THE GOLDEN BIRD.
good-bye, hold it fast, and, with a spring, lift her on your horse, and ride away with her. None of those who stand by you will attempt to overtake you, for the golden horse runs swifter than the wind."
All this happily came to pass, and the young prince galloped off with the beautiful maiden far away from all pursuers.
But the fox was not far behind when they stopped, so he came up to them and said, "Now I will help you to get the golden bird. When you approach the castle where it is concealed, you must leave the young lady under my protection, and ride into the castle court with your golden horse. They will all be so delighted at seeing the beautiful animal that they will bring out the golden bird to you; and as soon as you have the cage in your hand, then ride back to us, and fetch the beautiful princess."
Everything happened as they expected, and the king's son, lifting the young maiden on the horse, was quite ready to ride home with his treasures.
"And now," said the fox, "what reward am I to have for my assistance to you?"
"What do you wish for?" asked the young man.
" I wish," he replied, " that when you reach the wood where you first saw me, that you will shoot me dead, and cut off my head and feet."
"That would indeed be a pleasant way of showing my gratitude," said the king's son; " but it is an impossibility for me to do."
"Then," replied the fox, "if you will not do it, I must leave you here ; but, before I go, I will give you once more good advice. For two miles be very careful of yourselves; on no account sit on the edge of a well, and do not buy gallows meat" After saying these words, the fox ran away into the wood.
" What a wonderful animal that is," said the young man to himself, "and what curious, strange whims he has. Who ever would think of buying gallows flesh ? and the wish to sit on the edge of a well would never occur to me."
So he rode away with the beautiful princess. The road led him through the village in which his two brothers were staying, and, on arriving there, they heard a great noise, and saw the people running about. Upon enquiring what was the matter, they were told that two people were going to be hung; and as they drew