THE MAGIC RING
she wears it on her finger, and at night she keeps it in her mouth. I will undertake, sire, to steal away the ring for you.'
And the tiny mouse tripped away into the bedroom of the Princess, and waited for nightfall; then, when the Princess had fallen asleep, it crept up on to her bed, and gnawed a hole in the pillow, through which it dragged one by one little down feathers, and threw them under the Princess's nose. And the fluff flew into the Princess's nose, and into her mouth, and starting up she sneezed and coughed, and the ring fell out of her mouth on to the coverlet. In a flash the tiny mouse had seized it, and brought it to "Waska as a ransom for the King of the Mice. Thereupon Waska and Schurka started off, and travelled night and day till they reached the stone tower where Martin was imprisoned ; and the cat climbed up the window, and called out to him :
' Martin, dear master, are you still alive ? '
' Ah ! Waska, my faithful little cat, is that you ? ' replied a weak voice. ' I am dying of hunger. For three days I have not tasted food.'
' Be of good heart, dear master,' replied Waska; ( from this day forth you will know nothing but happiness and prosperity. If this wTere a moment to trouble you with riddles, I would make you guess what Schurka and I have brought you back. Only think, we have got you your ring !'
At these words Martin's joy knew no bounds, and he stroked her fondly, and she rubbed up against him and purred happily, while below Schurka bounded in the air, and barked joyfully. Then Martin took the ring, and threw it from one hand into the other, and instantly the twelve youths appeared and asked what they were to do.
' Fetch me first something to eat and drink, as quickly as possible; and after that bring musicians hither, and let us have music all day long.'
Now when the people in the town and palace heard music comincr from the tower thev were filled with amazement, and came to the King with the news that witchcraft must be going on \n Martin's Tower, for, instead of dying of starvation, he was seemingly making merry to the sound of music, and to the clatter of plates, and glass, and knives and forks ; and the music was so enchantingly sweet that all the passers-by stood still to listen to it On this the King sent at once a messenger to the Starvation Tower, and he was so astonished with what he saw that he remained