THE FOUR CLEVER BROTHERS.
Then the old man said to his sons : HI must praise you for the cleverness of the trades you have learnt. You have employed your time most usefully, and I cannot tell which deserves the preference. If an opportunity would only arise to employ these talents, and prove them, it might be the making of you."
And it was not long before such an opportunity did occur. A great outcry arose in the country—the king's daughter had been carried away by a dragon. Day and night the king mourned her loss, and made a proclamation that he would give his daughter in marriage to whoever would bring her back. The four brothers talked together about this, and said it really was an opportunity for them to prove their skill, and they determined to go together and try to release the princess from the dragon.
"I will first find out where she is," said the star-gazer; so he raised his telescope, looked through it, and said : " I can see her already; she is far away from here, sitting on a rock in the sea, and near her is the dragon, whom she is watching." Then he went to the king, and begged him to let them have a ship for him and his brothers to seek the princess; and when it was ready, they sailed away over*the sea till they came to the rock.
There sat the king's daughter, looking very sad, and the dragon, who was fast asleep, had his dreadful head in her lap.
The hunter said : " I could aim at the dragon and kill him, but I dare not shoot lest I should kill the beautiful princess."
"I will try my luck," said the thief; so he climbed up the rock and stole the princess away from under the dragon's head so lightly and nimbly that the monster did not move, but went on snoring hideously. They hastened away full of joy with her, and steered for the open sea.
But the dragon soon after awoke, and missing the princess, was in a terrible rage. He rose in the air and followed, snorting vengeance as he hovered over the ship, and seemed about to pounce down on them like a hawk on a brood of chickens. But at this moment the hunter levelled his gun and shot him through the heart.
Terrible consequences followed: the monster was at the moment hovering over the ship, and consequently he fell dead upon it, crushing it beneath his great weight, and making it a complete wreck. Happily they contrived to catch hold of a few planks, on