THE WONDERFUL TRAVELLERS.
Then he sent for the six travellers to a feast, and when they arrived, led them to a room in which stood a table covered with every delicacy, and left them to enjoy themselves.
But this room had an iron floor, iron doors, and iron-bound windows, and as soon as they were inside, he had all the doors bolted and locked. When this was done the king sent for the cook, and ordered him to light a fire under the room, and keep it blazing until the iron became red hot. This the cook did, and it was not long before the six travellers seated at the table began to feel very warm. At first they thought it arose from the steam of their dinner, but the heat increased so much that they determined to open the doors and windows, and then found them all barred and locked. At once they knew that it had been the wicked king's intention to shut them in and suffocate them.
" Don't fear, he shall not succeed," cried the man with the little hat to his companions; in I will make it so cold and freezing that the fire shall creep away and hide itself for shame."
He placed the little hat on his head as he spoke, and it became immediately so bitterly cold and freezing that the heat vanished, and the provisions left on the dishes were actually frozen.
After two hours had passed, the king, supposing that by this time they must all be dead, opened the door and looked in himself. But what was his surprise when the six men came forward, safe and sound, and said they should be glad to get out to warm themselves, for the room was so very cold that the dishes were even frozen to the table.
Away went the king, full of anger, to the cook, whom he scolded well, and asked him why he had not obeyed his orders. But the cook, pointing to the fire under the room, said, " It is hot enough there."
The king was much surprised, for he saw an immense fire burning under the iron room, and knew at once that he should not be able very easily to get rid of the six visitors. However, he thought he would try another plan, so he sent for the soldier, and said, " If you will resign your claim to my daughter, I will give you as much gold as you like."
"Oh, yes, my lord king, I am quite ready to do so," he replied, " if you will give me as much gold as one of my servants can carrv."