228 THE GOLDEN BIRD.
twelve, he heard a sound of rushing wings through the air, and presently a bird flew by with plumage that glittered like gold. The bird alighted on the tree and was plucking an apple when the young man raised his gun and fired. The bird escaped, but the shot had touched its foliage, and one of its golden feathers fell to the earth.
The youth picked it up, and the next morning carried it to the king, and related to him what he had seen during the night The king assembled his counsellors and laid the whole case before them, and they all declared that such a feather as the bird had dropped was of more value than the whole kingdom. " If one feather is so costly," cried the king, " whether I have help or not, I must and will have the whole bird."
Then the eldest son, relying on his own cleverness, set out on a journey to find the bird, and felt sure he should do so very quickly. He had not gone far when he came to the borders of a wood, where he saw a fox, and immediately presented his gun at him. " Do not shoot me." cried the fox, " I can give you good advice. I know you are searching for the golden bird, and if you keep straight on you will arrive towards evening at a little village in which there are two inns on exactly opposite sides of the road. You will find one lighted up brightly and with all sorts of amusement and gaiety going on, but do mot enter there, go to the other inn, however dark and dismal it may appear to you."
" Why should I listen to the advice of an ignorant animal, however cunning he may be?" thought the young man; yet he followed the fox, who stretched out his bushy tail and darted off quickly through the wood.
After walking a long time he came towards evening to a village, and there stood both the inns as the fox had said. In one, which was brilliantly lighted up, he heard music and dancing, but the other had a dark, gloomy, sorrowful appearance.
" I should be a fool indeed," said the young man, "if I went to such a dismal old lumber place as that, instead of to this, which looks so bright and cheerful."
So he walked into the attractive house and lived there in such sumptuous luxury and dissipation, that he soon forgot, not only the golden bird, but his father, and the lessons he had been taught at home.