GIRL WHO PRETENDED TO BE A BOY 325
his body as fat as a water melon, his movement light as a chamois.
Then looking at the princess, who had come early to the stable, he said joyfully,
' May success await on the steps of my master's daughter, for she has given me back my life. Tell me what I can do for you, princess, and I will do it.'
' I want to go to the emperor who is our over-lord, and I have no one to advise me. Which of all the white-headed boyards shall I choose as counsellor? '
' If you have me, you need no one else : I will serve you as I served your father, if you will only listen to what I say.'
' I will listen to everything. Can you start in three days ?'
' This moment, if you like,' said the horse.
The preparations of the emperor's youngest daughter were much fewer and simpler than those of her sisters. They only consisted of some boy's clothes, a small quantity of linen and food, and a little money in case of necessity. Then she bade farewell to her father, and rode away.
A day's journey from the palace, she reached the copper bridge, but before they came in sight of it, the horse,- who was a magician, had warned her of the means her father would take to prove her courage.
Still in spite of his warnings she trembled all over when a huge wolf, as thin as if he had fasted for a month, with claws like saws, and mouth as wide as an oven, bounded howling towards her. For a moment her heart failed her, but the next, touching the horse lightly with her spur, she drew her sword from its sheath, ready to separate the wolf's head from its body at a single blow.
The beast saw the sword, and shrank back, which