' I can climb that tree,' I answered. ' Not with bare feet ! ' she returned.
In my haste to follow the leopardess disappearing, I had left my sandals in my room.
' It is no matter,' I said; ' I have long gone barefoot !'
Again I looked at the tree, and my eyes went wandering up the stem until my sight lost itself in the branches. The moon shone like silvery foam here and there on the rugged bole, and a little rush of wind went through the top with a murmurous sound as of water falling softly into water. I approached the tree to begin my ascent of it. The princess stopped me.
' I cannot let you attempt it with your feet bare !' she insisted. ' A fall from the top would kill you !'
' So would a bite from the snake !' I answered— not believing, I confess, that there was any snake.
' It would not hurt you !' she replied. '—Wait a moment.'
She tore from her garment the two wide borders that met in front, and kneeling on one knee, made me put first my left foot, then my right on the other, and bound them about with the thick embroidered strips.
' You have left the ends hanging, princess! ' I said.
' I have nothing to cut them off with; but they are not long enough to get entangled,' she replied.
I turned to the tree, and began to climb.
Now in Bulika the cold after sundown was not so great as in certain other parts of the country—especially about the sexton's cottage; yet when I had climbed a little way, I began to feel very cold, grew still colder as I ascended, and became coldest of all when