THE YOUNG COUNTS REWARD.
above his head, around spread a green meadow covered with primroses, wild thyme, and a thousand other flowers. Through the meadow flowed a clear stream which reflected the sun's rays, while the white geese swam gently on its surface, or dived beneath its tranquil waters.
" It is delightful here," he said to himself, " but I am so tired I cannot keep my eyes open; I think I will sleep for awhile. I hope, however, the wind will not rise and blow away my legs; they seem to have lost all their power.3'
After he had been asleep some time the old woman came and shook him till he woke. " Stand up," she said, " you must not stay here. I certainly did treat you rather badly, but it has not killed you after all, and now you shall have your reward; it is neither money nor property, but something better still."
Thereupon she placed in his hands a small casket which had been cut out of one emerald. " Take great care of it," she said, " it will bring you good fortune."
On hearing this, the count jumped up, and feeling himself quite refreshed and strong, he thanked the old woman for her kindness, and started on his homeward journey without one look at her beautiful daughter. Although after walking for some distance he still heard the loud cackling of the geese, yet the poor young count lost his way in the wilderness. He had been wandering about for three days before he could discover the right road, which at length led him to a large town. Of course, he was unknown, so they took him to the castle where the king and queen were seated on their thrones. The count knelt on one knee before the queen, and taking out the emerald casket from his pocket, laid it at her feet.
She requested him to stand up and to let her examine it But no sooner had he done so than she opened it, and the next moment fell to the ground as if dead.
The count was immediately seized by the king's servants, and would have been led off to prison had not the queen quickly recovered, and opening her eyes ordered him to be released*
" Let every one leave the room, she said. " I must speak privately to this stranger."
They were no sooner alone than the queen began to weep, but presently drying her tears, she sai ; " You may think it strange