THE LION'S CASTLE.
which stood a magnificent castle, and near it, above his head, hovered a lark, fluttering and singing to the morning sun. Presently the lark fluttered downwards, and, gradually sinking to the ground, was hidden in the long grass.
" Just the very thing I want," he said, in a satisfied tone; and, calling to his servant, he desired him to go cautiously to the spot he pointed out, and catch the lark.
But before he could reach it, a lion sprung out from the thicket, shook his mane, and roared so loudly that the leaves on the trees trembled.
" Whoever dares to steal my singing, fluttering lark." he said, " never leaves this place alive !"
The traveller replied: " I did not know that the bird belonged to you; but I will rectify the mistake, and pay you with a large amount of gold if you will spare rny life."
The lion replied : a I do not want gold. You can only save yourself by at once promising to give up to me whatever shall first meet you on your return home. If you do this, I will grant your life, and give you the bird for yoar daughter."
But the request grieved the merchant sadly; for his youngest daughter, who loved him dearly, generally ran out to meet him on his return home, and he said so to his servant.
But the man, who was terribly frightened, begged his master to promise, and said : " It might be a cat or a dog who came to meet you first, and not your daughter,"
So he allowed himself to be persuaded, took the lark, and promised to send the lion whatever first met him on his return home. The journey soon came to an end, and, as he approached his home, who should come running out to meet him but his youngest daughter, laughing and happy. She kissed him, and welcomed him home with all her heart, and when she saw the lark, she was beside herself with joy.
But her father could not join in her pleasure: He began to weep, and said : "Ah, my child, that bird has cost you dear. I have promised to send you to a fierce lion, who will, I fear, tear you in pieces the moment he sees you." And then he related all that had happened, and what he had promised, and ended by begging her not to go, let the Consequences be what they might.
She consoled him, however, and said: " Dearest father, what