306 THE BOYS WITH THE GOLDEN STARS
man gave them each a lambskin cap which half covered their faces, and completely hid their golden hair and the stars on their foreheads, and led them to the court.
By the time they arrived there it was midday, and the fisherman and his charges went up to an official who was standing about. ' We wish to speak with the emperor,' said one of the boys.
' You must wait until he has finished his dinner,' replied the porter.
' No, while he is eating it,' said the second boy stepping across the threshold.
The attendants all ran forward to thrust such impudent youngsters outside the palace, but the boys slipped through their fingers like quicksilver, and entered a large hall, where the emperor was dining, surrounded by his whole court.
' We desire to enter,' said one of the princes sharply to a servant who stood near the door.
' That is quite impossible,' replied the servant.
'Is it? let us see!' said the second prince, pushing the servants to right and left.
But the servants were many, and the princes only two. There was the noise of a struggle, which reached the emperor's ears.
' What is the matter? ' asked he angrily.
The princes stopped at the sound of their father's voice.
' Two boys who want to force their way in,' replied one of the servants, approaching the emperor.
' To force their way in ? Who dares to use force in my palace? What boys are they?' said the emperor all in one breath.
' We know not, O mighty emperor,' answered the servant, ' but they must surely be akin to you, for they have the strength of lions, and have scattered the guards at the gate. And they are as proud as they are strong, for they will not take their caps from their heads.'