of the goddess Venus,' replied the horse, ' and if we ride hard we may reach it before dark '; and he darted off like an arrow, so that as twilight fell 1 ' Vineri' is Friday, and also ' Venus.