THE FEARLESS PRINCE.
With his heart full of thankfulness for this great mercy, he travelled on farther through the wood, his faithful lion following, and, after a time, they approached an enchanted castle.
At the gate of the castle stood a maiden with a beautiful face and form, but she was quite black. She spoke to him, and said, " Ah ! if you could only set me free from the sorcerer's spell whicl is over me."
"How am I to do it?" asked the youth.
"It is difficult," said the maiden; "you will have to stay for three nights in the large hall of the enchanted castle; but you must have no fear in your heart. And if you can be firm enough to endure all that occurs, without a sound or an expression of pain or vexation, for no one can dare to take your life, then I am free."
"I have no fear," said the king's son, "and I therefore am ready to make the attempt."
He went into the castle full of spirits, and, as it grew dark, seated himself in the great hall, and waited. About midnight, he heard suddenly a great noise, and presently, from every nook and corner, rushed out little imps. They appeared for a time not to see him; but, after lighting a fire, they seated themselves in the middle of the room, and began to gamble with cards and dice.
After a while, one of the losers cried out, " I am sure some one is here who does not belong to us, and it will be his own fault it he gets the worst of it."
"Wait you there, behind the stove," cried another; "I am coming."
On this, the noise became so tremendous that without shrieking no one could have made himself heard. The prince sat calm and still, and had no fear, till, at last, they all rushed upon him suddenly, and they were so many that he could not avoid them. They pulled him down on the ground, and then pinched, and pricked, and thumped, and tormented him; but he uttered not a sound of fear or complaint.
At the first dawn 01 morning, however, they all vanished, and he lay still, quite worn out, for he could scarcely move his limbs. At sunrise the black maiden came in. She carried in her hand a little flask, containing healing waters, and with this she washed and bathed his limbs, and as she did so, all his pain vanished, and he felt new strength coursing through his veins.