PRINCE RICARDO. 221
crying them on to besiege and break down the royal palace. From the battlements of the palace the king's guardsmen were firing arrows and throwing spears. The mob shot arrows back, some of them tipped with lighted straw, to burn the palace down.
But, in the very centre of the square, was a clear space of ground, on which fell the shadow of a tall column of red stone, all carved with serpents and faces of gods. Beside it stood a figure horrible to see: a man clothed in serpent skins, whose face was the grinning face of a skull; but the skull was shining black and red in patches, and a long white beard flowed from beneath it. This man, mounted on a kind of altar of red stone, waved his hand and yelled, and seemed to point to the shadow of the column which fell across the square.
The people were so furious and so eager that they did not, at first, notice King Prigio as he slowly descended. But at last the eyes within the skull looked up and saw him, and then the man gave a great cry, rent his glittering dress of serpentskin, and held up his hands.
Then all the multitude looked up, and seeing the Flying Horse, let their weapons fall; and the man of the skull tore it from his face, and knelt before King Prigio, with his head in the dust.